On November 26th I visited Audio Excellence in Woodbridge, Ontario for their Dan D'Agostino Event. It was hosted by Bill McKiegan himself, President of D'Agostino Audio, who had previously worked with Dan at Krell.
The purpose of the event was the introduction of the new version of the Momentum mono power amplifier, now referred to as M400.
The new amplifier is a significant upgrade. As its name suggests, its power output has been increased to 400 Watts. Previous version had a power output of 300 Watts. This power increase is achieved by the new ultra-quiet 1800VA linear transformer, which is a 20% increase in size. A new output stage design, that includes a number of major enhancements, is coupled to this larger power source. Driver section includes a number of enhancements as well, such as individual transistors used for the positive and negative signals. As with the previous model, the new M400 features the same familiar aluminum/copper enclosure. There are no classic heat sinks here. Instead there are thick copper plates with vertical holes. These holes are shaped as a double funnel with main diameter of 12 mm and 19 mm at both ends, which allows for faster cooling. Copper is being employed because of its 91% higher thermal conductivity
M400 price is $65,000 US for the pair and owners of the previous model can send in their amps for an upgrade.
Here is the full system that was presented at the event:
Wilson Audio Alexx loudspeakers
Dan D'Agostino Momentum M400 Monoblock amps
Dan D'Agostino Momentum preamp
Dan D'Agostino Momentum phono preamp
Clearaudio Performance DC turntable with Clearadio TT5 tangential tonearm
MSB Technology Select DAC
Wadia CD Transport
Nordost Odin cables
A number of musical selections, mostly jazz and classical were played. But Bill was kind enough to play selections from two CDs I brought along (marked in bold below). Here is the approximate playlist:
"Morph The Cat" by Donald Fagen
"Round Midnight" by Jacintha
"Prelude and Fugue In C (WTK, Book I, No.1), BWV 846 by Kenneth Gilbert from Bach: The Well Tempered Clavier
"Count Bubba's Revenge" by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band from Phat Pack
"Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison
"Mon Dié Sénié" by Malcolm McLaren from Paris
"Ave Maria" by Kyoji Yamamoto from Mind Arc
"Fanfare for the Common Man" by London Symphony Orchestra from Copland Conducts Copland
"Prelude - J.S.Bach" by Joshua Panikkar from Music Over the Years
So how did this system perform? Well, to me it was a mixed bag. While it sounded great on big band jazz and big symphonic piece "Fanfare for the Common Man", I was not impressed by its performance on the tracks from my CDs. And the problem here, I believe, is the room, which is just way too small for Wilson Audio Alexx. These speakers are begging for a more spacious environment to truly showcase themselves and the awesome equipment driving them. I heard the same speakers at this location a few weeks back, driven by the previous Momentum version. While this time I did feel more power from the monoblocks, the details, the imaging, the soundstage on many of the tracks, just weren't convincing.
Audio Excellence are moving into a new and more spacious location very soon and I am hoping they will have a more appropriate demo room for this setup. I will be keeping a close eye on them.
While walking around the store, I couldn't help but notice a few pre-owned items in one of their storage rooms.
A gorgeous pair of Focal JMLab Electra 927BE 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Speakers