Anyone remember the Sonogy Concept 60 power amp?

So my power amplifier has been on the fritz lately (bias issue), and had to be sent back to the manufacturer for repairs and adjustments. Fortunately, a good friend of mine volunteered a worthy, if not temporary, replacement to audition while I wait for my amp to return.

My friend, Grant, used to design and build amplifiers. His company was called Sonogy, and they produced high end gear in the 1990s. Their mantra was producing high quality, high value solid state gear that had the smoothness of tubes (many manufacturers of solid state claim this but few succeed). They were best known for a 175W power amp called the “Black Knight” (which knowing Grant, HAS to be a reference to Monty Python). They also produced a version of that same amp called the Concept 60 that was optimized for ultimate SQ using the best of the best parts, and set up for close to 40 W of pure class A, zero feedback, and with gobs of current. Think a big honkin’ V8 tuned for torque instead of horsepower. This unit retailed back in the late 1990’s for just under $4,500. It was reviewed very favorably as a steal in the high end audio world back then. Some reviewers even considered it a benchmark even among sine of the big boys of solid state, like Pass. How does it sound compared with equipment in 2018?

This thing is BIG, sporting an oversized chassis, although not nearly as heavy as my Modwright. Built in bars to carry the unit are truly appreciated! It’s is built burly and industrial, with super high quality switches. A ground float switch on the bottom of the chassis is a neat feature to help remove hum in some systems.

How does it sound? It’s pretty amazing. Paired with my MW preamp and phono stage, this Concept 60 sings smoothly, with effortless power. The bass, especially, is perfectly controlled. With my Daedalus speakers which can become boomy in the lower ranges with a lesser amplifier, this Sonogy matched the best of any amplifier I have heard with these speakers. In fact, I run a pair of Vandersteen powered subs with my MW, and this helps control the bass and add bloom to the midrange. With this Sonogy, I do not have the subs in the system and so think I’m getting close to the same levels of quality from the speakers alone.

What’s interesting is how this 60W, high current solid state amp drives my Daedalus speakers with seemingly more authority than my 150w Modwright.

I have to continue to listen, and so look forward to A/B testing when the MW returns from its vacation out west. Sonehow I think the Concept 60 is going to hold its own, and maybe more.
The guy to talk to about the Sonogy Amps was RCPrince who posts on the Audiogon forum message board.

    Posted by RCPrince on May 10, 2002

    Yes, they are back in business, though perhaps in limited current production. The design has been improved and updated from the original (new higher speed diodes, better input power supplies). Izzy Marrone from our NJ Audio Society has been tinkering with the design and recently started assembling and selling some new ones. I've got two new ones, which I use as bass amps (below 200hz) in my system; they work equally well on top, I'm just addicted to my Jadis up there. Excellent dynamics, speed and extensionin the bass, still has that tube-like midrange, maybe a little sweet in the highs, overall a pleasure to listen to, and plenty of power to drive most anything out there. Along with drjjp, another member of our club is auditioning and likely buying one for his Martin Logan SL-3's--I heard it over there in that system and thought it really brought those speakers alive.

Russ was  a good friend of mine. I am still running a Black Knight and a Concept 60 in my system. They are doing bass duty in my system and are phenomenal. The only reason the Concept 60 is doing bass duty is that I have a pair of Quicksilver V4's covering the satellites in a 4 box system, the Sforzando JL-1's. The Concept covers the 2 bass units that have a 10" woofer and a 10" passive radiator. They are braced by 1 1/2" of MDF on all 6 sides and weigh about 175 lbs each. So I guess you can say I am bi-amping my system.

I have a hell of a story for you that is just about as full circle as you can get. I went to go buy a power supplies an hours drive away last year and ended up at this guys house. I seen a marantz new amp sitting on the floor when i walked in and asked him if he had anymore amps. He proceeded to grab one from behind the bar on the floor and I asked if it was for sale once I seen the heatsinks. Didnt even know what it was because it had no name; but it had a story to guide me. 

It was a prototype of the BK Sonogy Grant hand built for his business partner and unfortunately when his partner fell ill and passed away; Grant tried to arrange that he would get back the amp before lost in the estate sale. He told me he had been looking for this prototype for 7-11? Years, I forget specifically how many..nonetheless I found Sonogy through the guy who I bought the prototype from. He had the consumer version as well which I was lucky enough to buy recently. Well, anyways I got ahold of Grant and weve went back and forth; he said hed been searching for it but after i offered to literally give it back he refused. He asks how much I got it for…i cant lie to the man and told him 40 for the prototype. Thats one hell of a stand up guy in his response, the rare score of that grade a amplifier at 40$ He would rather me keep it. I really insisted on giving it but I digress. The prototype is just like the consumer inside with some exceptions im sure. They sound similar enough I could run them as mono blocks though. 

they are my forever amps for the long haul. Im 32 and been having had so much damn gear come and go i wanted to settle down. Its been 9 years to figure my 2 channel life out so to speak. This amplifier does it all right. And i am proud to have the people more than the gear; getting it all full circle with Grant is just good stuff ya know? He knows its safe now lol no more mystery. 

Have a good one