Long-time audio folk will no doubt recall (with more clarity than I) James Bongiorno’s wide and varied contributions to the world of amplifier design. As well as bringing his own models to market under the Great American Sound Co. (GAS) and Sumo brands, Bongiorno’s credits as contributing engineer to products from Dynaco, Marantz and Hadley are more numerous than most audio gurus would hope to clock up in three lifetimes.
Bongiorno’s achievements are all the more impressive when one considers the serious health issues that troubled him on-and-off for thirty-five years. He was first diagnosed with liver cancer in 1978 but didn’t sell his share in Sumo until the cancer’s more aggressive return in 1982. Surgery put the life-threatening disease in remission until 1998, when it once again returned.
An undeterred Bongiorno founded Spread Spectrum Technologies in the early noughties, a brand under which he would continue development of the Ampzilla circuit that he initially designed for Popular Electronics Magazine in the late 1970s and soon thereafter realised as a retail product proper at GAS.
Via a mutual friend in Bascom King, Bongiorno was introduced to Wyred4Sound’s EJ Sarmento who would be brought in to assist with SST’s manufacturing processes and quality control, allowing Bongiorno time to design and refine. With Bongiorno and Sarmento each based in Central California, it made sense to move SST production to Wyred4Sound’s facility in Atascadero (which I visited earlier this year).
With Bongiorno’s health worsening in 2012, Sarmento took ownership of SST and the rights to develop Bongiorno ‘s amplifier designs, just before his passing in 2013.
Death is not the end.
In 2015, up from the deep, thirty stories high comes Son of Ampzilla II (US$3000), a 200wpc Class A/B stereo power amplifier first shown by Sarmento and co. at RMAF 2014. It joins a roster of products that includes the Thoebe II pre-amplifier (US$3000 and up), Ambrosia 2000 pre-amplifier (US$7000 and up) and the second edition Ampzilla 2000 monoblocks (US$8500/pair).
True to his master, Sarmento hasn’t messed with Bongiorno’s unusual taste in amplifier aesthetics. “Jim was a real pioneer in the industry, and we’re committed to not only continue his vision, but to expand on it,” says Sarmento.
Ampzilla2000.com now redirects to Spread Spectrum Technologies’ daisy-fresh SST.audio web presence that also features Facebook page and Twitter account. The news then is that SST is back and ready to do business.
Further information: SST