CAF 2014: Viva Hi-Fi brings big room sound to normal spaces with Daedalus, ModWright

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The ingredients in the Viva HiFi room up on the sixth floor were the same as those found in the “big room” on display downstairs, but everything was scaled … down.

Scott Dalzell had some new loudspeakers in from Daedalus Audio: the new $7,850 Muse V.2. Like all the rest of the loudspeakers in the Daedalus lineup, the loudspeakers are all-wood, leveraging designer Lou Hinkley’s decades of experience bracing, damping, and fine-tuning to wring out some of the most effortless and refined sound at CAF this year.

The Muse features the same crossover networks as found in the new Pan stand-mount loudspeaker. The driver arrangement is a bit unusual — instead of a linear array, the drivers are “clustered” together and mirrored left-to-right. The finish is a furniture-grade walnut, and while may evoke an earlier era, the completed product is extremely … pretty. From Lou (by way of AudioCircle): “this is the same baffle arraignment and crossover as the Pan but in a cabinet the same height and volume as the Athena (38.5″ tall). Basically a floor stand version of the Pan. It will have the point source type imaging of the Pan, be very suitable for near wall placement and small as well as large rooms and have the same bass definition and extension of the Athena.”

In the rack, I found a VPI Traveler turntable in a brilliant cobalt sitting on the top of the rack. Next to it, was the ModWright modded Oppo BDP-95 with the top-level “Truth” mods ($2,495 for modifications on a user-supplied Oppo), which includes a wholly-new tube-based analog output stage and an external tube-rectified power supply.

Driving the system was the ModWright KWI-200 integrated amplifier. This integrated is a bit different from many/most of the ModWright projects in that it’s entirely solid-state. It also features a nifty volume control, “a digitally controlled analog system with buffered input to the Solid State Music Stage, found in all of ModWright™s amplifiers. This allows for a volume control superior to standard potentiometers and a single gain stage, direct-coupled to the current amplified output stage for ultimate sonic purity.” The integrated can also be expanded to include a 24bit/192kHz asynchronous USB DAC, with a “PCM 1794 DAC chip, and clock and data buffered via proprietary algorithm for lowest possible jitter.” Price for the upgrade is $1,150. Vinyl junkies are also able to add a single-ended moving-magnet phono pre to the mix ($350), with 50db of gain and loading options of 100Ω, 500Ω, 1KΩ, 47KΩ, and 100pf, all modified via internal dip switches.

WyWires cabling connected everything together, including the new Platinum speaker cables (starting at $2,299), Platinum interconnects (starting at $1,495) and Silver Power Cords (starting at $429). A WyWires-Daedalus Power Broker ($2,499) was used for power distribution.

The sound in this room was significantly more intimate than the big Ulysses speakers, but much of that had to do with the setup. Overall, the sound was much warmer and a bit softer than what the big-rig brought, but the contrast was definitely a matter of degree and not kind.

I heard quite a few hallway debates over the two Daedalus/ModWright/WyWires systems, with fans of each system clearly gravitating one way or the other. I grok that. The “little” system was really intimate — and if you’re the type for near-field (or near near-field) listening, the Muse will be a great bet. But, if you have a little more space to sit back and let the complex driver arrangement in the Ulysses knit together, that system will pretty much cure your case of audio-nervosa. You’re done.

Seeing both? Awesome. I just love all these Made-in-the-USA artisans banding together to create great sound! Well done, all around.

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About Scot Hull 1063 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.


  1. Got myself the first non-demo pair. They are in maple. Amazing craftmanship , amazing sound. Pair them with Shindo Amp and Yamamoto Tube DAC. Just perfect. —Antonio (Plasencia & Hijos)

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