Posted in another thread - Reposting here:
My observations of the WEE proto that I shared with Jack:
So, a while ago I was listening to my WA5 pushing the great AT L3000's and I started to wonder 'how would the STAX O2's sound sourced with this lovely 300B sound that I have grown to really like?' (no offence Spritzer) There are no 300B Electrostatic amps out there that I know of. Pretty much most of the third party amps are based on the same kind of design, running off the EL34's or variate. I have been running the SinglePower ES-1 for many years now with really good results in my setup.
Being that I have a standard WA5, there was one option available to me. Hook up an 'energizer' to the speaker outputs and see if I can get good 300B sound that way. I was able to borrow a STAX SRD from Voltron for a little bit, and it peaked my interest in using this as a way to consolidate my systems (reduce the number of amps I have). I kept my eyes out for a STAX SRD(), but they either seemed to go for more than I wanted to pay... or they were gone in minutes.
As a side note, I contacted Jack from WooAudio. And asked him if they would consider making a 'one off' build of an energizer that I could use with the WA5. We passed emails back and forth for a while, but it didn't seem to be in our future (for several reasons).. In the mean time, I happen to catch one of Spritzer's builds of a SRD7 with the pro board, so for a good price I snatched that up. I hooked it up and was very pleased with the resolution, and overall sound that I got.
Well too my surprise, just before CanJam, I got a note from Jack. They had made a prototype electrostatic converter (energizer), and it would be at CanJam.. I was sad to report that I was not able to make it to Chicago this year. But Jack offered to let me take a listen to it after the show. Well a few weeks ago the package, with the now named WEE, showed up... So, I have spent a few long weekends listening to the WEE as compared to the dedicated SP ES-1 amp. I didn't get a chance to Listen to it compared to the SRD7(mod).
Marantz SA-7S1 -> AQ Sky RCA -> Woo WA5 -> Exposure cable -> Woo WEE -> STAX O2
Marantz SA-7S1 -> Virtual Dynamics Master XLR -> SinglePower ES-1 -> STAX O2
WA5 Tube set?:
Mullard gz34 - metal base 1955/rs1
JAN CHS 6SN7WGT
Some notes from my sessions:
Alison Krauss + US - Live - SACD - #9-"Stay":
WEE - Alison's voice is floating dead center, detail is very high, each instrument is presented in it's own space. I want to say 'crisp', but not in a bad edgy way, but more that the leading edge of the notes have impact, The presentation is close, giving about a 2nd row feel. Nothing is being done wrong here.
ES1 - Is giving a more open presentation - more echo of hall, slightly larger bass presence, not really more impact, just larger. This steps back away from the stage a bit to the 4-5th row. The Instruments are more smeared across the soundstage rather than given a precise location. Slight touch of shrill on one upper note that I don't get off the WEE combo. It is still a really good sound, I realize how I have lived with this sound for so long.
Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself - #11 "Closing In" - #12 "The Moment I Said it":
Note: One quick observation switching back and forth, the WA5->WEE is much quieter than the ES-1 with both being at rest. This could lead to some of the results for the WEE combo. A quieter background, more inner (low level) detail, not feeling the need to turn it up as much. Just as another note, the amps are not level matched, just matched by ear (and people that know me, know that it is pretty loud).
ES1 - SP up first this time with two tracks. Getting a huge presentation, voice piercing threw the background, nice bass presence, there is a lot of movement going on in these tracks and the ES1 is presenting them very well. It is rare for me to experience, but the headphones disappear on these tracks, I only get pulled out of music when there are large bass notes that let me know that there is something on my head. Nice to listen to these tracks
WEE - Right out of the gate the WEE has dynamics, subtle changes in sound level that seem to be lost be the ES1. There is detail and detail here (probably will say this a lot) More of a center presentation, where as the ES1 painted sound all over the place, the WEE is putting most of the sound towards the center. Again, note impact, I guess goes along with the dynamics. Not as much bass depth, there is bass, just not as low and as big as the ES1. The WEE combo gives what I would say is an intimate presentation ... hmmm (crackle in right driver)
That is the end of the formal listening period... The crackle had made it unfair to review it further. I have continued to listen to the WEE for the many more hours. During the extended listening the WEE supported all the findings I had heard during critical listening. Really centered around the amount of detail and impact the WEE had over the ES-1. The ES-1 seemed to cast the larger soundstage, but it was also more defused. So the detail and precise nature of the WEE soundstage was very nice. One note on the bass, one thing that I don't know is the real source of the bass I was getting out of the ES-1 vs WEE? My feeling is that the Bass is really coming from the WA5 and the WEE is just presenting all the bass that it can find. I ran one additional test of pushing the WEE from my Exposure XVIII speaker amp (solid state). This combo running the O2's seemed to extend the bass a little lower and tighten it up compared to what I was getting from the WA5 combo. The 300B's have never been known as bass tubes? more about getting the midrange right.
I really enjoyed my time with the WEE proto. It is an impressive piece of kit. Pushing it with an 80w ss amp into the O2.. made the O2's really respond as a pair of speakers, not really headphones anymore. As far as the crackle, I was not really worried about it I didn't see it as a flaw in design or anything, just something loose or a component having a problem. I will be looking forward to the production units and the options/upgrades.
So those are my thoughts and observations.. I really Liked the WEE and I think that it does what it is suppose to do and that is present the sound that it gets from the Amp to the Headphones.. I felt that I was not really listening to the WEE as much as I was listening to the different Amps. One thing that I didn't get a chance to try was the Speaker Switch.. I never really intended to have it in the middle of my Speaker connection. Either I would listen to the speakers or the WEE not with it in between.
Is it a STAX dedicated Amp killer.. No, but I don't think that it is meant to be.. But I can get very pleasurable results using it.. and maybe reduce my amp count... BTW the production unit will have better transformers acording to Jack.
Thanks again to Jack for the loaner...