It's hardly news to see Moscode’s 401HR 200Wpc hybrid amplifier ($4995, factory-direct price until January 1) heaped with praise. But let me tell you, after walking in and out of countless rooms powered by single-ended triode amplification that got some things right while they pretended others simply didn’t exist, encountering Moscode’s full-range sound was tantamount to setting foot on terra firma. Mated with Joseph Audio RM33LE speakers ($10,500/pair) and Cardas Golden Reference cabling, the configuration had me smiling. Three cheers to the show attendee who played the song about pay phones by the Hunger Mountain Boys.
The first room to seize my attention today paired Triode Electronics from Japan with the Adagio Acoustic Zen and Micropure Kotaro speakers. Neither speakers was an ideal match for the Triode TRV 35SE (an El34-based class-A/B integrated amp offering 45Wpc for $1699) or Triode TRV-M300SE (300B parallel single-ended monoblocks outputting 20W for $4000), since both amps need higher-sensitivity speakers to truly shine. But both the soundstage and midrange were exceptionally enveloping, with highs more extended on the Kotaros. Distributed by Twin Audio Video of Loma Linda, designer Junichi Yamazaki’s amps have only been available in the US since April.
Scoring a "10" in the outrageous visuals department, especially when played in the dark, are the 200 lb, $42,000/pair Amber Wave 200W push-pull monoblocks. The space-consuming units, wide as well as deep due to their massive power supplies, utilize huge, readily available NOS 304TL transmitting triodes as output tubes. Complete with an audible buzz from the power supplies, and thus best situated far from the listening area, the amps give off so much heat that they require built-in cooling fans (which add to the noise). Amidst it all emerged a strong if not particularly sweet midrange and a guarantee that everyone on the block will want to take a look.
As a fan of VTL electronics, I was quite eager to hear their new autobias, 400W MB-450 tube monoblocks ($13,500/pair) and TL-6.5 preamp ($8500) paired with hardly broken-in, not exactly the same as the final product prototypes of the Thiel CS3.7. While the sound was fabulously fast, tight, and full-ranged on Patricia Barber’s new CD, Mythologies, the highs were crackling sharp to the point of irritation. Wondering what was up, I took my photo of Thiel’s Ken Dawkins and bid a hasty, but hardly final, retreat.