Woo WA8 Eclipse... Portable tube amp

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Mikoss, Mar 12, 2016.

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  1. limesoft

    limesoft Friend

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    I can confirm the WA8 is the real deal. Putting the portability factor aside, it's the best headphone amp I've heard with my HD650s - forget all the chord Hugo's/ mojos. Mind you I haven't compared it with many other similarly priced amps, but so far I'm very pleased with it. Maybe similar price schiit stack would be better, but I'm so pleased with this sound now that I'm not too bothered.
    Holographic imaging, vividness with smoothness combined, little extra sub bass for hd650, romantic sound but not boring.
    If you're thinking of building a dac+ valve amp stack in similar price range, give this a shot, I think it's that good that it can trade blows in this range with anything
     
  2. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    always good to see more positive vides around transportable all in ones.
    have been meaning to borrow this from @MisterRogers for months now, but can't get him to stay in the USSA for more than 3 days in a row to track him down! :(
     
  3. Peti

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    I have pulled the trigger on a very pricey NOS 6021 driver tube that was heavily recommended and bought it blind. I gotta say it took this unit to another level regarding detail retrieval, width of soundstage and added (quality) warmth which came handy for my HD800SDR. If you are lucky, you can pick up a used unit and implement this tube upgrade and not exceed the original asking price of a new Eclipse.

    Edit: I just need to find out why I can't play back DSD128 files while DSD64 gets played back without issues. According to Jude, the built-in DAC can handle double DSD.
     
  4. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    so exactly what did you buy? where from? how much?
    did it have the board soldered to the tube for ease of installation into the WA8 Eclipse?

    did the tube alone cost $1000 from japan magicians?

    FWIW, the WA8 Eclipse has been the most versatile piece of audio gear at my work desk in years.
    from IEMs like Campfire Solaris, to Focal headphones, ZMF Auteur, LCD-XC....
     
  5. Peti

    Peti Facebook Friend

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    Well, I indeed purchased it from Japan and it was 700$. International shipping was 20$. It is a Sylvania 6021 black plate D-getter 3 mica from 1956.

    The board was already soldered to the tube so I just rolled it in. Quite an improvement. Currently it is not feasible for me to invest into and own a stationary rig so I tried to max out this transportable system otherwise I would not have spent 700$ on a 6021.

    Hell, you can get a Stratus, used, around 2300$.
     
  6. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    You paid 700$ for a single miniature tube or am I missing something?
     
  7. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    You done goof'd
     
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  8. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    I hope it’s not microphonic lol.
     
  9. Peti

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    Thank God it is not microphonic. And it was 700$ indeed. If you are around L.A. feel free to stop by and take a listen. Really impressing compared to the stock tube arrangement. Should I had the opportunity to build a stationary rig I would have gone a totally different route though. But I needed a transportable rig exclusively for the long term and I wanted to max out this system. But I'm repeating myself.
     
  10. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    I'm pretty crazy myself when it comes to exotic tubes, yet even a single of my most unobtanium holy audiophile water sprinkled NOS large DHTs is less than this. If you like it all the more power to you but damn, I need to get into PCB printing for the WA8. I see a full complement cam reach 2K+, not because the tubes are rare or rare but that stupid mounting scheme.

    To add some value, I did listen to the WA8 on my headphones. For a portable solution I found it pretty good, better than the ALO dual mono and that's high praise. They definitely brought out the x factor in the 650s. Soft impact but holographic.
    I'd still pick the CDM just because of form factor and price.
     
  11. EagleWings

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    I dunno if I got a dud, when I purchased one back in 2018. I was hoping it would replace my Hugo 2 as an AIO. It did seem to posses some qualities that can only be found on fully discrete amplifiers, such as authority and holographic feeling. But the micro and macro dynamics in the midrange were totally lacking. Almost ethereal, but in a bad way. It’s like, you know the singer is right there, but you just can’t feel it. Loved the tone though. One of the most natural tone I’ve heard. But the timbre of certain instruments weren’t great due to the poor dynamics in the midrange.

    Also, the stage was tall and deep, but narrow. Almost like a tall hallway. So I ended up selling it in 2 weeks. I have seen others mention about the narrow stage. But I have not seen anyone talk about the poor dynamics in the midrange. Which makes me wonder if mine was a dud unit, or if people are being not so critical about the poor dynamics, because the seductive tone makes them look over it. And now that I live in India and the chance of coming across one is, as good as winning a lottery, I guess I’ll never know.
     
  12. YMO

    YMO Chewbacca's hairy brother

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    Not everyone like the Woo sound. Some think it is uber warmpoop. I only had the WA6-SE and it was a beast for 32ohm stuff. I do miss that one, even if it semi-inflated the bass.
     
  13. Johnston98

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    Sorry to necro this thread.

    Anyone source just the tube PCB for the WA8?

    The mullard upgrade tube I bought has an intermittent low static sound. I’m not keen to spend another $140. I bought a bunch of NOS mullard 6021. I know I can unsolder the bad tube. I was curious if anyone had another option.

    Thanks
     
  14. daniellistens

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    Hey!

    Anyone still own this amplifier/DAC?

    I just purchase one an it is enroute to me.

    I am most excited to hear it with the EE Odin I have on loan and the GS Audio SE11 (similar driver configuration as the Odin).

    I need to find another pair of HD600s I think.

    Might sound good with my Oriolus Isabella. I have heard mixed reviews about the pairing with Andromeda.
     
  15. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    My review of the WA8 from about 4 years ago:

    WooAudio WA8

    I picked up a WA8 last week, to see if it could replace my Hugo 2, as I was starting to find my Hugo 2 a bit harsh with many of my albums. WA8's sound has a few strong characteristics. I am surprised that none of the reviews out there, have mentioned these aspects, and rather did the usual 'wonderful vacuum tube sound' dance. Actually, Currawong talked about the forward/engaging presentation and AnakChan mentioned the stage being narrow. But no review mentioned about the weirdness in the mid-range. Anyways, moving on..

    The first aspect about WA8's sound that gets your attention is the strong bass. The bass is slightly enhanced resulting in a warm and slightly-thick bass presentation. But thats the not the whole story about its bass. This thing can slam like a s-o-b. Its an impact that you only come across in desktop amplifiers. And I am not surprised because, despite WA8's transportable form, its amp section is actually a fully discrete design, running class-A. What that means is, you can expect some of the benefits you get from a desktop class amp. And for the same reason, the unit runs quite hot and you only get around 4 hours of battery, as class-A designs are simply power hungry and dissipate a lot of heat. Another sound aspect you can expect from a good discrete amp is an open and airy soundstage, and the WA8 does have a spacious and an airy stage with excellent height and depth. But the width of the stage is quite narrow. So what you get is a high-ceiling-hallway shaped stage, that feels very spacious, even if its not monstrous in size. The presentation as a whole is placed slightly forward than neutral which gives a very engaging sound. I typically prefer a neutral placement but its not a big deal.

    While these characteristics mentioned in the above paragraph can be desired or disliked, depending on one's preference, there is one more characteristic where the WA8 fails objectively, regardless of preferences. And that is the lack of body and dynamics in the mid-range. It's a shame because, the tone of the mid-range is very natural and realistic. With a forward presentation, the mid-range instruments feel right there and yet, it lacks the tangibility due to the lack of body. And to make it worse, the mid-range also lacks macro and micro-dynamics and thus coming across as soft. And when I try to crank the volume up to perceive the mid-range, the bass starts to overwhelm the sound. And when I do some EQ by adding some dBs to the center-midrange, there is a slight improvement in body, but the midrange still remains soft and intangible. So there really is no solution to this problem. The reviews talk about the tubey mid-range in the device. While the influence of WA8's tubes can be sensed in its tone and smoothness, you really don't get the full-bodied notes that most other tube amps typically offer.

    Once you get past this mid-range issue, there is a lot to be admired and enjoyed about the WA8's sound. For example, the device just nails the tone. With a touch of warmth from the bass, a linear treble and a neutral-warm mid-range, the tone I hear on the WA8 is perhaps the best I've heard from a portable device in the sub-$2000 category. And I think we have to thank the tubes for that, because the tubes seem to remove any kind of edginess or hardness in the upper-midrange and treble, while retaining most details. And so, the amp has a very forgiving sound. The resolution and transparency are not WA8's strengths. Not that it lacks in those areas. It does have above average transparency and resolution, but devices like Hugo 2 and other TOTL DAPs outperform the WA8 in those regards and sound more precise. What it lacks in resolution and transparency it makes it up with its tone, stage and bass impact. Overall WA8 is a device geared for musical enjoyment.

    Vs Hugo 2:
    In comparison to the Hugo 2, WA8's bass slams harder and is overall warmer than H2's bass. H2's bass may be quick and clean, but it lacks the bass dynamics that the WA8 has. H2's midrange is more present and solid, and it also gets the cake for mid-range dynamics. Every little micro-dynamics is so easily laid out on the H2, while these micro-dynamics are soft sounding and are not quite easily perceived on the WA8. H2's lower mid-range isn't as thick as the WA8, but the overall body of the mid-range is better on the H2, due to the solidity and density reinforced by its centre-midrange presence.

    While the WA8 goes for a smoother upper-midrange and treble, H2 is overall brighter, sharper and very detailed in that frequency range, supplemented with a better treble extension. Whether H2 is forgiving or not, will depend on the track and the headphones. But regardless of the headphones, WA8 is going to have an organic tone and a forgiving nature. H2 literally nails the presentation with a equally proportioned stage and a neutral placement. WA8 does sound a bit more spacious and airy, but the placement is a touch more forward. H2 does have better width, but the WA8 has better height. And both the devices have a similar depth. While layering is also similar on both devices, H2 gets the win for separation, resolution and transparency. Over all H2 sounds analytical due to its hyper-detailed neutral sound, that focusses on precision, while the WA8 goes for a musical presentation.

    Conclusion:
    In the end, WA8 is a really good AIO solution with a simple design, and a transportable form factor. It is not going to be as portable as a Mojo, nor is it feature-rich like a Hugo 2. But it does have a tubey character to its sound and certain qualities to replace your desktop DAC and Amp stack, provided you can overlook the mid-range issue. But for the asking price of $1800, the mid-range issue is something I can't go easy about. So if you know you will be using it mostly at your desk, I'd recommend looking into a different DAC+Amp stack. But if you are a frequent traveller or want a device with a smooth sound, that you could carry to your office and back, and can make peace with a soft mid-range, I can wholeheartedly recommend the WA8.

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. daniellistens

    daniellistens Acquaintance

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    Interesting. Do you remember what headphones/IEMs you used to test?
     
  17. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    HD800, LCDi4, IE80, EE Phantom. Except for super sensitive IEMs, it was quiet silent for IEMs.
     
  18. Johnston98

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    I use it with the Meze Liric and Focal Stellia mainly. I use the timeless 7hz and Meze Rai Penta as well with no hiss or background noise.

    To tame the bass, just switch off the gain tube and use the output tubes. (two tube mode). Very musical AIO. I also have the Hugo 2 and agree with @EagleWings assessment.
     
  19. daniellistens

    daniellistens Acquaintance

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    Received my WA8 from @MisterRogers (thank you)

    Thankfully it arrived undamaged. It was opened by Canadian Boarder Services.

    Wow. I forgot how good cymbals sound with tubes. Really enjoying it. The vocals are so natural and believable.

    I used the CRA-CCA to ensure it was working and the amplifier was not damaged during shipping and it wouldn't blow up my earphones.

    Then I tried my GS Audio SE11.

    Now the Isabella from Oriolus.

    It is all sounding good. Obviously early impression and honeymoon stage.

    I am just glad it arrived safe and sound.
     

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