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Woo Audio WA7 & WA7tp DAC and Headphone Amp Review

WooAudio

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#44
Hello! everyone. this is Mike from Woo Audio. :)

@amirm Thank you for the review. I want to point out that the WA7 in this review is a 1st gen model introduced in 2012 and discontinued in 2016. It does NOT have an ESS SABRE 24-bit/384kHz DAC that our current model 2nd gen has. The 1st gen uses the Texas Instruments 32-bit/192kHz DAC and a Cmedia USB controller. We learned a lot since 2012 and digital technology has advanced significantly. The current 2nd gen WA7 is greatly improved in every way including the DAC and XMOS USB controller. Hope you can update the posted to avoid confusion for the reader.

Our amplifiers are an all-tube design, not a hybrid. Vacuum tubes audio products are not going to measure favorably against solid state products. If you're seeking an analytical/dry sound, buy a product with impressive measurements. For us, we value how our products enhance the music listening experience for the user. WA7 have been in production since 2012 and we have a strong customer following and many unsolicited favorable reviews on this model alone.
 
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Veri

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#45
Hello! everyone. this is Mike from Woo Audio. :)

@amirm Thank you for the review. I want to point out that the WA7 in this review is a 1st gen model introduced in 2012 and discontinued in 2016. It does NOT have an ESS SABRE 24-bit/384kHz DAC that our current model 2nd gen has. The 1st gen uses the Texas Instruments 32-bit/192kHz DAC and a Cmedia USB controller. We learned a lot since 2012 and digital technology has advanced significantly. The current 2nd gen WA7 is greatly improved in every way including the DAC and XMOS USB controller.

Our amplifiers are an all-tube design, not a hybrid. Vacuum tubes audio products are not going to measure favorably against solid state products. If you're seeking an analytical/dry sound, buy a product with impressive measurements. For us, we value how our products enhance the music listening experience for the user. WA7 have been in production since 2012 and we have a strong customer following and many unsolicited favorable reviews on this model alone.
Thanks for clarifying ! The review here pointed out though, the DAC was not the bottleneck. :)
 
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#47
If they're well-engineered, they'll be close.
True and I guess it's in the eye of beholder whether you like tubes or not. I used to. I've owned many systems including BAT, Canary, de Havilland, etc. but I always come back to SS. Mainly I want total transparency as there's enough noise in the world + the noise in my head (from too many concerts without ear protection) means I have no room for additional distortion!
 

Veri

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#49
Please refrain from spreading pointless FUD and using meaningless "audiophile" buzzwords on a science forum.
I'm guessing the more impressively measuring liquid platinum sounds 'dry' because it measures better ;) I mean is he seriously saying tubes should measure badly?
 

daftcombo

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#50
Hope you can update the posted to avoid confusion for the reader.
Not sure any reader of this thread will purchase the unit now anyway, 1st or 2nd Gen. It would need much more improvement, for example a removal of the tubes.
 

amirm

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#52
Hello! everyone. this is Mike from Woo Audio. :)

@amirm Thank you for the review. I want to point out that the WA7 in this review is a 1st gen model introduced in 2012 and discontinued in 2016. It does NOT have an ESS SABRE 24-bit/384kHz DAC that our current model 2nd gen has. The 1st gen uses the Texas Instruments 32-bit/192kHz DAC and a Cmedia USB controller. We learned a lot since 2012 and digital technology has advanced significantly. The current 2nd gen WA7 is greatly improved in every way including the DAC and XMOS USB controller. Hope you can update the posted to avoid confusion for the reader.
Hello Mike. Welcome to the forum. Even though you are going to get grief from membership :), your status just went up in my mind by being here. :)

On your point, I made that edit last night after the owner informed of the same:

Note: this is the generation 1 of the WA7. The generation 2 is supposed to have a better DAC (?).
As noted though and I am sure you know, the bottleneck in performance is by far the amplifier. The DAC is fine and likely can product 30+ dB better performance than the amp.
 

amirm

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#53
Our amplifiers are an all-tube design, not a hybrid. Vacuum tubes audio products are not going to measure favorably against solid state products. If you're seeking an analytical/dry sound, buy a product with impressive measurements. For us, we value how our products enhance the music listening experience for the user. WA7 have been in production since 2012 and we have a strong customer following and many unsolicited favorable reviews on this model alone.
I shared my listening experience of your product. I did not detect anything non-dry about it. What I noticed was increased distortion and resulting shift to higher pitched, more fatiguing sound. The lost resolution due to increased distortion was also a negative.

Would love to see you or our customers perform a simple AB comparison with a high performance solid state amplifier and show in which content they think the sound became less "analytica/dry sounding." I watched a number of youtube reviews of WA7 and none included any comparison whatsoever as I am suggesting. In some cases the owner or reviewer didn't have another reference point with a high performance headphone amplifier. So I am not swayed by positive testimonials where a simple comparison is not performed.

After testing and comparing countless headphone amplifiers, tube and not, I have yet to find any positive attribute in any of them. What determines whether a track is analytical or not, is how it is created. Adding distortion doesn't change that.
 

amirm

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#54
Interesting to compare with the Stereophile measured WA5:
https://www.stereophile.com/content...ted-amplifierheadphone-amplifier-measurements
This is only a headphone amp but it appears to also suffer from similar issues?
While the test are different, they definitely show very similar deficiencies:



That would be SINAD of 40 dB. The test tone is lower frequency so exaggerating the problem even more than my 1 kHz test tone.

It is a shame that JA uses such diplomatic words to describe this poor performance:

1552591865584.png


As a result, probably most people didn't realize how poor the performance was as reading the graphs with no reference is hard.
 

amirm

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#55
I have almost bought this WooAudio amp many times. I have actually had it in the basket on the site but could never bring myself to hit order. I wonder how it measures in comparison?

https://wooaudio.com/amplifiers/wa6se
This is the distortion spec they provide:

1552592048569.png


That is a SINAD of 50 dB. So even if it meets its spec, it is going to have a lot of distortion.
 

amirm

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#56
Hi,
Do you think the roll-off is designed on purpose to somehow compensate the brightness caused by the harmonic distortions (as you explained)?
Why does the frequency response graph show a roll-off if there is actually more treble than medium and bass?
The roll off could be on purpose, or indirect consequence of circuit design. I can't tell you without looking at the circuit.

As I explained, the sensation of brightness comes from frequencies well below 20 kHz due to addition of harmonic distortion at lower frequencies. It is possible that many people don't notice such a change in tonality as I do. I am able to focus on components of sound reproduction as I examine the performance (part of my audio training).
 

mickeyd123

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#57
For people who like the tube audio furniture aspects- I recommend the monoprice hybrid tube amp 25 watts. The pictures of it at night are beautiful. Jury still out on the sound, on my 2nd RMA.
thumbnail.jpg
 

restorer-john

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#58
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#59
Tom Christiansen clearly knows how to design SS equipment. Since he's already had a product that measures at the top of the charts, it would be interesting to see how his 300b tube equipment measures. That would most likely set the bar for other tube product. Comparing tube against SS is the good old apples and oranges juxtaposition. It would also be interesting to also see how a Wavelength Audio piece measures. Gordon Rankin has been designing tube gear for decades.

Since we're interested in measurements, it's logical to have two categories and go from there... but that's extra site design work for Amir!
 

Dogen

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#60
That's not a switcher!

This is a switcher, comparator actually. ;)

View attachment 23644

View attachment 23645

7 line inputs + 5 phono (or line), 5 amplifiers (high powered bank of relays) and 10 pairs of speakers, with indicator lights for every component if you wanted. Nice big illuminated meters and switchable range for level setting etc. 24" wide.
Beautiful in its excess! Was this sold for home or for use by dealers for equipment demos?
 

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