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  1. #1
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    ModWright Transporter experience: truth vs. beauty?

    I have recently upgraded my Transporter by having Dan Wright at Modwright replace the output (analog) section with his tube-rectified, output modification. I thought it might be useful to discuss my experience with those who have not yet had the chance to hear this unit compared to the original Transporter.

    I had purchased the Transporter and was thrilled with the additional control and access I now had to my music collection (ripped to FLAC). But in comparison to my moderately expensive Musical Fidelity A5 CD player, I was disappointed in the sound quality. [NB: in Audiophool terms, is $2500 moderately expensive?]

    I felt that the sound quality, while pristine and accurate, lacked the "breath of life" that I cherish in my music. I go to an average of 2 concerts a month, so I'm intimately familiar with the sound of live music, and the Transporter didn't deliver it for me. I was going to return the Transporter at the end of the trial period, but then I decided to use my Christmas Bonus to do the ModWright thing.

    I suppose this comes down to the classic "truth vs. beauty" argument. I think Sean Adams would argue that adding tubes (an antediluvian technology) merely adds a pleasant distortion, but that it does not reflect the true content of the original recording. I beg to differ. I think the addition of the tube stage has recreated MORE of the original musical experience. I don't think this can be explained in terms of 2nd harmonic distortion. My experience is that the ModWright Transporter now has the essence of the experience that it lacked before.

    For instance, I'm listening at this moment to Putamayo's "Women of Spirit." This is a fantastic album, if you're into female vocalists. Anyway, I've heard both Cassandra Wilson and Ani DiFranco in concert, and the tonality and flavor of the music through the ModWright is "right on!" {said with an ex-hippie fist raised in the air}. This same album played before with the Transporter was impressive in its detail retrieval, but I didn't have the impression of real live singers, sharing an emotional experience with me.

    And to me, music is all about emotion, and not much about left-brain rational exposition. I don't want to think about my music, I want to FEEL it! I am now "Transported" and that's a good thing. So if your Transporter leaves you cold (as mine did), there is an alternative out there which IMHO is a real improvement over the already-excellent original.

    Hope this helps rescue someone else from Transporter let-down

    Frank

  2. #2
    Senior Member adamslim's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing (does that sound like an AA comment? ). Out of interest, why did you go for the Modwright over other modders?
    SB3, Dac-in-the-Box, Sony VFET, Snell Type Cs
    Boom x 2, Radio

  3. #3
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    You could have gotten the same result feeding transporter through a tube preamp or buffer.

    I love tubes also but it is a shame you wasted that money when you could have gotten the same results for a fraction of the price.

    It is getting a bit tiresome listening to talk about the illusory "improvements" modded TP's make posted ,IMO, rudely. on the slim forums.
    Modwright has it's own forum for that.

  4. #4
    Senior Member adamslim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomjtx View Post
    You could have gotten the same result feeding transporter through a tube preamp or buffer.

    I love tubes also but it is a shame you wasted that money when you could have gotten the same results for a fraction of the price.

    It is getting a bit tiresome listening to talk about the illusory "improvements" modded TP's make posted ,IMO, rudely. on the slim forums.
    Modwright has it's own forum for that.
    You could have gotten a better result by not posting.
    SB3, Dac-in-the-Box, Sony VFET, Snell Type Cs
    Boom x 2, Radio

  5. #5
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    ModWright is a known quantity to me

    Quote Originally Posted by adamslim View Post
    Thanks for sharing (does that sound like an AA comment? ). Out of interest, why did you go for the Modwright over other modders?
    I've previously purchased Dan Wright's modified Perpetual Technologies P3A DAC and was very pleased with the result (no tubes!).

    Frankly, I WAS concerned that this was a "waste of money" but being an audiophile, I've spent money foolishly in the past ;-) so I know what that feels like!

    Turns out, Dan's approach made a piece of gear that I didn't want to spend my time listening to into a piece of gear that I spend all my time listening to. That's worth it to me. I have four different audio systems in my home, including a system in the bedroom, living room, home theatre, and my music room. The last is where I do my serious listening, and the MW Transporter has taken up home there.

    And for another poster, no, you can't get the same result running thru a tube buffer. BTDT. But spending money and results are two different things (unfortunately). In this instance, I got results that were worth it to me, so I consider it a good investment in my musical pleasure. I probably spend $6-7,000 per year on this hobby --mostly for music and concert tickets/travel -- so it wasn't THAT big a deal for me money-wise. But it certainly hits my hot buttons.

    I've never been thrilled with digital music, partly because I'm an old fart with nearly 2,000 LP's, so that's the bulk of my listening. But I'm impressed that the Transporter does so well, and I do think the Modwright approach, which modifies none of the "front end" but only addresses limitations in the analogue stage, is a net improvement.

    Use your own ears, then let me know what you think?

    Frank

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by HalleysComet View Post
    I've previously purchased Dan Wright's modified Perpetual Technologies P3A DAC and was very pleased with the result (no tubes!).

    Frankly, I WAS concerned that this was a "waste of money" but being an audiophile, I've spent money foolishly in the past ;-) so I know what that feels like!

    Turns out, Dan's approach made a piece of gear that I didn't want to spend my time listening to into a piece of gear that I spend all my time listening to. That's worth it to me. I have four different audio systems in my home, including a system in the bedroom, living room, home theatre, and my music room. The last is where I do my serious listening, and the MW Transporter has taken up home there.

    And for another poster, no, you can't get the same result running thru a tube buffer. BTDT. But spending money and results are two different things (unfortunately). In this instance, I got results that were worth it to me, so I consider it a good investment in my musical pleasure. I probably spend $6-7,000 per year on this hobby --mostly for music and concert tickets/travel -- so it wasn't THAT big a deal for me money-wise. But it certainly hits my hot buttons.

    I've never been thrilled with digital music, partly because I'm an old fart with nearly 2,000 LP's, so that's the bulk of my listening. But I'm impressed that the Transporter does so well, and I do think the Modwright approach, which modifies none of the "front end" but only addresses limitations in the analogue stage, is a net improvement.

    Use your own ears, then let me know what you think?

    Frank
    OK... just to clarify, I really am just looking for an explanation (this isn't a veiled attack on tubes or whatever). So: why would you get a different result doing the modwright rather than using a tubed amp? I don't get it--isnt the alleged virtue of both "warmth" or "musicality"? Color me confused.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by adamslim View Post
    You could have gotten a better result by not posting.
    Now now, Adam, I should be allowed a few cranky posts per month :-)

    Seriously though, I would never post on the Modwright forum about what a waste it is to mod the TP.
    I would consider that rude and unnecessary behavior.

    It seems we disagree on that point and that's OK by me.

    To the OP, you can get the sonic signature of tubes with a buffer or preamp.
    And, IMO , the results will be nearly identical. However, we can just agree to disagree.

    I had the chance to be the first to get the modwright mod at half price as the experimental unit.
    I decided not to because the TP sounds so good it didn't seem worth the money even at 1/2 price.

  8. #8
    Senior Member adamslim's Avatar
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    The Modwright mod (AFAIK) leaves everything up to DAC the same, but then adds a valve output stage (replacing that in the TP), which is similar to an amplifier. If you contend that valve amplifiers can be superior to transistors, than this could address an area of the TP that might be improvable.

    I can't comment as to the efficacy as I have never heard it, but given the dollar rate I reckon I might be able to import one direct and make only a small loss on resale. However, I've just bought speakers, so it'll be a while before I play that game!
    SB3, Dac-in-the-Box, Sony VFET, Snell Type Cs
    Boom x 2, Radio

  9. #9
    Senior Member Patrick Dixon's Avatar
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    I can't see that Logitech would mind much about the Modwright TP. They get to sell a TP anyway, so from a business PTV, they make the same profit.

    I suppose Sean might mind that someone thinks they can improve on his design, but I reckon he's pretty pragmatic about these things.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by adamslim View Post
    The Modwright mod (AFAIK) leaves everything up to DAC the same, but then adds a valve output stage (replacing that in the TP), which is similar to an amplifier. If you contend that valve amplifiers can be superior to transistors, than this could address an area of the TP that might be improvable.

    I can't comment as to the efficacy as I have never heard it, but given the dollar rate I reckon I might be able to import one direct and make only a small loss on resale. However, I've just bought speakers, so it'll be a while before I play that game!
    I think you are correct about the modwright mod, Adam, which is why I think a tube buffer could likely provide the same result at a lower cost.
    I do love tubes and I have a tube headphone amp( a huge dual mono with separate volume controls) and it sounds great.
    But I don't miss the tubes when I go back to my SS amp with my speakers.
    IME, IMS, the Transporter is very lifelike.


    Patrick, I see the validity of your reasoning, I will once again plead crankiness brought on by the cold from hell :-)
    Last edited by tomjtx; 2008-02-09 at 13:51.

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