Bottlehead moreplay vs Audio research reference 5se (early impressions)

I am totally shocked with the moreplay performance. I built it several months ago but just moved into a new listening space where I am using it more. I am directly comparing it to my ARC ref5se. Rest of the system is yamaha ns5000, pass x350.8 and denafrips terminator OG with v2 board.

What I noticed with moreplay in the system is a bigger more 3d soundstage especially with respect to depth and height, more forward and textured mids (incredible with female vocals), a warmer more pleasing tonality. I really can't believe it. This is also with stock tubes and cheap cabling (the ARC has much more expensive higher quality cabling). Moreplay just brings my system to life and although the ARC is good it makes it sound flat and somewhat lifeless.

I plan to do a full review at some point. I will keep listening but right now I don't really get how this is possible.

Not a shock to me. Elegant solutions often appeal to me and can yield excellent results if executed correctly. Single gain stage with a euphonic tube, adequate 9dB of gain, no feedback. It’s often more surprising to me when more complex circuits manage to yield excellent sound.

Now, imagine if you upgraded caps, volume control, etc. Lots of  possibilities. Have fun!

@skids I probably will. Its a great tube preamp but I think i need to chase the moreplay type of sound.

@corelli well said. An engineer on our discord said the exact same thing.

And ya I definitely plan on doing mods that are recommended to take it further... and tube roll. If it had a remote I probably wouldn't bother with another preamp for some time!

The Moreplay is a seriously good preamp for the money.  I like my Cary SLP-05 better but the Moreplay was close to my PS Audio BHK preamp.  If you upgrade the capacitors and do a little tube rolling it gets even better than the stock kit.  As the OP noted it has a terrific soundstage and great tonality. Biggest downside I found is that 6V6 tubes tend to be noisy and microphonic.  Since the volume control is after the gain, adjusting volume lower does reduce the noise but it also decreases the gain which might be an issue depending on what amp and speakers you are using.  Bottlehead has announced an imminent price hike so it will only be $439 for a few more days.  It goes up to $479 on 10/22.  The kit is complete and a very easy build.  

I'd argue the moreplay is a great preamp full stop. The Ref 5 se is largely regarded as one of the best preamps ever made and for moreplay to compete with it at 1/10 the price is utterly insane.


Been researching the heck out of a SS integrated (this past year) to replace my 20 year old Bottlehead Foreplay/Paramour combo and now I WANT a Moreplay.

Just great.



Yaaaaaaaaaaaa grab it. Its cheap enough that you can grab it and still look at other options. I'll still look for another preamp that has moreplay sound better finishing and a remote.

I'm flush (just saved $1700, or so, by purchasing 2 pairs of the Micca speaker cables mentioned in another thread;-).