Modwright Transporter VS Opera Droplet 5.0 CDP.

I have heard the Droplet 5.0 and like it very much. It is now is available with a coaxial digital input designed to go with a new 24/96 streaming product from the same company called the Digital Box 1.0. With these two products linked you end up with a streaming solution not unlike what the MWT offers.

The main similarities are between them as I see it are - 24/96 streaming, tube based output, true balanced connections, and price.

I am interested in hearing from anyone who has heard both the Droplet 5.0 (with or without a streaming device attached) and also heard the MWT. My only interest is to know which sounds better as both systems are almost identical in what they offer. Thanks for any help.
I have not heard the Droplet, so cannot comment there, but the MWTP is an outstanding digital front end and would be very stiff competition. If you went that route you could use any decent transport through the DAC section of MWTP. I use an Oppo with excellent results. I have a few friends with MWTP's. I have heard it there head-to-head with an Electrocompaniet EMC-1UP, as well as two DACs (MHDT Havana, Empirical Modded Northstar via Pacecar) . The MWTP sounded better in all three comparisons, and my friend sold his EMC and now uses an inexpensive Oppo as through an Empirical Pacecar as a transport. Another friend (TVAD) thought his Esoteric X03 edged out the MWTP by a small margin in slightly superior resolution. Perhaps he'll chime in here. I sold my Modwright Platinum Signature Sony player when I got my TP because the TP sounded better and was more versatile making the player an expensive redundancy. Disclaimer: Dan Wright is a client of mine. You can also find a whole lot of input on tube rolling in the MWTP on the Modwright Audiocircle forum under the thread on that subject, which is very long (I can save you some reading if you want the Cliff Notes version). The tube choice does make a big difference, and the current hyper-mod to the power supply also is a very nice upgrade (I believe this is on all the current production MWTP's but check me on that). The TP also adds the versatility of streaming various Internet music sources, like Pandora, and online radio stations.
Chillinimrod- Recommend careful "due diligence" on CDPs sourced form China. Make sure you can get effective timely and economical support. Also note that MWTP can form the basis of a very flexible network music system w minimal user computer knowledge required, if that's an issue.

Jax2- I'd love to get the Cliffnotes on the tube-rolling for my MWTP.
08-16-09: Jax2
Another friend (TVAD) thought his Esoteric X03 edged out the MWTP by a small margin in slightly superior resolution.

Just a couple small revisions. I own an Esoteric UX3-Pi, not an X-03. One is a universal player and the other is an SACD/CD player. To my knowledge, the SACD and CD audio sections of these players are identical. However, in the event that they aren't identical, I wanted to specify which player I own.

Also, in addition to better resolution, the Esoteric has better bass extension and definition, and the overall tonality is slightly better balanced. That said, the differences are slim, and by my percentage scale, the Esoteric is better by no more than 5%. Of course, my percentage could easily be someone else's 25%, so take it as you will.

Bottom line, the MW Transporter is outstanding.

The TP also adds the versatility of streaming various Internet music sources, like Pandora, and online radio stations.
Jax2 (Reviews | Threads | Answers)
This is how I have primarily been using my a streaming device for Pandora (the comparisons used to arrive at the conclusions regarding the TP vs. Esoteric were using redbook CDs with the Esoteric as a transport connected via its spdif digital output). In my home, for whatever reason...perhaps due to my wireless network (two Apple Airport Express devices), I have issues at times with the TP timing out and re-buffering.

I thought it's worth mentioning, as the wireless streaming is very nice to have, but the bugs are not worked out, IMO. Again, I am not laying blame on the TP, but the fact is that I don't know yet where the problem lies.
The short version,Swamp, is this:

Two favorite rectifiers are the EML 5U4G Mesh, which I'm using, and the Mullard High Wycombe GZ37 (NOS). A few folks like the usual suspects 5AR4/GZ34 variants but the majority is with the EML mesh. I found 5AR4's to lack some body/weight when I tried them.

If you stick with 9-pin signal tubes the RCA 6CG7 cleartops get the knod. Better still get a octal adapter from Boulder Cable or Jim Cross and use 6SN7 variants. The cream of that crop are the pricey Tung Sol rounds. Others are having very good results with the Russian military version of that tube (Grant can speak to this end) which are cheaper than the TS rounds and pretty close in performance I'm told. A further possibility recently being explored by some seeking a "cheaper" TS round is using a Loctal adapter and 7SN7's. No direct experience there but my friend just picked up the goods so I'll post if I hear anything soon.

There'll be a quiz later on...

Jax2 was very helpful providing me with his MW TP tube rolling Cliff's Notes, and in my system, the EML 5U4G and Tung-Sol 6SN7GT round plates have produced the best sound. Thanks, Marco.

I don't use my MW TP as a reference component, so since absolute, optimal sound is not a priority, I'm perhaps more forgiving about subtle differences in tubes than others. I found the Russian 6H8C from Upscale Audio were close enough in sound to the Tung-Sol round plate to cause me to sell a second pair of TS round plates that I had purchased. They are *not* the same, and there *are* definite differences between the two. The Tung-Sol has better balance, tighter bass, and slightly smoother highs (everything that causes these tubes to sell for the premium they do).

The RCA 6CG7 cleartops are also very good.

Many people would be quite satisfied with either the RCA 6CG7 or Russian 6H8C, IMO.
Thanks, guys. Sorry to hi-jack your thread, Chillinimrod. The MWTP is a great unit and I am using it as my digital reference. I am not having any trouble w re-buffering or timing out, w a MusicVault streaming wirelessly to a NetGear wireless router, to the MWTP.
You bet - I don't think it's really a hijack - more an addendum as that info goes a long way in MWTP considerations.

and in my system, the EML 5U4G and Tung-Sol 6SN7GT round plates have produced the best sound.

This has been my experience as well. This is the combination I'm using.

For the record, I'm running wireless from two stories above my base station (in my basement). Like Grant, I have a repeater (Airport Express) in the same room with my MWTP and have not had any problems at all with dropouts or timeouts, rebuffering, etc. That's not to say they're not unheard of, just simply that I haven't had it come up for me. A possible runaround is to wire your network via Ethernet. I know in Grant's case this is impractical, as it is with my own setup. Reports are that a wired connection is slightly better than via wireless. The wireless sound on my system is excellent, and it is my digital reference as well. I'm baffled by Grant's connection problems as well. The only thing I could think of was that it could be wireless interference where he lives (I think the TP runs on a frequency similar to some older portable phones). No doubt it is very frustrating.

For the OP's benefit - you may want to go over to the Audiocircle Modwright forum and ask there if anyone using the MWTP has compared with the Droplet and can comment on that comparison.
Member Trelja was once the USA distributor for Consonance. He liquidated all his inventory due to poor product performance and poor factory support of products sold in the USA.

Consonance may have improved upon this since Trelja gave up the distributorship, but you should do your due diligence before purchasing a Droplet 5.0.
Droplet 3.1 yes, but 5.0 doesn't have digital or usb ins. As far as the info on their website goes.
Thanks for all the responses. i still would like to hear from someone who has heard both units but it is a bit of a long shot I know.
Mrjstark, I find Opera are not so great at updating there website so that would explain there being no reference to the digital in on the Droplet 5.0. They are definitely doing it as I had one in my home recently.
Keep the opinions coming!
I see.
In that case ..... Droplet 5.0 looks like very interesting piece.

Droplet I own (almost 2yo) works/sounds great and it would be hard to get rid of. For what you have in mind, I have two HPA Red Wine Audio Isabella DACs on order (should be finished in a week) but Opera's new approach seems very intrigue to say the least.

As a side note -
I have used Droplet 5.0 as a stand alone CDP and as a transport with Isabellina DAC build-in my Isabella preamp (now traded towards the HPA)
[RWA HPA works as a digital preamp with volume control and remote. As much as I liked my RWA Isabella pre, I will be better of with two HPAs since I separated my analog and digital rig in both systems]

Modwight TP has its own followers and it shouldn't be a surprise. Personally, I do not recall hearing MTP recently so I can't make any meaningful suggestions except that I am not giving up on my silver disks ......... even with up coming RWA HPAs (it also has USB in).

Few other ideas that come to mind are:

- wait a bit for new squeezebox touch with native handling of 24/96 files
(I'm sure mods for it will come soon after its release in US ) + DAC
- new Modwright Oppo BDP 83 mods

Anyway - it's you who has to figure out what's best for your system.

No one else?
I haven't heard either of these, but the relative bad press Consonance has gotten around here lately in regard to customer service, reliability, etc., would make me lean toward the modwright, which gets almost universally high praise. Of course, there are other options as well. I use a Resolution Audio Opus 21, that has a digital in and also does 24/96. I use a modded Squeezebox streaming device into the Opus with great results. As indicated, a 24/96 capable Squeezebox Touch is to be released soon, that may be a good option for you.
Thanks Cruz. Consonance has certainly taken a caning with their reputation there in the US. I have heard similar claims about reliability here in Australia but luckily the local distributer has been able to resolve all warranty issues without issue. I guess Australia being a much smaller market that it is an easier proposition for the dealer to deal with warranty claims.. dunno . Added to that the main issues such as overheating and transport issues have been largely fixed, or so I am told.
One reason I am trying to get a comparison between the MWT and the Droplet is because both are fully balanced. I can't find much information on wether the Squeezebox Touch is or not.
Touch is a streaming device which needs external DAC (for quality playback) to process the digital files from your PC..
All you need is a DAC with balance out if that is what you had in mind.


I believe that it has been already released in "Outback" - U.S will have to wait.
Ah.. right you are. Thanks Mauriusz
Tvad, while Trelja has certainly been vocal about his issues with Consonance, I for one don't ever recall him complaining about "poor performance" of the products. I don't own any now but many of the Consonance products are very, very good, especially for the money.

Are you sure your statement is accurate?
08-23-09: Paulfolbrecht
Tvad, while Trelja has certainly been vocal about his issues with Consonance, I for one don't ever recall him complaining about "poor performance" of the products.

He wrote specifically about warranty issues, and about Consonance not sufficiently servicing the products sold in the USA.
Yes, exactly. That has nothing to do with "poor performance". Reliability and performance are not really related.

08-23-09: Paulfolbrecht
Yes, exactly. That has nothing to do with "poor performance". Reliability and performance are not really related.
I equate performance with reliability. For example, if my car breaks down, I consider its performance to be lacking. It is not performing reliably.

Maybe we disagree on the definition of performance. In which case, I will revise my statement.

Trelja, to my recollection, has commented in these threads about the reliability of Consonance gear, and about his experience with the companies' insufficient support of repairs in the USA. He has also commented about poor quality control. These were significant factors in his decision to drop the line.

I have sent Trejla an email with a link to this thread. He may wish to correct the record, or to comment further.
I know someone out there has heard both the MWT and the Droplet. I know you're out there; I can hear you breathing.
Did you try the Audiocircle Modwright threads? Try posting your question there.

here's a fairly recent thread with limited comparisons of the MWTP to Vinyl.
Chillinimrod, I've owned both the components you're looking at. My honest advice to you is to buy an Audio Note DAC - more musical than either and by a wide margin IMO.
AN is a nice dac but 5K doesn't justify its price IMHO.

The biggest question you have to ask yourself is:
do you want you PC to be a lone digital source
or integration of both: computer music files and red book CDs?

For the PC only setup, I would recommend Empirical Audio battery powered re-clocker with the bast DAC you can afford (most inexpensive DACs sound to edgy and forward to my taste) with features and options best suited for your system.

If CD playback is still important to you, adding quality transport to above setup would give you "best" of both words. IMO

Where are you getting $5K?

My AN Kits DAC 2.1C Sig cost me a bit over $2K. Yes, you have to build it, but I am pretty sure there are AN factory DACs under $5K.

I feed my DAC with a Mac Mini going through an Empirical Off Ramp. This gives me 18/96 capability.

If you are going to go with a hard drive transport, there is certainly no reason at all to keep a CD transport around.
2.1 with Audio Note Hi-B balanced C-core output transformers + upgraded parts and labor.
If you can build it, substantially less. (you are right about DIY kit but should mentioned many options which can be utilize into design)
Am I wrong?

Also - Response Audio (or now Bella Extreme) offers finish AN products with customized options. I am not sure about latest pricing but I do not think that I was to far of the mark.

As to the other part of your post - agreed.

The c-core trannies are a luxury I don't have. The IE trannies will save $1K at least and, well, this DAC is still a rather amazing performer. More so when fed hi-res, but *well-recorded* redbook material is really quite satisfying. I didn't think digital could be this satisfying after being acclimated to vinyl. I've had it for nearly a year now. Of course, vinyl is still better.

To the OP: I found both the Droplet and the MWT to be technically very good-sounding but to have that digital glare or whatever that just grates over time. The AN DAC just has less of that (a lot). Is it the lack of oversampling and/or the lack of any filtering? Probably. Other than that the AN DACs are just designed and built so well.
You can read some of my comment here about Droplet and its sound as a stand alone player or as a transport with use of external NOS - non oversampling DAC.
I agree that up-sampling DACs lock "musicality" that can be associate with well setup vinyl rig.

link to thread

Ok, Thanks for the recommendations. Back to the question... I would love to hear more about your experience with the MWT and the Droplet. These are the machines I am interested in.
Thank you for the heads up, Grant! Sorry for the late response, I took a short summer vacation...

My honest opinion of Consonance is that majority of the components sound at least pretty good. However, there are some specific products/lines that have some issues in terms of reliability, which I would steer clear of, the current Droplet 5.0 with Philips CD transport/laser assembly NOT being one of them. In fact, that particular model, in my experience, is the most reliable CD player Consonance has produced, the original Reference 2.2 MKI (with Philips transport and volume knob on the rear panel) being up there as well. For the most part, the Consonance tube amplifiers are also both good sounding and reliable.

For the record, based on my friend Paul Folbrecht's advice, I picked up an Audio Note CD (an older CD2.1x) player, and it is easily the best digital I've ever had in my system. The sense of being alive won me over in a big way. One day in the future, I'll pick up one of the aforementioned Audio Note DACs as well, and move the player to my second system.
Thanks for clearing up the specifics, Trelja. Good to know for the OP that the Droplet 5.0 remains a viable option.
By the way, if this thread resonates with you, you might be interested in contacting me offline regarding the aforementioned products I represented.
Thanks to all who contributed. I have just finished a trial of the Droplet and will be sending it back. Initially it proved to be quite impressive but in a relatively short period of time became tiring and irritating. I think it is the upsampling implementation that lets it down; too digital and brittle for my liking. Nothing for it but to try and get my hands on a transporter and give it a go.
Of interest to me was how poorly the Droplet with a 24/192 upsampling DAC performed against a non-upsampling, 1 x oversampling 16 bit Audio Note DAC.
It really isn't the size of the dog in a fight but the size of the fight in the dog. I live and learn.
Well, I've previously never heard anyone describe the Droplet 5.0 "tiring and irritating". In that quest to sound non-digital, most feel the company erred on the rich and full-bodied side. But (unfortunately) knowing how often Consonance changes their components in production, perhaps that model has undergone more "revision" than just the digital in? Of course, these things are always dependent on the system/person.

At any rate, your conclusion lines up perfectly with what I said in my first post in this thread, the Audio Note CD player I picked up clearly beats the Droplet 5.0 to my ears, with the Droplet 5.0 being head and shoulders the best (from the perspective of both sonic and reliability) CDP Consonance produces.

Don't feel bad, instead rejoice in the fact that you've ended up with the best player for your system! And, at lower cost, no doubt.
Right you are Trelga. I had forgotten your reference to the Audio Note. What a coincidence. The DAC was everything I had hoped the Droplet would be but I will give credit where credit is due. As a transport the Droplet is fantastic especially paired with the AN DAC.
I have not yet ended up with the best player in my system as the AN was not mine to keep. I am though looking into buying a the maxxed out kit version of the same DAC. I then only have to work out how to best stream computer audio to the DAC. Maybe a standard Transporter is the way to go albeit overkill in it's ability to transfer 24/96 when I only need half that for the AN. The reason to still consider the Transporter is solely for it's fully balanced output which I need/want.
Thanks, Chillinimrod!

We are in total agreement regarding Audio Note.

Unless you are simply in love with the the aesthetic, if you are not going to use the Droplet 5.0 as a standalone player, I would recommend against using it as a transport.

Along with the inconvenience of being a toploader, it simply is too large (22" wide) and heavy (65 lbs) for most people/systems to easily site and use. Its best feature as a transport would be the Philips laser assembly/transport, but you can find that in many other, more convenient front loading machines at a fraction of the Droplet's cost. Beyond that, my personal experience is that if one of the two 6H30 Supertubes happens to short, which I have seen on more than one occasion, the resulting spike in current draw takes the power supply out with it as well. Unless you are willing to put some real money into the very involved repair (entire power supply, less toroid, and all the time/labor involved in the complete teardown and reassembly of a large, complicated component), you are now in possession of a large and unique looking doorstop.

I credit the typical Consonance under-engineering and the inability to bring most of the designs in the fold to completion for the lack of such a simple, logical, easy, and straightforward idea of protecting an otherwise very complex machine under these and other circumstances. It's this sort of thing that was one of my few issues with the tube amplifiers, a bad tube could cause the power transformer to fry, which I've dealt with on four or five occasions, and precludes one from having a local tech be able to make what should be a simple repair, and instead now the company has to be approached in regards to a proprietary and not all that inexpensive replacement part. My opinion was the Consonance would be better served to offer far less components in the lineup, but put far more effort into each individual product they choose to go to bat with - obviously, they feel otherwise.
Hey Chillinimrod, looks like Tvad is selling his Modwright Transporter. Could be your opportunity to try it. Actually, given the tubes he's including, it is a pretty good value IMHO.

I bought my MWTP in January 2008 and have been totally happy with the sound. I also use it as a DAC for those occasions when I still play CD's. I have an old Pioneer "Stable Transport" deck which I use as a transport.

I'm sure the Audio Note DAC is an extremely nice piece, but for the price, the Transporter is hard to beat!
Thanks Dfhaleycko. I'll check it out.