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Woo Audio WTP-1 CD Transport

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I have been wanting to do a review with some comparisons of this unit since I got it last week, but I have been enjoying it so much I have just been listening to all kinds of music. This thing makes everything sound good.  Right now I am listening to Bruce Springsteen, not a favorite of mine but is so by my wife and oldest daughter.  I have always thought his recordings were subpar and poorly recorded but the Woo makes them shine and I could get to like him.

 

I started out in my office with it plugged into a Musical Fidelity A3-24 DAC a Stax  SRM1MK2 headphone amp and Stax Sigma Pros.  The increase in detail from my old Denon player used as a transport was immediately obvious. But I took it home that day and noted when I reconnected the Denon that it was like all the details had been sliced off the top.

 

Anyway I listened at home a bit with the Woo hooked up to a Musical Fidelity X-DAC v3, a Stax 717 amp and Stax 007A and Sigma/404.  Again great detail, and dynamics.   Soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf nearly blew out my right ear when she hit a high note.

 

But mostly I have it plugged into my main speaker system,  a set of Polk SDA 1's, with Yamaha and JBL  surround speakers.  The amp is a fairly inexpensive Yamaha surround-sound amp RXV665.  The Polks  have a separate Haffler 100 w/ch amp and the JBL rear surrounds have an SAE 100 w/Ch  amp. The main amp is linked to the Woo by a Wireworld Supernova 6 glass optical cable and I am astonished at just how good  this set-up sounds now. Mybe the built-in Yamaha DAC is pretty good or the Woo just allows it to perform to its best.   As I say I just want to listen to all kinds of music and not sit around making comparisons but I am sure I will get around to this later.

 

In a few words, details, musicality, dynamics and prat.

 

As regards the unit itself,  it was somewhat larger than the pictures made me think it would be.  It is fairly narrow but still rather deep. It also is  heavy at about 10 lb.  However transports often are hefty, my old CEC cd/transport is almost 20 lb.  It comes with a nifty compact remore.  It has no problem playing a cd-r.  My old CEC was very hit and miss on these.  It also quickly reads the disc information and gets to the track you select.

 

I the mean-time I have ordered a second unit so I can have one at work and one at home.


Edited by edstrelow - 7/26/13 at 5:05pm
post #2 of 4
Thread Starter 

I finally did a comparison of the electrical and optical digital link between the Woo and my Musical Fidelity V-DAC 3  (with separate power supply.)  The optical link is a Wireworld  Supernova 6, the electrical link is a Cardas High Speed data cable.  These are about the same price per meter, a bit over $100.00, although I was using a half meter digital cable.   Both sounded pretty respectable. however I felt the optical cable had an edge in openness of sound, cleaner bass and less edgy treble. The electrical cable seemed somewhat constricted in sound with a smaller soundfield and a a slightly edgy, high frequency sound.  The bass seemed better defined with the optical connection as well although the Cardas gave a slightly more prominent but slightly "one-note" bass.

 

So for the moment I am sticking with the Wireworld Optical.

 

Conventional wisdom has it that electrical connectors are better than optical in this role, and I belived this for many years. I suspect this comes partly from the fact that optical connectors are usually fairly cheap. The Wireworld Supernova 6 is about the top of the price range that I have encountered for optical connectors. It claims to use 280 glass fibers.  Cheaper optical connectors use plastic.  BTW I also bought a glass link with I believe 400 plus fibers but it did not sound quite as good as the Wirewold.   The Wireworld and the Cardas are about the same price but you can spend a heck of  a lot more for electrical conductors, so there may be  electrical connectors which best the Wireworld.   On the other hand the theoretical advantage of the optical connector is that it creates no electrical connection between the player and the DAC which could generate electrical noise or hum.

 

The Woo also has an AES/EBU connection but since I have no DAC that uses this I have no way or reason to compare this connection.


Edited by edstrelow - 7/9/13 at 3:42pm
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

I have finally spent more time with one of my best set-ups, a Musical Fidelity X-DAC v3 with separate power supply, a Stax 717 amp and Stax 007A headphone.  Even though only  a headphone system it is not cheap and is somewhere in the $5,000-$6,000 region. I am using the above-mentioned Wireworld Optical link to the DAC. 

 

Up to the persent time I had no direct experience as to whether or not a high grade transport would be a worthwhile investment.   I did have a CEC  5100Z Belt Drive cd player.  This was fairly expensive in its day about $1,200.00 and a version which looks much the same is still being sold both as a player and as a  transport   Some years back I switched to using separate DAC's  based on the reasoning that there seemed to be significant change in the design of DAC's while the cd readers seemed not to differ that much between various players. Certainly the CEC player seemed to be giving mediocre sound as a player as it aged but if it was used as a transport to run a separate DAC the sound was much better.

 

When I compared the CEC as a transport against the other cheaper players being used as transports I detected a small but significant improvement mostly in bass impact of the CEC.

 

By comparison, the advantage of the WOO over cheaper players is very much more obvious. Everything sounds much more detailed and dynamic. 

 

By dynamics I am referring to the contrast between loud and soft sounds.  This shows up both on indvidual instruments, say that a solo flute that jumps out more prominently from the sonic background of  a symphony, as well as the fact that loud creshendo's  are  even louder.  In fact I find myself having to readjust with some music because having set the sound to my normal level for a quiet classical passage, I now need to turn down the volume when it gets loud. You won't have this issue with pop/rock music since these don't tend to have such loudness contrasts.  What you  get from the Woo with rock/pop is more bounce or rhythm.  For example a bass guitar or drum will give a more prominent "whack."  In fact one of the more noticeable sonic effects of the Woo is that for many, but not all recordings, the bass line is louder.This I attribute to the dynamics effect.  If the bass is strong as recorder it becomes very prominent.  If it isn't there at the start the Woo doesn't add anything.

 

At the same time some other sounds seemed amplifed by this effect.  I have notice that sopranos in particular seem much louder when they hit their high notes, which are usually sung forte or fortissimo.

 

I have, but no longer use, the old dBx analog dynamic range expanders.  These came out in the dying days of analog music and  allow you to either compress the dynamic range or expand it.  Small amounts of expansion gave a certain kick to the sound, rather like what I describe with the Woo.  Compession was good for quiet listening with things like symphonies, since it limited the volume  contrasts but can in no way be called hi-fi. Once you use such equipment you get  an ear for dynamics and as I say, this is what the Woo adds.

 

I seem to also pick up more in the way of timbre and harmoncs with the Woo. Many instruments and voices sound richer.

 

Overall I find with the Woo something I have found with other high grade equipment, that more recordings that I had previously regarded as poorly recorded, now sound good. However it can also  make cleardeficiencies, such as tape drop-outs on old re-issued material, and miscellaneous background sounds in the recording studio.  I was also listening to an old Neil Diamond recording last night and one  track in particular sounded very poor because he didn't seem vocally up to the music. This I hadn't noticed before. But his best stuff sounded even better though.

 

Overall, I would say I am getting a level of improvement appropriate or beyond  the approx $1,200.00 cost of this unit.  I am happy enough to order a second unit which today's e-mail tells me is on its way.

post #4 of 4

I have enjoyed reading your "review on the Woo". I was looking at one on the 4 sale threads the other day, but wasn't sure what it was like.

Not only what you have written, But...The fact you are getting another is this Woo seems like great little transport.

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