Picture Sunday Woo Audio WA11

Woo Audio WA11

Today we’re taking a preview at the WA11 – the first solid state DAC/Amp by Woo Audio.

 

This post is part of our Picture Sunday series where we take a first look at upcoming product reviews. To check out more of them, click here.

Woo Audio – a name that will definitely ring a bell for the tube enthusiasts out there. They have been actively making valve gear since 2004 and are operating from New York, USA. The company is run by Jack Wu, however the lead designer is his father Wei Wu. He is the one responsible for the great goodies such as the WA8, WA22, WA7 or WA33.

More Woo Audio reviews can be found here.

Woo Audio WA11

Woo Audio WA11

I have been interested in Woo Audio for a while, but they are impossible to get or even listen to in Europe. Two years ago at High End Munich I was fortunate enough to listen to the WA33 with the Abyss AB-1266, which was a very remarkable combination. The entire set up was worth over 100,000 USD and so far out of my budget that not just one kidney would have to be sold for this.

Earlier in 2018 Woo launched the WA11 Topaz, their very first solid state amplifier and D/A converter. My audio senses were tingled, but then again, impossible to audition Woo here. Now in 2019 I finally got the chance to listen to Woo products for an extended period of time. The WA11 has made its way to Austria and all I can say is, it is an excellent transportable DAC/Amp.

Woo Audio WA11

Woo Audio WA11

What makes the WA11 so interesting is that it is the first DAC/amp to use a 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced input. Digital input wise you get a USB C port, the secondary USB C is for charging. It packs quite some serious amounts of power and is best used with full sized headphones such as the Empyrean or Diana Phi. However it also pairs extremely well with IEMs and has no problem so far with hissing.

The Topaz is very well made and comes in the size of my OnePlus 5t. Of course it’s a lot thicker than my phone. I don’t know if I would walk around with it in my pants though. The WA11 is beautifully finished and to me it looks like Woo has given a lot of attention to details. Just look at that nice volume pot.

Woo Audio WA11

Woo Audio WA11

The WA11 delivers a wonderful dynamic signature, with heaps of details and a nice organic body throughout. It really brings a new meaning to what portable amplifiers can achieve. Untill now I have been mighty impressed, to say the least. Thus far I have only tested the DAC/Amp side of the Woo, soon I will get new balanced ICs to test out the amp-section of this impressive little bugger.

I will of course go much more into detail in the full review, so keep your eyes peeled for the next weeks when it’s Woo Audio review time.

Woo Audio WA11

Woo Audio WA11

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A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

    4 Comments

    • Reply March 17, 2019

      Eckart Rohde

      Hey Linus,
      Thank for your interesting review! I am thinking of buying a WA 11 or WA 8 as a replacement for my Mojo/Poly. System is Hifiman X V2 and iPhone XS. Concerning form factor and handling (USB charging) I would prefer WA 11. Which one would you prefer only according to listening experince and why? Looking forward to hear from you.
      Best regards
      Eckart from Dresden

      • Reply March 18, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Eckart,
        thanks for your comment.
        It depends what you want in the end, the WA8 is softer, lusher and smoother, while the WA11 is more dynamic, precise and fast. The WA11 has more power and two gain stages, but the WA8 has two different signatures with two separate modes (2/3 tube). Both have their distinctive features…
        Personally, I am enjoying the WA11 a bit more, as it delivers higher power for my low sensitivity cans (Diana Phi, AKG Sextett) and handles them really well. I have spent more time with the WA11 than the WA8 since I got them, to be fair though, the WA11 is in the review queue and I bought the WA8 for pure fun. 🙂
        The WA11 also has a longer battery life.

    • Reply March 19, 2019

      Eckart Rohde

      Hey Linus, Thank you for your reply, this is Important for me! I could Imagine I would like the sound of the WA 8 more, because with my speakers I prefer a tube amp (E.A.R 8L6) to solid state. A WA11 is on the way to my home for testing, but there will be no WA 8 to compare. It seems, that in the end I will have to decide between sound signature an handling. Anyway I hope the WA 11 will outperform my Mojo/Poly, because there are some classical pieces which sound awful with the Chord Combo. I will write about my experience later.

      • Reply March 19, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Eckart,
        if you like the soft and lush sound of tubes, then yes, you might find the WA8 more pleasing. If you swing by Vienna you can try the WA8 if you want. 😉
        Haven’t heard the Mojo/Poly combination, but the WA11 really is a very good sounding piece of kit.
        Let me know how you like it then. Always interested in other people’s opinions. 🙂

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