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The appearance and birth in the world of an extraordinary person is meant to be heralded by supernatural signs, wonders and other miraculous events. It could be a comet, celestial conjunctions, animal behavior, dreams, prophecies and great historical events. The bigger the event, the more important the person associated with it. The arrival of the Dan D'Agostino stereo power amplifier at my home was accompanied by nothing special apart from the huge effort expended lugging the well thought-out suitcase with the amplifier up to the third floor. It was a day like every other day, another device to review, albeit a very interesting one. But then I don’t really deal in any others. For me fantastic products have become a standard.

Immediately after unpacking it, the first surprise was the compact size of the Momentum Stereo. Its weight is impressive but its overall dimensions not so much. Placed next to the Soulution 710 it looked like a beefy but agile karateka lurking beneath a sumo wrestler. Although I’d read about it earlier, I still didn't expect this high a quality of fit and finish, such well-chosen ingredients, such a keen balance between 'macho' hifi cues and non-exaggerated footprint. Its sound on the other hand was not particularly surprising. I'd expected a top presentation on the level of a Soulution 710, Accuphase A-200 with a nod to the fantastic Devialet D-Premium Air as well as the best tube amplifiers. The novelty for me was a desire to have the device in my system not instead of my trusted Swiss amp but right adjacent to it.

On paper the Dan D'Agostino amplifier has plenty of power. The company brochure talks of 200/400/800w into 8/4/2Ω suggesting an ideal current source. RMS power output measured by HiFi News & Record Review in August 2012 differed again as 240/390w into 8/4Ω. The actual power into 8Ω is therefore higher but without full doubling into halved impedance. But it's a potent amp regardless, twice as powerful as my 710 Soulution. That power however manifests in a unique manner combined with incredible color. Placed next to each other, the two amps behave differently to a large extent. The 710 sounds like an on-stage pro-audio machine whereby recordings have proper momentum, wide response and a large 'church'-type perspective. The Stereo in turn sounds more focused, celebrating each and every sound as would be the case in small clubs of intimate meetings between audiences and smaller concert halls where we might sit a dozen feet from the piano, vocalist or guitar.

Dan’s amplifier portrays the world in beautiful colors. Both the warm color temperature of Wes Montgomery's Echoes of Indiana Avenue, the K2HD version of Brubeck’s Time Out and Stone & Ashes from Arthur Lisiecki recorded with microphones set up very close of which I happen to own a CD-R copy directly from the master tape all were saturated and fully mature. As I have repeatedly emphasized, the word 'warm' can refer to both coloration and a lack of distortion for a natural presentation instead. We usually deal with the former in cheaper devices whose budgets don't allow for top high-end performance. Here it's often enough to slightly emphasize the lower midrange, add some specific harmonic distortion, soften the treble a bit and withdraw some transient fire to get an incredibly vivid very satisfying presentation. Still, all along we know it to be a trick which avoids dealing with true high resolution, never mind selectivity.

At first glance the second case produces similar results. Its sound is warm too. It's just that now we're almost one galaxy ahead. When we eliminate distortion by careful design and not merely oodles of negative feedback, the sound becomes more and more natural to which our reaction then is a subjective sense of warmth. There's really nothing warm about it per se. It's simply a counter reference to the vast majority of hifi gear which is cooler and more skeletal. It's this realization which becomes the starting point of investigation for an amp of Momentum Stereo caliber.