WhestTHREE signature phono pre vs. ModWright PH 9.0X

I've mostly got my phono preamp upgrade down to a shortlist shootout choice between the WhestTHREE and the ModWright PH 9.0X. They're pretty much at the same price point (the MW is ~$300 more than the whest, give or take). 

What I listen to mostly: Jazz & Jazz Fusion primarily (I do have things from many other genres, but want to tune my system to Jazz since that's 95% of my listening on vinyl).

What I like: wide soundstage, incredible mid-range, detail, some warmth

What I don't like: clinical! 


There are a lot of passionate Whest owners out there all over forums raving about them, but I've also seen people mention that they can be a little on the clinical side. 

The modwright has less hands-on info out there that I could find, but the few things I could find review it very highly. 

If owners of either could comment on their experience and some objective pros / cons of either, it would be helpful! 


I did have someone recommend the Gold note PH10 to me some time ago, and while it is at a lower price point, I've seen a lot of mixed reviews. 


May I recommend Konus Audio Vinyle 300MC. Reach out to Colin @gestalt for in-home demo. I heard this phono for extended period and came away impressed by its sheer musicality and resolution. I am putting together my vinyl setup and this would be my phono with Raven GT2 Turntable / Stein Music Aventurin 6 Cart. 

@lalitk Interesting. I've never heard of that one. Doing a quick look, it's quite a bit over budget. Looking to stay around the $4500 mark at max with a little wiggle room here and there. 

I have not demoed the Whest or the MW but I have done a home demo of the Gold Note PH-10.  I was looking for pretty much the same sound signature you’re seeking.  

The GN is a fantastic phono stage, very well built, excellent UI and great detail without brightness.  In the end, it wasn’t quite the sound signature I was looking for and I’m guessing that would apply to you as well.  I would have no hesitation recommending the GN to someone who was seeking that kind of sound signature. 

I ended up with a used Aesthetix Rhea Signature and it does have what you’re looking for.  I would highly recommend checking one out.  Excellent service as well by their folks in California.  


      You asked a simple question about 2 products. in typical Agon fashion all you will get is suggestions to buy whatever the poster owns.... good luck.

I think he was looking for some honest feedback about any of the products he mentioned or that fit the sound signature he outlined in his post.  @winoguy17 why do you go out of your way to stoke division?

I demo’d a Whest THREE about 7-8 years ago. It sounded fantastic. It was dynamic, quiet and very open. My issue at the time was owning a Lyra Delos. The two combined to just have too much high frequency energy. So I sent it back. Later realizing it was the Delos that threw off my system balance. So I sold that cart. Now I regret ever sending thee Whest back. But I do love my Pass Labs Xp-17 as well. Would be curious how those two compare.


Thank you…some folks just feel compelled to post. My recommendation was based on OP’s preference for, 

“What I like: wide soundstage, incredible mid-range, detail, some warmth”.  

And Konus delivers on all of the above in spades. 

@lalitk Exactly!  One of the wonderful things about a forum like this is that another audiophile may recommend a product that is entirely appropriate but not on the OP's radar.  That's how we learn!

When I was researching phono stages a few months ago, I had never even heard of the brand Aesthetix until it was brought to my attention in a forum.  I do agree that posts can often have unrelated tangents but all of the replies above are well within the original topic and specific to the OP's request for feedback.

I initially got to know Modwright from an upgrade to my Pioneer LX500 CD transport. So I knew what Dan was capable of. I went from an SPL Phonos to the Modwright PH9.0XT. I am so impressed with the dynamics, soundstage and tonal clarity of this unit. The SPL was very good but I was missing that airy midrange. The PH9.0XT is my endgame. Superb build quality, built like a tank.  I am switching between the Hana Umami and AT-ART-9XA (.2mV) running into an Octave V70 Class A to Spatial M3 Sapphires. The Octave is known for its outstanding midrange and the Modwright delivers everything that is on the LP in a luscious detailed way. What I notice most other than the unbelievable soundstage and instrument separation is the tonal quality of each instrument, Beautifully Presented.Tube rolling is encouraged. I'm running Siemens and Telefunkens and a Sophia Blue in the PS with stellar results.  I highly recommend the PH9.0XT and you might want to reach out to Dan and Kristin with any questions or issues you might have. 

@paulietunes I agree. I have been given some good recommendations that weren't even on my radar in the past. There's so much gear out there, especially in the mid-range price points.

@audiosaurusrex Thanks for the info about the modwright. Pretty much falls in line with what I've been reading elsewhere with great dynamics and soundstage. Good to know that it performs really well in the midrange (which is very important for me since that tends to be the make or break when it comes to Jazz, at least). 

It's interesting you mention the Umami - was debating upgrading to that cartridge!

How easy is it to change the tubes in it? Is it as simple as just removing the cover and popping them in and out? 

Yes easy to change just unscrew the case, but I found no need when you find the ones you love. I must say big difference in the new Power Supply upgrade. Just adds so much air. In reference to midrange someone stated the the midrange is where the soundstage lives. I am in total agreement with this. If your gear can produce accurate frequency response including midrange the soundstage blossoms in front of you, Happy Listening and let us know which direction you wind up going in ;-)

 paulietunes , so sorry, I didn't mean to (Gasp ! )  " stoke division ".. My post was in reference to the myriad simple requests about 2 products that get buried under responses that had nothing to do with the original query. Sorry if that went over your head, but it happens all the time.

I’m a huge fan of the Modwright PH9.0X and have posted about it on the forums in the past. In my opinion it’s the best phono stage I’ve heard under $7500, especially after adding better tubes and power cable. I don’t own one anymore as I upgraded to a few phono stages over the $10K mark, but the PH9.0X still holds a special place in my heart because of its musicality, soul, and dynamics.

I bought a new system in the summer of 2021, piece by piece of course but all ordered withn a few weeks of each other and went with a Modwright PH 9.0X and couldn't be happier. IF I start upgrading other componants (like I have w/ my speakers) the 9.0X would be the last thing and probably not at all.

I thought the stock 6922s actually sounded very good but couldn't help myself and have changed tubes another few times.

I also run a Hana Red. TT is VPI Prime Signature.

@blisshifi @laynes Thank you both! That is valuable feedback. I haven't really see any pop up on the used market, so I assumed it either wasn't very popular at all, or people love them and don't want to get rid of them to upgrade very often!

I too have a PH9.0X and agree with the comments made by the other owners. I also like the front panel controls for loading and gain switching, the mono switch and balanced outs.

@rsf507 i don't think so. I didn't see it there either. Still some places selling it online, but it may be discontinued. There doesn't seem to be a replacement in that price category anymore either with a stand alone power supply from them. 

@mmcgill829 FWIW I demoed a lot of phono stages before I landed on the older Modwright SWP 9.0 SE, the predecessor to the PH9.0. Even that older unit bested the last Herron phono, the Allnic H-1201, and a few others. I went to the PH9.0 and it was magnitudes better. Vlad Bazelkov of Audio Mirror was with me when I unboxed the 9.0 and he immediately contacted Dan Wright and bought one for himself. I upgraded to the PH9.0X and ended up referring 3-4 more people I knew who ended up buying them. I demoed it against the Luxman EQ-500 and preferred the PH9.0X. 

At the end of the day, I did let it go to move on to really high end solid state. I started a thread a little over a year ago called “Solid State Phono Stages” if you want to read about that journey. I did do a bit of exploring, and it took phono stages $13K+ to be able to get past the PH9.0X. Even then, I would consider the units I owned since to be different, and not necessarily better in every dimension. 

Like @audiosaurusrex I run a similar combo…Hana Umami Red on a Rega P10, into a Modwright PH150 (Dan’s reference phono), into an Octave V80SE integrated. The 9.0X is really close in performance to the PH150. I just happened to get a great deal on a demo unit. The MW is absolutely stunning. I auditioned it against several phonos in the $8-12k range and it just fit my system perfectly. I’ve played tenor sax for years and it recreates the the timbre, tone, and dynamic response of that instrument (and others) so well. Its dynamic presence too is really stunning. Acoustic instruments and vocals also superb! For me when I listen to my system the balance just sounds right. Dan is a great guy to interact with too, very responsive, he’s humble and not flashy, but knows his gear kicks butt. The Part-Time Audio reviews of the Modwright phono stages are really spot on. You won’t be disappointed with the 9.0X. 

Quick update - have had the 9.0X for a few months and love it. Was a significant, immediate upgrade from the Phonomena II+ (as I'd hope given the large price difference), and sounds fantastic. Very happy with it.

@mmcgill829 Congrats! Dan makes an incredible phono stage for sure! It will also benefit from an upgraded fuse and aftermarket power cables, and I preferred the unit with Reflektor 6H23 and Amperex PQ 6922 or 7308. 

Super helpful thread, I followed suit in upgrading the Manley Chinook SE to the ModWright Ph9.0XT. I love me a good tube rectified PS and had a stash of NOS 5AU4 and 274b tubes to swap. I think for the extra $500 cost, the tube rectified PS option is a no brained upgrade.

I’ve upgraded the 6922 tubes to NOS Tungsram. 

All the same superlatives as other posts, but noting how much quieter the MW is over my Manley which felt downright noisy in comparison, 

I am thrilled with the ModWright. And a lot of folks seem to run the Hana Unami so I may have to look at that option too.


@blisshifi Thanks for those recommendations! I'll probably look into experimenting with some upgrades in the future. What sort of power cables do you recommend?

@davehg Congrats! I'm definitely loving it. I'm looking forward to experimenting with some different tubes at some point myself, but enjoying as-is as well.

I'm looking into the Umami red currently, but that will probably be my last upgrade after I swap out my speakers and amp (I have speakers being built now, and then amp to come after), so it's a little ways down the line for me. I really like the Hana ML I have now, so I can only imagine the Umami will likely take it to the next level once I have everything else dialed in.

@mmcgill829 It will be system dependent, but with the PH9.0X, which already brings warmth, doesn’t need any cable that adds additional density and will prefer a cable that is neutral and has a very low noise floor. I’ll PM you directly on some specific product/model thoughts but figured this information would help provide guidance on your inquiry without distracting the thread into a cable discussion.