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Old 03-20-2012, 10:31 PM
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JJinID JJinID is online now
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Default My visit to the ModWright facility

As I previously mentioned, I was able to carve out a couple of hours out of my weekend in the Portland area to pay a visit up to Amboy, WA and see Dan Wright and his facility. I made it up there a little after 10am on Monday. It was a very scenic and beautiful drive, with just a trace of snow covering the tree branches and dusting the ground. Fortunately the roads were just wet and not at all icy.

I was greeted by Dan and followed him down to his "warehouse" facility, where I met Kristin, his operations director, and the rest of his staff who were busily working away putting together new units. I also met two gentlemen who were down from Seattle visiting the facility as well. I am terrible with remembering names, but they did mention that they do visit the AA forums so I am hopeful that they will introduce themselves in this thread and post impressions from their visit as well.

The manufacturing facility was not built out during my last visit to Amboy, which was around eight years ago, so it was cool to see it. The pictures of Dan's facility are posted on another thread here in the ModWright subforum. My wife and I had meant to take our camera with us on the trip and forgot it, so I don't have any new pictures to share. One thing that was evident is that Dan is quickly outgrowing his space, as it was cluttered with many units that appeared to be WIP for either manufacturing, break-in, or testing. He also had some of the demo units we listened to "topless" so you could see the inside of them as well as the outside.

Dan brought us into his listening room, where he has a comfortable sofa for people to sit in and listen to music. The room has several decorated accoustic panels on the sides and back of the listening room, as well as ASC tube traps on the front wall corners. The speakers in the room are Daedalus Audio Ulysses in an ebonized walnut finish. I was also interested in hearing these speakers, since I had heard so many good things about them. They produced very coherent, balanced, rich, and room filling sound that was detailed and articulate without over-emphasizing any particular part of the frequency spectrum. I believe these retail for around $14k/pair and are sold factory-direct for the most part, so finding them locally to hear can be a bit difficult, but if you can hear them, I highly recommend an audition. I would say they compete very well with speakers costing over 2x the price. They also had excellent synergy with the ModWright electronics that we were hearing.

Speaking of the electronics, we were able to listen to the KWA150SE power amplifier, the LS100 preamp (with prototype DAC module installed), the Oppo BDP-95 with full tube modifications, and the KWI-200 integrated amplifier. We listened to the KWA150SE paired with the LS100 and USB audio via a laptop running JRiver into the LS100 DAC module first, and then switched to a SB Touch running digital into the LS100 DAC. Both sounded excellent! Then we switched to the analog output of the Oppo, which was also terrific and made me very excited to get my unit with the digital input into my system in the very near future! Next up was taking the KWA150SE out of the system and running the LS100 with the KWA200 in pass-through mode so we could just listen to the amplifier stage of the integrated. I have to say that the integrated amp, while not sounding quite as "big" and full, especially in the bass regions, left very little overall to it's more powerful amp-only cousin. Dan stated that he has run the integrated into 2-ohm loads and it easily generated over 700W without missing a beat! Then we removed the tube-based LS100 out of the equation and listened to both the pre-amp and amp sections of the solid state integrated. The removal of the tubes definintely changed the sound the most noticeably IMO out of all of the switching around of equipment. The sound lost some of the body and roundness that the tubes were contributing, and became definitely more "solid state" in terms of sharper and more prominent high-frequency transients and somewhat more noticeable microdetails. One point that was especially interesting to me was that the DAC module in the KWI200 sounded every bit as good if not better running from the Oppo's coaxial digital output into the integrated as the analog output from the modified Oppo did running into the unit. That DAC, whether built in or eventually as a stand-alone design, is a phenonenal performer!

In the midst of trying to do some critical listening, I spent a good amount of time chatting with Dan about some of his design details and he offered to show us some of his modular circuit boards for the DAC board and USB input as well. I also talked to him about some of his future product plans, and he also showed us a made up solid black faceplate for the integrated made specifically at the request of the French marketplace, which looked very nice, although I still prefer the white lettering overall vs. the black on black. Needless to say, the less than 2 hours that I was able to be there just flew by. I walked away excited about the prospect of auditioning the LS100 in my system, which will happen next month in April, as well as receiving the fully functional modified Oppo BDP-95 with the digital input mod. I also would say that the overall price/performance star of the lineup is definitely the KWI200. For $5k base retail or $6.5k for both the phono stage (which I didn't have time to hear) and the DAC module with both 192/24 asynchronous USB and coaxial digital inputs, it is an amazingly strong performing unit! I will emphasize once again that I loved the Daedalus speakers, and they will be high on my list when I get to the point where I am ready to upgrade speakers.

I thank Dan for the opportunity to visit his facility, and I wish him the best on finally resolving the difficult grounding issues that have delayed the release of the digital input mods for the Oppo 95 and Sony 5400ES players. Based on the progress he has made with the DAC modules for the integrated and preamp units, that time is just about here! Once these existing items are resolved, work on a standalone DAC, standalone phono-preamp, and a higher-end dual-mono balanced preamp to replace the LS 36.5 will be starting up! I also commend Dan for continuing to make high quality and high value equipment that has modular designs that can be continually upgraded for years to come as technology and designs improve (the optional modular DAC in the preamp and integrated as a prime example). Even in a down economy, Dan stated that ModWright's sales increased 25% in the past year, which is a testament to the hard work that both he and his staff have put into what they are doing. If you have the interest and opportunity to pay Dan a visit and to demo his equipment, I highly recommend doing so!
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McIntosh MC501s, XRT29s, XR27, WS350s
ModWright LS 300 Preamplifier
Denon AVR-A100 HT Receiver
JL Audio F113 subs with CR-1 Crossover
Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC
Sonore Ultrarendu with Uptone Audio LPS-1.2
Oppo UDP-205 with ModWright Signature Truth Tube Modifications
Clearaudio Performance SE TT with Hana ML MC cartridge
ModWright PH 9.0 Phono Stage
ASC & RealTraps Panels; APS PurePower 2000; Daedalus Audio DiDs
LAT International, Wireworld, WyWires Cables

Last edited by JJinID; 03-21-2012 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:39 PM
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cmalak cmalak is offline
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Jeff...thanks for a wonderful write-up of your visit with Dan and the rest of the folks at Modwright. Very enjoyable read.
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Speakers/Amp/Preamp: Thiel CS2.4 / ARC Ref 110 / ARC Ref 3
Sources: Basis 2001/Graham2.2/Nagra BPS/Benz Micro Glider SL, ARC CD7, Oppo BDP-83 SE
Cables/Power/Other: Nordost Heimdall ICs, SCs / Shunyata Hydra 8, Shunyata Python Helix PC / VPI 16.5, HRS Nimbus isolation system
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:45 PM
dpod4
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Very cool. Thanks for sharing. I LOVE my modwright 5400es. Your post makes me want to visit the Modwright facility. If I think of my entire system which spans tubes and solid state, digital and analogue, etc the modwright 5400es is the biggest bang for the buck investment I have made. Stupid crazy value. Took a humble cd player to heights that cost 10x comparably. Dan and crew are true magicians. And by the way his ops manager who you reference is top class. I'd like to get her hired at Nike!! She is excellent.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:43 AM
NeilNZ NeilNZ is offline
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Yep Kristin is awesome to deal with, and so is Dan actually! Really nice people with great products too.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:45 AM
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JJinID JJinID is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmalak View Post
Jeff...thanks for a wonderful write-up of your visit with Dan and the rest of the folks at Modwright. Very enjoyable read.
Thanks Cyril! I'm looking forward to writing up my impressions of the ModWright Oppo 95 once it's finally in my system!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpod4 View Post
Very cool. Thanks for sharing. I LOVE my modwright 5400es. Your post makes me want to visit the Modwright facility. If I think of my entire system which spans tubes and solid state, digital and analogue, etc the modwright 5400es is the biggest bang for the buck investment I have made. Stupid crazy value. Took a humble cd player to heights that cost 10x comparably. Dan and crew are true magicians. And by the way his ops manager who you reference is top class. I'd like to get her hired at Nike!! She is excellent.
Thanks Darrin! You (and any of the AA forum members living in the Portland area, or the Pacific NW for that matter) really should get in touch with Dan and arrange a visit if you are interested in seeing his facility and auditioning MWI equipment!
__________________
McIntosh MC501s, XRT29s, XR27, WS350s
ModWright LS 300 Preamplifier
Denon AVR-A100 HT Receiver
JL Audio F113 subs with CR-1 Crossover
Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC
Sonore Ultrarendu with Uptone Audio LPS-1.2
Oppo UDP-205 with ModWright Signature Truth Tube Modifications
Clearaudio Performance SE TT with Hana ML MC cartridge
ModWright PH 9.0 Phono Stage
ASC & RealTraps Panels; APS PurePower 2000; Daedalus Audio DiDs
LAT International, Wireworld, WyWires Cables

Last edited by JJinID; 03-21-2012 at 01:48 PM.
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  #6  
Old 03-21-2012, 05:01 PM
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JJinID JJinID is online now
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Here's the link to the AA thread I mentioned in my first post that shows the pictures of the ModWright facility from the 6moons article:

http://www.audioaficionado.org/modwr...ht-6moons.html

Dan's shop was quite a bit more crowded/cluttered and busy than in these pictures, but it gives a good idea of what things look like!
__________________
McIntosh MC501s, XRT29s, XR27, WS350s
ModWright LS 300 Preamplifier
Denon AVR-A100 HT Receiver
JL Audio F113 subs with CR-1 Crossover
Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC
Sonore Ultrarendu with Uptone Audio LPS-1.2
Oppo UDP-205 with ModWright Signature Truth Tube Modifications
Clearaudio Performance SE TT with Hana ML MC cartridge
ModWright PH 9.0 Phono Stage
ASC & RealTraps Panels; APS PurePower 2000; Daedalus Audio DiDs
LAT International, Wireworld, WyWires Cables
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Old 03-21-2012, 05:08 PM
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cmalak cmalak is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJinID View Post
Here's the link to the AA thread I mentioned in my first post that shows the pictures of the ModWright facility from the 6moons article:

http://www.audioaficionado.org/modwr...ht-6moons.html

Dan's shop was quite a bit more crowded/cluttered and busy than in these pictures, but it gives a good idea of what things look like!
Jeff...of course it was. He cleaned up before the folks from 6Moons.com showed up
__________________
Cyril
Speakers/Amp/Preamp: Thiel CS2.4 / ARC Ref 110 / ARC Ref 3
Sources: Basis 2001/Graham2.2/Nagra BPS/Benz Micro Glider SL, ARC CD7, Oppo BDP-83 SE
Cables/Power/Other: Nordost Heimdall ICs, SCs / Shunyata Hydra 8, Shunyata Python Helix PC / VPI 16.5, HRS Nimbus isolation system
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:41 PM
Ritmo Ritmo is offline
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Jeff - Nice update. While I've never had any MW gear, I've heard it at RMAF. Very nice performance for the money. Also, I've heard nothing but good things about Dan.

Mike
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Old 12-28-2014, 09:44 AM
Skynyrd77 Skynyrd77 is offline
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Sound like that was a awesome day out there!!!
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