So I sent the amps back to Woo to assess, turns out there were a few things going on - one rectifier tube was bad, solder joints to the filter chokes broke off (likely occurred when the seller originally shipped to me) and Woo reinforced a few other solder joints just to be safe. The volume control was out of synch (left to right balance) so they replaced it, along with the power switch (which kept rotating when turned on), and the 300b pin sockets that had lost tension. These seem to be defects from the original owner's use as the amps were about 7 years old.
WA5's arrived back from Woo today. They looked great - in addition to the above, I had Woo replace the selector switches at their suggestion as the new ones are much easier to rotate, and a new set of driver tubes arrived as well.
I quickly set them up and had a momentary dread - turned the switch and no sound! I went crazy for a brief while, until I realized I had unplugged my source just before I left for Thanksgiving vacation. OK - plugged it back in and all good.
I had first planned to briefly hook them up in my rec room to test out a recently acquired pair of ProAc Tablette 50 Signatures, a teeny tiny 2001-era speaker that outpunches its size and class. I had bought the ProAcs used to take advantage of the WA5's speaker hookups, and was slightly worried that their 89db efficiency would require more than the 8watts produced by the WA5 to play even moderately loud. These fears were totally unwarranted - the WA5 handled them easily - volume at 10-11o'clock was plenty loud with absolutely no strain. They absolutely shone on the WA5 - beautiful voicing, holographic soundstage, and stellar imaging that ProAc's are known for. These speakers adore tubes - and they are a brilliant match for the WA5. I have a REL Strata III sub in matching rosewood that I'll hook up for more low end, though the speakers don't really need it.
An hour flew by. Then my wife came in and listened for another 45 min - first time she's ever sat still that long to listen to music on any of my systems. "I love this sound" she says - rarely has she seen fit to compliment my hi fi setup, even on far more expensive systems.
Much later, I hooked up the HD650's for some solo listening. I've had a few jaw-drop moments in hi-fi, usually on a dealer's uber-expensive systems but a few on my past systems (Merlin and VAC Avatar was one of those moments, Airtight and Devore was another). This was one of those moments. I couldn't believe what I was hearing out of the 650s, which had sounded wonderful on the WA22 but were now singing like never before.
LCD3f up next. I tried an older track on Tidal - U2's "Still Haven't Found What I am Looking For". I'm not a huge U2 fan but this track has such a nice solid bass groove. Oh my - the WA5 took a vice-grip hold of the LCD3 and the bass just thumped out in a way I've not heard them do up to this point. I killed another 45 min - Lou Reed, the Kinks, Ed Sheeran, James Morrison, Martin Sexton, Amos Lee, hell I even played Leon Redbone's cover of Polly Wolly Doodle All Day from his 1975 album (the one with the Warner Brothers frog on the cover)... just because I could. The track is stellar for purity of vocals and acoustic instrumentation.
Every single track I streamed was just marvelous.
I really need to hook up my turntable next, and also spend some time with DSD to see how much better it can get. But even with lowly Tidal high rez (albeit streamed through $3500 worth of great digital gear) sounds simply terrific.
Ok - guilty pleasure - I streamed Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself." Ed Sheeran also wrote this and sings back up - it's a well recorded and well sung pop standard, and it was so clean, clear, and imbued with bounce and rhythm, I forgot - for the duration of the track - my customary man shame that I was listening to Justin Bieber.
All you WA5 owners are nodding along reading this - I am really happy I took the plunge, and even despite the mishaps with my seller (he covered repair costs - yeah!).
Now what to do with the WA22. The WA5's brilliance didn't diminish the WA22 in any way - the amp still sounds magical with the HD650s and with my balanced digital source. Maybe I'll sit on this for a month or so - I got in on the MassDrop HD6xx buy and my wife will soon be getting her pair of Sennheisers, which would pair just wonderfully with the WA22. But listening to the WA5 tonight was just so magical.
I wonder how this amp would sound on something like the Focal Utopia....
Edited by davehg - 11/28/16 at 11:00pm