17 August 2010|
|Mosconi AS 200.4 Amplifier Review|
One of the more enjoyable aspects of doing these product reviews is the opportunity to see new and different brands from all over the world. It’s always refreshing to see a different approach to excellence in car audio, and many of these lesser known brands offer exceptional performance and quality. In many cases these brands are already well established in Europe or elsewhere, and are just getting started here in North America. One such brand is Mosconi, proudly designed and built in Italy and already popular in Europe, and in Germany in particular. The Mosconi brand has only been available in North America for about a year, and is distributed here by Orca Design and Manufacturing in California. The Mosconi gear is top quality and highly respected in Europe, so we thought it would be cool to check out a piece for ourselves. At $1499.00 in the US and a hundy more in Canada, it’s not cheap however, but then neither are Ferraris. A call was made, and before you could say Modena, Orca sent us a Mosconi AS200.4 four channel amplifier to check out.
The Mosconi AS200.4 is a moderately large Class AB four channel amplifier. Rated at 200x4 into 4 ohms, and 320 x4 into 2 ohms, the Mosconi amp is also capable of driving 1 ohm stereo loads, or 2 ohm bridged mono loads. With this kind of power and current capability, you’d expect the amp to be huge, but it’s not. The chassis measures about 23.3” long, x 7.8” wide, and 2” high. Cosmetically, the amp has a businesslike look about it, with a silver powdercoat covering its sharp edged chassis. Controls and connections are covered with black removable panels, finished in a tactile rubber coating that adds a sense of quality and attention to detail. Dual fan cooling inlets and an exhaust outlet are also trimmed in a matching black finish. There Are Also Optional Lit End Panels That Emit A Soft Red Or Blue Glow When The Amplifier Is Turned On. All of the wiring connections are made on one side of the amp, and the controls and adjustments are top mounted, and hidden under removable panels.
The power terminals will accept 1/0 gauge cable, and the speaker terminals accept 10 gauge speaker wire. RCA connections are recessed to allow most of the RCA shell to be hidden and protected. A 150A mini ANL type fuse lets you know this amp means business.
The signal controls consist of individual high pass and low pass crossovers for each pair of channels. Frequency range adjustability of 20-175Hz for the high pass, and 50-300Hz for the low pass provide tuning solutions for virtually any system. Engaging both will provide an adjustable bandpass crossover. There are also signal steering switches that allow you to run all four channels with one, two, three or four input signals, and a gain pot for each pair of channels rounds out the control features.
Cooling a powerful Class AB amplifier is no easy task, but the Mosconi has a well designed cooling system that uses a pair of fans to direct cool air across a high mass finned heatsink, and a third internally mounted fan to keep the dual toroidal transformers and other board mounted components cool. Air is drawn in on the top left hand side of the amplifier, and exhausted out the other end.
Internally, the amplifier is an all MOSFET design, with high current capability and plenty of reserve current capacity for good dynamics. There are 12 MOSFET devices for the power supply section and each channel has 6 MOSFET outputs, for a total of 24. This is about double the amount of devices you normally find in an amp of this power level, and it speaks to the intent for the amplifier to have high current capability, which is essential for low impedance loads or great dynamics. It also helps to justify the amps price… you are getting something extra for the money. The components inside are high quality, and a mixture of surface mount and through-hole components are used. The amplifier is ruggedly constructed, and obviously designed to be very reliable.
Read on for Full Results
After snooping around inside the Mosconi, I was more than ready to have a listen to it. Judging by the components and the construction I’d seen inside, I expected the amp to have plenty of power. I ran the front channels to my component speakers, and the rear channels were bridged to my reference subwoofer system. I set the subwoofer crossover at 80Hz, and used a matching frequency in high pass for the components. I was in the mood for some up tempo well played tunes with wide dynamic range and a very wide frequency range, so I broke out my Sheffield Labs copy of “The Usual Suspects”, and then a couple of big band tracks from Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey on a DMP recording. The Mosconi amplifier did indeed have an abundance of power, but the really cool thing was the amplifiers ability to reproduce the dynamics in these difficult tracks. Large orchestras have the ability to reach very high SPL levels, and for a stereo system to have a lifelike sound, it needs to be able to reproduce these rapid shifts in overall sound level. If an amp has poor signal to noise, the quiet passages can be obscured by hiss. If the amp has limited power, it will clip before the full volume of the recording is reached. With the Mosconi AS200.4, I had none of those issues. The amp would go from whisper soft to very loud and back to whisper soft, with an almost effortless grace. Bass notes were warm and controlled, and the highest frequencies came through with excellent clarity and detail. When the music stopped, the amp had zero audible noise. On Robbie Robertson’s almost spooky “Somewhere Down the Crazy River”, the natural reverberance in the recording came through so well I actually looked around to see where the sounds came from. Yes, the AS200.4 is a pretty good sounding amp!
As you’d expect, on the test bench the AS200.4 fared well, generally meeting the published specs to as close as makes no difference, and universally testing the way a quality amplifier should. Signal to noise measured very good for a large four channel amp, as did frequency response and stereo separation. I tested the reliability of the Mosconi, by running it at only 9 volts, dead shorting it, thermally overheating it, and through it all, it simply protected itself when it should, recovered automatically, and kept on playing. Reliability should be excellent with this amplifier. Overall power efficiency is not a strong point of any Class AB amplifier, and here the Mosconi is no different, with only average efficiency scores. But when an amp with this much power sounds this good, it’s a bit like worrying over the fuel economy of your Ferrari.
The Mosconi AS200.4 is a quality product in every regard. It’s well built, and obviously designed by people who understand what it takes to build a good sounding amplifier. The preamp section provides excellent flexibility in system design, and the amp is built with ruggedness and reliability in mind. I’m told the Mosconi amplifiers are used in world championship winning sound quality cars, and after auditioning it here, I’m not surprised. Sure there are cheaper amps, but remember, there’s a reason a Ferrari costs more than a Ford.