Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › Impressions: Woo Audio GES (upgraded) / Stax
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Impressions: Woo Audio GES (upgraded) / Stax

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
After a lot of reading and thinking about the different possibilities for an amplifier for the Stax Omega II (SR-007A) I decided to order a Woo Audio GES.

This was not "love at first sight", it was more about sorting out the other amps (based on various threads and postings):
Stax (solid state and tube): these might easily be the bottle neck in my headphone signal chain (see below). Rudistor: some quite critical remarks from people who are for shure not wafflers. The Euro exchange rate makes it expensive. Singlepower: expensive and delivery times. KGSS/Blue Hawaii: availability and delivery times.

As I was willing to spend between two and four thousand dollars on a headphone amp, I asked Jack from Woo Audio, if he could do a special version of the GES for me with upgraded parts. He suggested then a modification as listed below:
AURICAP 0.22u/400V x 10
AURICAP 2u/600V x 4
Mills-mra12 82k/12W x 2
Mills-mra12 47k/12W x 4
Mills-mra5 2.2k/5W x 4
Mills-mrc50 300/50W x 2
This would make the amp something around $2100 instead of $1450 but it would be quite an improvement in sound quality. I decided to go with Jacks proposal and ordered it. The suggested delivery time was six weeks at most - I got it within four weeks!

It was very carefully and well protected packed. The look is simple, functional, made with great care. It's not fancy, no cheap design effects, it's more the kind of object, which you still like ten years later.

I have the amp now since one week in this chain:
FLAC files on Laptop > RME Multiface II (provides digital out: SPDIF, AES/EBU) > Weiss DAC1-Mk2 > Spectral DMC20-II > Woo Audio GES > Stax SR-007A. The sound is ... well ... stunning, absolutely great. Transparent, extremely good resolution over the whole frequency range, accurate lows and highs. I can hear things (sounds) on well known tracks, which I never heard before. The sound has a big depth, i.e. not flat at all. It's by far the best amp/headphone combination I ever heard. Though I must say there are only two headphones, which I know well and which eventually could be competitors:
Sennheiser HD650/Equinox cable/Headroom Max with 2006 reference module
Stax Lambda Pro which I owned for more than twenty years
In all the discussions about Stax vs. dynamic headphones, I can understand those people, who say they find the sound of Senns or AKGs more involving or emotionally touching than the Stax. For me, this was partially also the case when I compared my Stax Lambda Pro with my Sennheiser setup. But it's a completely different thing with the Stax SR007 / Woo Audio GES combination, this simply delivers the best of both worlds ... through your ears directly into your soul


Oh, and please don't tell me that you feel sorry about my wallet ... I felt sorry myself about my wallet, before most of you were even born

Townes
post #2 of 39

Very cool...

Nice to see that Woo is so flexible - I may go this same route. Which tubes are you using at the moment? Some nice NOS tubes might improve things even further.

Thanks for your write-up.
post #3 of 39
What about the tubes?

What type of tubes are you using?


Mitch
post #4 of 39
that seems to the the standard upgrade now for the GES - better caps and resistors. and then a change of tubes and you're all set. i may get one of these myself.
post #5 of 39
I recently got a GES too, and was thinking about making a similar thread, but you beat me to it.
I asked for a silver one from Jack, but somehow he got it wrong, and I got a black unit.
Now that I've seen it in person, I don't really mind.
I think that they both look great, and the hassle/costs of having to ship it back would not be worth it for "just" a different colour to me.
I'm using it with SR-007A also, and the combo sounds good to me.

The unit I got had some dust on it, but after a little blowing it looks like new, the dust was probably accumulated during his stress test period.
Packaging was excellent; I did not get one of those fancy wooden crates like in the WA5 topic, but I counted at least 3 different layers of styrofoam, form fitted for the amp.


My early impressions, on first listen I did not get the feeling "OMG THIS SOUNDS SPECTACULAR", but after repeatedly listening, I see that it is an upgrade over the W5000 I was using previously.
I will keep this headphone also since it's closed and has a different sound, but the OII is superior.

The first thing I noticed about these headphones is that they have A LOT of bass.
Coming from a history of mostly generally considered bass light headphones, this is a whole different cup of tea.
If you think electrostatic headphones are all bass deficient, then this might be an eye-opener.
The DT990 I have is also considered a bass heavy headphone, but the OII's bass is in another class.
While the Beyer's bass has a big presence in the overall sound, it seems kind of weightless to me, and flabby.
On the other hand, the OII hits hard and precise.
I never considered myself a bass hound, but I like this kind of sound.
Another plus is that despite the fact that the bass is very powerful, it does not overpower the other frequency ranges, everything seems well balanced.

The soundstage (left right and up) is not particularly big on OII.
The W5000 beats it in this regard, but it goes back pretty far on the OII, which is an uncanny feature I have not heard on other headphones.
The way different instruments and vocals are placed on the OII is very good though, everything is very clear and easy to discern.
Everything sounds great to me on this headphone, but I am surprised how good especially violins and horns sound.
Listening to track 9 of the Ultrasone CD, it's unbelievably crispy and clear.
The string instruments of track 16 sound amazing too, and have to heard to be believed.

The only negative points I have on my setup is that there is quite a bit of sibilance, this may because of the IC's / source and tubes.
I am using the stock tubes that were supplied by Woo, and I think there could be some upgrading made here.
Just out of curiosity, @ OP: do you recognize the same problem?
The tubes are Electro Harmonix 12AX7EH x 4, and RCA 6S4A x 4.

The other fault I find is that the OII clamps very hard, which is somewhat uncomfortable.
The pads are great though, your ears don't touch the mesh at all, and you can rotate the cups (the inside of the pads have a "D" shape) for better fit.
I don't think I will do anything to the headbands though (bad memories with W5000, and these headphones are just too expensive), I will just use them and hope they loosen up over time, or that I become more experienced in wearing them for a better fit.
Overally I am very happy with this setup, the way the headphones immerse you in the music is wonderful.

If it gets even better with upgraded tubes, interconnects and burn-in, I am a happy camper.
post #6 of 39
You can try bending the arcs to loosen the fit. Mine were also very tight and a slight bend alleviated the pressure. The pads are indeed very comfortable.
post #7 of 39
Congratulations with the GES.
..and it sure seems like you picked the right amplifier for your taste. Enjoy!
post #8 of 39
Bend those arcs, stat!! To fully unleash their capabilities then the arcs need to be shaped to fit the users head and thus control the angle of attack of the drivers. There is no guide to do it but when the sit comfortably on the the head then you should be done and when the bass is just right.
post #9 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by tk3 View Post
The tubes are Electro Harmonix 12AX7EH x 4,
These tubes are at the same time hard/bright in the upper midrange/low treble while being dark in the "air" above those ranges.

For "cheap" replacements, consider:

Sovtek 12AX7LPS. Much more high treble extension but smoother in the sibilance range

"TungSol" Reissue 12AX7. Not as sparkly/detailed as LPS but warmer, rounder.

Ei 12AX7. Kind of in between the two.

Shuguang 12AX7 (latest). Very airy and clear. A bit lean in tone.


If you wanna spend more money:

Sylvania 5751 Black Plate Triple mica. Should synergize very well with SR07 signature.

GE 5751 BP TM. Better than many 12AX7's but not as extended and refined as Sylv.

I personally would not spend the $$$ for Amperex, Siemens, etc European NOS 12AX7 unless you are one of those who *must* have the particular NOS signature.
post #10 of 39
Thread Starter 
The tubes are the same as tk3:
Electro Harmonix 12AX7 x 4, and RCA 6S4A x 4

@tk3: thanks for your impressions. Could it be that the sibilance you have is coming from the source, rather than from the amp/headphone? I don't have this at all (the Weiss DAC is an excellent source). But I share your other point about the fit of the SR-007A. Though my head is not small, I find it somewhat loose in comparison with the Sennheiser.
post #11 of 39
“I personally would not spend the $$$ for Amperex, Siemens, etc European NOS 12AX7 unless you are one of those who *must* have the particular NOS signature.”

Why not they sound amazing. The 5751’s might excel but the others won’t.

To me it’s funny to spend $1500 on an amp and cheap out on the tubes. Think of it as buying a nice sports car then using cheap gas. You won’t get the performance you’ve paid for.


Mitch
post #12 of 39
Thread Starter 
@ Jon L
thanks for your hints. Do you mean the following?

Leave the four RCA 6S4A in the amp as they are, but replace the four Electro Harmonix 12AX7 (e.g.) with "Sylvania 5751 Black Plate Triple mica"
post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by townes View Post
@ Jon L
thanks for your hints. Do you mean the following?

Leave the four RCA 6S4A in the amp as they are, but replace the four Electro Harmonix 12AX7 (e.g.) with "Sylvania 5751 Black Plate Triple mica"
Yes, but seriously, those Sylv are hard to find at reasonable prices. I would try the "cheaper" solutions first. I can't make 6S4A recommendations b/c I don't have equipment using that type.

Quote:
Originally Posted by braillediver View Post
Why not they sound amazing. The 5751’s might excel but the others won’t.

To me it’s funny to spend $1500 on an amp and cheap out on the tubes.

Mitch
B/C an Amperex BB 12AX7 sells for $100 to 160 EACH on a quick search from reputable tube dealers (not questionable "used" ebay gambles), meaning $400 to $640 for the 4 12AX7 tubes. NOT acceptable cost to me personally.

Besides, I personally prefer Sovtek 12AX7LPS to my Amperex BB 12AX7. I like a very neutral, resolved clarity in my tubes...
post #14 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by tk3 View Post
I recently got a GES too, and was thinking about making a similar thread, but you beat me to it.
Did you get the cap & resistor upgrades or is yours a stock unit?
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by townes View Post
The tubes are the same as tk3:
Electro Harmonix 12AX7 x 4, and RCA 6S4A x 4

@tk3: thanks for your impressions. Could it be that the sibilance you have is coming from the source, rather than from the amp/headphone? I don't have this at all (the Weiss DAC is an excellent source). But I share your other point about the fit of the SR-007A. Though my head is not small, I find it somewhat loose in comparison with the Sennheiser.
That is very much possible, I'm using some cheap local brand interconnects at the moment, but I will get some better ones down the line.
It's nice to hear that the fault does not lie with the GES/OII though, if you don't notice it at all.

A DAC like yours is far out of my league for at least the next 5 years and probably more, but with some upgraded tubes and IC's, there is still room for improvement.
And even if not, I am still very impressed by the sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon L View Post
For "cheap" replacements, consider:

Sovtek 12AX7LPS. Much more high treble extension but smoother in the sibilance range

"TungSol" Reissue 12AX7. Not as sparkly/detailed as LPS but warmer, rounder.

Ei 12AX7. Kind of in between the two.

Shuguang 12AX7 (latest). Very airy and clear. A bit lean in tone.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon L View Post
Yes, but seriously, those Sylv are hard to find at reasonable prices. I would try the "cheaper" solutions first. I can't make 6S4A recommendations b/c I don't have equipment using that type.



B/C an Amperex BB 12AX7 sells for $100 to 160 EACH on a quick search from reputable tube dealers (not questionable "used" ebay gambles), meaning $400 to $640 for the 4 12AX7 tubes. NOT acceptable cost to me personally.

Besides, I personally prefer Sovtek 12AX7LPS to my Amperex BB 12AX7. I like a very neutral, resolved clarity in my tubes...
Do you have any recommendations for one of those "reputable" dealers that you speak of?
I'm completely new to this whole tube thing, would an ebay seller like this be OK?
It doesn't look like it says it has been tested or anything like that.
A seller within EU would be highly preferable for me, that way I don't have to wait 2-4 weeks for a small package like this to arrive, and get hit by customs charges.

Thanks for the tube suggestions by the way, your wisdom is highly appreciated!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: High-end Audio Forum
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › Impressions: Woo Audio GES (upgraded) / Stax