Woo Audio WA 22 Headphone Amplifier (Playback 43)

Equipment report
Headphone amps and amp/DACs
Woo Audio WA 22 Headphone Amplifier
Woo Audio WA 22 Headphone Amplifier (Playback 43)

equation, listeners’ experiences with a given headphone are likely to be similar (though not necessarily exactly alike), and second, it is harder to argue that problems aren’t problems. Adding to this, there are far fewer manufacturers of top-tier headphones than of top-tier loudspeakers, so that more people can hear more of the field. This leads to some convergence in the discussion. Finally, headphone lovers may not be influenced by the biases, strictures and unspoken “rules” of purist-grade high-end audio, and may therefore be more open to unorthodox methodologies as they pursue top-tier sound.

All of the above serves as a necessary preamble to my remarks about the Woo Audio WA22, because, quite frankly, I am going to talk about how this delightful amplifier “enhances” the sound of most headphones (which is precisely the kind of talk that isn’t allowed in polite but hide-bound high-end audio circles).


The Sound of Woo’s WA22

As I mentioned above, the WA22 is an all-tube headphone amplifier that offers a fully balanced design (it accepts balanced inputs and can drive balanced headphones) with Class-A push pull topology. The output transformers are hand wound using a special winding approach, and two output impedances are offered via a selector switch on the front panel. Woo offers multiple tube options, with hot-rod versions using selected 6SN7 driver tubes and 7236 power tubes. The base model is $1900 and the maximum supreme tube version is $2450. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I simply loved the design, especially at night.