CAF 2013: Daedalus, Modwright, Purity, WyWires, Kanso (updated!)

Daedalus Audio‘s Lou Hinkley and Modwright‘s Dan Wright were on hand to show off some tasty bits, including a newly re-worked Argo and a prototype DAC. For the former, the Argo has mostly “invisible” tweaks, but you can expect the usual sorts of suspects, even if Lou himself is practicing his I’m-a-mime routine on the whole thing. All he’s willing to say is “it’s better”. The Argo is currently shipping and is still $12,950/pair.

Dan was a bit more forthcoming. The Burr-Brown 1794-based current-output DAC sports Lundahl transformers both in and out, so there’s no filter or caps required. The usual complement of inputs and outputs will be available, and the USB input will leverage the ubiquitous (and excellent) Tenor chipset. The DAC itself is going to be a single-box (no outboard PSU, like the Oppo uses) design, is targeting the $6,000 price point, and should be shipping by year’s end.

The new Purity preamp took a bow today, too. The Silver Statement Line Stage ($31,995) is not their top-of-the-line, exactly, but it’s insane enough for all but the most manly of wallets men. I’ve been angling to get one of these in for a review for the last two years now, but Bill Baker and crew apparently have no love for me. Ahem. Anyway, this is the new, all-metal, chassis — a large departure from their iconic trapezoidal acrylic casework.

A ModWright KWA 150 Signature Edition ($8,495) stereo amp drove plenty of power into the room. WyWires Platinum cabling, a collaboration of Lou Hinkley and WyWires’ Alex Sventitsky, was used throughout — prices start at $1,495 for interconnects/pair and $2,299 for the new speaker cables. Another Wywires/Daedalus collaboration, the Power Broker AC distribution system ($2,499), sat off to the side (check that out, here).

An impressive-looking Kanso Audio Furniture Hamoni series rack kept everything tidy and safe from vibration ($8,970, as configured).

Lou admits that the room was challenging. An irregular space with air-core walls would have needed a truckload of ATS panels to “fix”. That said, I heard Dire Straits play with convincing air, speed and jump. Boring? Um, no? Some of music was a bit sleepy, but a quick suggestion to the maestro running the computer feeding the DAC, and it was all thunder and lightning — very very frightening! One thing that particularly surprised me? Lateral sound staging — these speakers threw a big-sky kind of net, way outside the sides of the speakers.


  1. first off, thanks for great show coverage, Scot you are raising the bar!

    I did want to reply in part to comments from John L. Thanks for listening and your comments, for me at least, bring up an aspect of audio which comes up at shows, ie: the “best of show” etc. Just as people have a variety of taste in music, they also have a range of taste in how the sound is presented, it is all valid.
    While the Argos is by far the ‘warmest’ speaker in our line, I would guess that the Athena or the Ulysses would still be too relaxed for some tastes. That is as it should be and why these shows and home auditions are so important. It also shows why I personally spend so much time with people in making their choice. There are times when after talking with a client and hearing their history of speakers and what they do and do not like as well as what they are looking for that I will suggest a different type of speaker. in a nutshell our focus is on the natural tone of instruments first and foremost, and for some people that is a fit.

  2. I own a pair of Daedalus Ulysses. They are not polite. Dynamics is one of the strongest point of Daedalus speakers. I’ve only heard active (big PMC) speakers to rival it.

  3. I can’t comment on John’s taste in music, or what he might have requested be played, but I found the Argo to be a pretty convincing speaker.

    • Thank you for your excellent coverage of the show first off! I’m just sharing my impressions, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard a Daedalus setup. Just that this was the first time I’ve listened to them with a potential purchase in mind, so I was more attentive than in times past.

      I was in the room 5-6 times over the weekend, some on each day. Probably spent an hour or more total listening to music from all across the spectrum. For me, I just want something with more life. With this setup, everything sounded rounded off. There wasn’t the snap to leading edges I want, and decay of notes seemed truncated like it was lost in the jumble. The speakers to me just aren’t able to flesh out the low-level stuff that I need in order to get that sense of realism. Yes the soundstage was big, but it was diffuse with no precision mixed into the size. Just diffuse and that’s it.

      All that said, I can see why people like them. They are easy for long periods and have no rough edges in the way they portray the recording. But for my taste they are overly soft, and are unable to give me the layering of detail that I look for.

  4. Well, I was going to say that while the woodwork for the speaker cabinets looks very nice, how do they sound? But it looks like the comment above answered the question for me.

    • That comment didn’t address the speakers at all. It addressed the sound of a full system in a single room. It’s hardly fair to dismiss Daedalus’s work because the sound in one room wasn’t up to snuff for one guy. That’s especially true when two of the electronic components are fairly untested products.

      I’ve heard a number of the Daedalus speakers. I wouldn’t give them top rank for dynamics — I don’t see a horn there, do you? — but I wouldn’t characterize them as too polite.

      On the other hand, I didn’t hear that room. It could have been a giant bag of suck. Stranger things have happened at audio shows.

  5. I spent quite a bit of time in this room over the weekend, since the speakers are on my potential shopping list. Unfortunately I came away unimpressed. Yes they’re easy to listen too and fairly well integrated, but I kept waiting for more life and jump … and it never happened. Overall very polite, without a very clear window into the recording. And while well crafted, they’re too rustic looking for my taste. I could live with the rustic aesthetic, but not the uninvolving sound.

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