Greeting Fellow Head-fi'ers!
I am looking for a new amp for my HD800's and have narrowed it down to about two choices with a couple of outside contenders. Currently I'm running my Oppo BDP-105 into a Woo Audio 3 to my Senn's.
After much deliberation I've narrowed it down to the Woo Audio WA2 and the Decware CSP2+.
My criteria include the following:
1, Tube/OTL topology
2. Preamp functionality.
3. Price somewhere between $1k and $1.5 K
4. Aesthetically pleasing
The pros and cons of each amp:
Woo Audio WA2
*I like my WA3 and feel like it would be a significant upgrade to go to the WA2
*Very good looking
*Tube sound to roll off some of the upper end brittleness of the HD800's
*Good price, but the tube rolling may push this amp to the upper end of my price range
*Not as detailed as some of the upper end amps (I love detail)
*I've never heard the amp, but am familiar with the Woo house sound with the WA3
*Maybe too warm?
*Very competitive price
*On paper looks very compelling
*Seems like excellent preamp functionality
*Have not heard it although Steve has a 30-day money back guarantee
*Not as good looking as the Woo
*Will the top-mounted everything but a strain on my interconnects?
Also, two other contenders are the Eddie Current Super 7 and the Decware Taboo. My major problem with the Super 7 is how it looks. Just a black box with tubes sticking out. Not very good looking at all, in my opinion. With the Taboo, I'm worried that since Steve has a picture of the Taboo with planar magnetics, that amp may sound too "solid-state". It's been my experience that the LCD's and the Hifiman's sound better with SS amps, but the 800's respond better to tubes.
So, there you have it--my current conundrum. I'd love to hear from anybody that has heard these amps. I went to Canjam last year, but none of the Eddie Current or Decware offerings were available to listen to.
Any help you could give would be appreciated.
Over and out.
Before doing any of that I would consider putting out a classified for a Zana Deux, which historically have gone for about $1500 or a little more (I got mine for $1200 with an Mullard ECC35 and have seen others go for below $1500). The Decware Taboo MKII was designed for lower impedances, particularly planars and you will have gain issues with the HD800, unless you add the CSP2+ as preamp (as a result moving past your budget). The Taboo MKIII, which is far more versatile will also run beyond your budget. I'm a big fan of the CSP2+ and its variable inputs/outputs are surprisingly useful (think HE6 > speaker amp), but I don't find it equals the Zana Deux if SQ is the sole criterion. The Zana is just such so anomalous for a tube amp (in some ways like the unfortunate Singlepowers of old), in that it plaits together the midrange goodness and ambiance recreation of a nice tube amp with the speed and tactility of a good solid state (though not so free of grain).
While I own the Taboo and CSP2+ I have not heard the Super 7 and so no comment there. The WA2, which I nearly sprung for a year ago I recall being on a similar plane with my T1's, which is to say it and the CSP2+ are the best I've heard the Beyers. I remember thinking I preferred the preamp of the CSP2+ and it's more restrained midrange, but it's been too long for any definite remarks.
Eddie Current is among my favorite amp designers, and having owned the ECSS and Zana Deux, I have learned that when you buy from him you receive as an supplement an individual who stops short of nothing to help you, warranty or otherwise (though Decware's lifetime warranty is impossible to beat). The Zana also features a terrific preamp and multiple inputs, something seldom mentioned when talking about this amp. The only other amps which I have heard that improve on the Zana with the HD800 is the Balancing Act, GSX (v2.) or my chosen combination of Zana Deux > Beta 22.
If I were in your shoes I would consider the other headphones you will be using with the amp you eventually decide upon. The HD650, AD2000 and TH900 are, for me, perfectly synergistic with the Zana Deux. My Beyer T1 is considerably better on the CSP2+ (in fact nothing sounds any less than good out of the CSP2+, but it doesn't invoke that "end game" titillation you get with the Zana). I think when you factor in the competition and your budget you have nothing to lose by checking if someone has an interest in selling one.
Edited by ericfarrell85 - 4/12/13 at 10:56pm