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
I own the Modwright and love it. It doesn't color the sound, per se, but adds tremendous dimension. I'm temporarily using a volume-attenuated amplifier. I tried the setup with and without the Modwright. While I couldn't detect any obvious loss in transparency having the additional stage, the Modwright added about FOUR TIMES the stage depth. This is what I have always thought the Modwright unit does best, but it is also very linear, punchy, and fast.
Now in the $2K range I have to suggest the preamp I own, a Herron VTSP-1A. I'm admittedly a bit biased, and I've never heard the Mod-Wright, but I have to say that the Herron would be pretty tough to beat for $2K and under. It is neutral, with excellent detail and transparency and just enough warmth and "aliveness" to remind you that you're listening to tubes. Plus it's fabulously engineered and well-built, if a bit plain. Check it out, you won't be dissapointed.
I had a chance to meet Dan Wright and hear the Modwright preampm at RAMF. It was paired with Dusty Vawter's CIA D-200 amps. This set-up sounded extremely nice and I was very impressed with the preamp, which was also used in a few other systems at the show. I also met Keith Herron and heard the new Herron prototype preamp and think highly of their products. Keith Herron is a very talented so as Jond says, you may want to check out VTSP-1A whcih is still available.

If you're looking for a DAC that brings music to life I would recommend you listen to non-oversampling filterless DAC designs. The better of these designs are very close to analog in their music reproduction. Audio Note, 47 Labs, Scott Nixon, Audio Zone, and Audio Mirror, which is the one I own, are all very good and you should be able to find something in your budget with one of those vendors (I'm biased but I think the Audio Mirror is a great value at $500). Personally I would stay away from tubes here. An excellent tube preamp would provide much better returns on sound improvement.

By the way, I own a Cary SLP-98L which is also a fine tube preamp. You can find them used on Audiogon in your price range, but they're over $3k new.

Good luck with your search.
I'm also a Modwright owner. The 9.0SE replaced my CJ 17LS immediately after I compared the 2 in my home. In my opinion, it does everything right. Spacious soundstage, very dynamic, top and bottom extension and resolution, tubes but not too tubey. To my ears, very accurate to the music.
If, however, you're trying to inject more of the warm glow of tubes into your system, there are better choices. Personally, my philosophy is to go for as uncolored sound as possible and choose speakers that suit your ears.
The way I look at it, you really can't go wrong with the Modwright in this price range. If you decide you're not happy, the resale on them seems pretty good. As for me, after a long line of preamps, this is the one I'm keeping.
I am using the Modwright as well, and must admit, Dan has done a SUPURB job on this Pre. To me, it has a wonderful midrange bloom, w/o suffering from extensionitis, in other words, no roll off of high frequncy, or Bass. I have owned pre-amps that cost 5 times as much, which did not give me as much enjoyment. Bravo Dan. Highly Reccomended.

Good luck in your journey
I have had a 9.0 SE for about six months now and consider it the best bang for the buck I've ever spent on my system. The kudos expressed in previous responses are right on. With just two 5687 tubes, it's cheap and easy to roll tubes. The overall level of detail it reveals persuaded me to keep this over a CJ 17LS and a 16LS. I did have one problem with a strange, intermittent sound...emailed Dan on a holiday and he called me at home with 10 minutes of me sending it! He took care of the problem as speedily as humanly possible. Cannot say enough good things about the unit and the service that supports it. Grab one when you can!
I emailed Modwright and Dan personally mailed me back. I live about 12 miles from the new manufacturing facility and ask to visit sometime... he is a busy guy but agreed. I will get one on loan (thank you Kurt at Echo HiFi) and give it a test this weekend. After all of your input I think this is the direction I want to go. I was told by someone who had the Levinson/Modwright combo that the match was quite amazing but as was mentioned above - speakers play a big part of the equation. I know Paradigm may not compete with Dali or Wilson directly but in my price range I listened to many, many speakers and the Paradigms jumped out at me. They remain my favorite part of my system and I dont see me changing them any time soon.

I liked the way you put it "choose speakers that suit your ears" ... the S4's suit my ears.

Thanks for your input... I think I will listen to as many different pre amps as Kurt will lend me and try to approach it as a learning experience. I have spent a lot of money in the last three years and I have made some good and bad purchases. I have spent a lot of time lately picking through what you all, and others have written and I really apreciate this forum. I think I will slow it down and really try to figure out what fits me, before I throw more money at it. The more I dive into high end audio ... the more I realize how little I know.
Horseface: For what it's worth, I too use a set of Paradigm speakers: Studio 100V3. I experimented with a set of Dynaudio's (Contour 1.8)...a little too lean in the bass department for my tastes. Short story: I think Paradigms and the Modwright are a good match...excellent integration from bottom to top. Again, your ears will tell you what's right. Have a great 'test weekend' and let us know how things come out!
I am also interested in the Modwright preamp. I would be using it with the Cain & Cain Abbys (95dB;) is this a good match? Also, what amp are you folks using with this preamp?

I'm using the Modwright to a Red Wine Audio Clari-T to Zu Definition speakers. I haven't heard anybody saying the Modwright isn't a good match in any circumstances. But, I also think some people might prefer the tubier sound of 6sn7's like DeHavilland and Supratek are using.

And the Abbys are Fostex-based. I'd guess they could use a little fat around the middle, though I haven't heard that execution of the Fostexes.

Overall, if you use the Modwright in this system, I would expect an amp of soft-ish character to be best for the broadest audience.
My Modwright is paired with Bryson 7BST monoblocks. Probably have more headroom than I need (500-550 per channel) with the Paradigm 100s (91db), but this has been a better pairing than with a CJ amp (200WPC) FET I used before. I use Audience AU 24s.
I just ordered one and will pair it with my Pass X250.5 amp and a Dodosn DAC. Looking forward to it.
Thank you for your order Pardales. I am going to be shipping units within the next two weeks from the current production run. We have over 25 units from this run pre-sold.

I did speak with Kurt at Echo and I believe that 'Horseface' has borrowed a unit for audition. I am anxious to hear his impressions.

Thank you all for your support and recommendation of our product. We continue to work very hard to offer exceptional quality gear that represents an equally exceptional value.

Take care,

Dan W.
well. I should be aiming for a change in your source components. The preamp and amp is a good choice IMO, Paradigm speakers are a no-brainer (eventhou not familiar with that particular model).

Some options for CDPs wouold be the new Cary line, Metronome units or a Denon/Exemplar.

My two cents

Dan - Run for President...

True craftsmanship has returned to audio equipment and at a price I can finally afford. Let me give you my thoughts on the Modwright SWL 9.0 Linestage:

I’m going to back up a bit so please bear with me, but I want to go through the whole story of how I ended up here writing this review. For the record I don’t know Dan personally, never talked to him and three weeks ago didn’t even know he or Modwright existed.

First of all, I don’t consider myself an audiophile (yet) or any kind of expert in the science of sound. That being said I have been a music lover since I was old enough to walk and I truly appreciate true high fidelity sound. I spent about fifteen years working in high tech manufacturing for Kyocera Corporation building surface mount devices … mainly capacitors. I spent almost 6 years in Engineering and probably know way too much about capacitors and in particularly how a quality capacitor can be a darn elusive thing. Component selection for true audio manufacturing must be something like horse breeding … being able to pick a winner out of a pile of losers that all look exactly alike. I have a special respect for the kind of mod work Dan does. I can tell you the big manufacturers don’t really care much … they give you, the component supplier, a value range and if you can hit it about 90% of the time you stay out of hot water with them. Trust me when I tell you they are more concerned about price per thousand than quality. There are still a few companies that defy this practice and when I emailed one of the head application engineers for AVX he had some good things to say about the parts that Dan has selected for the Modwright SWL 9.0. I’ll leave it at that.

I have been building my current system for about three years and I don’t make “Huge” money so when I buy a piece ... it usually hurts for a while. I’m pretty stubborn and like to do things my own way, advice up until lately, has been largely ignored. This has allowed me to extend the cost of my current system far beyond the investment at hand. I have bought and sold my fair share of stuff that just didn’t work with what I had. I think we can all relate … you take what should be a great piece of gear and put it in your system and it just doesn’t work. You sell it at a loss and try something else … well about a month ago I sat home on a Friday night and bought a six pack of micro brews and went through my CD collection. From Tchaikovsky to The Allman Brothers Band, Miles Davis, Dianna Krall, AC/DC, Phish, Steely Dan, The Meat Puppets … CD, SACD, DVD Didn’t matter – SOMETHING WAS NOT QUITE THERE. I threw my hands up somewhere between the third and fourth beer. I had bought silver balanced interconnects, 10 gauge speaker cables … I tried optical, coax and lets not forget the new Levinson ML-27 that sounded so good to me so many times before, then I heard that simple little tubed system that changed everything. Clarity, detail; smooth and simple, I was knocked back.

I stewed on it and monday sent an email to Kurt at Echo Audio in Portland. I had solicited the help of Kurt before and since he sold me the Levinson I figured he owed me.

Kurt didn’t hesitate for a second … Modwright SWL 9.0. WHAT? What happened to Levinson? What about Parasound HALO? Audio Research, Cary? Ok, I guess I could take a listen at the very least but I was skeptical. Then I did something even less like me – I posted here for advice. Thank you all for your input by the way.

Kurt offered to let me try the SWL 9.0 out with no obligation, so I set a date for Friday to pick it up. You have to appreciate audio shops that let you audition equipment just for your enjoyment… hats off to Kurt at Echo. He is a guy more interested in me the customer, than in a quick buck and he seems to know a lot without sounding like a human encyclopedia. I am slowly learning to ask him for help.

The Test …


Front Speakers – Paradigm Signature S4’s
Center – Paradigm Signature C3
Rear Speakers – Paradigm Signature – S2’s
Sub – Paradigm Seismic 12
Front Amp – Mark Levinson ML-27
Center Amp – Nakamichi PA-7 *
Rear Amp – Nakamichi PA-7 *
HT Processor – Sunfire Theater Grand II
DVD – Denon DVD-2200 (With 6 channel setup for SACD) **
CD – Rotel RCD-1070
Power Conditioning – Monster Signature HTS-5100
Power Cables – Signal Cable Magic (10 gauge)
Interconnects – Signal Cable Silver Resolution balanced and single ended
Speaker Cable – Cobalt Cable, 10 Gauge all three sets

* Soon to be replaced with a Levinson ML-23.5 & 27
** I’m leaving it up to Dan, probably a Denon 3919 mod

I pulled the Linestage out of the box last Saturday morning and I don’t thing it’s been turned off yet.

The problem I noticed with the HT setup was nothing glaring. There seemed to be a general lack of dynamics. I kept hearing my speakers just making sound. Loud sure … clean … maybe, but not the feeling you get when you step into the “big room” at a high end audio store and get blown away by some tiny magic box you will never be able to afford or that wonderful sound I heard two weeks before. The bass was right there but the midrange and high frequency needed work. Some CD’s would shine some had an almost dull sound to them. I don’t know how many reviews I have read and chuckled to myself as the authors describe this wonderful musical experience … some kind of synergy that I assumed was a culmination of too much reading and buyers remorse. Well I pulled the SWL 9.0 out of the unassuming box and was immediately taken by its weight … first thought, solid as hell. There must be 20 tiny screws holding the thing together … man, this thing is pretty cool. I doubled over a blanket and placed it on the table for a closer inspection. The face is thick machined aluminum without a bunch of busy writing or overly bright displays. Basic and solid, just like my old Sansui AU-7700 which I sold when I was 16 (big mistake). The switches, selector and volume knobs have a real quality feel and seem to be extremely durable. I felt like I was looking like a blast from the past with the exception of the logo which is classy but not overdone. The back was a bit of a contradiction to the front … the single ended connectors stood out and upon closer inspection were not the cheap stamped nickel variety but seem to be indicative of the overall solid build that seems to dominate this piece of equipment. The back is also clearly marked and there is space between the right and left inputs … kinda nice for us guys (and gals) that are always fooling around behind our systems trying to plug equipment in. I can get my hands in behind there and still see what I’m doing. Very clear –easy to read and I don’t have to wonder if it’s getting plugged in correctly. Each single ended lug sits on a colored seat red on one side and white on the other. Easy to keep balance in the system … just one of a dozen little touches I am quickly learning to appreciate.

The Sound …

Excuse my lack of adjectives but I don’t like to use terminology I’m not comfortable with. I setup my Denon DVD with the digital feed to the Sunfire and the analog feed to the Modwright SWL 9.0. I can switch back and forth with almost immediate results. My first CD was Steely Dan - Aja. I first listened to the HT setup at three different volume levels with pen and paper in hand to take a few notes down. I switched between two or three tracks and listened for a good 6 minutes before switching over to the 2 channel setup. I immediately tossed the pen and paper and started walking around the room with a big fat smile on my face. The Paradigms that I heard in the show room three years ago were back! I just new there was a reason I spent all that cash. It was as if some one pulled a sheet off the S4’s …the mids and highs that a minute ago were rather dull and a bit too far back suddenly leaped forward. The clarity was incredible. I was listening to Steely Dan and not Paradigm. I closed my eyes and the imaging that was all but gone was back in full force. Low volume … normal … loud … concert level - all the better. The sound is much more delicate and so easy on my ears now. I have been listening to it for 5 straight days and I love it more now then at the moment the truth hit me. Classical, Rock, Jazz … I’m living in the big room.

Thank you Dan … Don’t change a thing in you design, or manufacturing style. This is a throw back … 1970’s build quality, attention to every detail and mind blowing sound. It's like being able to buy a 1970 Chevelle 454 with every new modern high tech engine enhancement right off the assembly line.

It will take me a while to pay this baby off but when I do I’m signing up for a moded Denon 3910 – I’m hooked, its tubes and I like it.

Final Thoughts -

You see my equipment list… not front page stuff and yet I’m now scared to change a thing, gulp. I really love this piece of equipment; it looks great, it’s built like a tank and it made my system come alive. I suggest anyone with an HT setup that wants to run a second system to get better two channel sound try one of these out. It’s a perfect fit and will save you rack space money and the headaches of trying to keep two systems going. Unlike the Sansui AU-7900, I’ll never let it go.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and impressions of the SWL 9.0SE.

This is our first foray into manufacturing and I have spent quite a bit of time working on the design and build to be sure that it was what I wanted. Thank you for appreciating the time and energy that went into it.

The 9.0SE is meant to represent state of the art performance at a price that is accessible to more audiophiles than its competition.

I am actually an Engineer also, having worked in consulting as a Mechanical Engineer for seven years prior to launching ModWright LLC (now ModWright Instruments, Inc.) in 2000.

The build is purposely solid and simple, as are its aesthetics. It represents our mission statement: Elegance, Simplicity, Truth.

Our dealers are critical to our success, manning the front lines of customer service. I chose to have our product represented in this way (rather than just internet-direct) because I want people to be able to see, hear and evaluate the unit before they purchase. We do not offer a return policy, but we do offer a strong 5-year warranty.

Echo Audio is our Portland, OR dealer and represents the customer service and passion that ModWright Instruments is all about. Kurt is a great person and passionate audiophile. I am happy to hear that he made your auditioning and ultimately buying experience a good one.

The purpose of this post is meant to thank all of you for sharing your impressions of the 9.0SE and explain a bit about who we are and how the 9.0SE came to be what it is. I am sorry if this sounds like self-promotion, as it is not meant as such.

Parts selection IS critical to a good design, as is reliability, build quality and craftsmanship. Cost is a concern when building any product that is to be taken to market. Cost concerns should not dictate the sound of the finished product however. We made judicious use of the best quality components in critical locations. This DID raise the price from my intial targe of $1500, but the result speaks for itself.

Craftsmanship is critical and I rely on skilled technicians to build our product, in-house. Thank you Brent, John and Bob!

We do not have our products made over-seas and I personally Q/C the products leaving our shop.

Again I want to thank all of you for your support, feedback and reviews. You have helped make our 'freshman' product a success.

Take care,

Dan W.
Nice review.

I've had mine mixed in with a bunch of different gears and it's sounded great with all. Don't be afraid to toy! :)

Congratulations on your new, baby, um, preamp.
I have my SWL 9.0 SE (hotrodded with a few extra Dan niceties) running my Modwright 999ES Platinum SACD/DVD player and soon to be Modwright modified DVD-A player (getting the idea here I like Dan's work), and running it to a Modwright Krell (just kidding about the Modwright this time).

Dan's work is impecable, his customer service is top-notch (had an issue with my SWL and he repaired it and sent it back in no time, no $$) and his value is ridiculously high, especially in this world of diminishing returns hi-end.
I, too, met Dan Wright personally at the 2005 RMAF in Denver. What a personable, enthusiastic, talented, yet humble person. I spent most of my time during this event in Dan's room listening to music because it sounded BETTER than most vendor's systems at the show (many costing a zillion (well, you get the picture) times more than Dan's show rig).

After many years with an ARC LS-3 ss line-stage preamp in my system (in my opinion no slouch of a pre), I went to the RMAF to hear the ModWright and to get away from work for a while. Well, to make a long story short I bought the SWL 9.0 SE that Dan was using in his show system. We discussed the purchase in a fun, casual, yet businesslike manner. He offered me a very fair price which included a pair of "green" cryo'd Tung-Sol 5687 NOS tubes. The unit was in perfect physical and electrical condition at the show and sounded superbly musical on all counts without any glitches.

I have been so damn busy at work with budgets and other crap to have put enough hours on the tubes for break-in, but can, without hesitation, say that this is one incredible audio product that has transformed my audio system into a true music system. Music enjoyment is what this investment is ALL about. I can only imagine what my system will sound like when I have the requisite 50 hours that Dan recommends for the Tung-Sols to reach their full potential.

My final comment: the one thing that just amazes me to no end is how my loudspeakers, which are physically quite large, just disappear without drawing attention to a false sense of left and right. Just the musical performance remains which is the ultimate reward for me!

Thank you Dan for your hard work and true committment to your profession!
Received my SWL 9.0 SE and with about 50 hours on it I am amzed at what an improvment this is on my system. Clarity, and incredible presence of the music. One of the things I love about it is the improvement of resolution at low volume levels. Incredible! One of my best purchases in years.
I heard this preamp briefly on 711 place,It sounds
very good to me, very transparent and musical, Mark1
is with me, He also mentioned to me, how good is the
SWL 9.0SE.When I go back to 711 place, I would like
to hear it, with the music I am familiar with.
Anybody knows if the SWL 9.0SE would be an overall improvement over AI Modulus 3A?

A great review, Horseface. Thank you for sharing your impressions with us. I ended up getting a Sophia Electric EL34 tube amp, but now wonder if I also have room in my system for the Modwright!

Nsufian, I used to own the AI and believe me this is much better. The AI, in comparison, has no soundstage and is very congested and grainy. Don't get me wrong. I was satisfied with the preamp and up to that point was the best I'd owned. It's a decent preamp in the used price range. The service issues and the short life span of tubes drove me to explore other options. The Modwright will be a revelation to you IMHO.
I ordered a 9.0SE from Dan this week based on a good friends valued opinion of it, and many a stellar review. Cant wait to hear it. I do understand it needs some serious break-in time, but will be well rewarded with patience. It supposedly competes with the likes of the $12K VTL 7.5 and surpasses most anything in the $6-8K realm! Thats one serious component!
It doesn't take any time to sound good. You'll be thrilled out of the box, though it does mellow (in a good way) over the first couple days and weeks.
Hello All:

Just wanted to put my two cents worth in as well.

I also own the Modwright 9.0SE and love it. I have had mine
for almost a year now. I used to write for the Absolute Sound
but now have started my own pub, and we will be featuring a
full review after the first of the year in TONE-Audio.

I have owned quite a few different tube and solid state linestages,
but have really enjoyed the MW, because in my two systems, it
was as close to neutral, not overly warm or dry that I could find.

I previously had a CJ-PV12 which I liked a lot, but was a bit too
tubey and an ARC LS-3 that was always a touch too thin. Again, your
results may vary, but for me it was just right!

I have a very similar setup to what Dan was running at RMAF. I purchased
the Penaudio Serenedes that were in the booth, have his Denon player
(another great piece...) and am using the 9.0SE with a pair of bridged
Monarchy Pro 70's to drive the Serenedes with great luck in a modest room.

When I was still at TAS, I wanted to review the 9.0, but my boss Wayne Garcia made all sorts of excuses about us not being able to review products that didn't have 20 dealers (or advertise with TAS), or have been around forever.

I reminded him that many years ago I had purchased some gear from this little company that no one had heard of called Krell and it just fell on deaf ears.

The Modwright box not only sounds good, it's built like a tank! Even if Dan died in a fiery plane crash tomorrow, Im sure a competent tech could repair it should it ever require some work.

If there is any way you can audition one of these, I think you will be very

Good luck shopping,
i own a SWL 9.0 as well and have been using cryo'ed late 1950's tung sols for the last 100 hours. nice combination.
Follow-up: Wsifu, I too, am using cryo'd Tung Sols that Dan provided me with the purchase of his RMAF show preamp. A very fine tube for a very fine preamp indeed!
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Hi Grant...Indeed nice to know. I am awaiting my 9.0SE from Dan at Modwright, perhaps within a week or two hopefully. Having just upgraded to all Poiema!!! IC's from the orig. Poiema!, I have already had the pleasure to hear Roberts latest P3 sound Amazing even without a full break-in period. I have a brand new (more break-in.... Arrrrgg!).... Electraglide Epiphany PC ready to hook up to the 9.0SE.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts thus far on the SWL 9.0SE. The more I read, the more I cant wait to get this pre amp in house!...BTW..Did you get the upgraded late 50's NOS Tung Sol tubes?
Hi Ken, thanks for your support and rest assured that your unit is going to ship by tomorrow.


Dan W.
Happy to chime in here as well. Mr. Wright is working his magic on a SWL 9.0SE with Bybee Filters and the Tung Sol tubes.

Oh how I am itching to get my greasy paws on it next week. The experience so far talking to Dan has been great. He is a pleasure to deal with.

I ordered mine thru Jay at Audio Revolution. The experience with Jay has been a very good one as well. Highly recommended.
Hi Dan,

Great! Thanks very much for the heads-up. Looking forward indeed to the 9.0SE!!
Has anyone else had any good results with other power cords? I should be getting my SWL 9.0 SE shipped from Dan sometime this coming week.

I am using a Shunyata Research Anaconda Alpha power cord with excellent results. They are not cheap even used for around $1150, but the results are worth the price IMO.
I've had an Audience P/C on it as well as TG SLVR. I prefer the TG but both are excellent
I use a VH Audio Flavor 2 on mine. I prefer it to the Shunyata Sidewinder Gold and Taipan Alpha and VX PCs I've tried.
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My experience with Dan was exactly the same. No lofty BS about customer service. He simply provides it.
Let me add my thoughts as well. Having taken delivery of the 9.0SE and now having just under 150 hrs.on it. Cryo'd Tung Sols on board that replaced the JAN Philips 5687's.... I am AMAZED at what an excellent pre amp this is. My system has taken on new life and dynamics. The pre amp exudes quality in its appearance and build. Dans choice of parts including the expensive SoniCaps make the sound nothing short of superb. As more time is logged on the 9.0SE, it continues to bloom sonically...All I can say is..EXCELLENT!

I share in all the excitement of the other owners posted here who are delighted with their ModWright SWL 9.0SE. May I also say, that it is a true pleasure speaking and emailing Dan.This truly is a product to be excited about and a company that truly cares about the sound of its product and the relationship with its customers. Dan... Thank you, and Congratulations to you and your wonderful staff of talented professionals!
Three things pushed me over the edge to order this preamp yesterday. Srajan's review, the way Dan Wright conducts himself on the telephone and this thread. Thanks everybody.
And Merry Christmas.
I recently received my Modwright SWL 9.0SE with bybee filters and Tung Sol tubes in my first foray into the world of tubes.

Dan Wright made the experience a very enjoyable one, offering suggestions and contacts with experiences in systems similar to mine especially with a McCormack DNA 500. There was no pressure to buy his preamp, he always answered the phone on first ring, responded to emails quick and personally. Like a personal tailor, he will listen, offer suggestions and build your preamp to your exact specifications. His vast knowledge at your disposal.

Dan is a master craftsman. The Modwright SWL 9.0SE is a precision crafted and superbly engineered piece of audio gear. The face plate alone is simply gorgeous to look at and simply screams PRECISION CRAFTMANSHIP.

How does it sound? The highs are airy without being hard and with just the right amount of decay. The bass lines? solidly defined and taut. Not boomy. Midrange? You need to experience it!

This is a high resolution/high definition sounding preamp and simply a high value product at its price point. With HT By-Pass folks and a remote!

If you are interested in a preamp, regardless of price, solid state or tube, I highly, repeat highly, recommend an audition or researching of the Modwright SWL 9.0SE preamp. Give Dan a call. He definitely is a joy to talk to on the phone. You don't have anything to lose by calling Dan.

I am a very very satisfied customer. Glad I made the call after reading the reviews on this preamp.

Enjoy the music.
Hello all,
Can Dan build the Modwright SWL 9.0 preamp with BALANCED XLR and single-ended outputs?
My JC-1 monos sound quite a bit better using the balanced inputs.
If so, how much $$$ extra are the balanced outputs?
Does Dan offer any other upgrades as well?
If so, what are they and how much $$$?
Thanks guys.
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My experience with Dan ,He is just a world class person.
I listen to his preamp on 711 house,its very very
good.One thing, I admire on Dans product,is they are really
musical.Merry Christmas Dan and to all.
First of all, thank you all for the support and kind words. I am very pleased with the success of our first product - that is actually built by us from the ground up.

I am also pleased to hear that our attention to customer service is acknowledged and appreciated. I can't be all things to all customers, but I simply try to be honest with everyone and treat all of our customers with the same level of respect and service that they deserve.

To answer the question about balanced design options:

The SWL 9.0SE is a single-ended design, i.e. not balanced (not differential). The only way to truly add balanced outputs or inputs to the design (aside from simply adding XLR jacks, wired SE as some mfrs. have done) is to use high-quality line-level transformers.

I have successfully done this on the output of the design, converting the output signal from single-ended to differential (balanced). This has been done as a custom upgrade for a few customers.

I feel the result has been very good, but the high-quality transformers are expensive. The sonic benefits include even better impedance matching between amp and preamp and the ability to run LONG cables due to noise-cancellation and shielding benefits of balanced operation. Additionally, the output transformers that we use also reduce the output level (less overall gain) AND a corresponding reduction in preamp self noise, which is already extremely quiet.

I have considered offering a balanced output option for the 9.0SE. A balanced input is not available now and may not ever be. I am also working on a phono preamp that will be available, built into the SWL 9.0SE, or as a standalone phono preamp. The built-in option for the 9.0SE will include moving the power supply outboard. The advantages to offering an external power supply would include more space inside the unit (phono upgrade, possible future DAC board upgrade), and greater flexibility with an external PS enclosure to build a more sophisticated power supply. The improved supply would benefit the phono stage and linestage equally.

I am also considering building a higher-end unit that would be balanced throughout and feature an outboard power supply.

I am, to be perfectly honest, in a bit of a quandry here:

1) I want to offer options to suit different customers needs and desires. I also want to offer an attractive upgrade path to SWL 9.0SE customers and would of course prefer that they upgrade with ModWright Instruments products.

2) I am leary of alienating our customers, with a series of revisions and upgrades, resulting in the 9.0SE MK I Rev. II, etc.

3) I also want to be able to keep up with production of the standard 9.0SE and maintain a solid level of quality and efficiency in our manufacturing.

I would appreciate your comments and specifically, to answer the question of whether you as ModWright Instruments customers and potential customers want to see upgrade options such as those mentioned above, for the 9.0SE. Or, would you prefer to simply see another product to follow - necessarily at a higher price-point - that features those options.

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.

Thanks and I do welcome your feedback.

Dan Wright
President, ModWright Instruments Inc.