CAF 2018: ModWright Instruments, Fritz Speakers and Oh, It’s You Again

It became a running joke after a while. I’d be walking the halls at the 2018 Capital Audiofest, I’d look up and Fritz would be standing there or walking by or coming out of a room. By Fritz, I mean John “Fritz” Heiler of Fritz Loudspeakers. I’d met him at a few times over the years, mostly at audio shows, but never in a room where his speakers were being shown. It was always in an elevator, or in someone else’s room. At CAF, we sat across from each other at dinner the night before the show and talked about two-way designs. He makes ’em, and I love ’em.

After that, it was a game of tag all through the weekend. You again? You again? You again?

You’re Driving Them With What?

I made it a point to come into his room and listen to his $3500/pair Carrera Be loudspeakers, which Part-Time Audiophile recently reviewed. I was pleased when I found out Fritz was sharing a room with another manufacturer I’ve known for a long time, Dan Wright of ModWright Instruments. I’ve really enjoyed Dan’s amplifiers over the years–I even reviewed one of his preamplifiers more than a decade ago and gave it a big thumb’s up.

Dan had brought some of his smaller designs along, resulting in a nicely compact presentation. Starting with a Fern & Roby The Montrose turntable ($7100) and Hana SL cartridge ($750), Dan added his 9.0 phono preamplifier ($2900) and HA 300 headphone amplifier, which sported a gorgeous metallic green cover on it.  Digital files were played with a laptop and an OPPO Sonica DAC, which was modified by Dan ($2900 for mod only).  Zu Audio provided the cabling.

I know what you’re thinking–how was Dan driving Fritz’ speakers? Where’s the amp?

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

You guessed it–that HA300 headphone amplifier, with 8 whole watts of 300B power, was driving a pair of 87dB speakers and doing an absolutely stellar job of it. The room was small, like most of the rooms at CAF, but the sound was BIG, with incredible soundstage depth. That confirmed what I’ve always known about great two-way speaker designs–they can perform small miracles in small rooms. It also confirms something I learned back in my SET days, that you’ll never know what amp/speaker interface will work until you hook it all up. You can’t go by numbers alone.

I spent a lot of time in this room, partly because I had a malfunction with my camera battery and had to keep returning for more photos. Well, that was the excuse I used. I really enjoyed the sound in this room, and I look forward to hearing more from both Fritz and Dan. I know I’ll see them both again, over and over and over.


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