Woo Audio - WA234 MONO (Mk2)

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Torq, Mar 14, 2018.

  1. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    The sound of a tube is really hard to nail down on forums that I believe it exactly to a T because the same 300B tube in one amp will sound different in another (different transformers and design especially, among different caps etc). Start mixing different 300B tubes with different amps and it's a clusterfuck!
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yeah. Still 300B's do have a sound. Output transformer are probably the most important piece though.

    Anyone know what's used in the mk2?
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
  3. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    I assumed all the Woo transformers were made in-house
     
  4. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Oh probably. Seems like tons of designers out there advertises some "custom hand-wound unicorn hair" transformer. Like putting an off-the-shelf Tamura in there would disappoint them.
     
  5. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    Jack's father winds their transformers in house
     
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  6. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    A few people are probably wondering why there is a little hostility towards woo audio here. Especially their uber expensive gear.

    I'll explain why I dislike the company and most of their products.

    But first I want to tell a story about what kind of company woo is. An acquaintance of mine bought the wa234 v1 when they first came out, (he had a wa5 and wanted the next best thing).
    When he got he opened it up to have a see what his 20k aud had got him. He was not impressed with the workmanship and asked woo to have a look. They accepted his return and sent it back to him with proprietary screws so he couldn’t look again.

    I can't share the photos or discuss what the issues were but we are talking about a few grand in parts in a fancy case slapped together poorly.



    Let's not judge woo for this one-off issue and have a better look.


    Being a 2a3 addict, I noticed the wa33 has some tube upgrade options for quads of 2a3.
    From woos site:

    "Hand-pick matched quad
    RCA 2A3 New Old Stock $2400 (4 pcs)
    Incredibly low noise, low microphonic. It is simply the best 2A3 around. Due to its rarity, labeling on the tube may not be identical. There might be some slight variations in internal structure. However, all tubes have a matched electrical measurement."

    2400usd!! Surely 2a3 monoplates? These are the same bi-plate RCA tubes you can get from Brent Jesse for $1200. Actual NOS matched quads of monoplates sell for this.. this is price gauging at it's finest.. I’m certain I could get matched quads (internal, external, transconductance) of equivalent tubes for around 700usd.


    I believe woo made the wa33 good by accident, since it sounds nothing like their previous amps. I think they made the Elite edition then tried to make the stock wa33 worse by switching to cheaper parts and tuning it to be leaner and more incisive which ended up sounding so much better. I mean the amp is still woefully priced and I would do as Marv suggested and get a SE-stellaris/hd800, 3 bottles of 30 year old scotch and still have change.

    The wa5 with stock tubes is to put it frankly, warmed over, rolled garbage. With a bright, hard DAC it sounds OK. Once you fully upgrade it becomes a decent amp but at that price point there are far better and cheaper options.
    I don't think I could really evaluate DACs on a wa5.

    I think because of its price point people think woo is building amps to the caliber of audio note/Kondo, shindo or airtight etc. However, woo don't have the history, experience or BOM. Jack and his dad build the amps, they do in-house transformers (nothing fancy) and put them in pretty cases. The mark up on their BOM is basically criminal.

    I would love a wa234v2 vs Neurochome DG300 (using good OPTs) and Manley 300B NeoClassic. I think if you could get passed the $$ part of the comparison there would be little in it.

    TLDR: Woo aren’t proud of their work, don’t have the history or experience to be put in the same league as great tube amp designers and the best amp they ever made was probably an accident trying to cuck their flagship.
     
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  7. winders

    winders Mentally ill. Do not engage.

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    This kind of post is just going to piss Torq off more. But hey, if that is the goal here, you guys are doing a great job!
     
  8. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    It seems like Torq is the only guy who has actually spent time with this particular amp lol.
     
  9. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Only got up to here before I face-palmed.

    I am not part of Woo Audio's target demographic, nor am I likely to ever own any of their amps (offerings from other manufacturers are more appealing to me from both a budget and aesthetic perspective, plus reported sonics of course), but I can't help but think that this is skeevy as all-heck. However their products perform, this is bullshit.

    ^This, pretty much. Sure other people might have had experiences with other WA products before, and sure there's a possibility that Messr. Torq might be falling prey to new toy syndrome, but data is data, and he's one of the few posters I'm aware have extensively documented their preferences, and as such give readers something of a baseline so they know if what they're reading is kosher, or meshes well with what they know.

    The value proposition of Woo Audio gear is enough to make a student like myself spew tea out of my nose out of shock and disdain, but if someone who can afford their gear finds it to their liking, never mind that they may be paying out the ass for it, well good on them. At least in this case the person in question making an effort to compose something that another person considering the same product may find useful (granted, people in that demographic are more likely to just buy stuff and rationalise after the fact).

    Probably another member of the ORFAS or AKWRP circles. Wish I were at least the latter but naaah.
     
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  10. TonyNewman

    TonyNewman Validated by Tyll removing Utopia from WOF

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    My WA5 with stock tubes was NASTY. To get decent SQ out of it required some very good glass. In the end I was running TA274Bs, TA300Bs and TSRP drivers. That is a tube set worth almost as much as the amp itself.

    Definitely had some strengths though. With the TOTL tubes the sound was warm and euphonic. Excellent for vocal-centric music, but not much else. Sold it and obtained a custom 300B amp that is a far, far superior all around performer (and cost less while using much better components).

    The in-house transformers used by Woo don't look very professional in a TOTL amp IMHO. Compare those with the Lundahls used by Glenn and others. Given the premium prices that Woo charge, their amps should be using premium components.

    My view on Woo is that they are more about looks than substance. Pretty case work and high pricing that isn't matched by the components or the SQ. You can get a MUCH better deal going to a custom amp builder.
     
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  11. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
  12. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    @Torq, do you know how the XLR inputs are converted to consumer level? Transformer perhaps?
     
  13. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    Doesn't their Elite version use OCC silver transformers & wiring? Compared to OCC copper they use in the regular wa33?
    I would think the silver version would be the more incisive one.

    I think the wa33 is the first time they used OCC wires in any of their amps, unless they added them to a few of the mkII revisions?
     
  14. PTS

    PTS Friend

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    I don't think anyone here is above getting jabbed now and then, especially Torq. He's done his fair share of dishing it out in the past.
     
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  15. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    I don't really think that some of the responses in this thread amount to "getting jabbed" and are more along the lines of "lets shit all over this dudes new amp cause he didn't buy one of our forums preferred brands." I'm sure Torque can take it and doesn't give much of a fuck what others think regardless. Just IMO and all that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
     
  16. TonyNewman

    TonyNewman Validated by Tyll removing Utopia from WOF

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    Glenn does great work. Not cheap, but you really do get what you pay for, I think. I couldn't say that about Woo.

    And being a custom builder, you can get the amp setup how you want it. I had mine converted locally to SS rectification for a touch more transparency. C3g drivers and 300B output tubes is an excellent match.

    Those that know a lot more about tubes than I do (almost everyone on the planet) tell me that using 6SN7s to drive 300Bs is a flawed design from the get go.

    EDIT - the 6SN7 driving 300B being a bad idea applies to SET mode only (e.g. WA5 etc). From the little I can find the new Cayin 300B amp is push-pull, so this likely doesn't apply.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
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  17. Dotard

    Dotard Acquaintance

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    Thanks for your thoughts Torq. I am a fellow 300B enthusiast, and these certainly look the part of a shrine to getting the best out of the 300B as possible.

    There does seem to be a bit of a reassurance of 300B headphone amplifiers. I'm looking forward to seeing if EC is cooking up something.

    The Cayin HA-300 also looks pretty interesting. Another chifi 300B amplifier that was released recently was the Little Dot Y1, but I've heard virtually nothing about it.

    I'm curious if you ever heard the Fostex HP-V8? That one was really interesting with a really esoteric KT88 and 300B. Out of production now, but I regret not hearing it when Fostex was bringing it to all the shows.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It's not. People parrot shit like this without understanding the context. The 6SN7 and 300B combination lacks gain. Might not be enough for speakers, even high efficiency speakers. However, this arrangement is fine for dynamic headphones.
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    @brencho and a few others have a history of beating torq with double ended schlongs for shits and giggles. I'm not entirely sure what happened, but some stuff might have been taken too seriously when he left a while back.

    Personally, I believe that an amp priced at this level should have something like $$$$$ Audio Note or Monolith transformers with exotic cores like (or actually a few steps up) the DNA Stellaris. Not some mystery job (silver or not) wound by some dude that looks like James Hong in a NY basement.

    Believe or not, high performance transformers are difficult to make. They are as much magic as science. There is a reason why the best tube amp designers that I know don't wind their own. It's a entirely different ballgame which requires its own set of specialized skills and knowledge. It's actually common for megabuck tube amps to advertise what megabuck transformers they use because this is a selling point, a badge of honor.

    The dual separate volume knobs are stupid. Maybe the mk2 does sound better than the mk1, but it better be significantly better, because the mk1 wasn't that good. However the motto here has always been: prove me wrong.

    Also, I'd like so see comparisons to other GOOD 300B headamps. Already named two which I have personally heard and thought very highly of.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
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  20. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    $2666 plus free shipping. Might be something. It's definitely the cheapest 300B amplifier on the market. I would be tempted to buy it if there was even one review for it.
     

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