Exposure to Modwright Instruments for the average audiophile tends to occur one of two ways. There are the scores of Dan Wright-modded Sony and Oppo disc players out there in systems throughout the world, and we even see a few on the used market from time to time (though rare). These famed tube stage modifications, as Jason Victor Serinus once put it, provide “night and day” improvements to already-beloved SACD players, catapulting them to new heights.
If you’ve not been around the audiophile scene long enough to have seen or heard those “Truth” mods which made Dan famous, and which started his now thriving audio component business, you’re probably more familiar with modern Modwright after seeing the memorable casework underlit by the characteristic blue glow, littering rooms at audio shows everywhere.
One type of product begat the other, as his modification business laid the groundwork for what now is a complete hifi component maker based in the US of A. But what ties these two aspects of Dan Wright’s work together (besides, obviously, Dan himself) is something we’ve been able to observe here at The Music Room. Putting aside for the moment the magical sound quality that is typical of his designs, it’s the build quality which stands out over years of exposure.
Each Wright-mod or piece of newer Modwright gear we’ve listed and sold in the past has been cleverly and cleanly designed, and has seemed constructed to last a lifetime. Most other types of modifications that go on in this industry have a kind of tacked-on-after-the-fact feel, but Dan’s look like they could have been the original design. And any kind of close attention paid to a modern Modwright chassis gives you the same high confidence in the brand.
Dan’s mod work did evolve into a respected brand, one known to not be particularly tube-shy. From the ModWright LS-100 full tube preamplifier (which wasn’t the company’s first product) to the modern ModWright KWH 225i hybrid tube integrated amp, Modwright has believed in the benefit of tubes from day one — provided, they are input tubes.
You can’t make everyone happy, all the time, but you can try. Modwright’s design decisions regarding features and functionality are a breath of fresh air in the business. Instead of trying to satisfy tube purists who would like output tubes in the mix, while at the same time leaving out potential listeners with modern high end speaker loads and the need for much more power, Modwright aims for the win-win, bringing the magic of tubes to the power-desperate, and well-implemented MOSFET power (and much lower damping factor) to the tube guys.
The reason this works so well with Modright gear is that the circuit aims to sound like those holographic, wide and open low power tube amps, with better bass and more reserve power. Think American muscle amps but with a grace and sophistication rarely seen… or heard in the same sentence as that much power. The ability to be synergistic in nearly any speaker pairing doesn’t happen by accident.
The more time spent with a Modwright piece, the more you feel that Mr. Wright is looking out for the audiophile’s interests. The new ModWright KWA225i doesn’t include a DAC section, for example, because Modwright recognized that DAC technology is advancing far faster than more established analog tech, and why should the listener be charged for a device they’ll stop using well before the rest of the amplifier? Or, consider the design focus on operating Modwright tubes at a relaxed rate to increase their life expectancy. Who wants to buy new tubes every year? This gets old very quickly for many owners, and it’s nice to see Modwright gets it, and cares.
That care extends to the whole experience of using Modwright products, as you notice that all the parts that get touched — knobs, binding posts, buttons and jacks — are all of exceptional quality and feel. Every joint smooth and every edge soft, the bead blasted exteriors of these products invites a bit of heavy petting. That ownership seduction is also important when it comes to long term enjoyment. Nobody wants a trashy-looking box on their rack, even if it sounds good. Components are often looking back at us as we listen, and what a treat to come home to: a component which brings magic to a room and inspires awe and appreciation visually.
That’s Modwright for you. The Music Room is extra proud to be partners with this exciting brand, and we look forward to getting to know Dan Wright’s latest spectacular work as we go forward.