Death of Jim Bongiorno

I was informed yesterday that Jim Bongiorno, long time influential audio engineer, has passed from this life. It looks like he had problems from his liver disease that took him. From what I can gather, he died on January 10th, 2013. I did a search on Audiogon and saw no mention of it.

James was a legend having a hand in engineering products from Hadley Laboratories, Marantz, Dynaco, Scientific Audio Electronics (SAE), Great American Sound (GAS), Sumo, and Spread Spectrum Technologies.

For me, it was the GAS equipment that was my first introduction into high end audio. How could you forget the names: Ampzilla, Thaedra, Charlie The Tuner? (Charlie had a name change to just "Charlie" due to the conflict with Starkist Tuna and their marketing campaign in the '60's and '70's with "Charlie, The Tuna".)

I still have my Son of Ampzilla and matching Thoebe preamp.

Thanks, James, and all who were with him during his career.
I can't believe this was never mentioned on the Audiogon Hub. This is major news. Thanks for posting this. May Jim RIP.

One of my family members who is into audio played some music for me on his system that comprised of a SUMO Nine and a SUMO Athena preamp. It was very nice sounding to me and got me hooked. Years later my uncle still has the SUMO Nine amongst his other collection of amps and listens to it periodically and still enjoys it.

For myself I acquired a Sumo Nine a couple of years back and had it rebuilt by Mike Bettinger. This amp is awesome sounding. I've now paired it with a pair of B&W Matrix 805 speakers and the sound is wonderful.

I love the SUMO Nine and will keep it for as long as I can. To me it is an amp to me that is still great sounding today.

Again may Jim RIP.
I'm a serious G.A.S. fan with several fully rebuilt examples. It's a shame James himself wasn't capable of being rebuilt. Wasn't a pleasant surprise to find out he passed on my birthday.
Mike also rebuilt my G.A.S. 500 and Grandson of Ampzilla. Fabulous workmanship.
Had the Sumo Nine class A amp back in the 80s and also the Charlie tuner.
Sorry to hear of his passing and may he rest in peace.
Condolences to his family.
I was recently reading reviews of Jim's work. Bascom King's original review of Ampzilla, TAS review of Grandson and Theadra, Stereophile review of Sumo's amps. One thing that consistently comes up is how musical they were. I can't agree more. They're are amps with more bottom end, preamps that throw a wider soundstage, but in all that Jim designed, one can't escape how the music connects with the listener. There is a true sonic signature in all of his work, and I applaud it. Grandson is among my all time favorite amps. It still knocks me out how 'musical' the little guy is. I imagine that Jim's work will be doing the same for many years to come.
So sorry to hear of Mr. Bongiorno's passing. I still have my original Rectilinear III speakers bought in 1976. The story I heard was that the owners of Rectilinear were interested in producing a traditional speaker that had the qualities of electrostatics. Apparently he drew the plan for the speaker on a napkin and the Rectilinear III was born. I always loved them for their neutrality and with a friend's great help, I upgraded them with extra damping, new wiring and new crossovers. They sound fantastic so I've kept them. Thanks Jim.
A great person and designer! Even his last improvement on the Ampzilla 2000 amplifier resulted in a score of 10 (highest), when reviewed at
This review was just last year; 2012.