Woo Audio had the room almost directly under the escalators, with a giant glass wall fronting it. Sonically, it would probably be best described as “catastrophe”. Well. If it was something other than a headphone room. In which case it was pretty much perfect. Room acoustics? Who cares? Dude. It’s headphones.
Three of the four side walls were lined with tables and spread out on each was a set of amps, DACs and piles of high-end headphones. And on the fourth wall was music! Todd Garfinkle of MA-Recordings was on hand with his catalog of extraordinary and extraordinarily well-recorded music — including a couple of 45rpm LPs and his new awesome super-fancy all-natural-fiber/anti-static LP inner sleeves. I have a pack of these at home and they’re fantastic.
Back to Woo Audio.
All that glass was distracting, for sure, and standing there with my hip thrust to the side and the camera balanced on my shoulder and my other hand on my hip, I was very keenly aware of everyone stopping and looking at me. Okay, maybe it wasn’t me. Maybe it was the new $1,398 WA7tp Fireflies and its new external linear power supply. That thing’s got tubes! Yes, indeedy. There are a pair of 12AU7 tubes used as rectifiers. The PSU has the same form factor as the DAC/amp unit and the same clear-glass top. Same knob, too, but all that does is turn the unit on/off. Already have a WA7 and want the nifty-new PSU? Better move fast. There’s currently an early bird upgrade discount of $399 (same as new), but the “regular” pricing will be $599.
So, is it worth it? Uh, yeah. Unless you’re using some particularly slow, muddied headphones, the differences should be stark. I heard better separation and flow, as well as more headroom and dynamic slam. Don’t forget this amp lets you roll your own, so check out the upgrade tubes on the site and feel free to explore. With a high quality amp/DAC like this, the time spent tuning will only pay you back.
The Woo Audio demo room is always fun. It’s like a mini-version of the Ear Gear Expo, going on up on the floor above. Tons of headphones from Sennheiser, HiFiMAN, and Audeze — all ready to use on four or more distinct and sonically different amps. Given that the traffic was brisk every time I swung by, I know that this room was a poorly-kept secret.