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!
I wonder if Modwright gear would sound just a wee bit better when played through speakers that are as high quality and reputable as Modwright is instead of these things that clearly are not even close to the quality of [brand x].
Ted, I’ve seen you try and post this several times, so let me just chop the vitriol and get to the meat of what you’re trying to say. To wit:
There are many top-flight, name-brand loudspeakers out there. Many (but nowhere near all) of them have very high levels of fit and finish in that “industrial” style you seem to favor. If you do like that sort of thing, good for you, but vanishingly few of them are made to the level of hand-crafted furniture that Daedalus routinely manages. Every Daedalus loudspeaker is very clearly assembled by a master-craftsman with decades of experience. Run your hand across a Daedalus and any doubts as to “quality” are replaced with involuntary oohs and aahs.
As to the aesthetic, well, happily many approaches are available to the market, so if you prefer the highly-polished plastic-and-glass look that most mass-produced loudspeakers seem to aim at, you’re in luck! If you prefer your gear to look like a person actually built it and cared about it while doing so, well, you’re also in luck.
But all that aside, the proof (at least, so far as most audio nerds will tell you) of a speaker’s value is in the listening. And it’s here you’re just flat out mistaken. Daedalus loudspeakers are quite refined. And in ways that many “mass produced” loudspeakers are not and cannot be. Note that none of this entails that you will actually like that sound, however.
So, enough with the pointless bashing, okay?
It’s hard to reply to such a peculiar, if not downright bizarre comment. The Daedalus speakers use top quality, carefully-matched, time tested, ultra-reliable drivers. They are housed in legacy-quality solid native American hardwood cabinets. The crossovers and internal wiring are also of the highest quality. No mdf, no cheap veneers, no cheap parts. Hand-made by a skilled craftsman. No sweat shop labor, no mass production, no compromises in quality.
To my way of thinking, Daedalus speakers are the epitome of “high quality and reputable”. And, they happen to enjoy a wonderful synergy with ModWright electronics. They bring out the best in each other.
I was the first to order a ModWright Oppo 105. To say the least, best source I have had in my $100k system. i look forward to Dan’s new DAC. And to add, ModW