Woo Audio is not only known for its great design but also for their quality of sound. While I am not too convinced of the WA3 myself this WA2 does up the level and also the price. You will see I made a lot of references to one of my favorite OTL amps, the LaFigaro 339.
Describing the Woo Audio 2’s sound is, for once, fairly easy and a several keywords come to mind. The WA2 is very dynamic and transparent and it lets you hear everything there is to hear in the music. There is a completely black background and no audible hum at all, it is dead silent. This amplifier is very clear sounding; has no grain and isn’t overly warm like some tube amps can sound. Of course there is this smooth tube sound but the WA2 sounds very natural and clear. It’s pace is reasonably good compared to other OTL amplifers, it easily beats the Crack and 339.
The WA2 has a good level of detail and still remains musical sounding. Sound stage is very nice and compared to the 339 it is wider and more spacious but is doesn’t go as deep as the 339. Imaging, 3-dimensionality and left-right separation on the WA2 is extremely good and it makes it a very relaxed amplifier to listen too. It is not a dark and really warm tube sound like the 339 but it is not solid state sounding either, it’s a perfect mix in between. I always call it a little forward sounding but calling the WA2 “forward” sounding would be wrong. It’s smooth and clear and detailed while staying musical as I said. A well balanced amplifier that is a pleasure to listen too, with the right headphones (but that goes for all amplifiers)
Everything on the WA2 has more air than the 339. Bass is well rounded and detailed but not overly present and it doesn’t go as deep as the 339’s bass which also has more body. In return you get a more dynamic, very nice sound stage (bigger as 339). Instruments and treble are incredible on the WA2 while bass and voicing are better on 339.
The mids of the WA2 are very open and in good harmony with the bass and treble, it all blends in perfectly with a small remark however. When I called the WA2 “forward sounding” you don’t have to take it too literally as it isn’t really forward sounding like some other amplifiers but this refers mostly to the mids which are slightly more upfront but overall go very well with the bass and treble as I said. Treble on the WA2 is further extended as on most OTL amplifiers I have listened to and it remains smooth and doesn’t come close to being shrill. Treble detail maybe could be a bit better but you won’t complain about it unless you’re a huge treble fan.
As usual I threw dozens of different musical styles at it but in general the Woo 2 does them all. Sure I can prefer some specific artists like “Melody Gardot” more on the 339 because of the voicing but we’re talking personal preferences here. If I do have to be negative about it I wouldn’t recommend the WA2 for the fans of dance music with a lot of deep and hard bass, but that’s about it. 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. In conclusion, if I have to describe the WA2’s sound with one word it would be: “Silky”. I can not see music fans not liking this amplifier as it does nothing wrong and you get a lot in return: looks and good sound.
Being an OTL design the WA2 should prefer Higher Impedance Dynamic headphones but there’s always a “but”.
Let’s start of with two of the non dynamic headphones that are very popular: the Audez’e LCD 2 (Rev 1.) and the Hifiman HE-500. Long story short, I do not like the LCD-2 very much with this amp. While it certainly isn’t bad sounding I have heard the LCD-2 sound a lot better (best being the solid state Violectric V100/200). I have read lots of posts from people liking the LCD-2 with the WA2 but to me the match isn’t too magical, call it personal preference. The HE-500 which I like most on my custom made 300b speaker/headphone amp does sound very smooth, natural and romantic on the WA2, a pleasure to listen too. Both headphones however sound better on the 339 to me. They don’t sound bad, but that doesn’t mean they sound as good as they can and should. Those who want can of course use a power tube like the 2399/5998 which will make the amp have a bit more gain, however I’m not a fan of the sound signature of those tubes.
The famous Sennheiser HD650 which works brilliantly with OTL tube amps sounds almost perfect on the WA2, maybe even better than on the Bottlehead Crack (but looking at the price that’s only normal even if the Crack is a giant killer). That is mostly due to the sound stage being bigger and while I do not like saying the HD650 is veiled, the WA2 seems to lift “the veil” more.
Another of the High Impedance headphone brands is Beyerdynamic. I didn’t have any 600Ohm version to use with the WA2 but in stead I used the 250Ohm T90 which I love very much. The WA2 of course doesn’t have any problems driving these and I would even dare say a big part of the T90 fans would find this to be one of the best combinations. The sound signatures of both units seem to be made for each other and it only improves the T90 even more. Listeners who would want to make the T90 sound a tad warmer with a little more impact-full base would however be better of using an amplifier like the Crack which focuses more on the bass section.
Not only the higher impedance dynamic headphones sound great on this amp, in example the Beyerdynamic DT770 AE (while not really needing an amp) sounds great on the WA2. As a matter of fact, the DT770 Anniversary Edition is one of my favorite headphones with the WA2! It does everything right and it takes a bit off of the DT770’s big bass. Win-win!
Power wise the WA2 is not the strongest but you have plenty of room to play with and don’t need to worry. It shows most of all when using it with the HE-500, in example where my listening level is 8 o’clock on the 339 it is 11 o’clock on the WA2. But as I said, don’t worry about it too much.
In The End
I’ve very much enjoyed the company of the Woo Audio WA2. My love for this terrific sounding and looking amplifier has only grown from the day it got here. I’m sad already thinking of the day I will have to put it back in its box for who knows what reason. If you have made it to the end of this review I am sure it is clear this Woo Audio 2 is a great piece of equipment and it is worth every single bit of its price. One will be yours starting from $1190 and it can be bought directly from Woo Audio in the United States.