KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!

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modwright

KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« on: 30 Jan 2009, 09:22 pm »
Hi guys, I have been fortunate enough to either own or have in the showroom for audition, a number of different speakers.  I currently have Greybeards, Emerald Physics, Studio Electric, Zu Druids, Vandersteen and recently on audition, the Daedalus DA-RMa.

The DA-RMa's are a large stand-mounted monitor, sold factory-direct in the USA, proudly hand-built by Lou Hinkely in WA st.  U.S. Direct price = $5450 (+$450 for stands).

The pair that I have here are solid Walnut.  They are also available in: Cherry, RedOak, Quartersawn White Oak, Maple and Ebonized Walnut.

I have to say that the craftsmanship of the cabinets, including dovetail joints, is absolutely beautiful.  WAF is NOT a problem with these beautiful speakers and matching stands.

They are a three way design, 96dB efficient(!) with bass extension to the 30's I believe.  I will let Lou fill in the details here.


I have known Lou Hinkley for some time now and have shared room at shows.  I have heard his speakers at shows with different amps and sources, with our preamp really being the only common thread in most cases.  I have always enjoyed their sound, but until now have not had the chance to personally audition them.

They are intentionally voiced slightly on the warm side. They are very resolving and do not limit detail, but have a comfortable and relaxed overall presentation to them.  HOWEVER, don't think that these speakers are merely lounging in your system.  Today I played some Stevie Ray Vaughn tracks at VOLUME and the attack of kick drums, percussion and strings was startling.  I found that they provided both beautiful and musical presentation of music of a classical, jazz or folk genre and yet could turn right around and ROCK if need be, with high-powered blues, rock or other dynamic music.  In my opinion, they simply offer a very musical, enjoyable and 'live' presentation of ANY music played through them.

This is not meant to be a review as such, merely a word of praise where I feel it is due.  These speakers offer EXTREMELY high performance for the price and are proudly built in the U.S. by a true American Craftsman.

I mention the other speakers I have here, so that you know that I have had a broad range to compare things to.  This was not and IS not intended to be a shootout.  I will not make public comparisons on this thread between the Daedalus and other speakers we have in the shop.  If you have a question about a particular speaker mentioned here, I will answer it, but any question of a comparative nature between speakers, I will only answer via PM or email.

I have been using a broad variety of speakers with our new KWA 150 for the simple and selfish purpose of wanting to know what works well with our amp and what our amp will drive well.  The answer thus far is that our amp proves to be quite at home with a BROAD variety of speakers.  When I listened to Lou's DA-RMa's, I felt they deserved mention and I wanted to share my experiences here.

Thanks guys, many good things ahead from ModWright for '09!

Dan
« Last Edit: 8 Mar 2011, 10:00 pm by modwright »

Biscuit

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Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #1 on: 30 Jan 2009, 10:58 pm »
Very cool looking speakers Dan.  Your endorsement means a lot and I am certain these sound as good as they look.  They have an old-school charm and I really love those stands.  I hope to hear them someday! :D


Marco Prozzo

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #2 on: 31 Jan 2009, 05:35 pm »
Lou's speakers were one of the highlights of RMAF '07 for me, as was meeting Lou (like Dan, a great, down-to-earth, honest guy who's clearly passionate about his work).  His was one of the rooms I lingered in longest just to listen to more music.  Just beautiful to listen to and look at - he does some gorgeous joinery on those solid-wood cabinets (yes, all solid hardwoods).  The speakers I heard there were his flagship model at the time.  Highly recommended!  They're also very efficient.  I'm pretty sure in '07 he shared a room with ART Audio (or was it VAC?) and was powering his speakers with low-powered SET amps.  It was a very large room and the sound was astoundingly good.  No clipping at all....beautiful, liquid, full-bodied.....Great stuff! I believe Lou is a musician himself and he also builds some very fine guitar amplifiers (or he used to).  Can't wait to hear them with your amps, Dan. 

jimmy2615

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Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #3 on: 10 Feb 2009, 03:04 am »
Dan,
   everywhere you look on the internet there are only posts and info about other models of Daedalus speakers.  Can you offer some info on how you think this model compares to English loudspeakers (Harbeth, Proac, Spendor, etc) in terms of their strengths?  I realize you did not want to post a 'shootout', but so far no info can be found on this model.   
   Also, you have said it is dynamic, which seems to be the norm with this manufacturer per other posters here and elsewhere; it has also been said the ideal in design was not 'low' bass - can you comment on the bass performance in general terms?
   Much appreciated.
Steve

modwright

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #4 on: 11 Feb 2009, 07:02 pm »
Hi, first of all, I am familiar with Proacs, but not necessary Harbeths.  I am familiar with the characteristic 'British' sound however, which I would characterize as being a touch on the warmer side of neutral and certainly not in your face.  In this regard, I would say that the Daedalus speakers DO bear resemblance.  I want to stress however, that they are still VERY detailed and dynamic.

The bass response is limited by the physical speaker size: i.e. the monitors that I have here are not designed to go flat to 20hz.  The bass that they produce however, is very resolving and tight.  I have played Rock at loud levels with our KWA 150 amp and the impact of kick drums and the like are startling.  The bass response is fast and controlled.  These speakers get a big thumbs up from me, give their performance/cost ratio, phenomenal build quality and aesthetics.

Speakers are a subjective thing and not every design will suit every ear.  I do feel that the Daedalus speakers a VERY musical, controlled, accurate and enjoyable.  I would not characterize them as forward, but neither would I say that they are rolled off.  They do have some of the British speakers qualities in terms of warmth and musicality.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Sincerely,

Dan W.
President, ModWright Instruments Inc.

mcullinan

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #5 on: 11 Feb 2009, 07:18 pm »
Simply gorgeous speaKERS!! Their big brother are on my short list when this economy turns around. What craftmanship!!!!
Mike

jimdgoulding

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #6 on: 4 Mar 2009, 12:58 am »
The DA1's knocked me out at a meet recently.  I'd own em in a heartbeat.  They had good stuff in front of them.  Linn, Manley, VTL.  That is what I would hope to use with them.  The room was a Church abbey and they filled that puppy with sound, were clean as a mosquito's peter, and mucho fast with hellaciously wide dynamics.  They did it all and extremely well.

dodgealum

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Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #7 on: 4 Mar 2009, 02:00 am »
I agree with Dan that there are some similarities between the Daedalus speakers and models from Spendor and Harbeth.  I owned a pair of Spendor SP-100's for a while and also a pair of Harbeth Compact 7-ES2's right before I got into my first pair of Lou's speakers.  When I think about these traditional BBC designs I think tonal authenticity and a non-fatiguing sound.  These are the two qualities that Lou's speakers most share with these designs. Where the Daedalus speakers are different is in dynamic capability, speed and resolution throughout the audio band.  I spent two years looking for a pair of floorstanding speakers to replace my Compact 7's and it took that long because the Harbeth's do the midrange so well and so right that I just couldn't part with them for more bass that a bigger speaker can provide.  Then I found the Daedalus line and realized I could have my cake and eat it too.

modwright

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #8 on: 4 Mar 2009, 05:03 am »
I have had some time with the DA-RMa's now and I am listening to 'The Wall' through them right now, fed via our amp and preamp.  I have to say that the dynamics, detail, resolution and 'live' presentation of these speakers is TRULY exceptional.  I am seriously considering a pair of the Ulysses speakers for my Reference system now.  There is simply a natural and 'live' presentation to these speakers that simply makes EVERYTHING sound like it should.  Lou's products are truly a testament to the strength of the American Craftsman and Artisan!

Dan

figcon

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #9 on: 5 Mar 2009, 01:21 am »
I tried posting a couple of days ago regarding the bass capabilities of Daedalus speakers, but nothing appeared, so I will say the same thing again, albeit a bit more briefly.

I use a pair of Ulysses, driven by a pair of Pass XA100.5 monoblocks, driven by Dan Wright's incredible LS36.5/PS36.5 preamp and a Marantz SA7S1. I also have a pair of Art of Sound subs, which are a sealed design with a 12" ACI driver that only do 27Hz and below and at a very low volume via a Marchand electronic crossover. The Ulysses speakers don't need a sub and frankly, neither do the DAR-Ma's. The subs are truly for the lowest bass only and I think this is where a lot of people misunderstand subs. They are only for low bass and if they aren't compatible with your main speakers, they deteriorate sound quality. With Ulysses, my subs can't do more than 27Hz and at a very low volume setting, or else they slow the speaker down. Except for the last 1/2 octave of bass, the Ulysses do low bass better than my subs. Integrating the two has not been easy. This past weekend, with six audiophiles present, we compared the  Marantz by itself with a Berkely DAC directly driving the Pass amps and did not use the subs in the process. No one, other than me was aware of this and most people spoke about the incredible bass. When I mentioned that the subs weren't on, people just shook their heads and this was in an 18' by 23' room.

Lou's speakers are fast, full sounding but exceptionally transparent, dynamic like live music, coherent, tonally gorgeous and as natural sounding a speaker as I've heard and that includes re-built, dbl stacked Quad 57's. While subjective, they are also timeless in their appearance and I never tire of their looks. Great speakers with a wide variety of amps and the smaller ones sound very close to Ulysses, with a bit less bass energy and a bit less soundstaging focus. At Lou's asking prices, his speakers are screaming deals.

rydenfan

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #10 on: 5 Mar 2009, 03:16 am »
Figcon, I know there are a few of us that would LOVE to know your thoughts on the Berkley Alpha DAC

vinyl_lady

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #11 on: 11 Mar 2009, 01:41 am »
I first heard Lou's speakers at the 2005 RMAF. They were the DA-1's powered by JC-1 monoblocks. I fell in love with the sound and spent the next year saving up and bought the demo pair in cherry at the 2006 RMAF. I loved the warmth, clarity, detail, wide sweet-spot and rockin' bass the speakers produced. I have a large listening room, 18' x 25' with a 17' high cathedral ceiling. The room has been acoustically engineered by Rives Audio and treated accordingly. The DA-1's really filled the room. They replaced B & W Matrix 804's and a Velodyne 15" sub woofer. No need for a sub with the DA-1's. When Lou designed and built the Ulysses, he redesigned the DA-1's, now the DA-1.1. After hearing them, I sold my DA-1's and bought the 1.1's. As good as the DA-1's are, the 1.1's are a definite upgrade and worth every penny. I agree with an earlier post that there is no listener fatigue with Lou's speakers, plus you get great detail and wide dynamics. They are very, very sweet speakers--natural sounding and gorgeous to look at. I highly recommend these speakers. You could spend twice as much money and not find a speaker this good from top to bottom.

I talked to Lou today and he was singing the praises of the KWA150 and how well it matches with his speakers. I think an audition is in my future.

zybar

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #12 on: 11 Mar 2009, 01:52 am »
I first heard Lou's speakers at the 2005 RMAF. They were the DA-1's powered by JC-1 monoblocks. I fell in love with the sound and spent the next year saving up and bought the demo pair in cherry at the 2006 RMAF. I loved the warmth, clarity, detail, wide sweet-spot and rockin' bass the speakers produced. I have a large listening room, 18' x 25' with a 17' high cathedral ceiling. The room has been acoustically engineered by Rives Audio and treated accordingly. The DA-1's really filled the room. They replaced B & W Matrix 804's and a Velodyne 15" sub woofer. No need for a sub with the DA-1's. When Lou designed and built the Ulysses, he redesigned the DA-1's, now the DA-1.1. After hearing them, I sold my DA-1's and bought the 1.1's. As good as the DA-1's are, the 1.1's are a definite upgrade and worth every penny. I agree with an earlier post that there is no listener fatigue with Lou's speakers, plus you get great detail and wide dynamics. They are very, very sweet speakers--natural sounding and gorgeous to look at. I highly recommend these speakers. You could spend twice as much money and not find a speaker this good from top to bottom.

I talked to Lou today and he was singing the praises of the KWA150 and how well it matches with his speakers. I think an audition is in my future.

Welcome to AC and I am glad you are happy with the Daedalus speakers.

Keep us posted on your audition of the KWA 150 with the DA 1.1's.

George

vinyl_lady

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #13 on: 11 Mar 2009, 07:20 pm »
Thanks George. I will let everyone know my impressions of the KWA 150 once I've had a chance to hear it.

Laura

Daedalus Audio

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Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #14 on: 13 Mar 2009, 04:17 am »
WOW! Thanks for all the kind words!  I started work today on a pair of Ebonized walnut Ulysses for Dan! I can't wait to get a pair of his amps in here, Dan has really nailed it with this amp!
Thanks again to all and I look forward to seeing everyone @ RMAF.
BTW I'd like to start a Daedalus Audio circle here, any advice or interest?

Best,

Lou



lonewolfny42

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Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #15 on: 13 Mar 2009, 04:25 am »
Lou...

Quote
BTW I'd like to start a Daedalus Audio circle here, any advice or interest?

Here's the info Lou..... :thumb:

Daedalus Audio

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Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #16 on: 13 Mar 2009, 07:35 pm »
I wanted to write a little more about Dan's new amp. 
A couple months ago he sent me a beta unit to evaluate, well he listened to peoples feedback and pushed the design further. So a few weeks ago he sent  up the revised design.... awesome! First off this amp has the best bass of any amp I've ever heard. Not only solid with full extension but the level of detail in the bass is amazing, I heard things with this amp I've never heard... very very real. The mids and highs are smooth and liquid, again totally natural, no "wow did you hear those cymbals?" just perfect, like sitting in a small club hearing the real instruments... perfectly balanced and smooth. I've only heard tone like that in VERY expensive tube amps, but what Dan's have that most tubes don't is to die for dynamics across the entire range, both macro and micro!  The overall sound is very cohesive, no one thing jumps out except for musical emotion and clarity.
Anyhow, you can tell I love this amp and can't wait to get a pair, and they will be running my speakers @ RMAF!
thanks,
Lou


vinyl_lady

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #17 on: 12 Apr 2009, 09:20 pm »
I just finished posting my initial listening impressions of the fabulous ModWright KWA 150. It is clearly the best amp I have ever owned and one of the best I have ever heard. My purpose in posting here is to tell you about the incredible synergy between the KWA 150 and Daedalus speakers. They are a match made in heaven. The KWA 150 really make my DA 1.1's sing throughout the full range. The bass is deep and tight with great punch. the midrange is so natural--female vocals just shine and the highs are really sweet. The combination of Dan's new amp and the DA 1.1's produce a dynamic, live sound that is simply gorgeous.

Lou tells me he intends to power his Ulysses with a pair of KWA 150's at this year's RMAF. His room is going to blow people's socks off.

Laura

Audioclyde

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #18 on: 19 May 2009, 11:57 pm »
Hi all,

I've had my ebonized walnut DA-RMa's for about 8 days now and probably have close to 100 hours or so on them.  They replaced my modded (Cardas internal wire/solder) JM Lab Micro Utopia's in my main rig.  I also have use a REL Strata II sub; with the DA-RMa's I have the sub x-over at 36 with very little gain.

First let me say that although I tend to prefer my system to sound just a shade to warm side of neutral, I really like the Micro Utopia's.  BUT I can sum it up quickly by saying that the DA-RMa's aren't leaving the system anytime soon  aa.  Lou's speakers just sound so natural, like real live music!!  One thing I haven't figured out yet--the Micro's are of course 'brighter' with a great detail, yet I'm hearing even better detail/resolution with the DA-RMa's.....better space and air it seems to me....is this partially attibutable to the greater sensitivity?...whatever, I like it!!! 

I'm no good a trying to give an 'audiophile' review, but I have to add that IMHO the ebonized walnut DA-RMa's are stunningly good to look at too.  Very high WAF too!!

Anyway, just wanted to shout out and say thanks Lou!

Randy

modwright

Re: KWA 150 and Daedalus Speakers!
« Reply #19 on: 20 May 2009, 11:29 am »
I now have my Ebonized Walnut Ulysses speakers too and I have to second the notion about the finish....STUNNING!

I also agree about the sonics from Lou's speakers.  I don't consider them rolled off or warm at all.  I don't prefer an overly bright sound either.  I find them to simply sound very natural.  They sound exceptional at low levels, very refined and not lacking in detail, midrange or bass.  At high levels too, they simply keep on going.  Very dynamic and can handle lots of power.  They are also sensitive enough to not require lots of power.

Great sonic design and truly beautiful pieces of work!

Dan