Sonogy New Products

Welcome to tomorrow’s Sonogy.  While our new innovations are not on the market yet, we can see the finish line.  After three years of intense listening, research, designing, and prototyping (and more listening!) we have pre-protoype products in the field.

Incredible value-for money.  And convenience unheard-of in the high end

Long story short — we are building an integrated amp that performs like $10-20000 worth of separates, costs $3000 (we hope), has full remote control *everything*, is super convenient to use, and drives almost any speaker easily.  Its been tested with tons of audiophiles, dealers, and “influencers”.

We had a secret weapon. We had the freedom to dedicate a huge amount of time amount of time, research and development to this project – WAY more than any commercial firm could.   Such freedom is a rare luxury, and few products benefit from the effort we were able to lavish on this project.  Read on for the results, and the blog for (a very incomplete look at) the process.

In the Sonogy blog, I have documented some of the journey, and hope to document much more.  In the blog, you will find  both an overview of our direction, and also a jumping off point that gives you a window into our thinking, our methods, our frustrations and our progress.  And even if you never buy a Sonogy product, insight into what we have learned.  I hope you enjoy it – please check back regularly.

The Story

So what ARE we doing?  We’re trying to change the game, in convenience, value-for-price, rich sound, and an attractive package.

Many good, sometimes great, products exist in the high end. We were not interested in doing “just” another excellent product, even if it set a new bar in value. We wanted to make a huge jump, and deliver a product that is very different from all “high end” products; — one that i believe the market wants, maybe even needs.

After any years in high-end i still loved the sound and the music. But packaging frustrated me, expense made it a non-starter for most, and convenience was non-existent.  Sometime it seems that in the retro-vibe of vinyl and tubes, we lost sight of how people live, socialized and interact with music.  Moreover, as i asked around, the same things frustrated many of my friends and especially their non-audiophile but music loving family and friends.  We all wanted something affordable, smaller and sleeker – more easily integrated into a living environment.  Ideally one box.  And the world has moved to remote control, yet great sound has largely not.

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We re-thought possible.

Enter our new project – an “integrated” amp that has been thoroughly re-thought.   What have we re-thought?

  1. We have re-thought the false trade-off between convenience and sound quality.  Our design provides remote control selection, volume, balance and a few others feature s- but ALSO make sit possible to purify the signal path to a point hat has been impractical.  Our solutions is a mix of advanced technology (like embedded computer control) and sonically superior traditional technology (like using individual, 1% metal film resistors as the volume control).  Every audiophile, dealer and other influencer that we have loaned these to has been shocked by the transparency of the sound that results, addicted to the convenience, and surprised how convenient it is to be able to correct for small room imbalances from your listening position – be it a “listening seat” or flopped on the couch. For example, in my living space (not my dedicated music space) i often sit off-center to read. I can easily create proper L-R balance with a click or two.  Better image, better sound.

  2. We re-thought how an affordable component could sound.  Our integrated amplifier (target price ~ $3,000) competes with preamp-amp combinations in the $10-30,000 range – as noted by those that temporarily displaced their existing components to evaluate it and give me feedback ( thank you to all!).

    This is not magic – its smart engineering.  We wont wow you with the costly parts harvested from the Peruvian Andes – because we don’t use them. We use parts that provide 99.9% of the performance for 5% of the cost – when such exist – and are proud if it.

    No doubt our products will have limitations, but they are far higher than you think. More importantly every budget has limits and money spent on amps and preamps is not spent on, say speakers. Typically there are way better places to spend an additional $10k – like on speakers or music (software). Or wine. We all know music sounds better with wine, right?  Right?

  3. We re-thought whether tubes are essential to a warm, non-fatiguing and 3-D presentation. If you have followed Sonogy over the decades, you likely know that we have been studying, and occasionally publishing, on why solid state often sounds more harsh and less (terrible word alert) musical.  Our new designs package everything we learned, and the additional benefits of 3 years of research (Covid lock-downs had their merits I guess).

    I want to emphasize that we don’t strive for a tube sound.  Tubes have their share of sonic problems too.  We simply worked very har5d to eradicate all the flaws in solid state, while preserving its many virtues – among them cost, size, durability, bass, practicality, and reduced heat.  And no $1000 re-tubes.

  4. We re-thought how our users will listen, and recognize that we may use our systems very differently.  The basic unit is line-stage, optimized for digital, and especially HD streaming – which is clearly the majority of users, and even more dominant among younger users.

    Next, we offer two very high-value, optional, plug-in circuits:  1) a phono (RIAA) stage that can support either regular moving magnet or low output moving coil cartridges, directly, and 2) a class-A, discrete headphone amp to appeal to the many young and urban listeners who prefer or need what is now called “personal audio”.  This headphone amp surprised even us – exceeding our expectations – by a lot.  It may be the finest headphone amp on the market, and will drive almost anything (electrostatics excepted, of course).

    For those dying to know the phono stage delivers up to 66dB of gain at 1 kHz, is fully discrete, fully class-A, and performs RIAA equalization entirely passively


Yes, we re thought many things from first principles.  But we also brought forward the best design principles and ideas from 30 years of Sonogy designs, and design consulting. Those who know us, also know that beyond high-end, we have been lead engineers in the telecom and tech world since the 1980s – not surprisingly where high-end and stereo came from (Bell Labs, 1930s and 40s).

Features and Qualities – what makes it so good?

So here is a (partial) list of features and capabilities that have ALWAYS distinguished Sonogy products.

  • Unconditionally stable, and able to drive very difficult loads easily. Few if any speakers will present a difficult load.

  • Highly reliable, designed conservatively to last for decades.  They won’t run hot (but will run warm they are class-A and high bias AB after all, with a proprietary bias scheme that balances these conflicting needs).

  • Incorporating excellent circuitry, but truly great power suppliesand lots of them.  Power supplies make great products (look at any laboratory test gear) and with the advent of digital (control and music) it is doubly important to separate and optimize power for different stags – leaving digital noise where it belongs – gone.

  • SIzed and styled to integrate into your home’s decor, not dominate it. With luck our amps will sport nice wood trim – in a homage to good taste of times gone by.

What’s to come?

Step #1 is get this product in volume production, using advance automation for cost and quality. yes, quality: hand craftsmanship means mistakes.

Beyond that you may wonder if this is it – the end, or if we have a master plan (like Elon Musk’s Tesla marketing plane “stolen 100% from Spaceballs“).  Well, yes and no.

We do believe that Digital “digititis”, just like we have proven we can eradicate “solid state sound”. We did it once and will do it again.

In the mid-term this means a DAC, and likely a streamer or bridge to terminate digital noise, and deliver natural sound at an affordable (well, affordable in high-end terms), price. In the shortly longer term, but not too far out if the market likes what we are doing, it means my dream of an integrated amp that takes an Ethernet connection in the back and delivers music to your speakers.  For now, note i said “ethernet” not “wifi” since it minimizes noise and bit-rate limitations, and thus maximizes sound quality, for myriad technical reasons. Anyone telling you otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about – its really that simple.  But no doubt wireless will ultimately figure into our products – at least as a convenience option. 5G perhaps?

I’m now off to relax and enjoy some music.  Whether i spin vinyl or stream something – well, i don’t yet know either…

Pictures, with some “color” commentary:

All of the pictures below are of pre-prototypes. They are (relatively) ugly, and rough, but built to allow us to test, listen, evaluate, share with others, and measure important things like power draw, heat dissipation, etc.  All “made do” with surplus commercial chassis that we could procure various places, often EBAY – and the result is that ALL were too small.  Space limited us in most units, and in another you will see that we used two chassis to give us the space and heat handling we require for production.  Finally, several were built as pre-amplifiers since it greatly simplified the size demands and physical access – and allowed us to test all the real innovations – the power amp section is a simple scale-down of our proven and wonderful Concept 60/ Black Knight series.  With some 21st century improvements too.  The real thing will be a single box, but larger than any of these shown.

Shown are the later prototypes.  We went through almost a dozen various chassis, and most had at least two generations of fully-fabbed printed circuit boards as we learned and improved, or added features.

Note: all pictures can be clicked to zoom in.

First we see a complete, integrated amp, open, being tested in a system. The DAC below is also a prototype based on an old Theta DSPro.  Note the display and how full this undersized chassis is. This unit is in use almost every day, somewhere.

Another view of the same unit.

Inside top-down view of the same unit.  Note “noisy” circuitry on one side of the Faraday shield and the clean audio circuitry on the other.  Shield will double as the main heat sink.

The two-box unit that allowed us to be a production -spec power supply, and add in many features such as automatic protection of the output against failure (mostly DC).  Power supply is in bottom, audio circuitry in the top chassis.

Inside the top (audio) chassis.  Note in enlarged view i have labeled the major sections such as phono stage, gain stage, logic and control, and high current output (drives speakers).

And the power unit, inside. The hand made board is the protection logic.

An early version of the fully discrete volume, balance and selection which is fully dual mono, uses only a few 1% metal film resistors to handle all functions, and is computer controlled. This was crazy-costly Military- spec for decades. It is practical only with the advent of embedded computers (which never, every touch the actual audio signal).  Note embedded controller to left, and rows of instrumentation grade relays to the right, one row per channel.

Inside the RIAA/phono stage – all discrete, all class-A, all passive equalization, all zero-feedback, and configurable for moving magnet or moving coil.  Sounds sweet!

Discrete headphone amp. Yep, its a miniaturized Cantata, with zero feedback.  We amazed ourselves with this compared to any of the “personal audio” stuff out there. Tested mostly with Grado HP-2s that i got from Joe himself decades ago.