Lou Hinkley (Daedalus Audio) and Dan Wright (ModWright) once again had the big first-floor room in the atrium area of the Denver Marriott, and once again they put on a killer show. I swung by both very early and very late, and as with most setups, the sound in the room had taken a huge leap forward by that last trip through.
On both occasions, I was treated to Lou’s newest take on what’s been his flagship loudspeaker, the all-wood Ulysses — now in “Version.2” ($14,950/pair). According to Lou, there’s a lot that went into the new iteration, and he was very frank about not being able to share all of it. You know. Trade secrets and stuff. But — there’s new cabinet structure, new voicing, new tweaks — he’s been working toward this upgrade for some time; when it finally all clicked in, he had to re-release the Ulysses. And it’s a knock out.
The sound from these large floor-standing models is spectacular — transparently clear, deep tonality, with a solid and thunderous bass. Oh, did you say you want dynamics? Ha ha! Guess what, sucka? Sha-zam! Ahem … yeah … at 98dB, this isn’t a problem. Remembering to not hurt yourself is another story. Detail retrieval, too, was top-shelf. The fact that the cabinet is all-wood is a point of pride with Lou, and he feels that this one facet is in no small part responsible for the overall sound of speakers. Personally, I can’t argue with him — they look like “furniture” (i.e., lusciously finished, aka, “fantastic”) and they sound even better (which seems pretty much impossible).
Powering up this room was a single ModWright KWA 150 Signature stereo amplifier ($8,495), with its cool-blue running lights (it’s “mood lighting”, you sexy devil), was paired with Dan’s massive flagship LS 36.5 DM two-chassis fully dual-mono tube-based preamplifier ($9,995). The big news from ModWright is the Elyse DAC, which is nearing production ($TBD), but is looking totally hot in its pre-pro full-rack-width chassis, and a removable, floating grill top (to comply with CE regs on exposed vacuum tubes and let you tube rollers get easy access).
The Elyse is a Burr Brown 1794-based DAC and an all tube design, featuring 6922 tubes with a 5AR4 rectifier. Lundahl transformers couple both the input and output and the architecture is a pure Class-A direct-coupled design. The DAC supports 24bit/192kHz via USB (via the Tenor Audio chipset), and the design includes RCA, BNC and AES/EBU inputs. Outputs are both single-ended and fully balanced. No DSD support yet, but the design is feature-upgradable, so stay tuned. A remote control is included. General release is schedule for Q1 next year, but Dan is hoping for/targeting January. Given that the DAC is two years in the making, he’s made it abundantly clear that he’s serious about “if all goes well” — nothing is going to ship until he’s sure it’s perfect. Stay tuned ….
Power came courtesy of the new Power Broker ($2,499), a joint Daedalus/WyWires venture. The cabling all came from WyWires, including some interconnects from the new-for-2013 Platinum line:
Platinum is a newly developed series that takes most of the elements of the Silver and adds additional conductor material of varying gauges of Litz wire to accomplish the goals of higher bandwidth and greater frequency extension especially at the low-end of the spectrum with increased dynamic range and “slam”.
Traffic in the room was definitely up from last year, and based on what I heard in there, the reason why wasn’t a mystery. Nice work, team!