Monday, April 21, 2014

Ampzilla: The First High-End Solid State Audio Amplifier?

Some audiophiles may dislike its overall timbre, but is the Ampzilla the very first high end high fidelity solid state audio amplifier? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Upon hearing – especially the ones that date back from the early 1970s – it can be quite self-evident why some audiophiles still hate these iconic solid state amplifiers. To my ears, the early ones make every “complex” recording sound as if it was Def Leppard’s Pyromania album. But does the Ampzilla qualify as the very first high end high fidelity solid state audio amplifier? 

Even though high end audio came to be around the same year that Ampzilla audio amplifiers earned its first generation of a loyal cadre of fans, reliable high fidelity solid state amplifier design and manufacturing is still considered somewhat of a “black art” during this period. Ampzilla was created by world famous designer James Bongiorno in 1974. At the time, Bongiorno was the director of engineering at SAE. Prior to that, he had been a director of engineering at Dynaco where he created the renowned Dynaco 400. 

While at SAE, James Bongiorno conceived the concept of the solid-state full dual differential complementary amplifier topology using both PNP and NPN output transistors which has since – for the last 40 years – became the de facto world standard road map for virtually all high end solid-state power amplifiers made today. Ampzilla was originally designed as a construction project for Popular Electronics magazine as the first ever reliable full complementary solid-state power amp. However, the response was so overwhelming after the rave reviews that James Bongiorno had left SAE to found the Great American Sound Co. Inc. (GAS Co.) and the rest is now history. 

With a Starfleet / United Federation of Planets like logo reminiscent of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek , the Ampzilla 2000 has the ability to draw interest from audio enthusiasts of all ages. Whether or not you like the sound of Ampzilla amps over the years – and some insist that Ampzilla amp tend to have “prickly” overtones, especially with CD based music playback systems. 

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