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judicata
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Woo Audio WA2

I'm thinking about getting the WA2 for use as my headphone amp and my preamp. Does anyone know how it compares to the WA6 as a head amp? I see that the specs are different, but I have no idea what the implications are. It looks like the WA2 has better frequency response (although I think they both extend beyond the 'phones capabilities, not to mention my ears), but I'm not sure what difference the ohms make. I'll be using them with my AKG k701s. Any input on how it might be as a preamp is welcome as well (in addition to any "must-do" upgrades) would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

WA6 Specs:
http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wa6.html
Headphones impedance : 8-600 Ohms
Input impedance: 100 Kilo-Ohms
Frequency response: 20 Hz - 30 KHz, -3dB
Signal/Noise: 93 dB
THD: <= 0.3%
Voltage: AC 110/220 V, 50/60 Hz
External dimension: 6"(H), 5

dcstep
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

I've got a WA6 with an upgraded rectifier. I chose it over the WA2 partly due to price and partly due to the smaller footprint that fits my armour with extra room for my other equipment. I haven't heard the WA2, but it gets excellent reviews over on www.head-fi.org .

One thing to consider, the gain from your line stage may not be enough gain to drive AKG 701s to high levels. My Rowland has variable gain, so this is not a problem for me.

You should feel free to call Jack Wu and talk about the cans you'll be driving with a Woo and he'll be straight with you about the choices.

Let us know what you do and post a review. I'm sure you'll be very happy with any Woo amp.

Dave

linden518
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

j, you can also consider the WA6 special edition, which is like Dave's WA6, but with a separate power supply. I've read a few threads about WA6 vs WA2, and it seems that a lot of people think the WA2 is warmer and 'tubier' than the WA6, which is more punchy. Who knows...

But with that tube-rectified power stage, the WA6SE might be something special...

http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wa6se.html

dcstep
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Yes, I drool over the WA6-SE. It's hard to imagine it sounding better than my base WA6.

I DO highly recommend upgrading the rectifier tube. I think that if you wanted to upgrade just one thing that will give you a lot of bang for the buck.

Which cans will you use with the Woo?

Dave

judicata
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

The AKG K701s.

I'd like to have a tube preamp as well, which is why I'm considering the WA2 over the WA6 (although the WA6 was my original plan).

Thanks for the tip on the rectifier, I'll probably do that.

dcstep
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Well yeah, if you need a pre-amp then it's a no-brainer. I think you'll love the sound either way.

Dave

judicata
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Good to hear. That is probably what I'll do.

I just noticed that the website doesn't list a rectifier upgrade for the WA2 like it does for the WA6. I don't know if that is because of the nature of the product - if it is available, I'm sure Woo will let me know.

Is an attenuator upgrade worth it?

dcstep
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Re: Woo Audio WA2


Quote:

Is an attenuator upgrade worth it?

Can't say. Jack Wu would tell you that all the up grades are worth it. If you're thinking of doing some but not all the upgrades, then you should talk to Jack and ask him what order of impact he'd suggest given your desires and preferences. He's very open to discussing such things.

Dave

judicata
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

I'm talking with Jack now, and I think I'm going with the WA2 with some upgrades Jack recommended (one of which is a tube upgrade not on the website that he said would suit the K701s better). He didn't try to throw every upgrade possible at me, and the upgrades he suggested were rather modest (even after I invited him to convince me on the WA5LE).

I made the mistake of imagining the WA5LE sitting on my audio rack (need drool emoticon). But that is overkill and interferes with my future upgrade plans. It is incredibly sexy, though.

Now, for the important question: Black or Silver?

dcstep
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

I've got black and love it, yet I could go either way. My Rowland stuff is polished aluminum, because I couldn't resist showing off the machining work. In comparison the Woo is "utilitarian", but handsome. The tubes add a certain sexyness no matter which finish.

Have you recabled the 701s? That and a Woo will put you into the ne plus ultra territory.

Yes, the 5LE would be overkill, but...

Dave

linden518
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Sweetness, dude. I bet on black.

linden518
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Just went over to Woo Audio site and saw that WA2 is an OTL amp, which explains the wider bandwidth. Let us know how you like it... I'm thinking it'll make the K701s sound downright creamy... if I had to speculate, the WA6SE will have more of a punch & grip, and WA2, more "tube-ness"...

judicata
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Re: Woo Audio WA2


Quote:
Just went over to Woo Audio site and saw that WA2 is an OTL amp, which explains the wider bandwidth. Let us know how you like it... I'm thinking it'll make the K701s sound downright creamy... if I had to speculate, the WA6SE will have more of a punch & grip, and WA2, more "tube-ness"...

That is almost exactly what Jack said. I placed the order today. I think the turnaround time is 3-4 weeks (I actually like the anticipation). I'm stoked! I'll post pics and a review when it comes in. You'll then find out which color I chose (yes, I know, not that exciting).

If you get the WA6, maybe we'll get together and compare sometime, since I don't have another headphone amp (besides my integrated amp) to which to compare the WA2.

mikeymad
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Good job on your order judicata... I am glad that you were in contact with jack before ordering. He is a great guy, and will stand behind what he makes.

I had a chance to listen to the WA2 a couple times, and I really liked it. It should be even better with your upgrades. One thing that I have noticed about the Wooaudio amps is just about everything that you do has an audible difference. Tubes, Caps, Power cable upgrades all have a direct change in the sound that you get out of it. I have not noticed the same out of the Cary 300SEI, changes have a small effect on output.

I had a WA6 maxed out (recently sold), and it responded very well to rectifier upgrades. And really needed a good power cable to get the bass right.

Is the WA5 overkill... yes and no... It is a monster, but it sounds great. I have upgraded the PSU since I got it... and it made a very positive difference, as well as getting some GZ34 metal base Mullard rectifiers (I would like to try some 274B's at some point). I really like the flexability of the WA5 over the LE (K1000 plug, SE plug, and speaker outs). I wish it had a pre-out.

Oh and it does this at night...

Looking forward to your pics and notes...

Cheers,

dcstep
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Wow, it's good to see all the fellow Woo-freaks. I've got a metal base GZ34 in my WA6, in fact that's my only mod to the amp. It was a really nice improvement in the extension of my highs, without adding edge or grain. Bass detail improved also, without any bloating.

I can vary the gain from my Rowland Continuum 500 so the Woo ends up with plenty of drive for my AKG 701s. Otherwise, I'd suggest that people considering matching the WA6 with 701 to talk to Jack about a little extra gain.

Too bad we live all over hte country since it'd be fun to compare headphone amps.

Mikeymad, which cans do you use? My mains are my 701s, but I've also got Audio Technica w5000s and Ultimate Ear Triple.fi 10 Pro IEMs. All of them are sweet, but the 701s are the ones I'd keep if I could have only one setup.

Dave

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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Cheers Dave,

Not to thread jack too much....

With the WA6 I was using the Grado GS-1000 and the Sen HD650's. I sold the Grado's with the WA6. I would recommend to anyone with WA6, before looking at another headphone amp.. to upgrade the WA6... There are several upgrades that take it to a very high level (Caps,dual power,tubes).

Now with the WA5, like the amp itself, I am a little out of scale... I use the AKG K1000's (recabled) and the AT L3000's..

With the right tube combo these really sing...

Not to promote too much... but there are headphone gathings all over the country with memebers of Head-Fi... with a NYC one the other day.

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f24/ <- meets
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f45/ <- impressions

Cheers,

judicata
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Re: Woo Audio WA2


Quote:

Oh and it does this at night...

Almost worth it for that alone

judicata
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

It's here!! Listening to it now. Absolutely gorgeous both sonically and aesthetically! I'll post more (plus pics) soon after I've spent more time with it. But for now, I'm just downright pleased as punch.

mikeymad
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Wow... great to hear judicata... great turnaround and over the holiday season (woo rules).... you get a Christmas and new years present all together....

Cheers,

judicata
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

I need to take some better pictures, but here it is! It could be my birthday, Christmas, and New Years all wrapped into one! The pictures really don't do it justice - the black is very beautiful, and I think Jack probably uses the silver on the website because it shows up better in images.

I couldn't be any happier with this amp so far. I don't have the 6H13C power tubes yet, so these are all stock. When I get the 6H13Cs within the next week or so, I hope to be able to comment on how they compare to stock tubes.

Everything seems solidly built, and was packed well for shipping.

So far I've listened to some jazz and folk rock (Iron & Wine). While the sound is more lush/full it is not muddy at all (which is something I tend to worry about when I hear "lush"). This is a wonderful match with the K701s. As the K701s reputation goes, they can be a little "harsh" at least under certain circumstances. I thought this when I first got the phones (driving them with my Marantz PM7001 integrated), but I stopped thinking that after awhile, which was probably a combination of getting used to them and them breaking in. Any remnant of harshness is certainly disposed of when the AKGs are plugged into the WA2's headphone jack. In taking of the edge, the sound is still as crisp and clean as ever. Nothing is muddled together, yet everything sounds more complete.

Now for some caveats. First and foremost, I've listened to this thing for maybe 6 hours with two genres of music. I'll update this when I've had a few weeks with it. Second, I don't want this to sound like I'm disparaging the Marantz PM7001's headphone out. In fact, the Marantz's headphone out sounds really, really great. Sure, this $1000+ headphone amp is an improvement, but the Marantz drives the K701s quite well. So well, that I would recommend this integrated to anyone wanting an integrated that will also adequately drive some good headphones (although the PM7001 has been replaced now).

Also, I barely get enough volume on some quieter records. And by "enough volume" I don't mean that I can barely hear it - I can always get it plenty loud, but I darn near run out of volume room and I'm afraid some records might get too quiet. I'm hoping the new tubes will correct this somewhat. I also think this also may have something to do with the Bellari phono stage.

Finally, when I placed the WA2 below my turntable on the equipment rack, it caused my turntable to create a hum. It didn't hum itself - when I plugged my 'phones into the phono pre's headphone out, the hum was still there. When I moved the WA2 one shelf down, the hum stopped. I don't know why I even brought it up, but there it is. It probably has as much or more to do with the TT than with the Woo.

Better pictures and better review to follow in a few weeks. But I'm so excited I had to share what I had so far.

linden518
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Congrats! Yeah, the WA2 is just really nice with K701s... but I'm thinking you're going to start jonesing for some vintage Audio Technica cans sooner or later.


Quote:
Also, I barely get enough volume on some quieter records. And by "enough volume" I don't mean that I can barely hear it - I can always get it plenty loud, but I darn near run out of volume room and I'm afraid some records might get too quiet. I'm hoping the new tubes will correct this somewhat. I also think this also may have something to do with the Bellari phono stage.


Hmm... this issue does seem strange. You shouldn't have a problem with hearing quiet passages with WA2/K701, especially since yours is the WA2 with a fortified power stage... the previous version, I heard, had some trouble driving the K701s properly.

At any rate, you're going to love it more & more!

judicata
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

It really is fine. I turned up the volume on my phono preamp a little and the Woo drives the cans sufficiently. But I almost always have the knob past 12 o'clock, and often around 3. I can turn the phono pre up even louder, but then it starts distorting.

I haven't yet run into a real volume issue and I've listened to some pretty quiet records, so I don't think this will be a problem.

mikeymad
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Sounds like you are well on your way to Headphone madness...

I have no problem using up most of my volume. On my SinglePower ES-1, I use half volume for normal level and 3/4 (all the way over to 3 o'clock) volume for loud listening (and that is with 5V input from my Marantz XLR's).... I like to use at least half volume most of the time cause it gives me more control over the levels for each recording. With my WA5... I go from nothing to ver loud volume in less than a quarter of a turn... so I am really only using about an 8th of the volume availible. It is only when I use my my phono for source, that I get to use about a 3rd volume.. and that is loud listening.

Tubes can help if they are higher gain. Otherwise you should have about the same level. I am looking into lower gain tubes for my WA5....

Thanks for the writeup.... looking forward to more impressions, and the Tube rolling... Woo's do very well with tube rolling.

Cheers,

linden518
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Yeah, listening to WA2 at 12 o'clock should be reasonable enough volume, and 2-3 o'clock... with Leben CS600, too, I listen at around 11-12 o'clock.

dcstep
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

Whoa, distortion shouldn't happen. Call Jack. I often your my WA6 at 100% with absolutley no distortion. Does the WA2 have a separtate gain and volume? If so, turn the gain down and the volume up.

Dave

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Re: Woo Audio WA2


Quote:
Whoa, distortion shouldn't happen. Call Jack. I often your my WA6 at 100% with absolutley no distortion. Does the WA2 have a separtate gain and volume? If so, turn the gain down and the volume up.

Dave

To clarify, I don't think the Woo is distorting - it is the phono preamp. If I crank the volume on the Bellari phono pre too high, it distorts. I had the same problem before the Woo. I have to have the phono pre volume at about 11 o'clock or lower, else it starts distorting during intense passages (if I have it at 9 or lower, I can't get enough volume). I can have the Woo cranked all the way up with zero distortion as long as the phono pre is set reasonably.

As an aside, I'd be interested in any input on whether this is normal for a phono pre or it might be defective. I'm using a MM cart with a relatively high output (Rega Exact 2/6.8-7.2mV).

linden518
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

I didn't even know that the Bellari had a volume pot before this... none of the phono stages I've tried had volume function, so I wouldn't know, but is there a way to disable the volume function?

judicata
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Re: Woo Audio WA2


Quote:
but is there a way to disable the volume function?

Nope. I've also googled this issue and didn't find a thing, although I did find some people stating that they had set the Bellari to 1/2 - 3/4 volume, but they had different carts so I don't know...

judicata
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Re: Woo Audio WA2

I got the 6H13C tubes in today and put them in. I don't know whether the tubes have more gain or whatever, but it appears that I am getting more volume with the knob turned lower with the new tubes. I don't want to compare the sound yet until I've heard more.

EDIT: I should add that the 6H13Cs are taller and now the WA2 no longer fits on my equipment rack. Oh well, I could use a rack with better isolation anyway. Anyone in NYC looking to part with one?

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