WooAudio 3 Headphone Amplifiers

3

  • Headphones impedance : 30-600 Ohms
  • Input impedance: 100 Kilo-Ohms
  • Frequency response: 8 Hz - 100 KHz +/-3dB
  • Pre-amp Gain: 10 dB
  • Signal/Noise: 95 dB

User Reviews (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8  
trek100   AudioPhile [Dec 30, 2006]
Strength:

Excellent sound with the right tubes and power cord.

Weakness:

The output tube does not fit as snug as it should. All three I tried fit the same.

After break in the Woo 3 with Sennheiser HD650’s has a warm easy to listen to sound. I was expecting more detail, high end extension and weight. Adding a Signal Power Cord made a noticeable difference in weight. Next addition was Siemen 6922 tubes. A small but discernible improvement. The biggest improvement was exchanging the stock output tube for a Tung Sol 5998. Now it’s all there except the highs still seem somewhat muted. Replaced the stock cord on the Sennhiesers for a Stefan AudioArt cord. After breaking in the cord I finally hear what I consider to be excellent sound top to bottom.

This combo sounds almost as good as my Merlin VSM’s, no small feat. As a preamp the Woo is no match for my Audible Illusions 3A but is very good considering the price difference.

I also use the Woo with my computer using lossless WMA files, M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 analogue out, Nordost cables, Woo headphone amp driving the Sennheiser’s or Monsoon speakers. Very big bang for the buck.

Customer Service

Excellent

Similar Products Used: First headphone amp.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Unknown User   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 21, 2006]
Strength:

Mr. Universe build quality. Extremely refined sonic presentation. A component I'll never get bored of to be sure.

Weakness:

I'd be interested in comparisons and comments from people familiar with Musical Fidelity amps.

Probably one of the best audio buys I've ever made and I've always been a solid state guy. This amp just makes magic with HD-650's. Tried some differnt tubes, and like them, but still kept coming back to the Phillips JAN. I just really like the liquidity of the stock tubes.

The biggest difference I got with this amp was swapping out the stock 6AS7G power tube. For only a few bucks, the older GE 6AS7G tubes are about 3/4" taller than the stock ones, or the vase shaped RCA power tubes, made a huge difference in the soundstage. Much wider and taller presentation, and greater ease. Right now, the best I've found is the RCA military tubes made in the early to late 1950's. It's interesting to note that I acquired a tube tester and found the the older tubes don't test as well as the newer ones, as the newer ones test much stronger and indicate longer life span. The older tubes read like they're ready to go anytime soon, but man, what a difference.

I just don't see how anyone could not be happy with this product.


Customer Service

Responsive to e-mails. Have not have a need for service.

Similar Products Used: Just portable stuff like Practical Devices XM3.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
bassdude   Audio Enthusiast [May 19, 2006]
Strength:

See initial review below.

Weakness:

See initial review below.

Just an update to my initial review below.

With a quality source, the WooAudio 3 with the Tung Sol / Cetron 7236 power tube with the stock JAN Phillips 6922 signal tubes, or Amperex Orange Globe 6DJ8's, really excells with the HD650's, once the HD650's have been "deveiled" and have an upgraded cable (e.g. Cardas, Zu Mobus, SA Equinox, etc.).

This combo produces truly exceptional SQ. Some Headfiers have reported they think, with the HD6xx's and upgraded tubes, the WA3 beats anything up to $1000+. Others have reported that upgrading the caps to Blackgates, or Auricaps takes it even further "to yet another level."

Once this combo is burnt in - you'll find it difficult to beat.

Customer Service

See initial review below.

Similar Products Used: See initial review below.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
bassdude   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 10, 2006]
Strength:

Weighty, warm, liquid, lush tube audiophile sound.
Solid, high quality construction, and components.
Industrial look.
Easy access to tubes to permit easy swapping to fine tune the sound to your taste, and setup.
Common tubes, large selection and easy to find at reasonable prices.
If you're a DIY guy, easy access to components to permit easy mods.
Value priced - can usually find on eBay, Audiogon, or Headfi at $350 - $400, but only $470 new.
Customer support of manufacturer.

Weakness:

Weighty, warm, liquid, lush tube audiophile sound - some may prefer a bit more of the colder, sharper, solid state sound.
Industrial look - some may prefer the brighter, more polished look of commercial audio equipment.
Easy access to tubes - tempts you to buy more tubes to try out.
Easy access to components - tempts you to become a DIY guy.
Value priced - tempts you to buy it and try it, even though you have other amps that are just fine.

Woo Audio 3 SET Tube OTL Headphone Amp / Preamp

I bought the WA3 amp to drive my Sennheiser HD650 headphones w Cardas Cable and my Grado RS-1 headphones out of my Music Hall MMF CD-25 w 1+ upgrade, and Musical Fidelity XDAC v3. Although, it reportedly is also an excellent tube pre-amp, and may well be a great front-end for a solid-state amp to warm your conventional audio speaker system. It is a heavy, solid, well-made, piece of audio equipment with premium components assembled by Woo Audio, a small boutique US manufacturer, who provides exceptional customer service. At $350 to $500 it is truly a real audiophile value.

With the stock tube set (1 NOS GE 6AS7 and 2 NOS JAN Phillips 6922 output tubes) the WA3 produces truly exceptional audiophile sound with this setup.

Overall: The overall sonic character is weighty, warm, liquid and lush that you would expect from a tube amp – this even though, the amp is still not yet fully burnt in – which requires 50-100 hrs of play, before it reportedly blooms to it’s full potential.

Bass: The bass is deep and extended, layered and textured with palpable weight, body, and slam. It is as well defined, fast and tight as the source and recording. The leading edge and attack of transients is fairly sharp – though just a bit less so than solid state, so as not to be harsh, and to promote the sense of the real performance.

Mids: The mids are full, warm and liquid with a striking presence, which gives real life to brass and vocals. Vocals and the tenor, or baritone sax are simply outstanding with this amp.

Highs: The highs are well defined, extended, clear and detailed, without any sibilance, or harshness. Strings sing, and cymbals have that splash, or shimmer, depending upon how they’re played.

Background: Notes emerge from and decay into a silent, black background at normal listening levels.

Image: The image is fairly dimensional, with a wide, deep and high soundstage, which allows you to sense the relative positions of the instruments and performers. The amp positions the listener fairly close to the performance with a more intimate sound – closer to the front row, or stage, than to the back rows.

Details: If the rest of the equipment is up to the test, the listener hears all the sonic details and textures that lend that sense of a real live performance: the rosin on the bow across the strings of the violin, bass, or cello; the squeak of the fingers on the frets; the thump of hammer and stops on the piano strings; the pick on the guitar strings; the saliva on the lips and the breath of the vocalist; and the creaks and squeaks of the piano seat, or stage floorboards.

Resolution: The sound is highly resolved, with good definition and separation of each note, instrument and performer, yet provides an overall cohesion to present a well integrated whole without being muddy.

Most of the Jazz, R&B, Country and Classical CD’s I’ve played through it have been presented with the character of a live performance – highly entertaining and enjoyable. It’s sonic character compares quite favorably to my Musical Fidelity XCAN v3 – though the WA3 may present a bit more of that rich, warm, liquid, lush tube sound, perhaps, just a bit bigger, more rounded sound, since it is an all tube SET amp, while the XCAN v3 is a hybrid tube / solid state amp, which presents just a bit more of the dynamic, sharpness typical of solid state amps, yet with a somewhat warm overtone. The XCAN v3 may present just a bit more detail and separation between instruments, but with a slightly brighter, colder sound than the WA3. The WA3 will probably sound better with systems with somewhat bright components, which may benefit from the warmth of the WA3 (e.g. silver interconnects, Beyer DT880 headphones, Sony MDR SA5000 headphones, the Grado PS SR325i headphones, solid state amps, etc.), although, it sounds exceptional with the HD650’s, which are generally considered to have a bit warmer, darker sound than other headphones.

Customer Service

Exceptional customer service by Woo Audio

Similar Products Used: Musical Fidelity XCAN v3.
Grado RA-1.
Shellbrook Audio Lab Maxi Moy
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
jimmyjames8   AudioPhile [Apr 06, 2006]
Strength:

SOUND!, BUILD, PRICE!

Weakness:

None detected.

I started playing around with headphones and headphone amps again after a 20 year hiatus. My last headphones before this time were the venerable Koss Pro4AA. They served me well thru college and college radio. Never knew you could connect headphones to anything other than the phone out jack on a piece of consumer gear or the board at the radio station. Headphones (and everything else for that matter) have come a long way in 20+ years. Now there are these new fangled things called headphone amps. Purpose built signal amplifiers that you plug in: (1) a dedicated source to (or thru), (2) power cord, (3) headphones and viola you get beautiful music. Way more beautiful than the op amp powered phone out jacks on the old Kenwood receiver. Not that there is anything wrong with op amps. Well there is but I won't go into it much here. This is where the Woo Audio 3 tube (3 of them) headphone amp comes in. No Op Amps. Tubes and caps for the most part and a tranny. After futzing around with a Rega Ear op amp based head amp (dreadful) and a JMT Audio Pimeta op amp based (Burr Brown 627's) head amp (much better but still lacking). I came across some glowing praise for the Woo Audio 3 tube headphone amp on Headfi.org. The place to go for all things head phoney and other wise. This is a serious Sub Culture website/bulletin board/forum. I don't know what finally made me pull the trigger on the Woo 3 but I am sure it was helped along by the internet buzz about this little giant killer of an amp. OK, I was totally dissatisfied by the headphones and amps I had owned by that time. I thought I would give tubes a shot even though this would be my first piece of tube gear. Tubes and certain headphones seem to have a synergy that transcends anything solid state and headphones can do or so some said on Headfi. So I sent Woo Audio my paypal funds for the Woo 3. It came in shortly after I had purchased a pair of Sennheiser HD600 headphones (cans for you noobs). Did I mention that after already having gone thru 3 sets of headphones and 2 amps that I was ready to throw in the towel on headphone listening all together? Frankly, I was totally skeptical that any amount of money spent on headphones and amps could bring me a faction of the listening pleasure I got from my loudpspeaker based systems. Boy was I wrong. The minute I got the Woo plugged in (by the way you have to furnish your own IEC power cord and source rca interconnects), powered up and the HD 600's jacked in, I was in another audio world. Yeah, this is more like it. Soundstage, depth, warmth, sparkle, toe tappin', head bobbin', MUSIC. Not sound but MUSIC. The Rega Ear and Pimeta sounded like listening to a transistor radio in the bottom of a well in comparison. The Pimeta really is better than that but the Woo 3 is so much better. So much more like listening to loudspeakers and music. OK, so now this headphone thing is listenable, actually enjoyable. How can I make it better. Well there are these top of line Sennheiser headphones call HD650's. Let's get a pair of those. Yep. Not even close to these ears. The HD650's smoke the HD600's. Some long time headphoners will disagree on this point. Hey that's what makes life interesting. It would be pretty boring if we all liked the same music and gear and there was nothing to argue or get passionate about. What else can I do. OK, read up on some tube rolling (buying different tubes and changing them out in your gear to see if they sound better or different, tone controls?). Yes, the 5998 Tungsol power tube and 6DJ8 pre tubes(Amperex is supposed to be DA Bomb but I found the Groove Tube version of this tube to be more to my liking) really takes the Woo 3 to another level. Clarity and quickness from the pre tubes and bass and warmth from the 5998. The tubes that come with the Woo 3 are very adequate but a NOS 5998 and whatever NOS pre tubes suite your fancy gild the lilly so to speak. They just put some polish on the shine. I could not be happier with my purchase. The Woo 3, my Home Theater Master 500 remote control and Von Schweikert Audio VR-1 loudspeakers are the top 3 neatest, coolest, most useful pieces of audio kit I have ever purchased.



Associated equipment: Marantz SA8260 SACD player, Luminous Audio Synchestra Signature Interconnects, Sennheiser HD650, Alessandro MS-2, Beyer DT880, AKG 501, AKG271s headphones, Volex power cord.

Customer Service

Good

Similar Products Used: Rega Ear, JMT Audio Pimeta
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
PMartinez   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 30, 2005]
Strength:

+ Build quality of a Faberge Egg + Very detailed, silky smooth pre-amp + Incredible results when used in conjunction with good SS amps + Compares favorably with pre-amps that cost more than $2000 + You'll be 'woo'ed by the sonic qualities of this pre-amp (Who could resist?) + On certain pieces, the WU3 is more musical than the Symphonic Line. With certain mixing (some Beach Boy Pieces) the overall sound can be a little eerie with the SL. I don't know how to describe it other than that. One of the reasons behind this issue is that many recordings were made on tube gear, so tube gear may 'reblend' the mix closer to what was intended by the recording engineer.

Weakness:

- It's actually a silver gray unit. Not silver - Only 10 db of gain - It's not quite the WU2 which has a better power supply (dual choke and tube rectification for more detail, better soundstage) - close but not perfect reproduction of alto sax and bass viola

I purchased this Woo headphone pre-amp with the intention of using it with headphones. I did listen to it with headphones, but enjoyed it immensely as a regular pre-amp played through my two systems. I used two systems to verify that what I was hearing was confined to being an artifact of an individual setup. I received the unit in a standard, USPS Priority package. It was densely packed using only the styrofoam, bubble and cutout packing material. All breakables were packed separately. The tubes had additional styrofoam pieces. When I removed the unit from the box, I was immediately impressed by the quality of the precision metal work of the silver-grey housing. I chose silver, but it's really a slightly different shade. I removed the bottom plate and inspected the meticulously wired circuits. The parts are Wima caps,Dale resistors and very high quality electrolytics wired together in one of the neatest layouts that I've ever seen. It's described as having a single-ended, OTL, Class A circuit, which should provide a yeoman's serving of detail. Eager to get started,I torqued the six, philips heads back in, threw on the classic CSN, put on my open-air Senny's and cranked this baby up on system A (see below). Ugh!! What cachaphony! I couldn't believe what I was hearing: there was no dynamic balance or harmony. The bass was boomy. What a mess! Mistake #1: I replaced the stock Philips 6922s with Amperex Bugle Boy 6922s. After about five minutes of listening, the music became much more coherent and the overall sound was much more palatable. I'd never experienced such a Hyde-Jekyll turnaround before. Mistake #2. I wrote a facetious email to James Wu about my catastrophic beginnings with this pre-amp, forgetting that the English of the owner of Woo Audio is non-idiomatic, so the intent of my note, to determine the length of a break-in period, was completely lost on them. Their response was, "WU3 never sound bad. Perhaps, you should return for testing." After straightening out the misunderstanding, Mr. WU they admitted that the break-in period is about 50 hours. Phew! After continuing the burn-in, the unit started to sound better and better with more detail appearing and the 'bloom' that people often ascribe to tubes really became noticeable. What astonished me most , however, was its ability to transform the Stratos into presenting a much more rounded, tube-like sound. I have used a tube or tube-hybrid several times before and the SS character of Stratos (sibilance and harsher dynamic passages) would still dominate. The WU3 just overwrote the SS artifacts (as Frank VanAlstine likes to call them.) Yet, the overall system was able to retain much of the punchiness present in such riffs as the Dave Brubeck Quartet live at Wembly Stadium drum solo on the Time Out track. It's very respectable, but doesn't present the 'punch drunk' slam of the Symphonic Line pre-amp, which can leave me exhausted, but craving more. After about thirty hours, everthing seem to be settling just fine with the rosiness of the tube sound really starting to appeal to me, but something was not quite in Denmark. To me, the saxes were too smooth sounding, grand pianos sounded like uprights and violins had the 'reedy' sound that many people like about tube amplification. The soundstage was also much narrower than that presented by the Symphonic Line. If I had left everything at this point, I would have rated the unit as close to a four star for sound quality. After perseverating about this issue for about a day, I decided to roll back the tubes to the NOS Philips. I then listened to all of the recordings with particularly pronounced instrument solos (piano, harpsichord, sax, clarinet, etc.) to determine whether the issues that I had with their rendering was solved. Fortunately, these tubes did the trick. All the instruments sounded very natural and the soundstage widened significantly. Perhaps, the palpableness of female voice declined slightly, but that was the only negative. I moved the pre-amp to system B and again went through my collection of listening tests. The result: Hugh Dean, the owner of AKSA Audio, has always claimed that a simple, tube pre-amp will work wonders with his amp. Until now, I have never been able to verify his claim. The results were stunning. The AKSA with Nirvana mods is very detailed, but with the WU3 it becomes a special component, delivering nuances that were never revealed until its introduction. Summary: The addition of a WU3 to my sytems resulted in a wonderfully, musical component that I truly enjoy. I'm also thrilled at its performance with headphones, which was my original intent for purchasing.

Similar Products Used: * Transcendent GG ($500) * Dynaco PAS-4 ($550) * Bottlehead Foreplay III ($360) - has three inputs and two outputs - very close in sound to the WU3 System A: Odyssey Stratos Dual Mono CA D%00 CD/Monarchy DIP/Van Alstine DAC Madisound Odin Spkrs (mod Vifa XT25GT30) Oval 9 speaker wire BC Silver Serpent and XLO ref ICs System B: Yamaha CD ScanSpeak 9900 rev BS speakers AKSA-55 amp - dual toroidal Symphonic Line Preamp as AB comparison DHLabs speaker cable XLO ref ICs
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Robert P   AudioPhile [Feb 28, 2005]
Strength:

Very good sound: fluid, powerful, detailed, natural, with a lot of space and a very good tonal balance Very good build quality Very reasonable price for the quality Kind and efficient service from Mr Woo.

Weakness:

For the sake of finding one, I would say that the blue led is too bright.

When opening the parcel, I was surprised by the size of the unit. It is much bigger than I was expecting from the photos. The weight is also impressive. This is really serious stuff. The chassis is made of thick aluminium, and the various components seem of very good quality. The jack plug is operating very softly, which is important to avoid wearing out surface coatings. The RCA outputs are of the best quality, as are the Alps potentiometer and the power switch. I use it with a pair of Sony MDR CD3000 headphones, and a PS Audio Prelude power cord which seems to be a good match. My CD player is a 3D Lab Titanium (24/192). I listen to all kinds of music, classical, jazz, and modern. After sufficient break-in, I was delighted with the sound it makes. Being used to a very good tube amplification (Kora Cosmos Reference 100 w pure class A triode monoblocks), I found the same qualities on this small unit costing 20 times less: a full and rich sound, fluid, punchy, detailed but never hard, with a lot of space and a grand scale. It does not have this "grainy" feeling that is sometimes found on solid state units. The sound is just natural and pleasant. I was particularly astonished by the bass (although I am not fond of heavy bass). They are surprisingly tight and powerful, but still clean and clear. I did not know headphones could reproduce such low frequencies. My Kora Eclipse preamplifier has a built-in headphones output which is regarded as a good one (with a proper class A amp). Although it provides satisfactory results indeed, the sound obtained through the WooAudio 3 is much superior in all respects. It has in particular more presence and punch, more space (and therefore more detail), and a more extended frequency response at both ends. I also compared it with my Stax SR5 / SRD6 (a 15 years old entry level set). As with most affordable electrostatic sets, the bass produced by the Stax are too recessed and somewhat dry. But surprisingly, the highs are also superior on the WooAudio/Sony, they are much more extended. At first, the mids are pleasant on the Stax, they sound full and compact. This is in fact a consequence of the bass and the highs being recessed. By comparison with the WooAudio/Sony, the mids on the Stax appear to be slightly colored and less detailed. Overall, the WooAudio/Sony set is more detailed, airy, and neutral. Of course, it is probably a different story with high end electrostatic headphones. The WooAudio 3 is very powerful. It can easily drive my high impedance AKG K240 Monitor (600 ohms), which I cannot use on the built-in headphone output of the Kora preamp. The input sensitivity seems adequate for all uses. I connected it to four different types of sources: the main output of the Kora preamp, the "tape" output of the preamp, directly to the output of the CD player, and to the output of the Accuphase tuner. In all cases the result was good, with the volume knob at about one third. (In terms of quality, the sound is obviously slightly better with a direct connection to the CD player). After several hours of use, the unit becomes slightly and reasonably warm. I do not quite agree with the other reviewer on one point, regarding the quality of the "plastic feet" (may be our respective units were not supplied with the same feet ?). Actually, I extensively tested during months of all sorts of supports for the various elements of my system and came to the conclusion that, more than the "isolating" capabilities of the support, what matters is its stiffness, i.e. the way it "supports" the chassis. Hard supports (such as stiff plastic, or wood, the extreme being spikes with metal foot-cups) provide a lean sound, with tight and recessed bass, and very precise mids and treble, but with a tendency to harshness. Soft supports (usually rubber feet) increase the bass level and correlatively reduce the presence of mids and treble, as well as their precision. It also reduces harshness. This is valid for all elements of the system including speakers. Therefore, the support of each element has to be fine-tuned individually, and there is little chance that a pre-designed support off-the-shelf provides the optimum result for one particular element, whatever its isolating capabilities are. One has to try rubber feet of various stiffness, spikes (with various foot-cups, including hard wood), combinations of rubber feet and spikes… and it is often found that best results are obtained with the supports originally chosen by the manufacturer (or with little modifications). The feet of my WooAudio 3 unit are not made of stiff plastic, but of a rubber of medium stiffness, which I find quite adequate. The tonal balance they provide is quite satisfactory in my case (the shelves being made of thick and heavy wood).

Similar Products Used: Stax SR5 / SRD6
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
tassos166   AudioPhile [Nov 08, 2004]
Strength:

Musicality,finesse,rhythm and enjoyment Beautiful-may embarace other equipment in your rack(maybe a weakness from that point of view) Loud!!! Frienly and effecient service from manufacturer (you're most likely to find him advertising on ebay) You can experiment with valves

Weakness:

require decent pair of heaphones(and ears) cheap feet Didn't really like the volume knob-I'd prefer it more glossy (Do you think I'm struggling here?)

The Wooaudio 3 Headphone amplifier first of all is a beautiful thing to look at! It is superbly constructed and aestetically pleasing.I must admit I am a fan of naked tubes,though.The whole external casing is made of brushed aluminium and complemented by a very nice and bright blue led(not the cheap green or red ones) It has an air of class and is available in 2 colours (silver-black) to match your other equipment.As a man with good taste I naturally own the black version.It's size is quite substatial as well with width about half of that of a standard hi-fi unit and "presence" as the huge tranformer (silver wired I was told)which is located at the back creates a volume that is softened by the tubes on the front.Avery elegand design. It is an OTL design with no PCB(hard soldered point-to-point with the 21st century user in mind.It has a certain amount of flexibility as it can be used as a normal stereo pre-amp connected to a power amp.But with only one line input is a little bit limited in this role. Sonically,I must admit that the treble is the stong point of this amp.It's sweet and descriptive,It seems to extend outside the headphones and go on forever and is never tiring,but doesn't lack excitment.This Headphone amplifier overall tend towards neutrality,which frankly I was not familiar with while owning the Musical Fidelity X-CANS v2.The bass seemed a bit flat during the first week,but true to manufacturer's recommendation,after a 3 weeks burn-in time everything got just better.The coherence was vastly improved the treble got much more livelier and the bass acquired more presence.Did I mention the very natural midband,as well? Being a valve amplifier it allows you to experiment with different brands of valves and while I use the ones supplied (GE and Sovtek) I'd be definatelly experimenting in the future just to see how much more I can sqeeze out of this box. The only dissapointing point was that was supplied with cheap plastic feet which replaced after a while with proper isolation feet(vibrasorb) and that helped the tubes tune better and work more effortlessly.Although this is not very crucial since you're not using the speakers,but hey,these only cost $20 and I found them to be an improvment,so... In colcusion this amp,at this price is definatelly one to own.I'd recommend it to everyone with a musical taste even the hard working headbanger because this thing goes considerable louder than any headphone amp that I've auditioned in the past. Overall,thumbs up!

Similar Products Used: Musical Fidelity X-CANS v2 Rega ear
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-8 of 8  

(C) Copyright 1996-2018. All Rights Reserved.

audioreview.com and the ConsumerReview Network are business units of Invenda Corporation

Other Web Sites in the ConsumerReview Network:

mtbr.com | roadbikereview.com | carreview.com | photographyreview.com | audioreview.com