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The KWI200 is the newest entrant in ModWright’s line and their first-ever integrated. I read announcements about its pending launch long before it bowed and for some reason assumed that it would combine the LS-100 and KWA-100 or perhaps even the latter’s SE version. In hindsight I think that what was actually implied was equivalent sound, not a simply repackaged two-in-one circuit.

As I discovered upon delivery, the KWI200 is strictly solid-state and not the expected tube/transistor hybrid. No wonderful valve glow. That’s also when I realized that the phono board too had to differ from the LS-100 option which uses tubes after all. My fault entirely. I’d failed to request details from our domestic importer. On the other hand, studying ModWright’s web page shows information about the optional D/A and phono modules for the LS-100 and KWI200 to be truly scarce. Perhaps this can be rectified?

Sound. A selection of recordings used during this review. AC/DC, Live, EPIC, E2 90553, LP; Arne Domnerus, Jazz at the Pawnshop, Proprius, ATR 003, LP; Big Joe Maher, Mojo, Wildchild!, 02352, CD; Bobby Battle Quartet, The offering, Mapleshade, 01332, CD;  Cassandra Wilson, New Moon Daughter, Blue Note; CDP 7243 8 37183 2 0, FLAC; Dead Can Dance, Spiritchaser, 4AD/Mobile Fidelity, MOFI 2-002, 180g LP...

... Kari Bremnes, Ly, B001PK3LZ0, CD; Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin, Atlantic/Warner Music, WPCR-11611, FLAC; Midnight Blue, Inner City Blues, Wildchild!, 09352, CD; Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain, Columbia Stereo, PC8271, LP; Patricia Barber, Companion, Premonition/Mobile Fidelity, MFSL 2-45003, 180g LP; Pink Floyd, Wish you were here, EMI Records Japan, TOCP-53808, FLAC; W.A. Mozart, Le Nozze di Figaro, Harmonia Mundi HMC 901818.20, FLAC; Verdi, Il Trovatore, RCA Red Seal 74321 39504 2.

As already suggested, the KWI200 uses the same case work as the KWA-100/SE and LS-100. Obviously small details differ but overall dimensions are the same. What struck me immediately was the overall symmetry of two large knobs (volume, input selector), two push buttons (on/off and home-theater bypass) and two displays. Especially the latter make this machine distinctive from most the competition. First off they show very large numbers and letters to be readily legible from the distance, an obvious advantage for aging eyes. Second they’re separate displays. I’d rather have a single one perhaps split in two but that’s purely personal taste. Fortunately I could use the ‘standby’ button on the remote (the wand is shared with the LS-100) and extinguish these displays. Before I did I took very clear note that one displayed the actual volume setting and the other the currently active input. Finally the fascia sports the signature backlit ModWright logo.

The rear panels gets busier. Solid gold-plated output terminals are placed close to the left and right edge and the IEC power inlet sits squarely in the middle. The various i/o ports are gathered in two groupings. On the left are three pairs of RCA inputs, a pre-in to run the KWI200 as power amp and one XLR input. On the right are 12V trigger jacks, a pre-out and, if installed, the DAC and phono inputs. One handy detail I’d not seen before was the mirror-imaged silk screening above and below the sockets facing respectively up and down, the latter making it child’s play to read when bent over the machine. It’s so simple, clever, convenient and at no added cost that one wonders why hardly anyone else does it. The remote is exactly the same as provided with the LS-100 to again imply smart manufacturing savings. Except for the backlit logo there are no sonically irrelevant fancy features but what’s there is very convenient and user-friendly – small things which nonetheless became added reasons why I chose ModWright equipment for my review system.

My assignment progressed over a few stages. I first began with the KWI200 connected to a computer via the Lampizator USB transport and TeddyDAC for digital; and a Salvation with ESELabs phono stage for vinyl. The intent was to compare the integrated to my separates which could be a buyer alternative, albeit one that’s a bit pricier. An obvious advantage for the KWI200 is its almost doubled power—200wpc/8Ω rather than 130wpc—but with my high-efficiency Bastanis Matterhorn that wasn’t relevant nor as I’d find out for Ascendo’s C8 Renaissance. No doubt with some truly difficult loads it would matter.

So how did the KWI200 sound? Like a ModWright. All of Dan’s amps are class AB solid-state but they sound more like tubes or perhaps class A transistors to become very likeable to tube fans like yours truly. The sonic attributes which make that happen are a slightly warm rich and smooth midrange; punchy well-extended somewhat rotund bass; and last but not least an open detailed strong treble that’s crisp without any hint of brightness unless one plays bad recordings. Working one’s way up inside ModWright’s catalogue, each amp seems endowed with the same attributes and simply adds goodness to make the sound more and more sophisticated and liquid.