System #27 (reQuest, Cinema)

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Well-known member
Jan 20, 2005
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SF Bay Area
Member Name: V. Tran
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
ML Models: reQuest
Year Purchased: 1996
Mods/Changes: None

Associated Electronics:

ModWright SWL-9.0 Signature Edition.

ML reQuest in passive bi-amping configuration:
1) Audio Electronics Supply SixPacs monoblocs powering panels.
2) Mark Levinson 331 driving the woofers.

Pioneer 563SA SACD univeral player (modded by APL HiFi).
Naim ND5 XS network streamer

Sony 65" XBR 65X950B LED TV

Kimber Kables SilverStreaks interconnects.
DH Labs T-14 speaker cables.

Lovan racks.

This system is geared more for 97% audio and 3% video/home-theater applications. Currently, 3 front channels suffice for home-theater. They don't get much HT mileage at all.

Bi-amping the reQuests with tubes (AES SixPacs) on the panels brought my system up to a whole new musical level. Extended airy highs without the harshness in addition to smooth, seductive midrange (vocals).

Update 10-2013: Added Naim ND5 XS network streamer.
Update 04-2015: Replaced Classe' with Mark Levinson 311.
Update 05-2015: Replaced Cinema/Meridian/Primare combination with Yamaha YSP-3300 sound bar.
Update 12-2018: Added Technics SL-1210GR turntable + Manley Chinook Phonostage.



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Closer look at the equipment rack

Here's a closer look at the equipment rack holding the electronics appearing from top-to-bottom:
1) APL HiFi Pioneer 563SA universal player.
2) Audio Research LS7 tube preamp.
3) AES SixPacs monoblocs (for reQuest panels).
4) Classe' Audio CA-150 (for Cinema center channel).
5) Classe' Audio CA-300 (for reQuest woofers).



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And the latest upgrade

The latest upgrade is the ModWright SWL 9.0 linestage, replacing the ARC LS7. The difference is HUGE in terms of dynamic, and neutral.



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Is the pink bunny's perch comfortable?

Congrats this a great looking system. Does the pink bunny frown when the music is not good? :confused:
Congrats on a niiice system!

You know, my Mosaics have beanie babies (dinosaurs) on top of them - my GF insists on putting them there... so your system reminds me of mine.

Hehehe.. :D .
Statman, Sunnyboy & Joey, thanks for the kind words. Hope I've been of help on the 2-channel + bi-amping (tube+ss) with a ML system. I'm now on a quest for a high-end music server but the pickings are pretty slim until recently: ZeroOne Audio! ( I'll probably pull the trigger and grab one toward the end of this year.

Actually, the pink bunny is pretty mellow. It's the blue beanie bear on the right that's finicky about the music :) In my case, my wife AND the kids insisted on putting them up-there!

Spike said:
In my case, my wife AND the kids insisted on putting them up-there!


LOL... ah, the pushy people in our lives. Hehehe...

Joey_V said:
LOL... ah, the pushy people in our lives. Hehehe...


Joey - You talking about the stuffed animals or the wife and kids??? LOL :D

Spike - Nice set up! Love the family picture on the top. Cruise picture? :cool:
MarkNewbie said:
Spike - Nice set up! Love the family picture on the top. Cruise picture? :cool:
Thanks Mark. Yep, the Treasures of VietNam cruise ( we took back in 1999, from Singapore through VietNam, ending up at Hong Kong. From there, we detoured to BeiJing, China and then stopping at Tokyo for a bit before coming back to the States.

Great Tubed Musical System...


Beautiful tubed system! I just read a reply you wrote regarding your tubed ModWright SWL 9.0 Linestage tubed preamp. It was very informative and interesting. So you find your ModWright to be the best tubed preamp as far as sound for the money?
Great system Spike... ;)
Robin said:
So you find your ModWright to be the best tubed preamp as far as sound for the money?
Great system Spike... ;)
Thanks for the kind words. I was lucky to literally stumble onto the ModWright while seriously considering the Cary SLP-98L! My journey started out with my preference to go away from the 6922/6D8J or the 12AX7 tubes just because I've outgrown the dry/analytical sound of these tubes. Even the high-priced NOS didn't do it for me. My correspondence with Fred Voltz of Emotive Audio led me to type 26 tubes, 5687 and 6SN7 tubes for pre-amp application. More correspondence with other designers narrowed things down to the 5687 and 6SN7 tubes with the 5687 being more "exotic" and harder to implement. Without any available 5687 preamps around for me to audition, plus the fact that I was able to audition a Cary SLP98 at home and liked it more than the ARC and CJ preamps, I was ready to buy the Cary. So, I went back to the dealer, checkbook in hands, ready to fork over the $$$ and was introduced to the ModWright beta unit. The rest is history. You can read up my comments on the ModWright feedback @ AudioCircle.

Excerpt from Audio Circle ModWright feedback
How am I going to put it into words without cycling through the overused array of adjectives normally seen with audio/equipment reviews? Hmm. Let's see, in addition to the normal run-of-the-mill "deep layered 3-D sound stage", "airy around each instrument", my descriptions are dynamic, natural & musical. Let's get the easy ones out of the way first. Natural & musical: this linestage just gets out of the way and let you hear the music coming through. For example, I heard too much "hi-resolution" (in a hi-fi sense) making the ARC equipment sound sterile, bright. The Cary SLP98 is very smooth, very...seductive with its sweet midrange. In fact, I came into Audible Arts, ready to sign a check for the Cary when I found out about the ModWright. I could have lived with the Cary unit had I not came across the ModWright. With the Cary, you're always aware that it emphasizes on sweeten up the mids and your attention is always drawn to the liquidy smooth midrange. What about large-scale classical symphonies which do not involve vocals? Oops.
Ok, so we got the neutrality of the ModWright out of the way, back to the issue of "dynamic"... I'm gonna exagerate with the examples from photography to try and convey my impression. Think of 2 photographs, one snapshot taken by an amateur where all the information are there but nothing spectacular. The other one of the same subject, taken by a artisan with proper lighting to flush out the colors and details. Colors look more vibrant, deeper blacks, purer whites, etc... Basically the equivalent of extended extremes in audio terms. The difference is that if I really want to, I can zoom in on the shadow portion of the image and still see (clearly) images of some kids playing in the shadow, or that I can make out reflections of building structures from the dark windows in my picture. Once you've seen the "good" photograph, the first one looks bland, dull by comparison. The point is that the information is there if I wish to look for them but they don't jump out screaming to draw your attention to them. Had the details been overly emphasized, one's attention will be drawn to them and one will miss entirely the image's composition, as the case metioned above with some of the preamps on the brighter side. For myself, I'd like to have my focus on the well presented composition in its entirety, with the option of narrowing in on the details if (and only if) I wish to. Otherwise, I'd like to relax and enjoy the performance in its entirety. Perhaps the best description I can sumarize here is that the ModWright draws you into the musical performance while letting every bit of information flow through in a natural, cohesive fashion. It is up to the listener to decide what (s)he wants to hear depending on his/her mood at the time. I hope that I was able to draw a "visual" description of the characteristics of this preamp with my examples above.

Wow Excellent Review....


Excellent review. Wonderful discriptions and examples of just how the ModWright performs. So the dealer just happened to have a MonWright sitting there in the store. That was lucky for you... ;) Thank you for sharing your outstanding review of the ModWright preamp, I apperciate it as it has given me so much food for thought... :)
Tube glow

Being somewhat of an amateur shutterbug, I thought I'd post these pictures of glowing glass illustrating the warmth of tubes :)


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Tube glow (cont.)

And a close up of the glowing SixPacs :D


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You sir may have just pushed me over the edge on my TV purchase. We share the same front three spekers and until very recently we both were pimpin the tube tv. Now I know the only place tubes belong is in your audio gear!!! I've had my eye on that 52XBR3 for some time now. I must say it looks great in between our speakers :D
I've had my eye on that 52XBR3 for some time now. I must say it looks great in between our speakers :D

Seeing that Sony has just announced the XBR4 and XBR5 on-line, ready to ship end of 9/07, I think the price of the XBR3 is gonna drop somewhat to fit your budget ;)


I am interested in your Tubed amp for the panel and solid state for the woofer aproach. I would expect the MLs will sound great with the tubed amp. Did you need to do anything special to get the panel and woofer to play in phase with this configurtion?

THank You
Did you need to do anything special to get the panel and woofer to play in phase with this configuration?

Good question. I'll plead ignorant on this one since I did not do anything special to ensure the panel & woofer play in phase. Is that even possible with the diverse technologies between the 2? In the case of single amplifier, the original goes through the internal crossover, routing the bass to the woofer, but the highs go to a step-up transformer to charge up the 'stat panels. Given that there is a phase difference right off the bat with single amplifier configuration, I was not able to detect any further phase differences when adding the tube amps into the mix. What should I be listenning for in order to detect phase differences between the panels & woofers?


I have never done Bi-amping. The question was the result of using amplifed subwoofers (Like the depth-i I have) that include a phase control. As for the crossover / step-up ML could desigen them to be phase coherent. I do not know if they do but as an electrical engineer I know it can be done. Since you got good results without worrying about it there is probably no issue. If you had a phasing issue I would expect it to muddy the sound stage. So if your system images well you are in good shape.

I have thought that it would be interesting to direct couple a high voltage tube amp direct to the ML panels and get rid of the transformers in both the speaker and the amplifer. Some day I might try this on my old Aerius's.


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