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Woo WA22, Liquid Fire, Trafomatic HeadOne, GS-1 w/ DACT, AMB B22 compared.

post #1 of 208
Thread Starter 

This post is the index for the  comparisons.  Any and all comparisons done will get a link posted here to the proper post.  And here we go...


Ended up buying and comparing the HeadAmp GS-1 w/ DACT, Woo WA22, Trafomatic HeadOne, Cavalli Liquid Fire and AMB Balanced B22.  Rest of the system is the W4S DAC-2 and LCD-2 Rev2.


WA22 (7236 Sylvania, CV181-Z Shuguang Treasure, 5U4G EML) vs Liquid Fire (6922 Gold Lion) - post #11 http://www.head-fi.org/t/607189/woo-wa22-cavalli-liquid-fire-trafomatic-headone-headamp-gs-1-and-amb-balanced-b22-compared#post_8360692


WA22 vs Trafomatic HeadOne (EZ81 JJ, 6C45P Sovtek) - post #32 http://www.head-fi.org/t/607189/woo-wa22-cavalli-liquid-fire-trafomatic-headone-headamp-gs-1-and-amb-balanced-b22-compared/30#post_8362168


WA22 vs HeadAmp GS-1 - post #72 http://www.head-fi.org/t/607189/woo-wa22-cavalli-liquid-fire-trafomatic-headone-headamp-gs-1-and-amb-balanced-b22-compared/60#post_8367070


WA22 vs Trafomatic HeadOne (EZ80 Brimar, 6C45P Reflektor) - post #105 http://www.head-fi.org/t/607189/woo-wa22-cavalli-liquid-fire-trafomatic-headone-headamp-gs-1-and-amb-balanced-b22-compared/90#post_8387155


WA22 vs. AMB B22 - post #141 http://www.head-fi.org/t/607189/woo-wa22-cavalli-liquid-fire-trafomatic-headone-headamp-gs-1-and-amb-balanced-b22-compared/135#post_8394283


If I had to rank them, based on my in house experience, musical preference and goals using the LCD-2 Rev2 exclusively...  B22($2550) > WA22($2450) > Trafo($1200) > GS-1($1050) > LF($3450).  Bracket price is retail, as configured during comparison, not what I paid.

Edited by Solude - 6/9/12 at 6:47am
post #2 of 208


Originally Posted by Solude View Post
For Woo users, did Jack ever say why the 6SN7 adapters are WA6 only and not WA6SE friendly?


From takezo in the old but highly informative Modify your Woo6 thread, he states in post #790:


the 6SN7 works fine on the wa6 but not so good with the 6SE. However, if you raise the cathode resistance from 3.3K to approx. 4.7k,to avoid clipping, it sounds very very fine. i love this tube. you can work with the resistance value to voice the amp to your headphone. playing with the cathode capacitance will further refine the sound to your liking.

post #3 of 208
Thread Starter 

Ya that's not happening ;)

post #4 of 208
Thread Starter 

Think I'm going to pull the trigger on a Trafomatic.  Hopefully it survives shipping better than the others /fingerscrossed

post #5 of 208
Thread Starter 

Trigger pulled!  I hope I love it but if not I'll probably go Woo or maybe Schiit next.  Also pulled on a Q cable :D

post #6 of 208
I bought backup tubes for my Trafomatic on eBay. Lots available.
Originally Posted by Solude View Post

Where are Trafomatic users getting replacement tubes?  Also did anyone get one that wasn't defective out of the gate or soon after?


For Woo users, did Jack ever say why the 6SN7 adapters are WA6 only and not WA6SE friendly?


On Decware how does the Taboo stack up against the other OPT amps?  I understand its lucid only for headphones?


Am I missing any tube amps under $1500 that I should add to the short list?  For use with the LCD-2 Rev2 exclusively.

post #7 of 208
Thread Starter 

Boris said he'd get me replacement set once the trade show ends.


This just got a whole lot more interesting because of recent for sales that were too good to pass up.  I have these on the way...


Trafomatic HeadOne

Woo WA22

Cavalli Liquid Fire

Q Audio cable




I have no idea how I'm going to approach the comparison without my head exploding ;)

post #8 of 208

Don't get too twisted up and take each one by one, BREATHE, and enjoy the music. Don't forget to take some notes too while you're listening so the rest of us can also tag along and enjoy your "ride". L3000.gif


Would be interesting to hear which component individually makes the most impact in your listening sessions. 

post #9 of 208
Thread Starter 

So true.  Taking notes is a very important step in comparing gear.  Relying purely on audio memory is hazardous to your wallet ;)  I'm leaning towards comparing them each to the GS-1 as a known reference.  Then the ones that survive the comparison to each other.  They should start hitting my door on Tuesday.

post #10 of 208
Thread Starter 

Decided to compare the new arrivals to each other in pairs, winner moves on.  Finalist goes up against the GS-1.


LF and WA22 came in first and since one is balanced and the other single ended, makes for easy compare.  So far, without direct comparison, neither is fairing too well against the GS-1 and between the two, the WA22 with upgraded tubes is ahead half way through the comp.


Trafomatic came in today though so round 2 might start as early as tomorrow :D

post #11 of 208
Thread Starter 

Liquid Fire vs WA22 notes.  The LF had Gold Lion 6922 quad installed and the WA22 had Sylvania 7236, Shuguang CV181-Z Treasures and EML 5U4G upgrades.  Both needed a nudge from my normal matched level of 74dB white noise to 78dB to wake up.


Overall the WA22 took the night in every category and even before being powered on in aesthetics.  Both amps are competent, any comparison is in the context of against the other and not a universal scale.  Reading over my notes at the end of the A/B it was pretty clear where they sat sonically.


The LF was top tilted, with a light floating character and a tendency to flatten and dry out the recording.  It also focused on delivering the primary element of instruments.  This focus gives the impression of low resolution and missing texture.  If I had different musical taste this might work for me.  But in the context of the range of rock/alternative/punk/metal those aren't strengths that suit the genres.


The WA22 on the other hand was clearly bottom tilted with more bottom weight and presence.  It delivered the entire instrument equally not favouring the primary or secondary elements which translates into high resolution and texture portrayal.  Treble presence is however recessed compared to the bottom.  Key recessed, not rolled and certainly not glossed over.  These characteristics work very well with the genres and just begged to be cranked.


Last night I did a session of casual listening with the Trafomatic and initial impression is that its transparency and attack are ridiculous!  78dB volume matched, the attack and neutral balance are a little fatiguing.  So where the WA22 begs to be turned up to wake up, the Trafo seems more suited to lower level listening.


The official A/B runs tonight with a slight mod to the playlist from the LF/WA22 run.

Edited by Solude - 6/2/12 at 8:39am
post #12 of 208
Agreed re WA22. Also, it the most euphonic of all auditioned by me. Thanks for the comparison, look forward to read notes on the other contenders.
post #13 of 208

Looking forward to the next set of impressions from you. Interesting to see how you compared and where your musical preferences lean towards in making this review. Lots of "audiophiles" will just say that having more high-end freq energy would be "detailed" and "resolving" and end up saying the LF is better able to resolve complexities in musical passages vs. the WA22. (At least I can just hear them review it this way! etysmile.gif)

post #14 of 208
Thread Starter 

Music selection has a lot to do with the result.  If I listened to trios and light jazz primarily then the low points just wouldn't show up.  That's audiophile salesman 101, everything sounds good fed those styles.  More so if its vintage from a time where the recording technology just wasn't there to capture the entire instrument ;)

post #15 of 208

Subscribed. popcorn.gif


Your comments on my old WA22 (with my favourite setup of tubes) are bang on Solude. But I guess we differ on the LF. IMO, I prefer this amp with my headphones. But as you noted, it could also be a LCD-3 vs. LCD-2 pairing thing too. Looking forward to more Trafomatic and balanced B22 comparisons too.

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › Woo WA22, Liquid Fire, Trafomatic HeadOne, GS-1 w/ DACT, AMB B22 compared.