The Woo has landed

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by WobblySam, Dec 18, 2017.

  1. WobblySam

    WobblySam Active Member

    Messages:
    471
    Location:
    Middle of NC
    Received my Christmas gift from my wife today. The Woo WA22 is an all tube headphone amplifier.
    And yes, I know, it falls squarely in the immoderate indulgence category. But what doesn't in the audio hobby.

    I'm excited about this one - I haven't auditioned a tube HA in 2 years - the last was a Decware Taboo. Nice amp, just didn't do "it" for me.
    The 22 came with a big ol' Shuguang replica of a Western Electric 274b rectifier. Nice looking tube.
    The 6SN7 and 6080/6AS7 pairs are NOS. The 6080s are marked Philips JAN and the N7s are (just guessing) Sylvania - no brand on the glass or base, just Made in USA and 6SN7GTB with top getter. And NO, I'm not any kind tube expert or dedicated valve aficionado. I just stumble along and enjoy myself.

    Still letting it acclimate. It was chilly today. I'll start my break-in ritual tomorrow.
     
    ossidian, cratz2, boza and 1 other person like this.
  2. cratz2

    cratz2 Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,205
    Location:
    Indy, IN
    Jealous.

    :(

    :p
     
  3. csericks

    csericks Active Member

    Messages:
    420
  4. opa1

    opa1 Tenacious Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,329
    Location:
    South Texas
    So how do Woo like it! :) Should be a very nice amp.
     
  5. judsonw

    judsonw Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    518
    Location:
    Bellingham, WA, USA
    Enjoy! I was tempted by the WA7 when I was looking for headphone amps, but sadly did not feel like I could justify it. Your wife has good taste.
     
  6. WobblySam

    WobblySam Active Member

    Messages:
    471
    Location:
    Middle of NC
    Well, I powered it up with nothing connected for the initial smoke test and let it sit for two hours. No crackles, pops or vapor, so step 1 is a success.
    Now I'll do my 14 - 15 power cycles with 4 - 5 hours of run time each cycle for my short term reliability test and maybe listen a little too. It should be ready for some serious listening in about 8 days. I know, it sounds a little anal retentive, but it's what I do with new tube stuff. Doesn't everybody have some sort of weenie thing they do with new gear?
    Thanks for the comments - I'm really looking forward to enjoying the amp.
     
    boza and opa1 like this.
  7. csericks

    csericks Active Member

    Messages:
    420
    I've been a satisfied owner of a couple of Woo amps and I'm a believer in run in but I think you should listen during the process.
     
  8. slow_jazz

    slow_jazz Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    13,475
    Location:
    SE Michigan, Downriver....
    Congrats...
     
  9. boza

    boza Super Member

    Messages:
    1,246
    Location:
    uk
    Nice :thumbsup:
     
    cratz2 likes this.
  10. rxonmymind

    rxonmymind AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,711
    Location:
    California
    Just got my first headphones and while I don't have a need for an amp yet once I get a "serious" pair I'll be looking at this amp.
    Congrats!
     
    cratz2 likes this.
  11. WobblySam

    WobblySam Active Member

    Messages:
    471
    Location:
    Middle of NC
    Thanks. I've been doing some listening after about 100 hours of run-in. I need to get my notes organized and post an update.
     
    rxonmymind and opa1 like this.
  12. WobblySam

    WobblySam Active Member

    Messages:
    471
    Location:
    Middle of NC
    Well, after a little more than 100 hours of run-in, I settled in for some critical listening. The amp is still running the stock tubes included with it. I've only accumulated about 16 hours of listening, so I'm still early in the process. I've also changed my approach to auditioning the amp. I had originally planned to critically compare it with my reference SS amp, the Violectric V281. The 281 is more or less my final destination as far as SS amps go. It just does so much, so well that I haven't auditioned another SS amp in over a year and really have no plans to check out any more SS amps. Back to the WA22. My change in my evaluation approach reflects the fact that I'm probably just getting old, I'm enamored by the aesthetics of the amp and so far the sound is impressive.


    Somewhere, someone decided that the stock tubes included with the WA22 didn't sound good. Like so many things on the internet, this has propagated to the point it's now considered a fact - whether it has any merit or not. My experience, so far, completely contradicts this pseudo-fact. Will other tubes sound "better"? They may sound different, but better is an elusive goal. On a heretical note, I don't subscribe to the precept that tubes manufactured by NATO countries 30 to 70 years ago were injected with some mystical elixir that imbues them with miraculous sonic properties. I realize that this might classify me as a heathen, but for me and I emphasize ME, I just don't see it or hear it. My apologies if this offends anyone's sensibilities.


    I've listened to only digital at this point, no LPs yet. This has been a mix of CDs, SACDs, WAV, FLAC and DSD files. I've used balanced and SE sources and balanced and SE headphones. I've only listened with the HiFiMan HE-560s, Audeze LCD-3s, the Sennheiser HD650s and the Shure SRH-1840 phones at this point. Each has it's own characteristics and "flavor". I pulled out all the usual evaluation music for strings, piano, horns, pipe organ, timpani, male and female voices, etc. Hypercritical listening is just plain exhausting. I made it to my favorite music I've been listening to for 50 years - the stuff you know and the stuff you have expectations for when you hear it. For me and the sound qualities I like, the WA22 has not disappointed. Even though it's early, I guess I've decided it's a keeper.


    The power knob has two positions - Hi and LO. The manual has little to say on its use other than to try both and see which one you like. Is for gain? Is for output impedance? Does it affect both? Being an engineer, a little more documentation on the amp would be welcomed. I left it in the Lo position for all my listening to date. I'll check out the Hi position at some point after I feel I have a comfortable baseline with the amp.

    My next phase will be to listen to some LPs I know and love and then futz around a bit with balanced vs SE. On the tube front, eventually I will probably swap the 274b replica rectifier for a 5AR4 and see how the power supply affects the sound. The B+ should rise and we'll see how this changes things - if at all. The 274b though is a cool looking big ol' tube.

    Cheers
     
    ossidian, csericks and opa1 like this.
  13. WobblySam

    WobblySam Active Member

    Messages:
    471
    Location:
    Middle of NC
    Update - More on the WA22 amp

    I switched to listening to LPs for several days. I connected the WA22 directly to the output of the phono preamp (Phonomena II) which provides only single-ended outputs. As such, I did all my listening via the WA22's SE output.

    Over the course of 8 days, I listened to 14 different LPs - classical, jazz, classic rock and r&b. I listened to 3 or 4 less than great-sounding records. A couple were Motown LPs that are given to some excessive sibilance. I don't know if it was a mastering or pressing issue, but the LPs can really grate on you.


    It was listening to LPs I sensed a sort of "sonic signature" emerging with the WA22. It wasn't the normal warm, fuzzy, tubey tubby sound that can sometimes be expected from a tube amp. It's hard to explain. High frequencies were not rolled off, the bass did not "bloom". Detail did not suffer, but a noticeable tonal quality was present in the music. Yes, I suppose that hints at a form of coloration, but it just is not easy to define. You just have to hear it. The aforementioned Motown LPs, while still a bit grating, were much easier to listen to. While that hints at top-end rolloff, that wasn't the case with other recordings. Whatever it is, it suits me - I enjoyed listening to records with the WA22. My Violectric is decidedly neutral and I like it that way. But I have to say that the WA22 offers a new experience when listening to vinyl.

    I cycled a number of headphones - Beyer DT 880 and 990s, both the 600 Ohm versions, the Sennheiser HD-650s and 580s - all Hi Z phones. The WA22 did an excellent job of bringing out the best in these phones. These normally sound the best on the Violectric and the Musical Paradise MP-301, but the WA22 handled them with ease. I also used my trusty HE-560s and the Shure SDH-1840s.


    At this point, I am duly impressed by the WA22, more so than I had perhaps "hoped" for. I'm still running the stock tubes so there is still a lot ahead.

    And I had a special treat arrive last Saturday. I have been wanting to listen to the newer Sennheiser HD-800 S phones for a while now. My good friend down in Marietta overnighted his 800 S's to me to evaluate. He told me he would loan them to me back in early December, but I wasn't sure he would part with them. I've only spent an hour or two listening so far, but I've already made a tune list for them and can't wait to get started. The 800 S's come standard with an SE cable and a balanced cable, so I'll get a chance to try both. He also sent along his Double Helix Prion 4 balanced upgrade cable. I'll be avoiding that cable for a while. I don't want to be "wanting" anything from DHC.

    So, the journey continues.

    Cheers
     
  14. Nice write up. Let me know what you think of the 800 and WA22 combination.

    I received a pair for Xmas and am looking for a headphone amp to pair with them for my PC (Flac) setup.
    I am looking at Sennehiser HDVD800, Schitt Gumby/Moli2, or Woo products.
     

Share This Page