This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Given that as an integrated the KWI200 stands alone in Dan’s lineup, there’s no present direct competition. Each power amp must be mated to one of his preamps and even the least costly one is already bloody good. Based on my own assessment, I’d place the integrated somewhere between the standard and SE KWA-100. The latter amp is a significant upgrade. When I auditioned both to decide on which one I wanted to purchase, I found the SE far more mature, complete and superior even to the non-SE KWA-150 though the latter’s SE version does become another big step up. Put differently, the LS-100/KWA-100SE combo offers better performance than the KWI200 but the latter wins when the separates are ‘downscaled’ to the standard KWA100. Though the integrated goes strictly transistor, it maintains that very smooth saturated midband which keeps tube fans happy. The price to pay for deviating from strict neutrality is slight warmth but it’s that very quality which renders this sound so natural, palpable and rich.

Vocals have beautifully natural timbres and textures to highlight their emotional charge which becomes quite life-like. A related bonus is not having to dread sibilants. Whilst the ModWright won’t eliminate them, it draws them more likeable or less disturbing. Another strength is the large well-layered soundstage with lots of air surrounding precisely placed three-dimensional images. It takes spending twice or thrice to get better 3D definition and body from solid state. Most important to me was the liquid delivery whose friendly relaxed effortlessness was almost tube like. Perhaps this might discourage certain solid-state supporters but this really isn’t a ‘classical’ transistor sound.

The music flows freely and breathes. There are fast attacks and wonderful decays in nicely feathered-out acoustics. I really appreciated how the amp presented small subtleties which often are obscured behind the main action but nonetheless remain important contributors to the total presentation. This was true regardless of whether such secondary material was upfront or placed deeply hidden within the stage. And unlike with many other machines of its kind, this transistor device never got dry which tends to annoy me a lot.

ModWright’s integrated is quite punchy and the oversized transformer must be doing its job well to present such a dynamic powerful face to the world. I mentioned earlier how like all other ModWright amps this one is extended and punchy but slightly rotund down low. In general that remains a good description yet the integrated surprised me by also playing it very punctual and taut. Once I’d made that discovery I kept checking to confirm it and realized that the KWI acted somewhat like class A amps which take time to reach their top sound particularly in the bass. Initially the bass might seem slow and perhaps even boomy but over times it tightens up and gets quicker.

I also felt that the 200 was more sensitive to recording quality than other amps I know. Albums with nicely tight fast bass sounded just like it but if there was even a hint of boomy looseness, the KWI200 did what it was supposed to and amplified that. Regardless, this particular quality surprised me because despite its many similarities with the KWA-100 and SE, this bass reminded me more of the top KWA-150SE.

The chief difference between my rig and the KWI200 was a slight touch of valve charm delivered by my customary LS-100 which renders the sound even smoother, richer, more liquid and palpable and also more dynamic. Now I must confess— and I have no idea why this escaped me—that I failed to explore the KWI200’s pre-in to leash up the LS-100. There’s really no excuse for this oversight except the high unlikelihood that anyone would acquire the KWI200 only to add the LS-100 preamp. But my guess is that the sound would get even better.

Now it was time to check out the add-on features of D/A conversion and phono. These are smart solutions for folks who mean to keep things as simple as possible. You could build a very simple system of computer source, KWI200 integrated and speakers and that's it. The pre-in feature integrates with home-theater systems which some might find helpful if they want to combine HT and stereo in one room. Of course any serious audiophile will choose an integrated device only if it offers satisfying performance. Many claim that separates sound better and that integration equates to a compromise between convenience and sound.

But as Accuphase proves, an integrated amp needn’t mean inferior performance. As I mentioned it took Dan Wright a long time to introduce his D/A converter board to market. Some people were waiting and getting anxious but that long wait exemplified Dan's attitude that any new product must be 100% dialled before being released. I truly appreciate that attitude. The DAC features two inputs, coaxial S/PDIF and USB. There isn't much intel on Modwright's site except that it’s 24/192 asynchronous USB operation. Somewhere else I found information that the main chip is a Burr Brown PCM 1794. The Windows driver delivered on CD-ROM installed quickly and my Windows 7 PC identified the ModWright as XMOS to also indicate the USB transceiver’s identity.