New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

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modwright

New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« on: 1 Mar 2018, 06:56 pm »
I have been exploring a few design ideas, while others are in the works and I WANT YOUR FEEDBACK PLEASE!

Class D Hybrid Integrated Amp, 200W, with most voltage amplification being done by Class A tube stage with built in phono and HP amp.

I have a prototype and it sounds very good! I know that people have different opinions about Class D.  This is why I am on the fence. I would use Hypex modules and the power supplies would all be linear and over-built.  No switch mode supplies!

This is different than what has been done by other companies.  Our design uses modules with lower gain, so that most all of the voltage gain is achieved by the tube stage, where most of the sonic character comes from.

Hybrid Class D 200W Integrated Amp with nice stlying.
HP Amp and Phono built in.
Thumbs up or Down?
If thumbs up, what price range?


I have also been looking to build a lesser cost but equally high performance phono stage, in addition to our $7900 Reference PH 150 that has been well reviewed by Mike Fremer and Greg Weaver, earning Editor's Choice award for the last two years in TAS.

I am envisioning a two-box design.  The power supply would be external and very smilar to our PS 9.0 mod supply.
The phono chassis would be matching size and similar styline.
MM and MC, ideally in the high 66-68dB MC range and also with adjustable resistive loading, on the fly.
Chassis would be steel with simple but elegant faceplates and controls.
Price range would be $2500 or so.
Thumbs up or Thumbs Down?


I am also currently working on a World Class, Class A Tube Integrated Amp!

I appreciate and welcome any and all feedback!

Thanks,

Dan Wright
President, ModWright Instruments

Drew769

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Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #1 on: 2 Mar 2018, 03:55 am »
Hi Dan,

I spoke with you after I bought my LS100 and ordered a metal remote.  I was the guy that has a lot of Rogue gear as well.

For the first idea, I'd have to say "Thumbs Down."  I think as consumers spend more money for more premium products in high end audio, they start drawing a line towards tube amplification or quality solid state.  Hybrid Class D with tubes has been tried by other brands, notably Rogue Audio.  I think that those are well-designed products, but the reception to them seems to have been underwhelming.  You also see a lot of them for sale on the used market, often flipped a couple of times.  They are not quite as smooth in all listening as one of their tube amps, or as a good solid state.  Even if yours is smoother, more organic, I'm thinking buyers will still have a prejudice against class D.  Sometimes what is in your head ends up affecting what you think you hear between your ears.

Phono Stage at a lower price point - I think that would be great, and I would give it a listen myself.  I think that $2000 market is pretty hot now with the Manley Chinook, the Rogue Ares Magnum (which I have now) and the Tavish Adagio (stellar, by the way - a good benchmark).  Your brand recognition as a more premium brand could put your phono in this price range on everyone's short list.

Class A All Tube World Class Integrated - Another thumbs up.  Rogue sold a ton of Cronus Magnum integrateds, and they do not come up all that often considering how many were sold.  I assume your competition and price point would be closer to the higher quality integrateds from Ayre and Aesthetix.  I believe the new Aesthetic Mimas is around $7,000 and it's a hybrid tube and solid state design.  The Ayre AX-5 is solid state and sounds pretty amazing, but I think that one is closer to $13K.  Lots of room for a World Class Class A to slot in.

How about a moderately-priced tube-based power amplifier using KT150s or KT120s? 


JohnCh

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Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #2 on: 2 Mar 2018, 05:50 am »
I'll probably move to a tube phono stage within the next year and currently have the Chinook on my short list, so would be very interested in a competing product from you to mate with my SWL 9.0 Anniversary Edition.  For me, flexibility is key; the phono stage shouldn't limit my future cartridge choices due to loading or gain limitations.  Although I love the idea of on-the-fly loading adjustability, please give it a broad range.  Herron uses loading plugs, which isn't an easy change, but it means you can accommodate any cartridge.  The 66-68db gain seems really high if that is the only MC option.  My current cartridge is 0.4mv and the phono stage (CIAudio PEQ1 MK II w/ AC15 MK II power supply) has 60db gain which translates to ~ 9:30-10 o'clock on the SWL9.0's volume knob at loud listening levels.  With 68db gain, I would have very limited volume adjustability and it would rule out moving to a cartridge closer to 1.0mv in the future.  A 68db option is great for very low output MC, but have some built-in adjustability.

Thanks,
John 

modwright

Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #3 on: 2 Mar 2018, 01:21 pm »
First of all, thank you for these replies.  I hope that this thread will continue as the input that I REALLY care about, is from our customers and those who may be our customers.  I am building gear for YOU, not the magazines. I am aware that the market is changing and I am trying to remain in sync with it.

To Drew769:

I want to build products that I am excited about AND that meet a market demand.  Having said that, my heart lies in tubes and phono.

RE the first option of a Class D hybrid, while it is attractive from a price-point and manufacturing stand-point, I appreciate your input and I take it seriously.  This is why I asked.  Thank you!

RE the more affordable phono stage, I think there IS a market for this and i have ideas for a design that will take much of our PH 150 into a more affordable design.

To JohCH:

RE the phono stage, while the max gain will be in the high 60's, I am also considering a multiple gain setting, like the PH 150. I need to see if this is possible. If not, then I will shoot closer to 60dB for MC with the expectation that those with SUPER low MC's will use a custom step-up.  MM gain will be about 43dB.

I agree that easily adjustable resistive loading is key and input noted about making this very adjustable, i.e. a wide range of loading options.

The two box design will keep noise levels down and keeping aesthetics clean and elegant but not 'flashy' will also keep costs down, focusing investment on performance!  Thank you for pointing out the competition at these points.  I am confident that we can produce a VERY nice phono stage at a price that can be afforded by a larger majority of our customers.

Thank you very much!

Please continue to post feedback, those who are reading this and would like to contribute your own thoughts and views.

Dan Wright
President, ModWright Instruments Inc.

fredgarvin

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Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #4 on: 2 Mar 2018, 04:40 pm »
As for the hybrid integrated, as you stated, it's aiming for a price point. I feel there are probably many people already dabbling in class D amps with lower to mid priced tube preamps. I would imagine a good market from those who would like to own the Modwright brand at an attractive price point. The market share for class D has to be increasing from what I see. The new integrated could be a first step into the ModWright family tree. I imagine it worked well for Rogue.

mraudio

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Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #5 on: 3 Mar 2018, 09:15 am »
Count me in on the phone stage!  I have heard the PH150 at length and if this is even a fraction of that unit, it will be KILLER.  Can't wait...

rbbert

Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #6 on: 3 Mar 2018, 01:22 pm »
Hate to mention a potential competitor, but I have found W4S class D amps to sound amazingly good at their price points, and they seem to be doing well in the marketplace as well.  It sounds like you are proposing what is roughly a one-box equivalent to a tube pre-amp into a class D power amp, a combination many audiophiles seem to have recently embraced.

The Rang

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Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #7 on: 3 Mar 2018, 03:52 pm »
Was there not discussion at one point of a phono stage in the 1K range?

Jonathon Janusz

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Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #8 on: 3 Mar 2018, 04:21 pm »
Dan, the lower cost phono would probably be a good idea for folks with Modwright separates in the LS100/KWA100 price bracket, as that would slot a more complete Modwright solution between the SWL9.0 folks (integrated phono) and your DM/reference tube people (PH150 price range customers).  Full disclosure, I have no vinyl nor interest in going there, so I'm not a potential customer, just an observer.

The top shelf tube integrated sounds like it fits in the stable of your other ultra-high end tube gear.

On the hybrid integrated, I think the prevalent opinion here so far is probably true, just casually looking around the market.  If it had to come in at a higher price point than the KWI200, you would probably be looking at a hard sell, because people with that bankroll, I think, would more likely either be going separates in your current line, or going up to your top end tube gear.

As far as I know, the luxury goods market really still hasn't changed much (and at least in the USA will likely not be changing any time soon) - there is a market at the bottom end of the pool, and at the very top, but very few people shopping in the middle.

If you are looking to do something integrated in a lower price bracket, maybe an update to the KWI200 as is (all solid state), or maybe another new all solid state option that would come in lower than the KWI200?  I'm sure the phono is still good to go in the integrated products, but I'm sure the DAC could likely be revisited considering the advances in the tech since first developed?

With somebody like Mivera here on AC (for example) trying to shake up an industry by putting the newest, top-of-the-line class D in a package out the door at or under $2K, it seems like a bit of a stretch to chase after that market with a more upscale product (hence why IcePower put the shut down of the same Mivera firesale selling their new modules at just over cost in DIY kits, as well as the same back-and-forth going in among manufacturers of end-user class D products arguing about cost-justifying "audiophile" pricing on semi-commodity built OEM electronic modules/goods).

Glad to hear from you, and best of luck!  I hope my $.02 was worth the read. :)

Early B.

Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #9 on: 3 Mar 2018, 05:32 pm »
There seems to be a move in the middle of the audiophile marketplace for integrated systems. That's plausible given the rush to digital systems over the past decade and the desire for convenience, simplicity, and less clutter. The ardent audiophiles will continue to seek out separates. The increase (or not) in sales of your own integrated offerings will give you a good indication of the potential for your new products.

With regard to Class D, I think audiophiles have begun to realize that Class D has arrived at the point where it can sound as good as the best Class A or A/B systems out there, and it can be done a lot cheaper. I wouldn't have said this 3 months ago.   

modwright

Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #10 on: 3 Mar 2018, 06:24 pm »
Thanks guys. The phono is a go. The $1K phono is not out of the picture, but I have not had time to get back to it.  there is a lot of competition at that price. I have several circuits worked out for it already though!

I am also looking at a new SS integrated in the future, at or near the price of the KWI 200.

The price I had in mind for a hybrid Class D integrated amp would be in the $4K range. There is competition here and people have different opinions about the technology. I can't build the Class D hybrid integrated that I have considered for $2K, but at $4K or so, it is a possibility.

Does this change anyone's opinion on the subject!

Thanks,

Dan

AndrewA

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Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #11 on: 3 Mar 2018, 06:43 pm »
I think some competition for the Pharaoh could work well, especially in your integrated had a little more of the tube forgivingness that by all accounts is lacking in the Rogue.

mreeter

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Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #12 on: 5 Mar 2018, 01:56 am »
Dan, I like the sound of all of your new product ideas. I'm very interested in your new Phono Stage concept. Typically, what time frame are we looking at for you to bring a new product to Market? I know many variables come into play, just a "good" guess would work!

modwright

Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #13 on: 5 Mar 2018, 05:26 pm »
Hi and thank you for reassuring me that the phono stage design is a good idea!

I would say that time to market would be 12 weeks or so. The more input I can receive about options and functionality preferences from all of you the better! I will also be looking for Beta Testers when we are near production ready.

Thanks,

Dan

mreeter

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Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #14 on: 5 Mar 2018, 11:03 pm »
Thanks for your reply Dan, I'll be looking forward to your release of your new Phono Stage! The 2-3K price range makes the Stage much more attainable for many of us.

modwright

Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #15 on: 5 Mar 2018, 11:21 pm »
Thank you for that!  I have a great design in the works!

Dan

cheech

Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #16 on: 6 Mar 2018, 01:58 am »
Dan,  first let me state that I own the LS100 & KWA100se and they are in my main system. That said, I also have 2 tube integrateds in that system as well ( I switch every few weeks between the 3 amps) ; and I have a tube integrated in my second system The 3 tube integrated amps I have are an Ayon Spirit 2 KT 88 60 wpc push pull (it's in my 2nd system); Line Magnetic 518IA 845 22wpc SET; and Finale Audio 7189 MK2  7189a 20wpc push pull both in my main system.  Therefore , my interest would be in the tube integrated and I would like to understand more about what you are contemplating e.g .tubes, SET or push pull, wpc etc.

 

modwright

Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #17 on: 6 Mar 2018, 02:05 am »
Hi Cheech, right now I am working on a 30W Pure Class A, Single Ended integrated amp using a KT150 or KT120 as the power tube.  It is a unique circuit and should excel in driving speakers better than other tube amps because of its much higher damping factor.  It is a diffiuclt design and I am still working on it.  My goal is to debut it as a prototype at Axpona.

I have not designed a P-P amp yet, but that is on my list also.  If this amp works out as I hope, it will be quite a break through!

A P-P integrated would be done to achieve more power of course.  I should think 60W+, Pure Class A, zero feedback and with some unique design ideas that I also have.

Thanks,

Dan

decal

Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #18 on: 6 Mar 2018, 03:42 pm »
Thanks guys. The phono is a go. The $1K phono is not out of the picture, but I have not had time to get back to it.  there is a lot of competition at that price. I have several circuits worked out for it already though!

I'd be all about this Dan, especially if its based on the 6922.
. BTW, still digging my Truth SA8005 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

modwright

Re: New Products - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
« Reply #19 on: 6 Mar 2018, 05:07 pm »
Yes it will use 6922's!

Thanks,

Dan