It’s been a long time coming but Woo Audio’s WA8 trans/portable tube amplifier, recently subtitled ‘Eclipse’, is now in production and was shown off by the New York manufacturer at CanJam SoCal 2016.
We first saw the WA8 way back in September 2014 when Jack Wu showed off a 3D-printed prototype at the New York Audio Show. A year later in Sydney, the chassis had evolved to close to production quality (anodized aluminium) but the DAC remained in the midst of transplant surgery: from TI TI 5102A to the lower-power-drawing Sabre 90182KM from ESS Labs. Said operation is now complete with the WA8 Eclipse offering an XMOS USB input that can decode up to 24bit/384kHZ PCM. A more traditional analogue socket is for those who prefer to bring their own decoders.
Note: this is not a hybrid amplifier but a fully tubed affair complete with Class A operation and “In house nickle-core OCC single crystal copper” output transformers. A pair of 6S31B power tubes work the business end of the amplifier with the 6021 driver tube which users can switch in and out of the circuit according to taste and power requirements. The microSD card hack of the 2015 version is gone, since replaced by a toggle switch proper.
Another deciding factor on third tube engagement might be the WA8’s battery life which will run up to 4 hours between charges. That’s not a lot – possibly why Woo Audio are positioning this amplifier as a ‘transportable’ device that brings desktop performance but without the need for a desk. You take it to work and then your bring it home again. That’s easy when The WA8 weighs just over one kilo. In this context, the WA8 will meet demand from headphone listeners needing a SET sound sans mains juice.
Both 3.5mm and 6.4mm headphone sockets present beneath the volume pot. I took some AC/DC for a spin via a pair of Sennheiser HD800 and didn’t find it wanting on dynamics or authority.
You’ll note from the video below that Woo’s marketing manager Michael Liang 100% calls out the production version’s ability to juice Abyss headphones. Impressive – and a clear step up from the 2014 prototype.
On colour variants, space grey and black versions will sell for US$1799 whilst an additional one hundred sheets gets you a little more bling-bling: the gold finished WA8 will sell for US$1899.
Woo Audio’s headphone stands are also now available in those same three Apple-esque finishes.
Further information: Woo Audio