The Woo Audio 2: The Looks And Sound

Disclaimer: The Woo Audio 2 has been in my listening room for a long time now and I specifically only wanted to write a review on it after an extended period. Long story short, this isn’t an official review sample, it was fully paid for.

Woo Audio (2)

I don’t really think Woo Audio still needs an introduction as I’m pretty sure every single headphone enthusiast out there has at least heard or read something about their amplifiers once before. Those who haven’t probably were abducted by aliens or something similar and as they have suffered enough I’ll do a short intro just for them: Woo Audio is an American based company located in New york making high-end amplifiers having over 40 years of experience. The most famous models are the WA3 and WA6 but they have a lot more products like the WA22, WA5 and the WA2 we’re looking at in this review.

The WA2 used in this review is a highly upgraded version of the stock WA2 featuring Black Gate Caps (+$400) and a Goldpoint stepped attenuator, options I think are no longer available when ordering today. This shows the WA2 is not a new amp but since the beginning it has been a popular unit all over the world and so it deserves a review.

The Masterpiece

Gorgeous. Sexy. Powerful. The first three things that come into mind when I look at the beautiful Woo Audio 2.  If there’s one thing most people agree on it’s that Woo knows what style is. Woo uses a full aluminium die-cast chassis with an anodized finish and it’s available in black and silver. While the amp looks great in pictures, I can assure you it looks even better in real.

The build quality of the WA2 is exceptional, it is heavy and not the slightest flaw can be found: it doesn’t wiggle on its feet and all screws and buttons are perfect. It looks bigger in real too, it weighs about 17lbs/8kg and it’s the best packaging I’ve ever seen: I have even read a post on Head-fi of a guy who took it as hand luggage on a 747! Not only the outside looks great, the inside, with its point-to-point soldering and clear lay-out looks professional and good.

The WA2, is a SET OTL amplifier: Single Ended Triode amplifier with an Output Transformerless design for the higher impedance headphones (in theory). It features not one but four inputs and one RCA output on the back as it also is a pre-amplifier. On the front you can find the power switch and volume/input selector together with the single ended headphone out.

Tubes

The Woo Audio 2 uses six tubes in total and that gives you hundreds of possibilities (if not more) for tube rolling. It has two of the extremely popular 6080 power tubes, two 6922 type driver tubes and two EZ80 type rectifiers. In the beginning I rolled different tubes in the WA2 but I fairly quick found a combination I love: RCA 6AS7G + Philips Miniwatt + Siemens 7308. If you check Google for WA2 tube rolling you will find a huge amount of suggestions but the most returning tube is the 5998 power tube. I did have that tube in for the first few months but the more I listened to the 5998 in the WA2 and 339 the less I liked it. They were all replaced with the warmer sounding RCA 6AS7G and they make me enjoy my music a whole lot more. The WA2 doesn’t need the 5998 unless you really want to use it for the planars (more on that later) and in my opinion it makes the WA2 too forward sounding, it doesn’t like the extra gain to my ears. I know a lot of people agree with me on that, including the owner of the amp, but most people swear to the 5998 as power tube. I tried different rectifiers like the Philips Miniwatt EZ80, the Mullard EZ81 and Mullard EZ80 but I didn’t find the rectifier to influence the sound that much in this design. As driver tubes I tried a Philips made Siemens 7308, this tube has a clean top end that maintains extension without being bright, neutral smooth mids and wonderful tight bass. Next to that I got some matched 6922 Sylvania tubes but I always heard a slight hum with them from the beginning and as I preferred the tonal balance of the 7308 I didn’t gave them the time needed to burn in before I put them in storage.

All these tubes types are very popular for tube rolling and you could spend a fortune on tubes if you would want that, there are some great suggestions on the www.

But how does it sound?

The Woo Audio 2: The Looks And Sound
3.9 (77.14%) 7 votes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he's always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650.

66 Comments

  • Reply September 11, 2013

    George Lai

    Woo Hoo!

    • Reply September 11, 2013

      L.

      Is that good or bad George? 😉

      • Reply September 11, 2013

        George Lai

        Woo Hoo is good. Boo Hoo can also be good. I’m eyeing the Fireflies!

  • Reply September 11, 2013

    donunus

    I was hoping this could be tested with the hd800. that would have been an awesome test 😀

    • Reply September 11, 2013

      L.

      We can’t test everything unfortunately 🙁

    • Reply September 12, 2013

      John123John

      The HD800 is well enjoyed with the WA2, being an OTL. I haven’t heard the combo myself but that’s what I’ve read.

    • Reply September 12, 2013

      Mike

      I listened to it on the HD650… It’s clean and resolving. Cleaner than say the Bottlehead Crack (of course) and I like how the OTL makes the WA2 more transparent than the WA6 and WA6SE. I think it’ll be nice with the HD800, but the tonality is bright (though still very smooth sounding) and lacking low end, so if you don’t mind that combination with the HD800 then go for it.

  • Reply September 11, 2013

    Dave Ulrich

    Finally, the much vaunted WA2 review. I’m surprised you didn’t mention its excellence as a preamp.

    • Reply September 11, 2013

      L.

      It only took a little over a year to get it online. I wasn’t worried (yet). I know I was brief on the pre-amp part: “The pre-amp section of the amplifier logically has the same sound characteristics and you will be able to hear it in the amplifier you
      will put next in the chain”. But that’s saying a lot as well. I mostly used it as a pre amp for the Crack or the 339.

      • Reply September 11, 2013

        Dave Ulrich

        When I saw this post, I had to stop and think. I could have swore it had already been up up, but then I just realized I was remembering the other reviews in which the WA2 popped up.

        On another note, you have heard the WA3?

        • Reply September 12, 2013

          L.

          I have, I have

          • Reply September 12, 2013

            Dave Ulrich

            How is the WA3?

            • Reply September 12, 2013

              L.

              I think Mike would say “Meh”

              • Reply May 12, 2015

                WJ

                Thanks so much for all the info posted here. First time post from me. I’m trying to decide between a wa2 and a wa3 solely to drive hd650’s. I won’t be driving any other headphones (i.e. no T1 or hd800, etc) on the amp, just the 650. And I have no need for the pre-amp section. If focusing on sound quality alone, specifically for the 650, would you prefer the wa2 to the wa3? Also I think I’ve read somewhere on your post that the wa2 seems to lift the “veil” of the 650 — is this also true for the wa3? I’m asking because i actually like the “veil” of the 650 🙂

                Thanks!!

                • Reply May 12, 2015

                  Headfonia_L.

                  If you, like me, like the veil on the HD650 I wouldn’t recommend a Woo amp. I’d rather go for the Bottlehead Crack or the Lafigaro 339 (see review)

                  • Reply May 12, 2015

                    WJ

                    Thanks for the reply! Really appreciate all the help here. Though it’d be great to broaden my selection options, I’m buying used and currently have a good local deal for either the wa2 and the wa3. I’ve auditioned the wa3 before and liked it, but I’m reading such great things about the wa2 and was wondering what the differences would be, specifically when driving the 650s. For example, would tonality be changed at all or is it strictly larger soundstage? Or, for the 650’s are the differences between the wa2 and the wa3 not very significant (whereas they might be for other headphones,say like the hd800s or the T1’s)?

                    • May 12, 2015

                      Headfonia_L.

                      WA2 is better sounding, but it will lift your HD650’s veil. It will change its tonality a little yes, but most OTL amps do. The WA2 is a great amp and I prefer it over the WA3, which didn’t wow me at all.

                    • May 12, 2015

                      WJ

                      Excellent, that gives me great guidance. Thanks again for your help!

    • Reply September 12, 2013

      John123John

      I’ve definitely read reviews about the excellence of the WA2’s preamp. I found that many people enjoy using an OTL as a preamp (too bad a well designed and built tube amp costs around $1000).

      • Reply September 12, 2013

        Dave Ulrich

        That isn’t true. You have the Crack, the LF 339 and even something else.

        • Reply September 12, 2013

          L.

          Me? I do indeed, and something else as well. And some more. Too much really but it’s addictive.

          • Reply September 12, 2013

            Dave Ulrich

            I was actually responding to John123John’s comment about good tube amps being at least $1000. Although, now that I look at it, he might have been talking about tube amps that are also preamps.

            • Reply September 12, 2013

              John123John

              yup. There are little dots and musical paradise (or something) but I’m kind of sketched out by them~

            • Reply September 12, 2013

              L.

              I see that now 😀

  • Reply September 12, 2013

    John123John

    Awesome review. Woo Audio Products are definitely pieces of art. Definitely one of my dream amps 🙂
    I still haven’t seen one in person though 🙁

    All we need is the WA22 and we’ll have the whole set 🙂 (Don’t care about the WA3 and WA7 LOL)

    • Reply September 12, 2013

      L.

      Thanks John. The Woos are so beautiful, the WA22 I will have to get one day.

      I won’t be reviewing my one of a kind 300b amp, it’s no use to anyone as you won’t be able to buy it. But Mike loved it, so it has to be good, right? 🙂

      • Reply September 12, 2013

        Mike

        The 300B is good.

        Full sound, weighty bass, not so bright. Typical tube smooth sound. Big soundstage, clean black background. Excellent dynamics for a 300B tube, decent pace. It’s an all rounder amp. I just felt the dynamics a bit lacking from my usual standard but again I’ve been using the Studio Six. Soundstage size the 300B amp matches the Studio Six though.
        L also lets me listened to some really fancy expensive rectifiers but the sound was BLEH. Just goes on to say that expensive tubes don’t always mean good sound.

        • Reply September 12, 2013

          L.

          That was the 596 United Electronics btw. How did you like the GZ37 in the S6 finally?

          • Reply September 13, 2013

            Mike

            GZ37 Mullard was okay. Not a fan of it. Fast dynamics, thin on the bass. Bleh 😛
            I liked your RCA 5R4 better. Warmer, fuller bodied, more analog, more organic.

            • Reply September 13, 2013

              L.

              5U4GB 😉

  • Reply September 14, 2013

    Sasmit

    Hi Lieven,

    Do you have any experience with the little dot VI+ or the VIIISE? I know they are old designs but still a balanced tube amp at their price is still not in the market( as far as i know).

    • Reply September 14, 2013

      L.

      I have to say I never got tempted. the VI+ looks nice though

      • Reply September 14, 2013

        Sasmit

        Yeah definitely……also just saw your picture on inner fidelity…nice to attach a face to all the advice

        • Reply September 14, 2013

          L.

          Uh oh 🙂

  • Reply September 15, 2013

    John123John

    http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wa234mono/

    Cant wait for the review 😉

    • Reply September 15, 2013

      L.

      You get me the amps, I’ll do the review 😉

      • Reply September 16, 2013

        Mike

        Can you imagine if the review turns out to be bad? Lol.

        “Yeah we just got these mono blocks from WooAudio but I still like the bottle head crack better.”

  • Reply September 15, 2013

    Alyssa (Dubstep Girl)

    i’ve been waiting for this review for a while now. the WA2 is one of the best amps i’ve heard and my favorite for the Beyerdynamic T1 and HD 800. I find the Tung Sol 5998, Amperex A-Frame Orange 6922 to pair the best with the T1, and the GEC 6AS7G and Amperex 6DJ8 Bugle Boys to be the best tubes for the HD 800, the RFT EZ80 are the best and most transparent rectifiers i’ve heard with this amp.

  • Reply September 15, 2013

    Alyssa (Dubstep Girl)

    I also prefer the WA2 to the WA6-SE, its more transparent and more natural sounding than the WA6-SE with HD 800 and T1 after spending some money on tubes, though the WA6-SE is an amazing amp for the LCD-2, HD 650, and TH-900 (with 596 and 6FD7 tubes).

    • Reply September 15, 2013

      L.

      Thanks for your comments. Can you find yourself in the review?

      • Reply September 15, 2013

        Alyssa (Dubstep Girl)

        nope lol

        • Reply September 15, 2013

          L.

          Care to elaborate?

          • Reply September 15, 2013

            Alyssa (Dubstep Girl)

            you said if i can find myself in the review, i don’t. am i in this review somewhere?

            • Reply September 15, 2013

              L.

              oh boy

    • Reply September 16, 2013

      Mike

      Agree. OTL all the way especially with high impedance dynamic drivers.

  • […] av WA2; The Woo Audio 2: The Looks And Sound | Headfonia Svar med […]

  • Reply September 19, 2013

    L.

    BIG NEWS. the owner of the amp decided he has too many amps (and he does, believe me) and he will be selling this great WA2. Let me know if you’re interested!

    • Reply September 24, 2013

      L.

      It’s sold. The new owner is a lucky guy!

  • Reply September 26, 2013

    GeertN

    I plan on buying a LCD-3 and I’m interested in pairing it with a WA6-SE. But I’m bit afraid of additional costs that come along with importing (to Belgium). Is there anyone with some experience with importing audio gear from the U.S to Europe? Or other — better available amp— recommendations are welcome.

    • Reply September 26, 2013

      L.

      Importing amps from the US to Belgium is horrible if you use USPS. Fedex is the best. I shouldn’t say but always ask for a fake lower invoice amount under $150. Do not use USPS cause Belgian post will confiscate your amp and you will have to wait for a few more weeks (been there plenty of times). Why are you so focused on the WA6 SE and what is your budget?

      • Reply September 26, 2013

        GeertN

        Not focused, just interested because of al the great things I’ve read about it. Budget is around 1000-1200. At the beginning I was looking at the Pan Am, but since transportability is not important for me and since I already have a decent dac, I changed my search to decent headphone amps. And for reasons I cannot explain, I’m a bit fascinated by tube amps… Also, my gut has served me well. But don’t get me wrong, I’m more than open for suggestions.

      • Reply September 26, 2013

        GeertN

        The Pathos Aurium might be interesting. I heard it at CanJam with the Grado’s. It’s within me budget plus for sale in the netherlands. Innerfidelity has review with the LCD-3’s.

    • Reply September 26, 2013

      Guest

      The Pathos Aurium might be interesting. I heard it at CanJam with the Grado’s. It’s within me budget plus for sale in the netherlands.

  • Reply October 17, 2013

    Alyssa (Dubstep Girl)

    So i sold my wa2 and i ended up purchasing a wa22 with all upgrades and using super expensive tubes on it. And though the wa22 is better, i think the wa2 has better tonality and is smoother, silky smooth and sweet. Bass is better on wa2 as well, theres more of it, quite a musical amp. So im gonna be rebuying it again soon!! Its THE best amp ive heard yet with the beyerdynamic t1 and one of my favorites with hd 800

    • Reply October 17, 2013

      L.

      sorry that didn’t work out as you hoped. maybe you can find a good WA2 secondhand

    • Reply October 17, 2013

      Mike

      Try the WA5. It has the good character of the WA2 but a much fuller mid and weightier bass.

  • Reply October 21, 2013

    STARSTERN

    which amps pairs best with the lcd 3 headphone ?

    • Reply October 21, 2013

      Mike

      For me its the studio six. Please read the review for the studio six.

  • Reply October 21, 2013

    STARSTERN

    would you agree with those who praise the lcd 3 a overall highest end headphone in compare to HE 500 and can be called the poor mans mdr r10 or stax 009 or HE 60 balancing dynamic and fidelity

  • Reply November 4, 2013

    STARSTERN

    Had seen on top audiophile forums ,many put a edge’ on the dt880 by beyerdynamic ,over anything-else” as far fidelity ,more transparent then anything else ,whats your say about it ?
    and that holds true in a sense ,whicchh amp pairs well with that ?

  • Reply November 4, 2013

    STARSTERN

    Had seen on top audiophile forums ,many put a edge’ on the dt880 by beyerdynamic ,over anything-else” as far fidelity ,more transparent then anything else ,whats your say about it ?
    and that holds true in a sense ,whicchh amp pairs well with that ?

    • Reply November 6, 2013

      Mike

      It’s a very transparent headphone yes but now they have the Beyer T1 and the HD800.

    • Reply November 6, 2013

      Mike

      Here is my DT880 review.

    • Reply November 6, 2013

      Mike

      • Reply November 7, 2013

        STARSTERN

        Have no internet access ,for a day or two ,will try to reply by email ,yes am aware about the T1 and hd800 some like those better ,and other favor their sound signature better ,but from the simple naked transparent point of view ,although compromise a whole lot on warmness and joy ,I found most favor the dt880 and to a very high degree ,if that holds true and one wanna take advantage of that ,then fiio e17 would be just sufficient to serve as its accompanied amps ?

Leave a Reply