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CAF 2018: Fritz Speakers, ModWright Instruments, Zu Audio, Fern & Roby; The cool kids room

KEF R Series

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Fritz Speakers prove their versatility, ModWright Instruments exhibits choice sound, Fern & Roby spin a few tunes, and Zu Audio ties it all together.

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The Story

The Fritz speakers are quite legendary in online audio forums, and even specifically among our review staff. John Richardson recently reviewed the Fritz Carrera 7 BE monitors, and by the end of it all Fritz Speakers walked away with an Editor’s Choice Award. So I was excited to add the Fritz / ModWright room to my list of show coverage. I know the ModWright equipment quite well from other systems I’ve covered, and I have a penchant for bookshelf monitors — so let’s ready the Carrera 7 BE please.

Firstly, the news. ModWright’s new LS 300 Balanced Tube Preamplifier is the company’s new reference fully balanced tube preamplifier, featuring an outboard supply and dual mono construction. Styled much like the Modwright PH 150 and KWA 150SE, the new LS 300 displays the same elegant and refined aesthetics. The LS 300 uses a two 6922 tube drivers and two 5R4GY tube rectifiers complement. The back panel features three sets of RCA inputs, and two sets of fully balanced XLR inputs. Main outputs include two sets of RCA single ended outs and two sets of fully balanced XLR outs. One set of RCA inputs also serves as Home Theater Bypass (HT/BP). Of note is that all RCA inputs are converted to fully balanced signal via high quality Lundahl signal transformers. An included external power supply (with fully separate regulated power supplies per channel) is key for the LS300 to achieve its low noise floor and distinct channel separation figures. Finally included is a remote control with volume, mute and phase invert.

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The Sound

I had the chance to hear the Fritz Speakers Carrera 7 BE monitors on two occasions at the show. Once during a late night after-hours listening session, in which they were playing marvelously on only eight watts per channel, from the ModWright HA300 Headphone Amplifier — which if you didn’t know, the HA300 also has speaker outputs. Delicate and full of life, the Carrera BE’s are everything John Richardson made them out to be in his review. (read here)

On my second chance to hear the system, I was treated to the same speakers but now with ModWright’s new LS300 preamplifier and KWA 150 SE amplifier handling the signal. As we fired up the Fern & Roby turntable with Hana SL cart in place, it became clear that the added power did reinforce the bass strength of the Carrera’s, but what became abundantly clear was how clean and detailed the sound was with the new LS300 at the helm. If you’re of the impression that tube is mushy and warm, this isn’t the case here. My first listen late night was off axis, and with a few libations offering distractions. What made this instance a showstopper for me was how well the center image and placement of sonic layers was during listening. Depth of this degree wasn’t something I expected considering room placement being relatively close to the back wall of the room, but it was there, and extended far into the atrium space that stretched out behind the speakers.

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The System

Fritz

– Carrera 7 BE Stand-mount Monitors – $3,500 pr USD

ModWright Instruments

– HA 300 Headphone Amplifier – $5,000 USD

– LS300 Balanced Preamp – $10,000 USD

– KWA 150 SE Amplifier – $8,995 USD

– PH 9.0 Phono Stage – $2,900 USD

– ModWrightified Oppo Sonica DAC (modification only) – $2,900 USD

Fern & Roby

– The Montrose Turntable – $7,100 USD

Hana

– SL Shibata Tip / Low Output Phono Cartridge – $750 USD

Zu Audio

– Mk.II 3.0M Speaker Cables – $399 USD

– Mission Mk.II RCA/WBT – $265 USD

– Mission Mk.II Phono Cable – $230 USD

– Mission Mk.II Power Cable – $308 USD

AudioAdvisor

– Pangea Component Rack and Speaker Stands

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