A boutique server that sounds like a million bucks, and adds some real class to the category; oh, and puts another nail in the coffin for compact discs.
Since Logitech launched its Transport server it has become the everyman’s high-end music streamer (especially in the US), and just like most highly regarded hi-fi components it has become a target for modifications and tweaks.
Realising the potential of the Transporter on a commercial level, boutique manufacturer and professional modifiers of luxury audio equipment Modwright have waved their magic wand at the device with startling effect.
The changes are not exactly minor ones either; the analogue stage has effectively been turfed out in favour of Modwright’s own tube stage, featuring 2 x 6N1P triodes or similar. The output stage is also tubed, and the difference between the pukka Logitech and Modwright’s Frankenstein is easy to spot – all three tubes emerge like a small city from the top case, so I’d suggest a decent gap between shelves for heat dispersion would be a must. The Modwright still uses the excellent Squeezecentre software, meaning it’ll be chicken feed to access and play your favourite artists from your iTunes library or even those radio stations on the Internet.
It’s probably the ultimate convergence of old and new, and it kind of made me wonder if Anna Nicole really did love that old billionaire after all…
I won’t delve into the setting up of the component as importer Peter Hardie of Reference Audio Systems in Auckland already had the Transporter well and truly singing when I popped in for the audition.
A top flight component will only sing if the accompanying equipment is at least at the same level in terms of quality, and as a special treat Peter had the Modwright connected to the Satri 15wpc integrated amplifier from little known Japanese manufacturer Bakoon, while a pair of giant Coincident Pure Reference loudspeakers well and truly shifted the air in the listening room.
The sheer listenability and refreshing ‘un-digital’ sound quality of the Modwright had me floored.
John Hiatt’s ‘Feels Like Rain’ was simply mesmerising from the first note – subtle nuances and inflections in his gravelly voice were revealed, adding to the honesty and palpability of the recording. Similarly with Chuck E. Weiss and his stand out track ‘Sweety-O’: the plucked double bass sound appeared to hang in mid-air, while the mute trumpet sound was as realistic and uncoloured as I have heard.
Just when I thought I’d heard it all, Peter plugged a Quantum Plug into the mains – essentially a mains purifier, the wall-wart sized device actually improved the sound quality further. Music appeared to have more detail, the dynamics were improved and the bass performance stepped up a notch, being tighter and with better extension.
Quantum Plug or not, Modwright has turned an exceptional audio component into a high-end revelation. Their tube-based Transporter is possibly another nail in the coffin for disc-based audio replay, but I’d rather think of it as being more of a stake through the heart! GARY PEARCE