The following is a review/feedback after testing our prototype Tube Buffer/ Linear PS for the Pro-Ject DAC. It can be used also just as a high quality tube buffer and this is what D. Myers did, in addition to using it with the Pro-Ject DAC.
The goal for the end design is to offer a tube buffer with multiple 5V USB power connections, that will allow for the powering of a number of different digital and analog products that rely on 5V switched mod wall wart supplies.
Dan Wright must have a good ear because he makes some of the most natural sounding music machines on the market today. I got the chance recently to review his prototype for a Tube Buffer Stage/Power Base for the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital Preamplifier and DAC, My system includes the following:
Modwright SLW 9.0SE preamplifier.
Modwright KWA 100SE amp.
Van L. Speakerworkes Quartet Plus Loudspeakers.
Bluesound Node 2i Music Streamer.
HSU ULS-15 Mk2 Sub and Rel Britannia B3 sub.
Auditorium 23 interconnects and speaker wires.
WyWires Silver interconnects and power plugs.
The Modwright/Pre Box DAC replaced a Border Patrol DAC, which is a highly regarded unit for its great sound. But it was not as natural as the Modwright /Pre Box DAC. The Modwright had less emphasis in the upper frequencies, and although both get the middle frequencies very right, the Modwright/Pre Box DAC does so in a more natural way. I realize it is difficult to define natural sounding music and I apologize
for not being up to the task. The music is more relaxed, yet accurate. The soundstage is present but never takes away from the presentation.
I used the excellent Tidal system to provide most music for this review. I first brought up Harry Nillson, who used soundstaging to great effect. In Everybody Talking at Me, for example, sound starts in the left channel, followed by a guitar in the right, then Nillson, key boards, drums and bass coming in deep center stage, followed by strings which take the melody out to the full depth of the room. All sound comes mixed together into a full orchestral sound that is clear, full and organic.
A more revealing album, at least to texture, timbre and tone, is Ella and Louis. In the Nearness of You, no better voice ever sang such meaningful lyrics so well. Louis Armstrong also sings ever so lightly in this duet. As one of my friends commented, this song is a romance film. The Modwright/Pre Box DAC balances the perfection of Ella's voice against the rough timbre of Louis' voice and the perfect pitch of his horn. Elegance, Simplicity and Truth. The Modwright mission statement in action.
I decided to test the Modwright Buffer Stage separately. I have Tom Vu's
beautiful looking and sounding Triangle Art Concerto turntable and a Leben RS30EQ phono preamp. The Leben needs a tube buffer and I have been using the Eastern Electric MiniMax BBA preamplifier. I traded the MiniMax for the Modwright and noticed two things immediately: A pure, sweet sounding midrange and a natural soundstage. The song under review was Linda Ronstadt's rendition of Willin'. The Modwright here was a clear winner.
Finally, I matched the Border Patrol DAC with the Modwright Tube Buffer stage and found the best sound of the session. April in Paris by Ella and Louis was sublime. This is as good as it gets.
In sum, the Modwright Tube Buffer stage is a versatile offering from a solid brand name in audio today. It does not add coloration to the sound, except for the kind of sound that tube lovers appreciate. At the same time, it has the very clean, natural sounding midrange that Modwright fans appreciate. I highly recommend this new product from Dan Wright.
- D. Myers 11.19.18