Published On: February 15, 2010

What Would Dan D'Agostino Do?

Published On: February 15, 2010

What Would Dan D'Agostino Do?

Forget what Jesus would do for a moment and let's ask ourselves what would Dan D'Agostino do to fix the ailing AV industry -for if there was ever a messiah-like figure among AV enthusiasts it would be Dan D'Agostino. Want to know what Dan would do?

Dan_D'agostino.gifHave you ever seen those employees at the airport wearing a "What Would Jesus Do?" lanyard attached to their security cards? If you drive around Santa Monica long enough, you might even see a Prius with a "What Would Gandhi Do?" bumper sticker affixed. All of these subtle or not-so-subtle forced media messages have oddly led me to ask the audiophile-related question, "What Would Dan D'Agostino Do?"

 

Those who know audio respect Dan as the founder of Krell and one of the biggest names in audiophila. This past summer, he and his ex-wife Rondi took on investors to help grow Krell as they added iPod docks, reference AV preamps and a Blu-ray player to the product line-up. The results worked out poorly, to be polite. Other than voting rights on the board, Dan and Rondi are out of the company that they founded 29 years ago. Since the corporate divorce, Krell moved on. Dan's moving on, too. Oh, I almost forgot - both sides are suing each other enthusiastically. It's a mess.

Back to the question at hand: WWDDD? Dan is unlikely to come back to Krell with the current ownership. Rumors (if you believe them) have Dan working on a new company with his ex-wife and his tech-savvy son, Bret. But what are they making? More importantly, what should they make for a new company designed to succeed in a new economy?

Related Articles and Content
For other articles of a similar nature, please read Dan D'Agostino Launches New Company With 300 Watt Momentum Amplifier, CEDIA 2010 Show Report from Ken Taraszka, and What Really Happened With the Closing of Sound by Singer and Why They Will Be Back Soon.

In speaking with a noted Krell dealer, I was told that Krell should go upmarket right out of the gate. Dan's Krell Master Reference power amps from a few years back are a true statement product from a designer known for making one hell of an audiophile statement. There are likely 1,000-plus global Dan loyalists who might be tempted to pop for a $200,000 amp, even in this economy. Do the math. That is enough to put a new company back on top, especially with relatively low overhead and debt structure. Add in a preamp and/or a reference player or possibly a $35,000 subwoofer and the uber-rich might be the solution for a new D'Agostino company.

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Others suggest that if Dan were to come back to the audio business, he should return to his roots and make an affordable amp on the scale of the Aragon 4004, which he designed. Krell, under Dan, saw them release a line of more "affordable" products, including a Krell iPod dock, a somewhat affordable integrated amp and some smaller power amps that were more accessible to the non-eight-figure net worth crowd. Products like NuForce, Oppo and Benchmark sell well in today's marketplace because of value and performance. Dan knows how to deliver both.

Most audio/video enthusiasts wish Krell's new investors and the D'Agostinos would settle their differences and move on. Clearly the situation is less than optimal for both sides, but life goes on, as does business. Krell will have product on display at an audiophile show in Florida in March and have the "E-series" amps and a hot new Blu-ray player to show off to consumers and dealers alike. Their Evolution 707 AV preamp at $30,000 is about as good as it gets in the business today and is selling nicely, despite its astronomical price tag.

Audiophile comebacks aren't unheard-of. Sandy Gross (co-founder of Polk and Definitive Technology) is making one right now with his Golden Ear speakers. Comeback rumors of varying intensity surround other industry names like Gayle Sanders (MartinLogan's founder), Jeremy Burkhardt (founder of Speakercraft), Matt Polk (he's still under a non-compete) and even Sam Runco. Nobody is betting against Sandy, as he built the two most successful consumer speaker companies in the past 25 years. At the same time, no one is really betting against Dan (in the event he decided to come back), either as he has a proven track record and over 30 years of experience.

So I ask you, what should Dan D'Agostino do next? Post your suggestions below.

Here's a link to Dan's new company... D'agostino Audio which launched at CES 2011.

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