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Moscode 401 HR stereo amplifier Washington DC

Clearly, the 401 HR is not the product of market research or an iPod-obsessed sales department. It was designed with a single goal: to sound great. Truth be told, the original Moscode’s basic-black styling wooed no one other than die-hard audiophiles; the new design—available in silver or black—has an integrity of purpose sorely lacking in more mainstream component.

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Moscode 401 HR stereo amplifier

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March 1, 2006 By Steve Guttenberg

The Moscode 401 HR stereo amplifier is a brand-new design with a story that dates back to the early 1980s. The HR suffix in the model name pays homage to the late Harvey “Gizmo” Rosenberg, a passionate audio evangelist who explored far-flung boundaries of product design. It was at Rosenberg’s company, New York Audio Laboratories, where Moscode head honcho George Kaye created the very first amplifier that commingled the romance of vacuum-tube sound with the efficiencies of solid-state design. The original Moscode caused quite a stir and inspired competitors’ hybrid tube/transistor designs through the following decades. The fusion of old and new technology was pure Harvey bravura—for him, audio gear was always more than mere hardware, and the best high-end designs served as totems on his search for “musical ecstasy.” Harvey went so far as to pack a diaper in the box with the original Moscode, “just in case you lose control of private functions” during your first audition. He was quite the showman.

Kaye nixed that “accessory” for the 401 HR, but he is emphatic about the new amplifier’s raison d’être. “Ultimately, the goal is to design something that makes you want to listen more. If someone walks by and hears the amp, I want them to be startled by its sound. It’s supposed to turn heads.” Talk like that from a manufacturer is music to my ears. Beyond resurrecting the Moscode brand, Kaye plays stand-up bass, owns a recording studio, and builds custom electronics for professional installations.

Clearly, the 401 HR is not the product of market research or an iPod-obsessed sales department. It was designed with a single goal: to sound great. Truth be told, the original Moscode’s basic-black styling wooed no one other than die-hard audiophiles; the new design—available in silver or black—has an integrity of purpose sorely lacking in more mainstream components. I find the 401 HR’s look thoroughly modern in a broad-shouldered, all-American way. The new modular design incorporates a host of technological refinements to enhance sound quality and reliability. Internal construction standards are high, and the various capacitors, resistors, and other parts are of audiophile quality. Like the original Moscode, the 401 HR is built in America.

While the four stock tubes produce great sound, I am sure any adventurous 401 HR owner will want to partake in the ancient art of “tube rolling”—that is, experimenting with different brands and vintages of tubes to fine-tune the Moscode’s sound. Some tubes sound brighter or more up-front, others sound laid-back and sweet. Anticipating the audiophile imperative to fuss with the tubes, Kaye mounts the half-inch thick milled aluminum faceplate on a hinge to flip down out of the way for easy access. The flip-down faceplate makes it easy for you or your installer to plug in a new set of tubes; the operation is a good deal more straightforward than, say, changing a soundcard on your comput...

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