ModWright Phono

Hi all

I happen to come across this phono stage and the dealer asked me to have a listen to see if I liked it. So I took it back, plugged in the tubes, cables and powered up the unit.

I don't want to go into details yet as its still literally fresh out of the box, but I was just wondering how many have heard it and what was your impressions of the unit?
Fantastic phono stage! I have the SWLP which has the exact same phono stage. Really improves with time opening up the soundstage. The caps take a long time to break in. Very natural presentation. No hard edges whatsoever. Really brings out the best in analog. It's simply the best I've ever heard with no weakness that I can find.
Hi Jamnperry
What other phono stages did you compare it with before coming to a decision to buy? Also which cartridge are you using? Thanks.
The only phono stage that I can say I directly compared it to was the Whest 2.0 which I owned. That was in itself a really good phono that received rave reviews compared to the usual standard bearers like the Manley. The Whest had an incredibly wide soundstage and revealed low level textures exceptionally well. At first, by comparison, the Modwright seemed more narrow width and not quite as deep in the soundstage. But the instruments and vocals were more organic and natural. It was also more dynamic and low level detail was at least equal to the Whest. Gradually, as I suppose the caps broke in, the stage deepened, though not quite as wide as the Whest.
The cartridge I used in the comparison was the Shelter 501 on a Scoutmaster on steroids with every upgrade imaginable.
While I wish I could have drug home the reference phono stages to compare directly, I had to draw a line somewhere budget wise, my moment of clarity in this insane hobby before I start jacking 7-11's.
I have a Modwright phono stage that was recommended by a dealer who handles very expensive stuff. It is an interesting component - having a natural sound, very big soundstage, and has a fast, dynamic presentation (it has lots of balls). I have not compared it to many, but did do a direct comparison to a 47 labs phonocube. The phonocube is very good as well, but the Modwright gives a bigger, more forward presentation, which works well in my system. It is very important to try to find a NOS Mullard 5AR4 though, as this switch made a huge improvement in tightening things up, faster transients, improved detail. I understand that the unit does take a long time to break in, since he uses teflon caps. My better recorded LP's sound stunning.
CMK, I would be curious to hear your impressions and what you have compared it to. Myself, I am just getting into vinyl so I do not have a lot of experience with many phono stages. I am dying to try it against an Audio Research reference.
Hi Kevin
My current experience with the ModWright SWP seems to mirror yours - very favourable. The things which stand out about the unit are :

a) unusual clarity and low level detail
b) excellent musical separation
c) very punchy tight bass lines, which leads to
d) excellent sense of PRaT

I think I've only got about 10 hours on the unit and it already sounds this good!
Trust me.. it'll get a lot better. Re-reading my comment, you'd get the impression I thought the Whest was close. It's really not. The Modwright is leagues above it. The separation of instruments will expand and the tonal quality will be fuller, more resolving, definable, richer. It sounds like it should.. more analog. I wouldn't at all call it polite or hifi-ish. No hint of processed, 2 dimensional CD sound unless the record was recorded that way.
I probably am still under 200 hours on the phono, and there were days that it didn't sound quite as magical, but those days were few and it is seeming to stabilize.
So Cmk, looks like you ended up buying it. I agree with Jamnperry, that the unit gets better the longer it is on.
Jamnperry, have you tried any tube rolling?
I was surprised at how much better the unit sounded after I put in the NOS Mullard. I highly recommend you try one if you can.
I also noticed that the unit has a wider, bigger soundstage when used in the high gain mc selection. Although my preamp has a lot of gain and I could go with it in the mm mode, there is a difference in the presentation between the two.
Yes, I forgot to mention that I have a NOS Mullard 5AR4. It really does make a nice difference. I haven't rolled any other tubes but did try the Herbie's damper on it. Didn't like it but may try experiment more with position again. I do however like the Herbie ring on the Tung Sol's.
Thanks for the tip on the gain. I'll try it sometime.
Just an update on the unit:

I've been travelling a bit, so time spent listening has been patchy, but recently I've managed to squeeze in more time. Also since the full function preamp was available to me, I decided to try that out.

The full preamp has the advantage in that you can easily switch between MM and MC with the toggle switch at the back. Loading though requires you to open the cover to access the dip switches inside. I also like the idea of having the tube rectified power supply in a separate box from the main preamp. The supplied cord is high quality, thick guage and well shielded.

Overall, the thing that catches my attention is that its very, very quiet. Sometimes even after the stylus has gone into the grooves, I wonder if I have switched on the correct input, or if the mute was on. Music is very dynamic. This unit almost sounds like a SS unit, its hard to believe it has so many tubes in it.

From the my previous post, the sound has gotten slightly sweet and still shows all the detail and soundstaging capabilities.

Now the interesting part was the comparison with my Herron phono. The Herron is a fantastic unit, I have high regard for its music making abilities. The Modwright when loaded at 47k ohms sounds very similar, perhaps a touch leaner and slightly less gain, but marginally more quiet. Both units are very neutral, perhaps leaning ever so slightly to the warm side, but never euphonic.

I also put in some time listening to the line stage via my Denon universal player. I was amazed that while listening to the Water Music performed by Academy of St Martin in the Fields (1971), the soundstage was tremendously precise, instruments were placed precisely and in the correct scale to each other. So "real" was the performance I felt transported to Kingsway Hall. Playing other Cds just further re-enforces the sense of live performances happening right in front of me.

Highly recommended.
I have had the SWP 9.0SE Phono Stage in my system for about a month and I am very pleased with what I'm hearing.
What I really like about this phonostage is the way the music propels forward from the images and out into the room. I've heard this particular trait referred to as 'action.' It also has great drive and energy.

What I want ideally, however, is a phonostage with this kind of 'action' and power but one that is slightly warmer and more lush than the SWP 9.0SE.
One thing you should do is swap the stock 5AR4 for a Blackburn Mullard or a metal base Dutch made rectifier, if you haven't already. That will warm it up some. Also, unless you burned it in or it's used, it's nowhere near broken in. Takes at least 250 hours. Don't give up on it just yet.
One thing you should do is swap the stock 5AR4 for a Blackburn Mullard or a metal base Dutch made rectifier, if you haven't already. That will warm it up some. Also, unless you burned it in or it's used, it's nowhere near broken in. Takes at least 250 hours. Don't give up on it just yet.
Thanks for the advice. The component has broken in for over 250 hours. I won't give up on it until I hear something better in my system. I'd like to hear it in comparison with the Io and Steelhead.