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Aragon 2004 MK II Review (Vintage Amplifier)

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 49 32.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 74 48.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 20 13.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 9 5.9%

  • Total voters
    152

Gox

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24k with p&g pot and 2004mkII besides " too short for " banana speaker terminals is great combo and can run smoothly with NS1000. Issue with old amps can arise if not used regularly and caps starts to dry. Also germans back then regularly tested Aragon amps and gave them spitzenklasse stars. But it is hard for final conclusions as author stated so maybe owner can provide more baxkground amp info.
 

hyfynut

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This is a review and detailed measurements of a "vintage" (1990) Aragon 2004 MKII stereo amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member.
View attachment 174007

I like the v-shaped design to set it apart from countless other boxes. Speaking of boxes, this thing is massive. It was designed to house the double power 4004 version with the same power supply. Inside is dusty and I am not sure if it has been refurbished or not.

View attachment 174008

If anyone knows what it sold for originally please, post.

Reading online, it is claimed that Dan D'Agostino of Krell and now D'Agostino amplifier company fame did a lot of the electronic design.

Note: please ignore the "4004" designation on the graphs. I originally thought it was that unit and didn't realize otherwise until the end of the measurements.

Aragon 2004 MK II Measurements
Warm up was uneventful and is often the case, performance got (negligibly) worse, not better, contrary to popular opinion:

View attachment 174009

Here is our usual dashboard of pushing a 1 kHz tone into the amplifier:
View attachment 174010

There is a ton of power supply related noise. So I shut off the input and saw some amount of it still there:

View attachment 174011

More on this later. For now, SINAD of 65 dB is well below the average of all amplifiers tested to date (around 79 dB). Dominant distortion spikes are 2nd and 4th.

Dynamic range is actually very good:

View attachment 174012

Crosstalk is not:

View attachment 174013

Swinging the other end again, frequency response is nice, flat and extended:
View attachment 174014

Multitone shows a lot of distortion spikes which is likely a combination of power supply noise and intermodulation:

View attachment 174015

Here is distortion+noise vs output power:

View attachment 174016

As you see from our two reference amplifiers (dashed lines), the usual slope is pointing down. This is because noise dominates the measurements when output power is low but once we increase the output signal, it progressively becomes smaller and smaller part of the original signal so overall performance improves. Not here. The line is flat. My best guess is that power supply noise is proportionally increasing with output power. So likely the filter capacitors are not doing their job. It could be an original problem or due to them aging.

Same is true of 8 ohm load:

View attachment 174017

Allowing for a bit more distortion, power specs are met:


View attachment 174018

Changing the frequency and making the same power measurements we get:
View attachment 174019

Distortion lines for 1 kHz and lower are actually above their higher frequency counterparts. This is backward of most amplifiers and again points to power supply producing more noise as lower frequencies rely on them more.

Conclusions
At first I thought that an amplifier produced in 1990 would not be "vintage" but then realized that was 30 years ago! Time flies as they say... It is hard to know if this amplifier is running at original spec. I did not get any information from the member on that front. Looking inside, it is dusty and components appear to be original but I could not look closely. As is, performance is not special. There is a lot of distortion and classic tests like crosstalk show weakness. So I would not go out of my way to get one unless you have massive space you want to fill with a big box amplifier.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
I don't see the usual chart. Where does this fall in Sinad comparisons to other amplifiers?
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

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I don't see the usual chart. Where does this fall in Sinad comparisons to other amplifiers?
I tend to not formally rank these vintage product. Average SINAD for all tested amps is 79.
 

musicforcities

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Sep 18, 2021
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I’d be willing to bet it hasn’t been serviced or recapped, especially if you can see gathered dust inside of it.
i have read that these are direct coupled AND that they have essentially no speaker protection. If so (and I hope I have been misinformed) running one of these aging amps without a complete service is playing roulette with your. speakers.

I seriously doubt it’s running at spec.

The v grove , btw, reflects the internal layout of the transistors and heatsinks. Pretty cool.
 

musicforcities

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I tend to not formally rank these vintage product. Average SINAD for all tested amps is 79.
That’s very fair. At this age, it’s hard to know if results are typical or specific to the item; and Unless the item just came from a proper service that tested it afterwards to at least some reasonable degree, it can. Have all sorts of sub-spec performing parts, from filter caps to bridge recitifiers to dried up/worn out thermal paste etc. still, it’s very interesting and informative to see these vintage items tested. Personally, I think there is something inherently ethical in keeping old yet well built and reasonably performing devices running and out of landfills. I have to wonder how a new n-core would age and perform 30 years down the road…maybe just as well.
 

musicforcities

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Remind d me not buy a used car from you.

A couple pics of the interior of these amps. They were dual mono I believe, with transformers stacked on top of each other. hence the weight. The transistors are mounted diagonally to heat sinks along either side of the v slot. Can’t help but wonder if components on the more inward channel get a bit more cooked that the other.

You might be able to toast a panini in the groove


View attachment 175024View attachment 175025
 

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Last edited:

Jaime

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This is a review and detailed measurements of a "vintage" (1990) Aragon 2004 MKII stereo amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member.
View attachment 174007

I like the v-shaped design to set it apart from countless other boxes. Speaking of boxes, this thing is massive. It was designed to house the double power 4004 version with the same power supply. Inside is dusty and I am not sure if it has been refurbished or not.

View attachment 174008

If anyone knows what it sold for originally please, post.

Reading online, it is claimed that Dan D'Agostino of Krell and now D'Agostino amplifier company fame did a lot of the electronic design.

Note: please ignore the "4004" designation on the graphs. I originally thought it was that unit and didn't realize otherwise until the end of the measurements.

Aragon 2004 MK II Measurements
Warm up was uneventful and is often the case, performance got (negligibly) worse, not better, contrary to popular opinion:

View attachment 174009

Here is our usual dashboard of pushing a 1 kHz tone into the amplifier:
View attachment 174010

There is a ton of power supply related noise. So I shut off the input and saw some amount of it still there:

View attachment 174011

More on this later. For now, SINAD of 65 dB is well below the average of all amplifiers tested to date (around 79 dB). Dominant distortion spikes are 2nd and 4th.

Dynamic range is actually very good:

View attachment 174012

Crosstalk is not:

View attachment 174013

Swinging the other end again, frequency response is nice, flat and extended:
View attachment 174014

Multitone shows a lot of distortion spikes which is likely a combination of power supply noise and intermodulation:

View attachment 174015

Here is distortion+noise vs output power:

View attachment 174016

As you see from our two reference amplifiers (dashed lines), the usual slope is pointing down. This is because noise dominates the measurements when output power is low but once we increase the output signal, it progressively becomes smaller and smaller part of the original signal so overall performance improves. Not here. The line is flat. My best guess is that power supply noise is proportionally increasing with output power. So likely the filter capacitors are not doing their job. It could be an original problem or due to them aging.

Same is true of 8 ohm load:

View attachment 174017

Allowing for a bit more distortion, power specs are met:


View attachment 174018

Changing the frequency and making the same power measurements we get:
View attachment 174019

Distortion lines for 1 kHz and lower are actually above their higher frequency counterparts. This is backward of most amplifiers and again points to power supply producing more noise as lower frequencies rely on them more.

Conclusions
At first I thought that an amplifier produced in 1990 would not be "vintage" but then realized that was 30 years ago! Time flies as they say... It is hard to know if this amplifier is running at original spec. I did not get any information from the member on that front. Looking inside, it is dusty and components appear to be original but I could not look closely. As is, performance is not special. There is a lot of distortion and classic tests like crosstalk show weakness. So I would not go out of my way to get one unless you have massive space you want to fill with a big box amplifier.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Back in those days, I had a 2004 MKII for a couple of months, and a 4004MKII for over nine (9) years. No comparison in macro dynamics and grip of the music presentation. The 4004MKII had a slightly dark sound, terrific dynamic punch, a wee bit grainy on top, and lots of bass that could have had a bit better definition (I guess nowadays it is called "texture".) The grip on the sound presentation was such that at times it felt the amp was slowing down the music tempo, but it was not. The total opposite of light and airy, Control is the correct term, tight fisted. I compared it to many other amps, as an example - the Krell KST100 sounded soft and wimpy (with my inefficient and with a difficult load speakers), not unlike the 2004MKII.

Over a dozen borrowed amps passed through my system, but I was in love with my 4004 MKII....then I bought an 8008....bright, brittle and a "machine-gun" quick bass response that was just artificial sounding for me. Did not last two months - sold it fast!
This is a review and detailed measurements of a "vintage" (1990) Aragon 2004 MKII stereo amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member.
View attachment 174007

I like the v-shaped design to set it apart from countless other boxes. Speaking of boxes, this thing is massive. It was designed to house the double power 4004 version with the same power supply. Inside is dusty and I am not sure if it has been refurbished or not.

View attachment 174008

If anyone knows what it sold for originally please, post.

Reading online, it is claimed that Dan D'Agostino of Krell and now D'Agostino amplifier company fame did a lot of the electronic design.

Note: please ignore the "4004" designation on the graphs. I originally thought it was that unit and didn't realize otherwise until the end of the measurements.

Aragon 2004 MK II Measurements
Warm up was uneventful and is often the case, performance got (negligibly) worse, not better, contrary to popular opinion:

View attachment 174009

Here is our usual dashboard of pushing a 1 kHz tone into the amplifier:
View attachment 174010

There is a ton of power supply related noise. So I shut off the input and saw some amount of it still there:

View attachment 174011

More on this later. For now, SINAD of 65 dB is well below the average of all amplifiers tested to date (around 79 dB). Dominant distortion spikes are 2nd and 4th.

Dynamic range is actually very good:

View attachment 174012

Crosstalk is not:

View attachment 174013

Swinging the other end again, frequency response is nice, flat and extended:
View attachment 174014

Multitone shows a lot of distortion spikes which is likely a combination of power supply noise and intermodulation:

View attachment 174015

Here is distortion+noise vs output power:

View attachment 174016

As you see from our two reference amplifiers (dashed lines), the usual slope is pointing down. This is because noise dominates the measurements when output power is low but once we increase the output signal, it progressively becomes smaller and smaller part of the original signal so overall performance improves. Not here. The line is flat. My best guess is that power supply noise is proportionally increasing with output power. So likely the filter capacitors are not doing their job. It could be an original problem or due to them aging.

Same is true of 8 ohm load:

View attachment 174017

Allowing for a bit more distortion, power specs are met:


View attachment 174018

Changing the frequency and making the same power measurements we get:
View attachment 174019

Distortion lines for 1 kHz and lower are actually above their higher frequency counterparts. This is backward of most amplifiers and again points to power supply producing more noise as lower frequencies rely on them more.

Conclusions
At first I thought that an amplifier produced in 1990 would not be "vintage" but then realized that was 30 years ago! Time flies as they say... It is hard to know if this amplifier is running at original spec. I did not get any information from the member on that front. Looking inside, it is dusty and components appear to be original but I could not look closely. As is, performance is not special. There is a lot of distortion and classic tests like crosstalk show weakness. So I would not go out of my way to get one unless you have massive space you want to fill with a big box amplifier.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Jaime

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I recall those being well regarded among critics back in their day. I’m sure I heard one at some point, but the mists of time being as they are…
Back in those days, I had a 2004 MKII for a couple of months, and a 4004MKII for over nine (9) years. No comparison in macro dynamics and grip on the music presentation. The 4004MKII had a slightly dark sound, terrific dynamic punch, a wee bit grainy on top, and lots of bass that could have had a bit better definition (I guess nowadays it is called "texture".) The grip on the sound presentation was such that at times it felt the amp was slowing down the music tempo, but it was not. The total opposite of light and airy, Control is the correct term, tight fisted. I compared it to many other amps, as an example - the Krell KST100 sounded soft and wimpy (with my inefficient and with a difficult load speakers), not unlike the 2004MKII.

Over a dozen borrowed amps passed through my system, but I was in love with my 4004 MKII....then I bought an 8008....bright, brittle and a "machine-gun" quick bass response that was just artificial sounding for me. Did not last two months - sold it fast!
 

musicforcities

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These pictures don't show an (!) Aragon 2004Mk2, that's for sure. A device from a later series is shown. I have the 4004Mk2, which is visually different from the 2004. It is difficult to get good records about the equipment. http://www.aragonav.com/ is a first port of call, http://hbassociates.us/Aragon_FanPage.html another.

Very possible. The stacked toroidal transformers are from an 8008 I believe.

I think the v shaped slot was used for the heat sinks in most of the 4 and 8 series models however.

Does not really matter except it’s a nice example of integrating engineering and design to creat an amp that is distinctive yet tasteful in appearance.
 

musicforcities

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I wouldn't. It's probably about $150 to replace those four screw terminal caps alone. Sure you could come up with a board to use snap in caps, but that's a bit of a pain. Measure the leakage current and ESR of the existing caps. Nothing wrong with replacing them if you really want, but I see no reason to bother unless I have good reason to believe they are actually bad. I certainly wouldn't just assume they're bad - it's relatively rare that I see can caps from the 80s and 90s that are bad.

In my experience the large filter caps are often ok even if many of the other caps are shot. They are often in a relatively cool part of the case, or at least not right next to resistors etc. and often seem to have more margin built into the spec. The price delta for 2-4 big cans (105 degree and higher voltage) is not as significant for as for dozens of little ones I guess. Though not always: I recall one amp with filter caps with the rated voltage that was exactly the same as the output from the rectifier and to the rails. I’d always prefer at +10% voltage at least.

Unless they were faulty caps to begin with and placed so that they are subjected to more heat than normal (I’m looking at you NAD c270/c370/c372/c272: bad factory caps mounted in the center of a case that does not have great heat management. Caps go boom)
 

AudioTodd

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Very possible. The stacked toroidal transformers are from an 8008 I believe.

I think the v shaped slot was used for the heat sinks in most of the 4 and 8 series models however.

Does not really matter except it’s a nice example of integrating engineering and design to creat an amp that is distinctive yet tasteful in appearance.
The 4004 had stacked independent transformers to make them "full dual mono" or whatever they called it. The 2002 just had a single transformer if I remember correctly.

It was said you could weld with these amps and few others at the price point could deliver crazy current into really tough loads back in the day. I'm not sure what can today, especially at the prices used ones of these sell for. I plan to get mine out and see if it is OK after all these years in storage (15? 17?) just for kicks.
 
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hyfynut

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I tend to not formally rank these vintage product. Average SINAD for all tested amps is 79.
I'm not sure why not? This is the whole point of using SINAD as a spec? Just as beneficial for old amps as it is for newer ones.
 
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EJ3

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I'm not sure why not? This is the whole point of using SINAD as a spec? Just as beneficial for old amps as it is for newer ones.
It's good to see how well the venerated equipment of old (even if it has been updated or modified over the years) actually compares to the latest/greatest.
 
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