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RMAF 2014: Woo Audio WA8 portable DAC/headphone amp takes a step closer

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Logo - Blue VectorLast month, I got a chance to catch a whiff of the new WA8 portable DAC/headphone amplifier coming from Woo Audio. Here at RMAF, that unit took several steps closer to reality.

Don’t get too excited — we’re still talking “months” before you can order one.

What’s different about this unit? Well, aside from the portability (for Woo, this is a first), the unit is tubed. That’s really quite odd for a unit that might fit in your pocket. Not that I would. I mean, there are vacuum tubes on this thing, albeit small ones. Sounds … uncomfortable! But in pretty much exactly the way that the Chord Hugo is portable, so to will the WA8 — that is, it’s more of a “set it on a table and use it with your laptop” device. That said, I know there will be quite a few folks ready with their bands and their portable DAPs at the ready. Nutters.

The unit is solid, but not really bulky. Pretty close to an iPhone 6+, but much thicker. It maybe weighs a pound or so. The DAC section is lifted directly from the WA7 Fireflies, so expect 24bit/192kHz file format support.

The little tubes are Russian, and there are three. The left-most two are the low-power setting (IIRC), and the right-most one is the higher-ouptut tube. No word on output specs yet, but there will be two finishes available, black and silver.

At first blush, I think this little dude is killer. I’m hoping the price tag stays in the “reasonable” end of the spectrum, but that’s still TBA. As for the sound quality, it had plenty of power to drive the Sennheiser HD-800 headphones with no issues whatever, with good detail and a refined tonal balance. I’m a fan. This may well be my first purchase of a Woo Audio amplifier from a company I’ve been long impressed with.

Very exciting to get this window into their thinking!

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Woo Audio’s Michael Liang holding the latest WA8 prototype

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About Scot Hull (979 Articles)

Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.