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An Interview with Dan D'Agostino

06-05-2017 | By Adam Goldfine | Issue 91

Dan D'Agostino

Dan D'Agostino is a name that is nearly synonymous with high end audio. As the founder of Krell, Dan pioneered the development of high powered, Class A, solid-state amplifiers that were nearly indestructible and could drive any speaker load presented to it. They were among the first solid-state components to provide a viable alternative to tubes in assembling a musical sounding, high end system. In many ways, Dan D'Agostino and Krell, along with a select few others, heralded an entire era in the industry.

Having departed Krell and relocated from Connecticut to Cave Creek, AZ, Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems is using what has been learned over the last nearly four decades and taking solid state to the next level. I sat down with Dan outside his office on a beautiful February afternoon and took a trip through audio history, covering topics from delivering the first Krell amplifiers in the trunk of his car to another passion we both share, cooking.

Adam Goldfine: Dan, how did you first become interested in high end audio?

Dan D'Agostino: I don't know. I guess my dad got me going in it. He was a big music fan and he started buying and building components, like he built a Klipschorn out of plywood. His friend, a carpenter, put it together. We used to go to Lafayette Radio a lot in those days. He bought a Lafayette integrated amplifier, plugged it in. It was really good, way better than anything we had heard. And of course it played really loud because it was a Klipschorn. And then I really got the bug because he was buying all kinds of records and playing them. I was 11 or 12 years old. I was just reveling in it. Playing with gear and listening to the music. So that's kind of how I got hooked on audio.

AG: Pretty amazing. What sort of music did he listen to?

DD: He listened to a lot of different music; he liked opera, he liked classical, he liked Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett era jazz.

AG: Do you feel that the kind of music you were exposed to then had an influence on the direction you took as an audio designer?

DD: I don't know because I got heavily into the jazz scene as I got older so it was music that he actually didn't approve of. I mean I really got into jazz and fortunately I was very close to NYC and lived there for a while and I just kept going to all the clubs all the time. That was a big deal for me.

AG: Who were some of your favorite jazz artists?

DD: Well, Art Farmer, and Art Tatum, and Dizzy [Gillespie] and, of course, Miles [Davis], the standards. I was a big fan of Archie Shepp.

AG: Great stuff. Just to switch gears a little bit here, in some ways Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems is kind of like starting with a blank slate, right? Building on the knowledge and experience that you gained from being at Krell, how has your approach to audio design changed in the 30 or so years since you started?

DD: Well, I think at Krell I was really trying to prove something when I started out. That we can make really high powered amplifiers that sounded musical. Which up until then, hadn't really been done that well. But, you know, at Krell, the whole deal was to make huge amounts of power, make it have tremendous dynamic range and contrast. And concentrate on how good we can make it sound.

In this company, I am not so much interested in anything except the sound. So I just design towards making something sound good and I really don't care about what it measures like or what it looks like. And I figure once I got it to really sound the way I wanted it to, because I have an audio memory and I know what stuff sounds like, I keep on going back and I say is there something better than that? Are there more layers? Is there more music here that I'm not listening to? Is there something in the background that I'm not bringing up?" So I just keep on playing with it from an audio domain alone.

I put together a circuit that I could manipulate easily and it was all on a great, big perf board. So I would make changes that I was listening to over and over again until I got it to where I really liked it. And then I went to retest the equipment, then I refined some things that didn't change the sound. So it was a totally different approach from what I did at Krell. I've never built an amplifier like this at Krell. This is a real big departure. A totally different concept. Output stages, and how it amplifies, and where the gain is. It's a totally different concept.

AG: So what would you say your sonic priorities are now versus what they were then?

DD: Right now it's strictly how many layers can I peel back and how musical can I make it sound.

AG: Transparency and musicality?

DD: I shoot for these huge, I want a giant stage, deep depth. I want a lot of layering and small, micro-sonic detail in the background. So at really low levels, when you put—I used to say when I put a stylus on a groove, you can immediately hear how transparent the system is, just by the grey noise carrier on the groove. And you can hear that immediately. And that's what I shoot for right now.

AG: And having heard the system in several different settings, I'd say you're definitely achieving those objectives.

DD: Thank you.

AG: Aesthetically, this is quite a departure from the past. What do you attribute that to?

DD: Well, at Krell, I was driving to make things bigger and cooler. Like, I'm shooting for a guy that really wants to be the biggest, baddest guy on the block. So I made that 700 pound audio standard of listening, the Master Reference Amplifier. It was as big as a dog house, it was a monster, It ran on two 220 volt lines per chassis. It was the biggest, baddest thing on the block. It was kind of a very cool thing. And, I was looking for that big, big power that that thing could produce.

In this company, I'm probably never going to make anything that big. I am going to make a big amplifier, which we call the Helios, which I'm working on right now. But it's big in power. It will have more power and more ability than that giant amplifier did at Krell, but way smaller. I'd say ¼ of the size. Of course, really beautiful. Because, you know, you get your teeth kicked in at every show. You go to a show. You bring a new amplifier in that's really cool looking to guys. His wife comes in, she walks into the room and she sees her husband likes it and she goes, "You're not putting that in my living room." My wife happens to be very, very sensitive, my wife Petra, very sensitive to how things look. So she told me that she really wanted to see if I could make an amplifier that was beautiful and sounded good.

So to package the Momentum, again, I left everything out. I usually would do the heat structure and how much power I wanted and just figure that all out and then I'd make it look as good as I could. Well, this way, I just made something that would look really cool. I drew it up in Solid Works, and modeled it in 3D and started playing around with it. The problem I had, of course, was that when I was done with it, it was pretty small, because big is not going to get in the living room. So, I started saying now, I love the shape. I took the classic, what they call, God's dimensions, height, width, depth. I used those dimensions and made this thing and massaged it until it really looked good.

So now I'm thinking, how am I going to cool this off? I just couldn't think of any way to cool it off. So I was kind of desperate because I knew I had to use so many output devices, that it dissipates so much energy, I have a certain size power supply because I didn't want to make it a low powered amp. I figured the minimum it could be was 300 watts. So I started playing around with copper. And I said, "Oh, this is going to be my salvation!", because you read about copper, it's 91% more efficient than aluminum at absorbing heat. So I said, "Great!".

Well here's the deal, if the copper is thick and heavy, like it is on the Momentum, it takes a long time to reach a thermal equilibrium. Which is very good because the output device is still warm, it keeps on dumping heat into it. But what it does, it stores that. So once it reaches a temperature... let's say if you put a Momentum on, and you started playing it, it would take it an hour to an hour and half before it gets to its normal working temperature because of the thermal mass. But, the thing that I didn't understand about copper until I started using a big piece of it, was the fact that it has—it holds onto the heat. Which you say, "Oh, it's a terrible thing", but it's not. Because you're only operating the heat that the output stage needs to run. So once it reaches a thermal equilibrium, it stays there.

So now let's say you're playing it pretty loud, but you have a bunch of friends over and you want to crank the volume up. In order for it to rise to the next temperature, it's going to take another hour or so. It really works in your favor. Secondly, because of its' density and its thermal mass, the output devices which are attached directly to it, achieve the same temperature. If you measure the output device and measure the copper inside, outside, or anywhere, they are exactly the same temperature. Around aluminum, the output device is always running hotter than the heat sink, which means that it's always in a state of thermal fluctuation. On the Momentum it's dead solid, it stays there, it just tracks it. It's always even.

AG: So the heat sink is holding the device at a certain temperature?

DD: Right.

AG: It seems to be a real, sort of, two way interaction.

DD: It's kind of what happens with the computer stuff. They want the chips that they are using, they know they are going to reach a temperature and they hold them there because that's where they are the most efficient. That's kind of the same thing that is happening with the devices.

AG: How do you think that principle impacts the sonic qualities of the amp?

DD: I think it has some impact on the sonic qualities. Yes, because you know a lot of guys are putting their front ends in boxes, potting them, and doing all that stuff. But, I never seem to hear any difference when I do that stuff. Then, of course, it makes it a terrible nightmare to fix if it breaks.

AG: Ah, that's true.

DD: I didn't do any of that, but the copper actually got me to a point where I started to understand the microsonics in semiconductors because I think it definitely made a difference. But it has to be a big piece of copper, it can't be a small piece of copper.

AG: Yeah, and copper is not cheap.

DD: No, and really hard to handle.

AG: So what do you think that you are able to do now that you couldn't do when you first started?

DD: You know, I guess I just have all of my experience to look back on. You don't get that for free. I had 30 years of Krell. I look back at, gee, I did that before. I want to do this, but I wouldn't do it that way, I'd do it this way. Because I already knew that I did it that way and it worked okay, but I knew I could make it work better. That's a lot of stuff that happens here. How can I make something sound better? A lot of this stuff is tried and true stuff that a lot of people use. But how do you apply it now? That's where the experience is invaluable. How do I apply these things?

AG: Sometimes it's 90% the same, and it's that last 10% difference that really makes the big difference.

DD: Yes, it does.

AG: Is there particular music that you listen to when you are designing, to assess the sound?

DD: When I'm designing, I'm big into vocals. I tune everything with vocals to start with. And then I start with symphonic stuff. Big orchestration. Big orchestration is—or big band is difficult to reproduce. Most of the recordings are abysmal because they are compressing to be able to get that big sound onto a groove. So you've got two things working against each other. You got a lot of instruments where there's lots of cross modulation distortion in the front end where there's lots of information coming all at once at high levels. And then secondly, you've got a recording that usually is somewhat compressed. When you can get that, to make you want to turn it up more, that's when you know it's really working the way it's supposed to.

AG: I think when I first met you, it was at the 2014 CES. You were exhibiting with Yoav's [Geva] YG Acoustics speakers. I think I was one of the first reviewers to actually review those and I was really taken with them. Why those, how did you choose to exhibit with them?

DD: You know what, he was looking for a partner at CES. We had just started the company. So we said, "Look, we need a partner, we need a speaker, we need a company that wants to share some expenses with us and a room." Really nice guy, really smart guy, his speakers are really good. Seems to me that it's a winning combination.

AG: Seems like the sonic priorities are pretty well aligned, too. Reviewing the speakers, there was almost no compression whatsoever.

DD: They are amazing.

AG: They are amazing.

There is a lot of great audio equipment out there. What is it that you want to bring to the audio world that is distinct that would really distinguish Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems, that didn't exist previously or doesn't exist currently?

DD: Well, the one thing I wanted to do is to get out of the mold of making grey boxes, which I did with the Momentum. The second thing, I've never got accolades at Krell for my preamps. People liked the preamps and they bought them. But, they always said, "Krell makes the best amplifiers," but they never, ever said "Oh those are the best preamps."

When I did the preamp, it took me a year to design it, to make it do what I wanted it to do. That was a whole discipline that I missed at Krell. I did design preamps and did make good sounding preamps. Somebody would buy a Krell amp, and they'd buy a vacuum tube preamp because it made it bloom more. And I said, "How do I get that bloom? What is it that makes that bloom?" Of course, some of it is artificial, but also some of it is because they have, whatever tube preamp you use, and of course some of them don't fall into the mold, but some of them do—they have this warmth and this information that kind of hangs onto the music. And I wanted to achieve that in solid-state. It took me a really long time to get that sound. Not that it sounds like a tube preamp, but it does the same things.

AG: Yes, yes.

DD: It does the same things. And I get people now that are actually buying my preamps without one of my amplifiers.

AG: That must be very reassuring.

DD: I did some stuff in the preamp and the amplifier to make them simpatico with one another. I pioneered that CAST connection at Krell, that current system, which is very quiet. It has a lot of pluses. But, I wanted to make the output stage of my preamp and the input stage of my amplifier, kind of latched up to each other when they are connected. I did actually achieve that. When you use my preamp, the noise floor goes way down from where it was. Use anybody else's preamp, it's the same as anybody else's amplifier. But when you use my preamp with my amplifier, you get an additional level of quiet. You get super, super quiet.

AG: How do you achieve that?

DD: I use a proprietary output stage in the preamp that matches the gain input stage of the amplifier.

AG: Going back to Krell for a moment, I remember reading, I think it was the early 1980's, an issue of Audio magazine where someone took a Krell amplifier and fed a 1000 Hz square wave into it then arc welded using the output of the speaker terminals.

DD: Somebody said they did that.

AG: And the amp was fine. And the dead short arc welded.

DD: You could do that. In those days, when I made the first Class A amplifiers, I was so paranoid about having a reliability problem or having a speaker that I couldn't drive. I made the amplifier so that they could operate fully into a 1 ohm load. I figured if I could do that and put a lot of reactance on it, make the amplifier just play it, that's what I went for. It actually worked to my advantage very well because how was I to know that Apogee was going to make a speaker that was 1 ohm? And the Scintilla in fact was .8 ohms. And the only amplifier that could really kick them around was a Krell amplifier.

AG: And so it seems you've carried that principle into what you‘re doing now.

DD: I do believe that low impedance output capability is a very important thing for amplifiers. When I watch a current meter, when I hook it up to my amplifiers and I play a number of different loudspeakers, I don't have to measure the loudspeakers. But I can see where their impedance curves are and where they are dipping down in impedance and I can see the current they're drawing. There was a pair of speakers that somebody recently brought here... I was getting 15 amp peaks at relatively high volumes, but not extraordinary levels, and I would see the impedance drop—it was drawing huge current peaks at certain frequencies. I think that serves me really well to be able to look into those loads and deliver power.

AG: Because the amp just kind of chugs along no matter what the load is.

DD: Right.

AG: So, with the other lines, with Progression and Master Power—aside from the aesthetics and price point, is there—are you going for a sonic family—what are the differences?

DD: The sonic family is there. It's definitely there. The Progression, not everybody can afford or wants to have a $65,000 or $70,000 pair of small power amps. Now they are 400 watts and they really have a ton of current. They are really amazing. They can play any speaker without any effort. Still, there are some guys who want bigger hardware and they can't afford what I'm making. So that was the whole idea with Progression.

The Progression is an offshoot from the original Momentum design. It's got lots of power. It's 500 watts into 8 ohms. And it doubles all the way down to 2. It's a big power amp. They are, in my opinion, really a bargain. They look great, they have a great big meter on the front. They have incredible circuitry and design, built conservatively so they are really made to last. They have beautiful aesthetics. They are $36,000 for a pair. And that's half approximately of what a pair of Momentums cost.

AG: Right.

DD: I'm not telling you that if you sit down and listen to the two of them, and money was no object, I'm sure you would buy the Momentum. But the Progression is really, really good. It sounds as good as the very first Momentums I made. But of course, I changed the Momentums after the first CES show. I never actually shipped any like that. But it is a similar sound which was really quite a good sound. But this newer stuff in the Momentum, which is much more expensive to do, is better.

On the other hand, the Progression represents a need that is out there. A lot of people are buying amplifiers, 500 or 600 watt amplifiers and they need power for their systems. They want that big, big power. So there's a market. Krell is not making anything like that. So there are a lot of guys with Krell that are matriculating to these Progression amplifiers.

AG: A lot of people are getting a lot of power with Class D. What's your—that is sort of the opposite end of where you traffic...

DD: To me, it just never sounds good. I hear all the stuff, I hear all the latest stuff and comparing it to an analog amplifier, it falls short.

AG: Do you think it will ever reach the same level?

DD: I'm sure it will. I'm sure it will at some point.

AG: In time, they all do.

During the course of your career, you could say the audio world has transitioned from analog to digital and now back to both, in a sense. How has that impacted your approach to design?

DD: I have digital equipment. I have some DCS stuff which I think is absolutely incredible. I use a DCS DAC and stuff from them and it's amazing. I did pioneer oversampling with Krell— the 64 times oversampling. I know there was a product called Wadia out at the time. They claimed 64 times oversampling, but they were doing it in hardware, which is—where is it coming from? So if you add up 4 DACs and you add the current up for four 16-bit DACs, you've got 64 times oversampling. But that is really not 64 times—it's 16 times oversampling. But we actually did one in software where it was oversampling 64 times and we were able to hear what that did. That was really fascinating stuff to do. It turned out, I took in some partners to do that company because I didn't want to invest in that kind of original research. So after about a year and a half, we had a product, but it cost over a million dollars to make it.

When you consider the salaries, the fact that we were the first people to use a Motorola 56000 in audio. We used it as a processor. We had four of them. We wrote our own code. We did the whole thing. It was really an amazing product. But that company could not survive. It had 10 or 12 people in it and I owned half of it. I had an investment group but I wound up absorbing that company.

AG: Are you looking to do anything digital now?

DD: No, we will not do any more digital stuff. I'm not the guy. I always have to bring in outside help to do that. I just don't want to do that.

AG: On your website, I saw that you have that server, is that...

DD: It's a thing that's developed with a company in Austria. They do the whole thing for us and we do our app. It's kind of like... it's a very, very refined server with a built in screen. It uses our own DAC. You can do anything with it. It comes with a Tidal app so you can stream high res. That was the whole idea, to be able to make this fully integrated amplifier with a streamer. We did not do most of the digital work. We did some of it, but not all of it.

AG: It sounds like you're not putting a big push behind that?

DD: We are. We sold quite a few of them. They're not cheap, they are $50K.

AG: Yeah, that's a pretty penny.

DD: We are continuing to build that product. And we're coming out with a new preamp for the Progression line. It's going to be similar to what the Momentum does. A little less performance, but really cool.

AG: So do you think we are nearing the end of the lifespan for spinning silver discs?

DD: God, I don't know. I don't use them myself. I download all of my music through a server into my DCS, which is very satisfying. It sounds really good. When I do put a CD on, it sounds really good. But I just—I mean to me, if I want to have the inconvenience of getting up and changing the disc, I would rather play vinyl. Which I do. I have an Air Force 3. I have my pr-amp and my phono stage. That's a nice thing....very nice thing.

AG: Is vinyl your preferred medium?

DD: No, it's one of my preferred mediums. There are certain things that vinyl does, that really puts me in the mood for listening. Usually I start off listening to the server and it sounds really good. I have all kinds of music... 3.5 terabytes of music.

AG: That's a lot!

DD: I'll listen to a lot of different things. Really satisfying. But then as I get on during the night, if I have a glass of wine or something and relax, I grab a few records and put them on and then the whole presentation is so different. The records are really cool. And the thing that I really like about the Air Force is the vacuum. Put the record on and the vacuum holds it down. I am a big, big fan of vacuum platters.

AG: Understandably so. How many albums do you think you have?

DD: I don't have that many. I probably have about 300 or so.

AG: Going back to digital for a second. Do you notice any real differences between PCM and DSD?

DD: You know, I have some old recordings that were recorded direct from DSD, from analog masters to DSD without any messing around. That sounds pretty good. That sounds really, really good. I really enjoy that.

AG: Mark Levinson had done some direct to DSD recordings that he did himself. I forget what they were called. Oh, I think it was Live at Red Rose Music or something, when he had Red Rose up in Manhattan. I heard them in his shop directly off of the hard drive and it sounded pretty spectacular. Some interesting stuff going on.

Any audio designers that you admire?

DD: Oh, without question, Nelson Pass from Pass Labs. What a great guy. Great designer. Great conceptualist. He's a great guy. I really, really admire him. I like the guys over at dCS. Obviously, I like the Wilson Audio products. I like Yoav Geva from YG Acoustics and Alon Wolf from Magico. They all have speaker products that are so good.

AG: Speakers have really gotten amazing in the last decade, haven't they...

DD: They have.  And I was always negative about wire. I never wanted people to spend money on wire. But I see, with some of the wire I just got from Transparent and I got some wire from Nordost. Some of these new wires sound—you can hear things you couldn't before, that's for sure. 

AG: Are you familiar with the JPS Labs wire?

DD: No, I haven't tried that yet.

AG: They made that—I was completely skeptical of power cables—then a friend of mine brought over, I think it was called the Aluminata power cord, incredibly expensive, two meters weighs about 11 pounds. He plugged it into my system. There was a very clear difference.

DD: See, I haven't had luck with power cords, yet. But some of the stuff I've heard... Like obviously, the Nordost and the Transparent are two completely different approaches. Then I heard some Kubala-Sosna stuff which was really good. It was really musical and warm and doesn't use anything that the other two are using. You know, we grew up with wire in the business, building with different wires. A lot of them didn't make sense, didn't make big changes. But now I see that the science has really grown and it has really made some differences.

AG: No question.

What would you like to accomplish in audio that you haven't accomplished yet?

DD: You know what? I think I've accomplished most everything that I could possibly do in audio. I just want to make better stuff. Better and better, looks better, and plays better. Try to create some more excitement in the industry. I really, really want to create excitement. With the look and the sound, and the whole deal. That's what I'm working on. The Helios will be very exciting.

AG: Yeah, I'm anxious to see that. Is there an expected release date?

DD: I expect it to launch in the fall.

AG: What else do you enjoy? I know in addition to audio, you like cooking.

DD: I like cooking, yeah.

AG: How did you get into that?

DD: My mother, my grandmother. I used to live with my grandmother. My parents and I lived with my grandmother and grandfather. When I was in grade school, my grandmother was teaching me how to cook. When I would come home and my parents were both working, she would make me help her cook. I learned how to make all kinds of things that she taught me. And also, I have virtually no fear when I cook because I don't care if it doesn't come out right.

AG: You can just do it again.

DD: But as you get older and you learn more things, it usually comes out okay. Sometimes I get on the verge of being perfect, but who is to say. But, I like to cook.

I've also been enjoying traveling lately. We went to Prague a couple of years ago. It was kind of — you have to walk around and see all the stuff that is going on. It's like a city that has four different, fully developed cultures in it from different countries, from the occupations that it had. That was kind of fun. I love Germany and going through Austria and all of those places. Really, really fascinating, some of the stuff, the castles were fun. I love Italy. I like going around there and taking tours. Just hanging around, it was really fun. My wife and I really enjoy Japan. We really like going there.

We went through the mountains, did some hiking and walking around up there. We've been to a lot of different places. Very, very entertaining places. Very nice.We loved Australia. Just loved it. We went to Melbourne about three or four years ago. It was amazing.

AG: You know, I learned to cook the same way. I had—my grandmother was from Piemonte, near the Italian Alps. My mom worked when I was a kid and I would come home and my grandmother...

DD: So you did the same thing?

AG: So yeah, she would be cooking. I remember—my dad died when I was very young. That side of the family is Jewish from Lithuania. So the first two things I remember eating are pasta fagioli and borscht. [laughing]

DD: [laughing] Well, those are two different things.

AG: Two very different sides of the same coin, I guess so. Then I worked at Italian restaurants growing up. And there's this book out. I forget the guy's name. I have it. It's like a 1000 pages. The Food Lab. Are you familiar with it?

DD: No.

AG: It's a white cover book. It explains all of the physics and chemistry of cooking and why things turn out the way they do. I've been slowly working my way through that. It's pretty interesting.

What would you say the toughest thing about the audio business is?

DD: Well, right now it's getting the attention of people other than the people you've already got attention from. I'd like to bring younger guys, younger people in to listen to music. I think there is a huge—I mean, I don't think that there has ever been a time where more people are listening to music. There are so many people listening to music and they have so many playlists. But mostly they have it on iPhones or Samsung or they listen on headphones with headphone amplifiers and recording devices like the Astell & Kern and those kinds of things. Those are awesome devices. But most of the people that have this stuff haven't really gotten to have an experience of listening to it on speakers, on an amplified system.

I think that's gonna be around the corner because I think if they really like music, there is gonna be a time in their life that they're gonna be sitting in their house on their headphones and their wife and their kids are gonna say, "You know, let's do something else." And then they are going to get the idea that maybe they can make a theater or they can make music so everyone can listen and enjoy it.

AG: Yeah.

DD: I did do an experiment at Krell when I did that iPod dock. I went down to a dealer who advertised at the universities that they were going to have prizes for the best iPod mix down and the best selection of songs and the best sound. So I had it all categorized. So all these kids came in. And they would—I would play it, I'd plug in the headphones and listen to their stuff. Then I would put it on the dock and play it through a big system for them. And most of them were totally flabbergasted!

AG: I'll bet! That's brilliant actually.

DD: They were flabbergasted at what that could do. And that's the thing that I think these dealers have got to figure out; a way to take their stuff, put it on your server, whatever way you have to do it to let them hear their music for real.

AG: Yeah, it's a matter of exposure. As soon as people hear it, they say, "I never knew this existed!"

DD: Obviously headphones, like everything else, have advanced to such a degree. When you listen to them, you go, "Oh my God, these are awesome!" But, it's not listening, it's relaxing. It's sitting back hearing room ambiance and sounds. You know...

AG: I think you're absolutely right. I think it's a matter of exposure. I've had numerous people over to my house who had had no exposure to high end audio. In fact, I had a listening party, at one point, I had five or six people who had no experience of high end audio whatsoever. They were wondering, "What's the big deal? We're going to go listen to music." Well, I had to throw them out. Finally I said, "I'm going to bed. You guys can stay here and listen, but it's two o'clock in the morning, I gotta go to bed." They brought music and they just wanted to listen. They just wanted to sit and listen. They sat there for about six hours and did nothing but listen to music. One of them went out and bought a system!

DD: What's really funny—if you go back, when Sooloos first came out. They had the server with all the music on it and easy access to the songs and the artists and everything. That was very expensive. They didn't actually have anything to hook it up with, but then Meridian bought them. Which I think was a good idea for Meridian to buy them.

AG: Yes.

DD: So you had to use a Meridian product to play it. But what's happening now, obviously, with the Rune software and everything like that...

AG: Very open system.

DD:... it's really quite free. That's what people need to really take their iPod or their A&K or whatever recording device they have and dump it onto a server. And then do the visual art that comes up on the screen and you can just play it...

AG: That's just fun.

DD: And read about it. You can do anything. It's like having the album liners. You used to go out, when I was a kid, and buy 10 albums for one hundred dollars. And then you'd sit there, play them and read the cover.

AG: [laughing] Exactly, yes. That's exactly what I did. Every week, I'd go down—we had a store called The Turntable on Brighton Avenue in Long Branch, New Jersey. We would go buy that week's albums, come back, listen to them...

DD: Yeah, I lived in upstate then, Niagara Falls. Used to run to Record Runner. Give ‘em one hundred bucks and you'd get 10 records.

AG: [laughing] Those were great times. Okay, last couple of questions. What advice would you give to budding audio designers?

DD: Stay true to themselves.

AG: And what about budding audiophiles?

DD: God bless you. [laughing]

AG: Come! We need you. [laughing]

Anything you want to add that I haven't asked or anything you think that I should have asked that I didn't ask?

DD: You know, I think that being here in Arizona with the sunshine has really stimulated my brain.

AG: Yeah? How so?

DD: I've got a lot of interesting ideas. The fact that it's sunny all the time and not fighting a winter. It's really hard to be creative when you're fighting winter. It really is. You've got dark skies, it's cold out. It keeps you occupied with other things like staying warm. When you get out of the house, snowstorm or whatever. That stuff depresses me now. I'm much more lively and happy as a designer here than I am there. For whatever reason, you could say it is the sunshine. But I have some great ideas and we are gonna keep plugging along.

AG: Great. Well, I for one am very happy that you have decided to make this your home. Thank you.

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