Modwright SWL 9.0SE Pre ... your thoughts welcome

Hey, I have decided to dive into tubes ... well, you get my meaning. I was steered towards the Modwright SWL 9.0SE and so far have read some good things. I'm running a Levinson ML-27 for power and Paradigm S-4's for speakers. My transport is nothing special, Denon DVD-2200 but I am also looking at running a tubed DAC in hopes of bringing the system a little more alive. Right now the system seems a little flat ... not very exciting. Plenty of volume bass end it fantastic but the mid and upper end seem very packaged. Imaging is not very good ... High and mid frequencies don’t seem to blend well. Some CD's have fair to good sound but most seem pretty "plain". Just doesn’t have that delicacy I'm looking for. I seem to listen the SPEAKERS and not the music. I recently listened to an older set of Paradigms pushed by a small tubed integrated and I was amazed. The tubed gear really made the Paradigm speakers come to life ... I was set back in my chair. Vocals were clear and crisp … the sound was extremely detailed and I had to be drug out of the room. Since then I have really started to pick a part my system.

Cables are Signalcable Silver Resolution Balanced and Cobalt Ultimate speaker cables. I'm running Signal cable "Magic" power cables. Nothing fancy but it should do the job.

Is this upgrade going to help? Has anyone experienced this?

Any better preamps in the $1500-2000 range? What about Levinson SS preamps?

Help me out … Please
Thanks Tvad, I agree with you RE the constant upgrades and reivisions. I don't want to confuse the marketplace or cause audiophile nervosa either ;).

I believe the best thing is to reserve the special and major design upgrades for the next model.

I appreciate your input.

as you stated, "The SWL 9.0SE was meant to be a high-quality, high-value product that brought Class 'A' performance to the audiophile at a real-world price. It is not inexpensive, nor could we build it cheaply and have it perform at the level that it does. But, at $2200, it was meant to compete with other products that are 2x - 3x plus its price. I don't want to lose sight of this with upgrades that will necessarily add to the overall cost of the 9.0SE." IMHO the SWL 9.0SE meets all those goals and are the primarly reasons that i purchased the unit. further, i think your last sentence nails it with respect to an appropriate market strategy with this particular product.

this is my first foray into the "higher" end, separates arena. the SWL 9.0SE will serve as the "heart" of my system for the foreseeable future and any upgrade activities i may engage in will involve the other components because i think the pre is good enough to withstand upgrading the other system components within the contrainsts of my current means.

i do not consider myself to be an audiophile and only need a linestage as i do not have the time or inclination required to do vinyl correctly. i love music and the SWL 9.0SE does it right for me. i think there are many others that fall into this category.

on the other hand, i understand the assault on the high end and the actualization of the potential given what you've already realized with your current products. to that extent, i think TVAD's response is well reasoned.

i want to thank you again for taking such good care of me in September.


This is an excellent thread with savy people whom I believe to be music lovers first and (audiophiles second or not at all). However, you absolutely must appreciate what Dan has created aesthetically, technically and musically.

I don't think I need to chime in here regarding what TVAD has said and recommended as it is right on the mark in my view as well!

RE: My unit (pun intended). The only thing I don't have on the unit is the Bybee cigars which may come at a later date. However, it would be very hard to part with my 9.0SE even for the few short weeks it would take to perform the upgrade.

Enjoy the music friends and Dan W., please keep your audio and music values and continue to transform them into the musical products that you have already started.
Take your time and grow slowly. Let the marketplace find you. At present you have only just begun to be noticed. If you are building for the masses, you must give the masses time to find you. Only the unusually sharp and alert clientele has approached you at this point. Great as the SWL 9.0SE may be, it remains an unknown to 99% of those who might eventually buy one. Several companies did very well producing a tubed pre-amp and nothing else for years with infrequent, and some might say, insignificant reiterations. CAT and AI spring immediately to mind.
You can't please everyone and it is a fool's errand, indeed, to alter your course with such a goal in mind. We love you the way you are. Those who want different features can buy a different product rather than forcing you to change yours.
Artists must remain comfortable with their art.
So when you build mine put a navy blue faceplate on it with chrome knobs and extra cheese.
Post removed