My New System - Modwright, Channel Islands, Reality Cables - Step by Step

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pugs

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I'm in the process of replacing my amps, preamp, and cables.  I plan on updating this thread as I receive each new piece and have some time to evaluating them.

I like to review things by comparing to other experiences I have had.  In the audio world, I don have a lot of experience, so I will be focusing on comparing just a few pieces of eqipment.

Here's what will remain constant:

Room: 

- 12 x 23, equipment on 12' wall, and ceiling sloped from 8' (equipment end) to 16' on back wall
- Big red couch pretty much in the middle of the room
- 3 x GIK 242 panels.  2 are at the first reflection points, and the third goes in fron of the big screen when critically listening
- 6 x GIK 244 panels.  2 each stacked from floor to ceiling in the front corners.  2 each hung fronm from ceiling 8 feet down in the back two corners
- 4 x 8th nerve response seams at wall to ceiling joint at approximately seating depth.  2 on each side.
- 2 x 8th nerve response seams place horizonatally in center of wall to ceiling joint on front wall end to end.
- 3 windows towards front of left wall
- Sliding glass door at right corner of of right wall
- Floor is tile with a rug covering the front half of the room
- Ceiling is wood with horizontal beams running across it
- Approximately 48" wide opening towards back right wall leading into the rest of the house which is very open.
- Back wall has computer desk and hutch
- Big wood file cabinet towards the back of the left wall

Constant equipment:

Speakers:  Salk HT3 (L&R), Salk HTC, Magnepan MMG-W surrounds
Source:  Vinnie full modded SB3 with new analog mods and battery power supply
Receiver:  Denon AVR4800
DVD player:  Pioneer DV-47A
Power conditioners:  Monster HTS3600, and HTS2000.  Used to plug in everything but amps
Cable box:  Motorola high def DVR
TV:  55" widescreen HD Mitsubishi
Racks:  DIY flexi rack on each side of the TV.  Video and HT equipment on one side and 2ch on the other

Equipment that will or has changed:

Amps:  

Old:  Odyssey Mono Extremes with custom upgrades (already gone)
        B&K ST2140 stereo 2 x 140W

New:  Channel Islands D-200 coming in about a week


Preamp: 

Old:  Odyssey Tempest (already gone)

New:  Modwright SWL 9.0SE (received it 2 days ago)


Cables: 

Old:  - Silver Audio Silver Bullet 4.0 ICs from source to pre and pre to amp
        -Groneberg quattro reference power and speakers cables, and IC's.  All out of the system
          now except for 3m IC's running from pre to receiver for HT bypass
         - Monster Z1 speaker cables for front three channels

New:  Reality cables speaker cable and IC's


System comments

Never really been satisfied with 2ch system.  It was at it's best when I had the Odyssey Lorelei's years ago for a short time in my old house.  There has always been some harshness, brightness and fatigue in my system to varying degrees.  My latest system in my new house, first with NHT 2.5i mains, then Salks is better, but still not that satisfying considering the amount of money I spent on my system.  I think my room suck up a lot of bass, and I haven't been getting the amount of bass, heft, smoothness and fullness that I want.  There are times when I think I should give up and stop spending so much money trying to acheive sound that seems unatainable

Home Theatre was really good when I had the Mono Extremes and Salks for the front three channels.  I absolutely love my Magnepan MMG-W surrounds.  HT is not nearly as good with the Mono Extremes out of the system.  Now I have the Denon powering the center and B&K powering the L&R channels,

First Up - Modwright SWL 9.0SE

What Frank Van Alstine said about the Salks (winners after the first three notes)  is how I feel about the Modwright.  I have only had it for two day, but feel it is the finest piece of equipment I have ever had.  I have never felt so compelled to right a review and share to the world how great a piece of equipment is.

I'm going to try to not sound too negative about the Tempest, but I need to tell it like it is.  I really feel like I waisted a lot of time and money using the Tempest.  I always liked the sound of my system better when feeding my source directly to my amps (first Cary 303/200, then the SB3), but I needed the HT bypass.

The Modwright far, far exceeds the performance of the Tempest.  It creates such a more open, defined soundstage with depth I have never heard before.  Sound is so much more rich and smooth with no fatigue!  Imaging is so much better and the transparency is incredible.  I still needs needs some break in too!

The Tempest was much more closed in, with an edge that became fatiguing.  There was always a hiss to some degree coming from my speakers when using it.  The Modwright is DEAD quiet.  I have so much more bass and overall fullness of sound with the Modwright.

Even though the Mono Extremes had to go anyway because of their size, I rally wish I could of heard them using the Modwright as a pre.  I really feel the Tempest was the weak link.

Right now I could use a little more impact.  Sound overall is just a little soft, but very smooth.  I am so happy to get rid of the fatigue and edginess out of my system.  I am a little concerned with the low gain of the Modwright.  I have to turn it up a lot (about 3:00 or more) to make it loud.  We'll see how it goes when I get the Chanel Islands D-200's in about a week and Reality cables in about 2 weeks

I really have to thank Dan Wright for creating a piece of equipment that has restored my faith and exitement for this money sucking hobby.  It is the most satisfying piece of equipment I have ever owned.  This is all with using a $600 B&K amp and Monster speaker cables.  I can't wait until I get the Reality cable and D-200's.

I have never types so much at once in my life.  To be continued................

pugs

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Please excuse all of my typos.  I have to go and my hands hurt.

Papajin

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We have fairly similar systems!  I'm running Salk HT3's, a Modwright SWL 9.0SE (have had mine about a week!), Bolder Cable modified SB2, and a Blue Circle BC32 5ch amp.  I'm looking to get some decent cabling in here in the near future, using some old low-end Audioquest cables right now.  An HTC, and 2 HT1's are on the way to complete the home theater side of things.  Not sure what pre-pro I'm going to use yet though -- something not super-expensive as the feature sets seem to change frequently still.

So far I'm pretty impressed with the Modwright pre-pro.  Right out of the box it sounded quite good with perhaps a hint of edginess in the treble.  After having it playing for somewhere around 130-140 hours now, it seems to have lost the glare I heard when I initially hooked it up.  The Modwright replaced a Blue Circle BC21.1 pre-amp, and after I get another 100 or so hours on the Modwright, I'll probably do some listening tests to see if I still like the Modwright better or not.

Rocket

Hi Pugs,

Yep, i know how you feel as i've sunk a lot of money into my system.  I had a beta modwright and i wish i'd had the money to keep the modwright full production model.  Oh, well you never know i might be able to purchase one again.

What gain did you request for the d200's? Let us know how you go. 

Regards

Rod

pugs

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I ordered them with 26 db of gain.  I ordered them before getting the modwright.  I'm not too concerned about it.  I'll just have to wait and see.  The Tempest on the other hand had too much gain.  I rarely could turn it up past 10:00 or 11:00 without it getting too loud.  At my old house, I could barely turn it up past 9:00 to 10:00.  It's much easier to control the volume with the remote on the Modwright compard to the Tempest.

I was listening to a Dave Mathews song today and noticed there were two guitars playing the same thing.  I never noticed that before.  It always sounded like one guitar.  I thought that was pretty cool.  I am hearing new subtleties I have never heard before.  I was tapping both feet.  Last night I fell asleep on the couch listening to Morphine.  It's exciting listening to all of my music again.

zybar

You should be fine on gain with the Modwright/D-200 combo.

My D-200's are 26DB and my TacT 2.2x doesn't add any gain into the equation.  I never had any issues with controlling volume or not getting enough juice.

George

pugs

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Depending on how you like the sound of your system, you might try Sylvania GB-5687 Gold Brand tubes in the SWL9.0SE. When I owned the Modwright preamp, I found the Sylvania tubes were more natural sounding and less etched than any of the other typical tubes used in the SWL9.0SE...including cryo'd Tung Sols.



Thanks.  My 9.0SE came with Raytheon NOS 5687's.  Do you know how those compare to the ones you mentioned?

gme109

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I  I always liked the sound of my system better when feeding my source directly to my amps (first Cary 303/200, then the SB3), but I needed the HT bypass.




so how does the Modwright compare to running your source directly?

ted_b

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Congrats on the Modwright.  Dan is a genius.  Be aware of the good things coming:  the pre opens up at 100hrs, and then finally opens up completely at 200 hrs.  Really!  It's those damn Teflon sonicaps.  To burn it in sooner than later make sure a source is connected and it's sending a signal (cdp on repeat or tuner with interstation noise)  The amp doesn't need to be on.

pugs

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I  I always liked the sound of my system better when feeding my source directly to my amps (first Cary 303/200, then the SB3), but I needed the HT bypass.




so how does the Modwright compare to running your source directly?

I haven't done a direct comparison.  From memory, source to amp is more transparent, a little thinner, more natural, and less colored.  I remember imaging was very nice also.  It was a lot smoother than with the Tempest.  The Modwright is more holographic, softer, richer, with more bass.  There is more heft and fuller body to the sound.  There is some coloration with the Modwright, which for me is not a bad thing as of now.

Since having the Veracities, I have learned that I don't necessarily want to hear the whole truth.  Maybe I would want that if all of my recording were great, but they are not.  I think I like a little softness and coloration.  The Modwright helps make all of my recordings listenable again.  I don't have to retire 50% of my music anymore.

After I get my D-200's, I might try rolling some tubes.  I would like more impact, bass and an even richer midrange.  This is with my $600 B&K, so I expect the D-200's will be a lot better.

samplesj

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Hmmm, if you mean by new RW SB mods that the opamps were changed instead of removed then I agree with Zybar that you've got plenty of gain.  Unfortunately the original RW SB mods that bypassed the opamps dropped it to ~1v didn't they?

26dB gain is standard for UCD400 modules (D200 is a modded UCD400).  26dB gain needs 2v input for max output power.  Most sources today can easily provide enough.

Grover

Quote
After I get my D-200's, I might try rolling some tubes.  I would like more impact, bass and an even richer midrange.  This is with my $600 B&K, so I expect the D-200's will be a lot better.

I'm not a person to discourage tube rolling as I've done that plenty in my amp and preamp.  But your talk of wanting "more impact, bass and even richer midrange" sounds exactly like a new piece of gear that hasn't broken in yet.  Give yourself some time for the capacitors to break in, then you'll have a baseline sound from which to compare different tube choices.

Congratulations on all the new gear.  I'm happy for you that it's changing how you listen to and enjoy music.

pugs

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Hmmm, if you mean by new RW SB mods that the opamps were changed instead of removed then I agree with Zybar that you've got plenty of gain.  Unfortunately the original RW SB mods that bypassed the opamps dropped it to ~1v didn't they?

26dB gain is standard for UCD400 modules (D200 is a modded UCD400).  26dB gain needs 2v input for max output power.  Most sources today can easily provide enough.


I don't seem to have the problem of not enough gain anymore.  I think it was a combination of some of the music I was playing and that I was used to the high gain of the Tempest.  I have had a lot more time listening to it, and I haven't had any more issues with not having enough gain.   3:00 is about the highest I want to turn it up.

I have the newer analog mods with the opamp in my SB3.

pugs

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Quote
After I get my D-200's, I might try rolling some tubes.  I would like more impact, bass and an even richer midrange.  This is with my $600 B&K, so I expect the D-200's will be a lot better.

I'm not a person to discourage tube rolling as I've done that plenty in my amp and preamp.  But your talk of wanting "more impact, bass and even richer midrange" sounds exactly like a new piece of gear that hasn't broken in yet.  Give yourself some time for the capacitors to break in, then you'll have a baseline sound from which to compare different tube choices.

Congratulations on all the new gear.  I'm happy for you that it's changing how you listen to and enjoy music.

I think you're right about break in.  The Modwright has improved a lot since I first got it.  I probably have about 50 hours on it now.

ted_b

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As noted earlier, my Blackgates took 200 hrs almost to the hour.  He uses teflon-coated Sonicaps usually, and they're about 150-200.  Your 500 seems high, but our point is the same....50 ain't nearly there!  Don't change anything in the signal path until you hear your Modwright broken in.  It doesn't sound at all like it will....at all!

pugs

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As noted earlier, my Blackgates took 200 hrs almost to the hour.  He uses teflon-coated Sonicaps usually, and they're about 150-200.  Your 500 seems high, but our point is the same....50 ain't nearly there!  Don't change anything in the signal path until you hear your Modwright broken in.  It doesn't sound at all like it will....at all!

That's great news because it sounds great now. 

My D-200's will be delivered today, Volex power cables tomorrow, and Reality Cables speaker cables and IC's next week.

peter59

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Pugs,

I have currently in my system the Odyssey mono extremes  the Modwright Pre, Symphonic Line CDP  and Loreleis speakers. The sound is great and I do concur you have to let the Modwright break in. I have approx 500 hrs on this pre and it really is a sound product. I do agree with you about the Tempest. Things in my opinion were much better with a tubed pre in the mix. This is why I feel Klaus has put into production his tubed preamp called the Candela. I have heard it, it is not bad at all. I am just tired of changing things around. For now I will keep everything the way it is. I just want to sit back and enjoy the music.... Although I may go to an all tubed integrated amp. Oh! will the madness ever end!!

Grover

Quote
My D-200's will be delivered today, Volex power cables tomorrow, and Reality Cables speaker cables and IC's next week.

Wow,it's great to be you. :D
Have fun!

I'm considering either the D-100 or D-200 along with perhaps three other amplifiers.  It will be good to hear your listening impressions as I'm undecided on the amp upgrade right now.

pugs

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As noted earlier, my Blackgates took 200 hrs almost to the hour.  He uses teflon-coated Sonicaps usually, and they're about 150-200.  Your 500 seems high, but our point is the same....50 ain't nearly there!  Don't change anything in the signal path until you hear your Modwright broken in.  It doesn't sound at all like it will....at all!

Yup, I thought 500 was high, too, but with 400 hours on the Modwright I was ready to sell it. Somewhere close to 500 hours the sound opened up, smoothed out and became much more organic. The change was not subtle. Hopefully my experience was an anomoly.

The great thing about the Modwright/CI Audio combo is that the components can be left on 24/7.

If I leave the preamp on 24/7, won't it wear out the tubes quickly?  I have never owned tube gear before so I have some learning to do.

pugs

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Pugs,

I have currently in my system the Odyssey mono extremes  the Modwright Pre, Symphonic Line CDP  and Loreleis speakers. The sound is great and I do concur you have to let the Modwright break in. I have approx 500 hrs on this pre and it really is a sound product. I do agree with you about the Tempest. Things in my opinion were much better with a tubed pre in the mix. This is why I feel Klaus has put into production his tubed preamp called the Candela. I have heard it, it is not bad at all. I am just tired of changing things around. For now I will keep everything the way it is. I just want to sit back and enjoy the music.... Although I may go to an all tubed integrated amp. Oh! will the madness ever end!!

Yeah, it's too bad I didn't have a chance to hear the Extreme Monos with the Modwright.  It would have been nice to compare them to the D-200's