Moscode 401HR & Dodd 120's
October 26, 2006
I know it took a long time for me to write
about these two amps, but I wanted to make sure I spent enough
time with each and didn't rush out any comments. There was also
another amp in the equation (BAT VK-600SE) that I will talk about
in a different thread. For this one I kept it to the Moscode 401HR
and Dodd 120's.
• Dodd 120 Tube Monoblocks
• Moscode 401HR Hybrid Stereo Amplifier
• Salk Sound HT3’s (stock)
• Tact 2.2x (modified by Aberdeen Components)
• Squeeze Box 2 (modified by Bolder Cable)
Ultimate II PS (Bolder Cable)
Summit DC Cable (Bolder Cable)
• Running Springs Audio Haley Power Conditioner
• Monster AVS 2000 Power generator
• VH Audio Symmetry balanced ic’s (analog)
• VH Audio Cryo’d Pulsar
w/Silver NextGen connectors (digital)
• VH Audio AirSine power cord (on the Haley)
• Black Sand Silver Max IV power cords
(on amps and Ultimate II Power Supply)
• SupraSword Ultra LoRad power cord (on the TacT 2.2x)
If you are the type that wants to know right away
what I thought and don’t want to wade through my ramblings,
here is my preference:
1. Moscode 401HR
2. Dodd 120’s
Both amps were excellent and I could live with
either in my system. The differences between them might seem very
pronounced below, but in reality they aren’t night and day
At this level of performance, you are really looking
for system synergy and personal preferences. In my case, I just
connected with the Moscode more than the Dodd amps. If you had
both amps in your room, it is very likely you could come up with
a different order and for different reasons. Please keep in mind
that there are no absolutes here and no right or wrong opinions.
That being said, on to my thoughts on each contender…
Dodd 120 Monoblocks
Upgraded tubes (SED EL34 tubes + GE 7044)
and Black Sand Silver Max IV power cords
The Dodd amps don’t sound like your father’s
tube amp….they are very well balanced from top to bottom
and easily drove my 85db sensitive Salk HT3’s. The Dodd
amps produced a very holographic and well defined sound stage
that had good depth and presence. These amps have a good transient
response and produce a nice toe tapping type of pace. Midrange
was neither sterile nor overly rich – pretty darn neutral
is what I would call them. The top end was well defined without
being exaggerated or worse, rolled off. Dynamics were better than
many back busting solid states amps I have owned.
Overall, I would call the Dodd 120’s a well
designed and well balanced amp that is neutral in character. Those
looking for a romantic or colored tube sound should look elsewhere.
The Dodd’s do equally well at Ben Harper, John Coltrane,
or Eva Cassidy. Want to throw some Wagner or Beethoven at them,
not an issue as long as you kept the volume in check.
So are the Dodd 120’s the number one choice
for me in my system? Nope. I would rank them third in my little
shootout. Here are some of my nitpicks:
• Background not as black as the Moscode
which led to:
- Didn’t provide the ultimate in detail and resolution (for
example, sometimes background vocals would blend in too much with
the lead singer on cd’s by Tori Amos
- Didn’t provide all the shadings, texture, and nuances
of the music that the other two amps did (this was really apparent
on percussion instruments such as piano, drums, and bongos and
• While the midrange was clear and neutral, it didn’t
grab and hold on to me. Female voices had good tonality, but not
the sexiness or soul that I wanted.
• The Dodd amps could get a little glassy and hard when
pushed at higher volumes or with very complex music.
• They didn’t make me suspend my disbelief enough.
Sometimes I could close my eyes and feel like whoever was in front
of me, but not as much as with the other amps.
Stock tubes and Black Sand Silver Max IV power cord
The easiest way for me to sum up my experience
with the Moscode is that is made me want to keep it in the system
more than the Dodd amps.
So why did the Moscode connect with me?
Simply put, it did everything the Dodd amps did,
just better. It had a much blacker background which led to improved
detail, resolution, and dynamics. Little details and nuances were
more apparent and obvious. Notes and voices had better separation
and didn’t blur at times like they did with Dodd. I also
thought that the Moscode had a bigger and more open sound. Nothing
that was artificially big or blown up, but rather that the Moscode
was able to nail the scale of the piece being played while the
Dodd came up a little short.
The Moscode had stronger and deeper bass, which
created a better foundation for the music. With this foundation,
the music seemed to be richer and harmonically complete. It’s
not like the Dodd amps were thread bare or thin in anyway, it’s
just that the Moscode did it better. The bass also had more texture
and substance to it. You not only heard the individual notes better,
but you heard the body of the instrument and the hall. I just
couldn’t get this from the Dodd amps.
The Moscode amp also sounded more effortless in
its presentation when compared to the Dodd. I was never able to
make the Moscode sound like it was running out of steam or going
to place it didn’t want to go to. The Moscode also held
the edge in sounding faster and with a snap and pace to it that
the Dodd amps just couldn’t quite match.
Overall I am extremely happy with the Moscode amp.
When Wes Philips said the Moscode 401HR “sounds right to
me” I totally get what he means. The Moscode sounds right
to me and I think it would probably sound right to a lot of people
out there. The good news is that it is easy to find out for yourself
if the 401HR is the right amp for your system. Moscode offers
a 33 1/3 day audition period and will pay shipping both ways.
Judging from what I have heard during my audition,
I now understand why there aren’t too many people who send
it back. I know that I won’t be.