Ampzilla vs Dynaco 416, et al

Discussion in 'Solid State' started by Todd Dodds, Jul 7, 2017.

  1. Todd Dodds

    Todd Dodds AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    A BarterTown listing got me wondering about the differences, good or bad, between some of the vintage '70's 200wpc power amps like the GAS Ampzilla, Dynaco 400/410/416, Hafflers and Phase Linears, etc....
    Which do you think has withstood the test of time the best?
     
  2. Freddymac2

    Freddymac2 Super Member

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    I think the Ampzilla was the best sounding, but I don't think there was any speaker protection. I do remember that I needed a 20 amp circuit breaker due to the inrush of current on turn on, if they had been off for a couple of weeks. Both the 400 and the Ampzilla were designed by Bongiorno.
     
  3. Chris Brown

    Chris Brown AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yamaha P2200 and P2201 (same except P2200 has meters). Yamaha's first big iconic amp, released in 1976; they became very popular. ~230wpc into 8ohms. Not sure what you mean exactly by withstanding the test of time the best, but these have done great both in terms of reliability and not having any major shortcomings that prevent them from still being excellent amps today. I am running 4 of these amps, obtained from 4 different places, and only one of them had minor issues that were easily fixed.

    The P2200 was also the basis of what eventually became the Yamaha M-2, another amazing ~240wpc amp from the 70's.
     
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  4. stonedeaf

    stonedeaf Well-Known Member

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    I liked the sound of the Ampzilla - but it may simply have been ignorant/stoned/drunk owners -but I did seem to run across a lot of destroyed speakers and smoked Ampzillas. Nice thing about working in a small market is that sooner or later the REAL story would leak out. These did not quit for no reason. Dynaco 400's lasted a good long time - like any of these first super amps - frequently purchased by boys that wanted loud -REAL LOUD and wouldn't have recognized clipping if it was a dog that came up and bit 'em.
     
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  5. Lavane

    Lavane AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I know with Dynaco and Phase Linear there are plenty of kits available to address problems and make them more stable, better sounding (supposedly), etc. Do some research on both to decide. There are probably some for the Ampzillas as well. Ive just never heard or seen one in person.
     
  6. Northwinds

    Northwinds Huh? Turn what down? Subscriber

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    I have owned them all, the Dynaco I had was the 400M. Sounded terrible with the dynaguard and without the dynaguard activated, still sounded sort of flat w/ no lowend punch. Ampzilla was better then the Dynaco but for SQ, PL all the way. The big Hafler was so so and ran pretty hot
     
  7. BilboBaggins

    BilboBaggins AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have a fully restored Bose 1801 and a partially restored Bose 1801. These have a 44 lb transformer and once any issues have been addressed, they run beautifully, and provide lots of clean power. I recommend putting in speaker protection on any amp that doesn't include it. I put them on my fully restored 1801, and on my partially restored 1801, I use fuses. These blow if I have a power outage and the speaker outputs aren't turned off. Awesome amps!
     
  8. Superampman

    Superampman AK Member Subscriber

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    Ampzillas are good amps, Son of Ampzillas are great amps as are the Grandson and finally the Gas500.
     
  9. Jim Marantz

    Jim Marantz Active Member

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    Bypass the dynaguard and some bypass caps on the main caps will allow the 416 to play better than most amps you;ll ever hear. This is assuming the driver boards are up to spec. I've not heard a good sounding ST series amp that hasn't been totally refurbed. For the price of a good donor unit and a few evening hours you'll have a world class amp for little money.
     
  10. GregDunn

    GregDunn New Member

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    I had the pleasure of speaking to Wade Burns, who was the project manager for the Stereo 400 design. According to Wade, the 400 was a group design effort including himself and a fellow named Richard Pley, as well as a few others he couldn't recall. Bongiorno was an employee at the time, and was brought in to work on the output stage and drivers specifically. Wade was aware that Jim has claimed credit for designing the ST400, and insisted that his contribution was important but not comprehensive. Just trying to keep the record straight.
     
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  11. Freddymac2

    Freddymac2 Super Member

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    Greg,
    I stand corrected, the many wives tails that get repeated, until they are believed, by many of us. Sorry!
     
  12. djoffe

    djoffe Active Member

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  13. GregDunn

    GregDunn New Member

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    Yes, that's me! I regret that due to changing jobs around the time that I finished the first pass on the site, I have had very little time to maintain it. Now that I'm retired, perhaps I can go back and clean up a few things that need attention. There is more data that can be shared eventually.

    It was my pleasure to talk to several former Dynaco employees and meet a few of them while assembling the data. Jim Elliott in particular was very helpful and put me in touch with both Wade Burns and Ed Laurent. Ed (Dynaco co-founder, designer of the ST70, Mk II/IIIVI and of course the ST120) graciously let me into his home and shared a few stories about the early days of Dynaco; sadly he passed away just a couple of years afterward.

    In fact I just looked up my notes from meeting him and found a missing name; Hans Frank was another of the employees who worked on the ST400. I got the impression that there was no "clique" at Dynaco when assigning design details - the people who had the desire and the time to work on something generally were able to contribute. That's part of the reason Wade and Ed were sometimes fuzzy on details of who "designed" a particular piece of gear. They really wanted the best, most economical design they could manage and strongly believed in their company; there was no room for egos.

    A couple of weeks ago I visited another company which seems to have the same basic ethos as Dynaco - Magnepan. Several of the founding employees are still there, but all of them committed to quality and value. To my profound astonishment, they are still refurbishing speakers that they made in the 1970s and in fact have my Tympani 1C speakers in for some rework. A complete rebuild hardly costs more than their original list price - and much less in 2017 dollars. Name another manufacturer still providing support for 40 year old speakers; I'll bet there aren't many.

    Pretty much all the amplification in my home is Dynaco; one of the reasons I found this thread is that I was going through my basement testing all of the amplifiers and doing any repair or updates needed - such as aging capacitors - and wanted to see what others were doing. It's very satisfying to see how people are still getting use out of these rugged units and making them centerpieces of their stereo systems. I'm sure they'll be working long after I'm gone...
     
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  14. djoffe

    djoffe Active Member

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    I'd love to see whatever else you can dig out of your notes. Are any of the original Dynaco guys still available to interview?
     
  15. wlhd1610

    wlhd1610 Penny and her new friend Subscriber

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    Greg ,
    I've followed your site for years now.
    I was sad to learn of David and Ed's passing.
    My first ever setup was a pair of PAT-4's,a ST 70 and a ST 120 I built in my senior year of high school powering a pair of A-50's and AR4x's.
    I would love to see some updates!

    Bob
     
  16. GregDunn

    GregDunn New Member

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    I get an update every so often from Jim Elliott; unfortunately it's often news that someone else has passed. I can't answer with certainty, but I think the founders and first-generation employees are mostly gone by now. It's probably time for me to check back with the ones I do have contact with; none of us are getting younger.
     
  17. djoffe

    djoffe Active Member

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    Greg,
    Remind us if you would...what was Jim Elliott's role?
    Thanks...
    Dan
     
  18. mhardy6647

    mhardy6647 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    oooh, nice to see Greg Dunn posting here!
    Howdy & welcome (and/or welcome back)!
     
  19. techguy0192

    techguy0192 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The Ampzilla is simply a classic.
     
  20. GregDunn

    GregDunn New Member

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    IIRC, he was service manager for quite a while, and as such had to be familiar with a lot of the circuit topology in order to ensure that the equipment was reliable and able to be repaired without too much time/expense. I know he's very familiar with the amplifier designs. I've just heard from him again, so I'll see if he can expand upon that.

    Also, happily I can report that there are two more longterm Dynaco employees still around: John Ferranti (I've asked for details on his title) and Ed Fantasia of Fantasia Audio. I'm also going to pursue contact with Wade Burns again to see how he's doing.
     

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