What the heck is ModWright 99? It’s just my fancy way of saying that Dan Wright debuted two new products at the 2023 Pacific Audio Fest–the KWA 99 monoblock power amplifiers and the LS 99 tube preamplifier. As Dan’s press release stated, the 99 series features “form factor, aesthetic, and price-point, focus on a compact enclosure and engineering to offer exceptional performance at an attractive price point.”
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
The KWA 99 monoblocks, it seems, were the star of the room despite the presence of Revel speakers, Cardas cabling, a Weiss DAC, digital from Computer Audio Design and a lovely AMG Giro turntable with a Lyra cartridge. Why? I’m pretty sure my photos don’t capture the magic of these little blocks, the simple lines and Dan Wright’s usual blue LEDs lighting up the innards of the amp. These ModWright 99 monoblocks feature Exicon Lateral MOSFETs, exposed heat sinks for better heat dissipation and 100wpc of output power.
If you know the signature ModWright sound, you’ll know that it’s one of rich detail and complexity. The ModWright 99 amps, according to Dan, offer “more resolution and detail” than some of his other amps, but I latched onto the sweetness of the sound, and how MOSFETs don’t necessarily have to detract from a lush presentation.
Some of that lushness may come from the ModWright Analog Bridge, a tube buffer stage that seems to add just a bit more soundstage depth than buffer stages I’ve heard in the past, which reflects upon Dan’s attention to detail. But I have to admit this was one of ModWright’s finest rooms ever, very musical and approachable and likable–so much so that I watched a show attendee buy a set of ModWright 99 amps on the spot. (They’re $9,000/pr, but Dan’s offering them at an introductory price of $7,500/pr, and the LS 99 preamp is $6,500–for now.)
You might think that happens all the time at audio shows, especially with all the handwritten signs in the exhibit rooms that talk about “show specials,” but it’s unusual to watch an actual sale occur that approximates what happens in the real world–“I’ve heard it and now I want to buy one.” That happened with the ModWright 99, in real time, which suggests that you might be that impressed with these new amps as well.