What do you think of when someone says Woo Audio? Me, I think “tubes”. Not any particular vacuum tube, actually, but tubes. You know. Generally. Oh, and headphones. Headphones and tubes. More properly, headphone amplifiers that are built like Sherman tanks dressed up for the ball, and festooned with vacuum tubes. Yeah, that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
I’ve been lucky to publish on a few of these amps, including the $1190 WA6SE and the $3500 WA5. Like the rest of the line, these two overachievers are as sonically accomplished as they are gorgeous to the eye and hand.
While my personal Woo favorite, the enormous $15,900 WA-234 mono blocks, were not in attendance [insert sad face], there were several that I hadn’t spent much time with. The GES, a $1590 electrostatic amp, was connected to a Stax 507 — I have an older 404, and love their fit and sound, even if the look is a bit dated. The latest, in a simple black, does wonders for the aesthetic. The sound is a whole lot more dynamic than what my Stax OTL can offer, and that’s a fact Jack. Yikes. But it’s the WA22, a $2k fully balanced, single-chassis amp that puts out 1.5 watts into 32Ω — strong enough to drive just about anything — that I’ve been eyeing rather speculatively for some time now. Hmm.
I’ve learned that there’s new Fireflies, the DAC/amp combo that comes capped with a spectacular clear-glass tube-cage: the WA7d, which adds an optical input over the WA7. Think digital Audio players, CD/DVD players, XBOX, Sony Playstation, some TVs, &c — the Fireflies can now be the decoder of choice. Also new-ish, both Fireflies models can be upgraded with an external tube power supply.
Woo Audio has been offering this surprisingly large portfolio for some time, and one thing that becomes clear browsing one of their displays is how complicated the headphone market is. Clearly not one suited to a one-size-fits-all approach. But it seems pretty clear that, at least in the desktop market, Woo has got you covered regardless of your take, your preferences or your predispositions.