Today we’re taking a closer look at the WA11 from Woo Audio. It’s their latest transportable DAC/Amp with a fully balanced design.
Disclaimer: Woo Audio provided the WA11 free of charge for this review. I only had to pay for importing the product. Headfonia is not related to Woo Audio in any way, Woo is not a site advertiser. Many thanks for the generosity!
About Woo Audio:
Every tube-lover out there has probably heard the name Woo Audio at least once in their life. The New York based company is one of the best when it comes to manufacturing tube amplifiers. Their products are in high regard all around the world and have found many satisfied customers.
Started in 2004 the company is run by Jack and Zhidong Wu. Their father, Wei Wu, is the brains when it comes to designing their products. He is the one responsible for goodies such as the WA8, WA22, WA7 and the summit-fi WA33 amplifier.
Woo Audio is known for their very quiet amplifiers, some people even use IEMs with their big desktop amps and that speaks a lot for tube amplifiers.
Earlier in 2018 Woo Audio has introduced the WA11 topaz, their first ever solid state amplifier. Since its introduction it has been practically sold out, and even now, you have to wait at least two weeks before they can ship new orders. Today, we will take a look at its performance.
The WA11 topaz is a fully balanced portable DAC/Amp that packs quite some power. It has been designed to be used with full sized headphones, but is able to play fine with In Ears as well. It’s a Class A design that spits whopping 1.2W into 30 Ohms with an output impedance of only 1 Ohm on both outputs.
The DAC chip used is the ESS9018M, the same they already used for the WA8 Eclipse and WA7 fireflies (2nd Gen). It supports sample rates of 24/384 and DSD128. For the MQA lovers out there, no it does not do any unfolding of that format.
Input wise you have a USB C digital and a 4.4 mm Pentaconn analogue input. There is a secondary USB C input for charging. I’d wish there would be another unbalanced input, as the single use of 4.4 mm limits its usabilities quite a bit in my opinion. Woo said they wanted to make the amplifier as simple as possible and they decided to take full advantage of the balanced circuitry.
The WA11 comes with two analogue outputs. A 6.35 mm jack and a 4.4 mm balanced Pentaconn output. I am starting to love the 4.4 mm output, it’s robust and doesn’t make me worried to break the connection, unlike a 2.5 mm connection. The topaz also brings two gain stages (Hi and Lo), for when you need to adjust the levels between easy and hard to drive headphones.
With a size of 155 x 85 x 27 mm and a weight of 426 g the WA11 is on the edge of being a portable unit. It packs a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery of unknown capacity. Woo states a playtime of about six continuous hours, which I find to be spot on, as this is the number I got during my review time. It has a rated SNR of 118dB, THD measures <0.01% on both balanced and unbalanced outputs. The balanced output packs quite some additional power as it’s rated at 1.2 Watts while unbalanced comes in at 300mW at 30 Ohms.
The WA11 is priced at 1,399$ and can be bought directly from their web shop, or one of their offline retailers.
Woo Audio has also just recently showed three new accessories for the WA11. They have not confirmed the offers but will hopefully soon. A desktop stand and a hard carrying case that moonlights as a desktop stand and a 4.4 mm to 2 x 3 Pin XLR cable to use with big (power) amplifiers.
The review continues on page two!