Review: Marsh Sound Design A-400s Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

My musical tastes range widely and include contemporary jazz, folk, pop, blues, singer-songwriter and ambient music. I tend to look for warmth, dimension, and naturalness and had in the past favored tube equipment, including a really Audio Research D115mk2 100 wat tube amp. Alas, when I got my Totem Mani 2s- a replacement and upgrade from the Vandersteen II CEs- they were current-hungry and demanding. I demoed several solid state amps in the 150-200 watt range and found the Marsh not only to be the best sounding and most tube-like, but also one of the better absolute values. The McCormack DNA 225 was retailing for about $2800; the Belles 350A, which had the closest sound to the Marsh, was over $3000. I thought it was an incredibly good deal, almost too good to be true. 18 months later, and particularly since the price went up $500 since I bought it, I still think the Marsh is probably the best value in a solid state amp in the 200-watt range and the best sounding solid state amp below the next level occupied by Pass, Plinius and Rowland. The mid and highs are even and without grain or metal; it is able to power incredible strength on the bass, even through my unforgiving and greedy Mani 2's. I may, admittedly, upgrade to a Pass or Plinius, but I'll pay twice as much or more for a modest incremental improvement.


Associated gear
Resolution Audio CD-50, modified by Great Northern Sound; Totem Mani 2 speakers, MIT Cables and interconnects, Audio Research LS8 Preamp.

Similar products
Amplifiers by McCormack, Belles, Classe
This amp is indeed very nice and a great bargain except for one area. It needs a very good line conditioner to work properly. The difference is night and day. Try this unit with a Fisch (German). I have not heard another amp that responded so well to power conditioning. This is a downside to its power supply. I would pick the McCormack over this unit.
What Classe did you compare to the Marsh? I am considering Classe 200 or201 vs. Marsh A400.

Greetings ALL:
I'm considering the Marsh A-400 to replace my Rotel1080 and my only concern is the relatively brief warranty.

Does this reflect poorly on build quality or design?
Any feedback welcome.

The Marsh is indeed a great sounding amp when it works. I bought mine from a fellow Audiogoner. I was delighted until the first breakdown.

Unfortunately, as I subsequently found not only is the amplifier subject to frequent breakdowns, but, worse, their customer service can be sumnmarized in one word: abominable.