I did not have much time evaluating this ‘tour’ unit. This amp was a loaner. I barely had 3 full days to play with it.
So, let’s skip all the unnecessary words.
The unit seems solid, chunks of aluminum are used for the chassis. I had a hard time unbolting the top plate, let’s hope the production version has no such issue. The innards are very well thought out and screams quality. The heart of the KWA 100 Amplifier is a single voltage gain stage called the “Solid State Music Stage.” The circuit was developed by Alan Kimmel, creator of the exceptional vacuum tube “Mu” stage. It has MOSFET output stage, I am a huge fan of MOSFET output stage. The KWA 100 uses no global feedback, is direct-coupled, fully differential, and designed and Handmade in the USA.
I noticed that there are a few holes for capacitors that are left empty. Later on, I found out that they are for an ‘upgrade package’ that ModWright will offer. They are now offering an upgrade package for KWA 100. They also sell a KWA 100 SE which turn out to be a KWA 100 with the upgrade package. The upgrade package cost $700, whether the improvements worth the cost remain to be seen.
With my limited time with it, I made sure that I had a good 3 days trial with it. I decided to pair it with my Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2. DAC-2 can also be used as a pre-amp and it is a super transparent one. I compared KWA 100 side-by-side with D-Sonic Magnum 500S. During my listening sessions, I made sure that all gears have proper ‘warm-up’ time. The KWA 100 produces more heat but that was expected, considering it’s a class A amplifier.
ModWright KWA 100:
- slightly ‘colder’ than 500S
- more dynamics
- more resolution, micro details
- soundstage is on par with 500S
- better, defined bass
- overall, more enjoyable and musical
D-Sonic Magnum 500S:
- slightly warmer than KWA 100
- soundstage is on par with KWA 100
- bass is a bit flabby, falls apart in complex passages
- resolution is lacking, the biggest difference
- thin and too-smooth
It is easy to love a product when you don’t have any comparable products to compare with. I thought, D-Sonic Magnum 500S was a wonderful amp. That ended with ModWright KWA 100. ModWright KWA 100 is better in almost every way. I cannot find a single reason why I should not buy this KWA 100 instead of other amp. FYI, the ModWright is better built (superb build quality) and completely designed and assembled in America.
I’m all for supporting better products. It’s not about where it’s designed but where I would want my money to be spent. So, I don’t really care where it’s made, I just want the best product that I can buy. The KWA 100 happens to be the best amp that I have tried at its price range. I think I am going to buy one, it will be the KWA 100SE.