Moscode 401HR's Sonic Character


I am curious about this hybrid amp. I very briefly saw it at the HE show in NYC, last year. I just read the (overall favorable) review that was just released in TAS.

I am looking to hear from those who own this amp, or have taken advantage of Moscode's generous in-home audition.

How would you describe this amp's sound?
Does it sound like a tube amp?
Does it sound like a solid state amp?
Does it sound like the best of both worlds...warm "tube" richness, with solid state authority & slam?

Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks.
barrelchief
Come on, nobody owns or has auditioned this amp???
I am a fan of all the moscode amps 300,600, 401hr. See my sytem post "SPeed Freak". No it is not the "best of solid state and tubes". It is more tube like. Who cares? It is an excellent amp the will drive almost any load.
I'm in the seventh day of a 15 day in-home audition of the Moscode 401HR. George Kaye told me that amp would require 100 hours to open up to 90% of its potential. Thus far, it has just over 150 hours.

It is a very musical amp. Nice extension without edge or glare. The image is wide and solid. Bass goes nice and deep with good control, although not as crisp and slammin' as some purely SS amps or digital amps I have tried. In my room, the bass is more true to the music, and provides an excellent foundation without sounding out of balance with the rest of the frequency spectrum. In fact, the 401HR's bass is better than that from any tube amp I have heard at home.

The midrange and treble is silky like a good tube amp. It's not quite as holographic and magical as the midrange on my VAC Phi 110/110, but it's still very early in the burn-in process, and this area could very well improve. The VAC didn't develop its magic until hundreds of hours into the burn-in process.

What is terrfic about the Moscode is how easily the sound can be tailored with tube rolling. The changes I get rolling tubes in the 401HR are more immediate than any changes I have realized by rolling KT88 or 6SN7 tubes in the VAC (to the credit of the VAC). The stock Electro Harmonix and Sovtek tubes are quite capable, but rolling in some NOS 12AU7 or 6922 tubes makes a clear change for the better as the highs become sweeter and the image becomes more 3D. I have rolled Siemens E88CC, Mullard ECC82, Tungsram 12AU7, National 6DJ8 and RCA 5814A. The 12AU&/5814A present a slightly softer and larger image. Very, very nice. The 6DJ8/6922 create a punchier sound with a more coherent image, IMO, and they better define the edges of the instruments.

Yes, I would say the Moscode combines the best of both worlds, but it favors the best qualities of tube amps. I imagine someone walking into a room who was not familiar with the Moscode, and without seeing the amp, would guess the amplification was 100% tubes.

A very nice amplifier. I am absolutely enjoying my time with it.
A very nice amplifier. I am absolutely enjoying my time with it.

Tvad, I see you sold your Vac Phi 110/110. Coming so soon after your audition of the Moscode 401 HR, is this what replaced your amp? If not, what did you choose and would you mind telling us a bit more about your experiences with the Moscode?

Thank you.
I kept the Moscode 401HR. My experience with the amp is pretty well summed up above as there have been no significant changes in its sound since I made the post on 6/27.

I have done a good amount of tube rolling...Mullard Mitchum E88CC, National 6DJ8, RCA 5814A, Tungsram 6922, Tungsram 12AU7, Siemens ECC88 and Siemens 6922 CCa. Thus far, the CCa are the clear winners, with the Nationals in a close second. I am hoping to soon own some Mullard Blackburn ECC88 and Mullard Blackburn 12AU7.

If anyone has a specific question, I'd be happy to try and answer it.
if the 401HR is anything like my friends moscode 600(modified by G kaye)& im sure its better , then its gotta be a great amplifier. ive had the 600 in my system for many month & loved the sound.

Tvad (or anyone else),

On the original Counterpoint SA amps: "These amplifiers use MOSFETs in the output stage, devices which had initially attained a high level of popularity due to their soft and musical sonic characteristic. Critical listening has shown, however, that MOSFETs soften the sound perhaps too much, and add their own coloration - a kind of fine-grained mist - to the sound. Also, due to high internal losses and occasional flaws in manufacturing, MOSFETs have not proven to be as reliable as bipolar transistors." Mike Elliott Alta Vista Audio / Aria
I am guessing that ten plus years has given companies who manufacture MOSFETS the time to improve their products?

Have you noticed any "misting" or "softening"of the sound from the Moscode? (other than the usual tube colorations)

Also, have you compared the Moscode to any other hybrids such as the Butler TDB 2250 or even an older Counterpoint SA-220 or one of the upgrades offered by Mike Elliott?

Thanks for any and all impressions.
Have you noticed any "misting" or "softening"of the sound from the Moscode? (other than the usual tube colorations)
Not in my opinion.

Also, have you compared the Moscode to any other hybrids such as the Butler TDB 2250 or even an older Counterpoint SA-220 or one of the upgrades offered by Mike Elliott?
No.

I recently installed a pair of Siemens CCa into the 401HR, and the sound is the best I've heard thus far: large image, excellent resolution, lots of air and naturalness, outstanding tonal balance without any glare or etch.
I haven't heard both amps directly compared in the same system, but I own the Moscode 401HR and I have listened to the Butler amps on quite a few occasions.

The Moscode has better drive and dynamics (it drives my Salk HT3's easily and with authority) with a cleaner and less colored midrange. The music flows out of the Moscode and produces a nice big image that is soooo easy to listen to. There is tons of detail, but it really is about the overall enjoyment factor with the Moscode amp.

The Butler is a good amp at a good price (especially used), but I feel it doesn't match the Moscode in any particular area or in overall presentation.

I highly recommend you at least audition the Moscode and take advantage of their 33 1/2 day trial.

George
I have used the 401hr w/o my subs. Overall the 401 hr is a balanced amp from top to bottom. It satisfies my need for speed. I recall puting on a piano album. I had to check to see if I had left the turntable on 45 instead of 33. It has an uncanny ability to recover from each note no matter how demanding. There is no image collapse when the music gets loud. It has the abilty to display each instrument in space from front to back and side to side.
The funny thing is that many records where I thought the singers were muumbling now come through as articulate and easy to discern.
I think it is an excellent amp for cls in particular and panel speakers in general.
I have not done any tube rolling or experimenting with power cords.
To my ears this amp falls in the category of you will not know there is anything better until you insert it into your system.
I have only two complaints. As pretty as it is I wish there was a switch to turn the ligth off completely. I also wish the front panel had some way to prevent the front panel from slamming against the shelf when it is pulled down.
I have no financial interest in the company.
Really good comments guys.

I'm re-setting up a system for my retired dad and have been looking at the Moscode (rest of system: TNT4,Graham 2.2,Joule Electra LA200 pre & OPS phono, Omega Micro spk cables, NBS Pro IC's, ESP Harp spkrs). We used 50W SE triode monos that drove the ESP Concert Grands that we had before going down to the mid-level Harps and thought the amps would drive the Harps but didn't count on the 15 in woofer in the Harp (versus 3 eight inchers in the CG's) being such a pain in the arse. Sold the amps years ago and the system has been in storage for 5 yrs; now setting it back up for him and need an amp, cartridge & CD.

Here's the problem: We LIKE SE sound and we had $1500 of NOS tubes in the old SE's so we LIKE musicality...if you know what I mean.

I've got a good gut feeling about the Moscode. I also like that I could get 'ol pops out of all mono amp tube issues and slap the amp in the rack! (other option is PrimaLuna EL34 based six's, ie. I don't want to come over and bias his tubes amps all of the time...). The final option is a SS McIntosh 402; he'll love the blue meters and we can always sell it, etc.

I've been looking around the 'gon for the past several months for a used Moscode but no ads (kind of a good sign...), so figure there have to be more guys out there who like the amp too.

What do you think? Thanks, Mark

PS I got out of audio years back...kinda (I have to admit to myself everyday that I will always be an addict; its part of the 1000 step program...). My system: Spendor LS3/5A 15 ohm spkrs, Sony CD (the old $3k one built like a tank), Air Tight ATM 300 8W SE amp w/ WE 300B's & Mullard shield 12AU7's, NBS Pro IC, Kondo spkr wire.
Asa, the Moscode does not sound like triode tube amplification, IMO, because it does not have the last word in midrange three dimensionality that a tube amp run in triode has. On the other hand, the Moscode's bass performance is far beyond a triode amp. As in all things, it's a trade off. The 401HR does make music though.

Since the Moscode can be auditioned in-home for 33 1/3 days, why not give it a listen?
You should read the review in a recent Stereophile on this amp. The reviewer does find that it has its own personality, and he didn't like all sonic characteristics of it. Further, JA's measurements show lots of distortion spikes that I don't like the looks of. Yes, some measurements don't translate to sonic issues, but distortion measurements showing numerous high order distortion products are a concern and a red flag in my mind.
You should not rely on Stereophile for anything other than the pretty pictures!
>>You should not rely on Stereophile for anything other than the pretty pictures!<<

Actually I find the 10,000 products in their Class A list quite useful.

:-)))))
11-11-06: Kevziek
You should read the review in a recent Stereophile on this amp. The reviewer does find that it has its own personality, and he didn't like all sonic characteristics of it. Further, JA's measurements show lots of distortion spikes that I don't like the looks of. Yes, some measurements don't translate to sonic issues, but distortion measurements showing numerous high order distortion products are a concern and a red flag in my mind.
Kevziek  (Reviews | Threads | Answers)

Kevziek, I suggest you listen to the amp yourself and decide.

I know six people who have auditioned the amp in their homes, and every one has purchased it.
"Actually I find the 10,000 products in their Class A list quite useful.

:-)))))"

which of course would be even more useful if they had a colorful picture.

"I know six people who have auditioned the amp in their homes, and every one has purchased it."
Tvad:
Make that seven. I purchased mine without the the trial period.
Thanks. Ditto on the $teropile, although the list does have its uses.

Yes, no SS-anything is an SE. I'm just asking about the overall musicality; as in, how involving. Dynamic contrasts are great, etc. but what about liquidity? Or, dimensionality? Not just how far back it goes, but how it goes; as in, the space between the players. Is it a void, or is there compression of air on the dynamics? Stuff like that.

Mostly, did you stay up late and forget what time it was? Do you get pulled in?

Thanks again.
Asa, with all respect, because everyone has a different definition of the qualities you mention, your questions can only be answered by listening to the amps under consideration.
Tvad, point taken...although I don't think "quality" is that relativistic, it only appears as such if you've never seen "it." (BTW, I think you have...) Is it hard to describe? Sure, for everyone; that is the limitaion of language. But, less so for those that have gone looking for it. If it was ineffable per se, then you and I would have stood mute, and if I'm not mistaken, we haven't...

Yes, I will listen to see for myself, but with no dealers - 30 day deal back, or not - it makes sense to ask, doesn't it?

If I hear passion in the responses and a mention of liquidity or harmonic complexity, as opposed to objective-focused language, doesn't that tell me something?

Actually, when I saw you response, tvad, I was hoping to hear what you thought, because of what you said of the NOS input rolling. I was hoping to hear if there was any "passion."
Asa, I will not fall into the trap of trying to describe in a discussion forum what entails passion in me when it comes to audio. We of Anglo/Saxon and Scottish ancestry display little passion for anything. A little smile...a toe tapping...this is a standing ovation from my people. :)

As I have mentioned elsewhere, six people I know have auditioned the Moscode 401HR in their homes and all have purchased the amplifier. I prefer to let these numbers speak for themselves.
The speaker/amp interface I find critical. It's really best to audition an amp in your own system. It appears there's not alot of used ones so you are stuck with a new one.

If you like the idea of a hybrid amp you may want to try one of the AVA Fetvalve amps. I use one and love it. It's got a cleanliness I've not heard before. The sonic signature is very similar to a Blue Circle BC 24 hybrid I had but costs less and has alot more power. It's not as nicely finished and doesn't use the same caps but the sound is truly excellent especially for 2,200.

Best of luck on your search. In my system a hybrid to run the planar/ribbon section of my speakers is the perfect choice imo. You'll have to find out for yourself about the Moscode. There's people who's opinion I respect over at audiocircle who love this amp. On their word alone I'd try it.
Thank you, tvad, I understand (although I went to school in London and way back then found the folk plenty passionate...after knowing you for a while and a few pints :0)

Thank you too, Warner.

PrimaLuna and $2K saved and maybe ol Dad can't really tell that much anymore anyway, or Moscode sight unseen...

I'll have to mull that one around a bit.

Thanks again guys.
Asa, FWIW, if you are considering buying th Primaluna amps consider how well they will interface with your pre-amp.
Good point, Newbee. Thanks. Is there a particular problem with them, outside of the usual considerations? Can't see that Kevin Deal would be interested in selling amps at that price point with interface/impedance problems (Sorry, Barrel, will get back to Moscode ASAP, promise...)
Now available also from MUSICDIRECT!
My 401HR keeps improving.It may begin to challenge the very best.
Let me try where Asa failed, Tvad.

Do you think this is the last amp you will ever buy?
Do you think this is the last amp you will ever buy?
Baddabob (Threads | Answers)

Ha! One never says never in this hobby. An amp change can be prompted by other circumstances...speaker change, financial considerations, audiophilia nervosa.

I am very happy with my system and with the Moscode 401HR, and at this time I have no desire or intention to replace it.
I would love to have a shootout between the 401HR and the Atmasphere Mk1 2.3.
Greggadd,

I just sold my BAT VK-600SE and Dodd 120's as I preferred the Moscode 401HR over both.

I agree with Tvad in that I have no desire to try other amps and I am extremly happy with the Moscode.

George
George I'm glad you are happy with the 401HR. After about 150 hours it will come into it's own. I think it takes about six months for a marraige to occur between the owner and component. By then you will realize the smart move you made.
Asa,
Glad to have you back on the 'gon. I have missed your informative posts!
Barrelcheif, did ya order one? I am waiting patiently for mine!!
711:

Though I likely will dive into this fairly soon, I have not yet changed power amps...likely will be staying w/SS.

Please share your thoughts once you have yours.

Enjoy!
This Thread is touching 3 out of the 4 amps on my short list

Has anyone done an A/B onthe Moscode next to the Atmasphere or the Hurricaine MkI or 2's.

The 4th Amp is the Coincident Dragon.

So far the best bottom line has to be the Moscode.

Somebody HELP me
thanks

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Listening to -John Hiatt- Bring The Family--A&M SP 5158