Modwright KWA 150

Can you share your experiences with this amp.

Is it tonally neutral or on the warm (bass heavy) side of things?

How tight and fast is the bass?

Is the top end sweet sounding?

I'm biamping with 150's, though probably don't need to be with my current speakers. I also used a single 150 for a year before going with two. I would not define "warm" as bass heavy, but rather having a bump in the lower mids. That said, I would say the KWA150's err closer to the side of neutral, but definitely do have a very natural and magical midrange, and perhaps there is a slight bump there, but I would not go as far as calling them "warm". They certainly are not cool or analytical either. "Natural" comes to mind when I think of them. If you prefer warmth you might want to look into the KWA 100SE, where I don't have experience to convey (see 6moons review of that amp). Back to the 150; Bass has plenty of authority, even more so biamped, but not lacking at all with one. Right now I'm using speakers with internal amps for the bass section so it's not making much difference for me personally, but before this I had Coincident speakers that really benefited from the KWA's bass prowess. The extension at both ends is smooth and seamless. They are wonderful amps. Read the reviews on 6moons and in TAS (Golden Ear winner), as well as on the AudioCircle Modwright section. Disclaimer: Dan is a client of mine, but I've used his products long before he became a client. Hope that helps.
I would say the KWA150 is pretty darn neutral. Though other system changes do not allow me to make a definitive statement, compared to my ARC LS26/SD135 combination, the Modwright LS36.5/KWA150 present a slightly more neutral balance through the midrange, with much better low frequency definition and more extended and natural highs. I'm not sure I agree with many of the comments on this amp that it sounds "tubelike". It does resolve spatial information very nicely and does exhibit a very natural tone that reminds one of tube gear. But, on balance what I hear in my system is solid state done very, very right--an absence of grain, natural tonality and good spatial cues combined with awesome power, authority and extension at both extremes. What do you intend to drive with the amp?
Looking into speakers at the moment...
Maybe Legacy Focus HD or Audio Physics Tempo 25's or Wilson Benesch Curve or Martern Miles III

Would you say vocals are very natural sounding or do they come through with some colouration?

I have been using a Moon i-3 but its time to move up to pre/power as it does not have grunt I need.
Ideally, you would want to make a decision on your speakers in conjunction with that of your amplification. I'd narrow down my speaker options to your top contender and then try different amplification to see if you can obtain the sound qualities you are looking for. Though I have not heard them all, the speaker choices you have listed are quite different sounding. Picking an amp without knowing which speaker you will likely pair it with may not get you where you want to go.
Would you say vocals are very natural sounding or do they come through with some colouration?

I'd say vocals sound natural. Period. Like a person in the room. I would not call it colored, no. It is not warm or's just very real/natural sounding (this also assumes an excellent vocal recording). So no, not tube-like, but it somehow seems to give a nod in that direction. It definitely does not sound like a typical classic SS amp like a Krell or Levinson (though they both have made quite a wide range of amps so I am stereotyping - pun really wasn't intended there). The KWA150 does a very good job of getting out of the way. Disclaimers apply.

Add Daedalus to your short list of speakers if you are considering a KWA150 - That pairing is absolutely wonderful. I have no interest at all in Daedalus, nor do I own a pair. I have heard the pairing extensively at Dan's place, both the Ulyses and the DA-RMa. If you have the space and budget the Ulysses is killer - if your space is smaller the DA-RMa gives you the same magic in a smaller package and with less low end grunt (which is prodigious with the Ulysses). I'd certainly also highly recommend AudioMachina, which I do own, but they're at a much higher pricepoint. Great synergy with the KWA. I do some work for Karl, so disclaimer there.

I live in a small market outside North America, but I have tried the physics and focus HD extensively and can happily live with either.

Daedulus not available in my market

Given what I have read on Modwright it looks like it would work well on most speakers?
Although I just spoke to the dealer, seemed to suggest it would sound better on a very clear open speaker than a speaker with a dark character.

So probably a good fit on the Marten or Focus HD or Audio Physics.
Forgot to mention I tried the Simaudio i-5 a few months ago, very natural vocals but was lacking power. Tried some other amps, Perreaux and Redgum but the Simaudio was more natural sounding. The Simaudio 5.3 pre/power is out of my budget

I am going to try the Meridian 502/557 combo on Sunday (but its a 2004 unit), the Modwright pre/power on Saturday.
Although I just spoke to the dealer, seemed to suggest it would sound better on a very clear open speaker than a speaker with a dark character.

Hmmm...I'm not familiar enough with the speakers you are considering to comment on them specifically. I can address this comment to some degree, though. The speakers I use I would say fall into the category of a very clear open speaker, where the character of the speaker is completely uninfluenced by the material of the box they are in. They sound great with the KWA150. I would say Daedalus, which also sound fantastic, are entirely different in their approach. Perhaps they have more of a character that is somehow sympathetic to the materials used...a fleshier, richer sound in some ways, not unlike a musical instrument. AudioMachina is extremely clean and detailed and yet not at all cold or overly analytical in delivering the music that way (I say that because it would might normally be what I would have expected). Both occur to me as extremely enjoyable and engaging pairings with the KWA150, yet they do sound quite different from each other. Both are entirely engaging and let the music come through Daedalus with perhaps a bit more "influence" in a manner of speaking (but its a very fine influence indeed). So I would not necessarily limit my choices unless you happen to actually prefer one over the other, or if the music you listen to is suited better for you by one over the other, to your ears. I guess I wouldn't let a dealer, or anyone else, dictate that since the amps you are considering are more versatile than that in my experience. It seems like the dealer is just filtering a personal preference, which there is nothing wrong with doing. Good luck with your quest.
I would second what Jax has said about the KWA150/Daedalus combination having lived with it now for about 3 months. Daedalus are available via direct sale and there are a growing cadre of owners who are typically happy to allow interested customers to hear the speakers if Lou is unable to work out a demo. If you are interested I'd give Lou a call and see if he can work something out so you can hear his speakers--perhaps even with the KWA150.
I'd concur - both Lou and Dan are great folks and are willing to reach out to help if they are able. Both use each others product so are mutually fans of the pairing. It works, big time. BTW, nice system Dodgealum! Dan's overseas right now, but check in with him after the holiday weekend. I'll point him to this thread and perhaps he can chime in himself. Lou also shows up here on occasion. I don't know him having only met once, but really enjoyed meeting with him and hearing his speakers for the first time at RMAF '06. Positive Feedback really thought the pairing was special at this years RMAF too - See Robert Levi's blurb here. If you do a search on a few of the forums you will see that pairing at RMAF called out many times over as a favorite.
thanks for the kudos! fwiw, I'll be heading to Dan's in a two weeks to upgrade his crossovers in the Ulysses. JAX, you'll have to come listen, I believe you'll find the speakers 'adding' less and being much more 'magical', there really is a huge difference with the new AP crossovers.
be fun to meet you if you were in the area then?
on the KWA 150, I can't say enough good about this amp! it does EVERYTHING right. no tube amp coloration, but all the musicality of tubes. to clarify, the only tube amps I've heard that could draw me away from the KWA150 are a few SET amps, and of course they don't have the kick!
best, lou
thanks for the kudos! fwiw, I'll be heading to Dan's in a two weeks to upgrade his crossovers in the Ulysses. JAX, you'll have to come listen, I believe you'll find the speakers 'adding' less and being much more 'magical', there really is a huge difference with the new AP crossovers.
be fun to meet you if you were in the area then?

Hey Lou - thanks for the invite - I shot you an email too. I will definitely try to make it if it doesn't overlap vacation dates.

To clarify my input here...I did not in any way mean to suggest "adding" in a negative light. I could just think of no better way to describe the differences between those two speakers.

Hi all, do you recommend XLR balanced cables on the Modwright pre/power?

Also have any of you had experience with the LS100 pre?

You'd probably benefit from XLR's if used throughout every connection in your system. If just from pre to amp I'd question the benefits based on my experience. I did try it once in my rig and could not perceive a significant difference in JUST running balanced from pre to amp. Cables were NOT the same though, so that certainly effected my own test.

I've only heard the photo sample of the LS100 which had ZERO hours on it, so really was not broken in. My comments would therefore not be a fair assessment. Dan tells me it falls somewhere in between the 9.0 and the 36.5 in performance, once broken in, and is a more tube influenced pre than the 36.5 (which I find very linear and resolving, and have less of a classically tubey pre sound/coloration to it). The LS100 also offers a modular option where either a DAC or a phono stage can be added to it, whereas the 36.5 does not. I don't know if Dan's completed those board designs - I think perhaps the phono board, but he's still working on the DAC. He's got a fairly active forum over on AudioCircle you can check out too. He's has a demo LS100 currently touring the country and there's some input there on that preamp.
You may want to cruise over to AudioCicle and check the Modwright Circle. They are currently allowing prospective customers to audition an amp (and maybe a preamp) just for the cost of shipping. I just signed on, as I'm curious about their gear. I'm not anticipating the preamp/amp combo will sound as good as what I'm using currently, but it's worth the cost of shipping to find out. Look for the "on tour" thread.
Thanks, Jax. I've been at this for a quite a while now and I think I've finally got a system that will satisfy for the long haul. I am indebted to Lou, Dan and Keith for their patient and valuable advice and for their talent and passion for what they do. As for Acdvd's question about connections, Dan feels that as a true balanced design, the LS36.5 is best connected to the KWA150 via balanced cables with the rest of the components connected to the LS36.5 via single ended wire. I followed his advice and that is how I have everything wired up.
One final question on this amp before I go ahead and purchase - how good is the bass authority and speed and tightness compared to other solid state power amps in its class
I came to the Modwright from being a tube guy, so can't add much to what I've already said regarding your last question here. The only direct comparison I've done to another SS amp was to an Ayre V5XE, which is another SS amp that I really liked, but the KWA150 did certainly excel in bass authority to that particular amp. I was considering buying the Ayre and had it in my system for about a week and liked it, but decided to keep my KWA150 because I preferred it to the Ayre overall. The Ayre had a slightly softer presentation - a bit less resolving perhaps, but very musical and engaging and not typically SS. It's an A/B amp, but reminded me more of a class A amp. Nonetheless, I preferred the greater resolution of the Modwright, since it was not at the sacrifice of any of the qualities I enjoyed about the Ayre. It also did do better at bass, and marginally better at soundstaging (though that was a close call). I was using the Coincident speakers at that time (double 8" side firing bass drivers). Other than that, I've done no direct comparing to comment on such a question, but hearing it playing with Lou's speakers one would never say that it was even remotely lacking in the bass department, especially the Ulysses. Perhaps someone else has made some direct SS comparisons. You might check the Modwright forums, mentioned previously, as well. Good luck!
In my system the KWA150 offers superlative performance on the bottom end. My last amp was an ARC SD135 and while I've made other system changes (particularly the addition of Lou's All Poly crossover option) that do not allow me to make a direct comparison between the two, I can say that the KWA will likely not disappoint in this area. But again, I really think you ought to be thinking about the amp and speakers systemically since this is one of the most important interactions in your system chain. While the KWA150 is an amp that I imagine will work very nicely with a wide variety of speakers, you really should try to approach the decision on these two components as if they are one.
Good advice from Dodgealum there. Amp+Speaker is definitely a really critical link.
The Modwright KWA 150 has the best bass of any amp I've heard, certainly in that price range. great extension, dynamics and definition. I pay a lot of attention to how an amp handles bass, and controls the drivers and the KWA does the job elegantly, effortlessly and with authority.
Wholeheartedly agree with Lou's comments. Killer amp for the price. Dan Wright is also a great guy and provides excellent service.
I tested the KWA150 last week with a pair of Audio Physic Cardeas speakers and it sounded very very good indeed! It is hard to describe what it did best but at the same moment in time I guess that proves its strength!
As the Cardeas has 5 drivers in total (per unit) the 150 watts total are well needed and in full control.
How detailed, defined and airy is the KWA 150 in the highs and midrange? as compared to other similarly priced amps.

The only other amp I am considering in my part of the world is the Cambridge 840W which has been highly regarded. So any comparisons would be good.

The price on the Modwright is going up 20% after this last unit is sold so I am wondering if I should move quickly on it...
Forgot to mention I tried the Meridian 557 and did not like it.

When I added the Legacy power amp 330W unit to the Simaudio integrated (in pre-mode), using the Legacy Focus HD, the difference was only in more bass grunt.

When I added the Modwright KWA-150 at a friend's place to the Simaudio integrated the improvement was beyond belief!!! even using my Simaudio as the pre!!!

Unfortunately I was not able to demo the KWA-150 against other power amps so any comparisons would be useful

thanks again
One last thing...I am still deciding my speakers, but can it work well on full range speakers that are rated down to say 87db at 4ohms. In a medium size room. I have read speakers like this need 200 watts


for things to be clear I import %Modwright for the UK, france and belgium

we did a show 2 weeks ago and the Modwright was a great match with the Cardeas from Audio Physic

one kwa150 did a great job and 2 even better, more headroom and even better control of the 2 bass drivers

the Cardeas is highly revealing in the highs and midrange and it was a match made in heaven


I am keen to hear this amp at a friend's place shortly. I am only afraid it will give my Conrad Johnson Premier 350 a run for its money...
Just wondering if anyone has heard the KWA 100SE and how it compares to the KWA 150?
Thanks in advance.
Srajan Ebaen has had both and I think may compare them in a few paragraphs of his reviews. here's the latest of those. I am shooting a KWA100SE for Dan this week and will get to take a listen if I have time. If I do I'll make a comment here on my own impressions.
Hi all i have taken the plunge and ordered the KWA150 and the LS100. The LS

Can any tube owners advise how long the LS100 will take to break in and what sort of sonic changes there will be once it has broken in compared to say at 20 hours use.
Both of these units will take 80-100 hours to get 75% broken in. Anticipate 400+ hours on both the KWA-150 & L'S-100 to get 95% break in.
Anyone have a modwright kwa 150 wilson w/p 8 experience?