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Review:.......Woo Audio Fireflies Dac vs Resonessence Concero HP Dac

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
(Also see Music used for comparison *)

 

General impressions of the Woo Fireflies Dac/amp as compared to the Resonessence Concero HP Dac/amp.

 

using :

 

AKG 701s and AKG 551s.

NAD Visos

PSB M4U-1s

Sennheiser HD 600s

Beyerdynamic DT 880s

Focal Spirit 1s

Focal Spirit Pros

 

The Fireflies sounds best with my PSB M4Us - and the Beyer Dynamics DT880s - and the Sennheiser HD600s.

Its a toss up.

 

So, as the Concero HP has no tube circuit to offer i will first  compare for you the sound quality of the DACS found in the Concero HP as Compared to the Woo Fireflies and the Meridian Explorer and CEntrance DacPort.

 

The Dac in the  Concero HP is a significant improvement in sound quality over the others listed.

The Fireflies by Woo sounds as  good as the CEntrance Dacport or the Meridian Explorer.

The Concero HP Dac/Headphone amp offers more detail, more articulation, more dynamics, and a deeper and wider sound stage then presented by  the Dacs found in the Fireflies,  Meridian Explorer, or the Dacport.

The Meridian Explorer is a reasonably priced Dac and compares equally to the class A CEntrance Dacport, and both of these IMHO, are better then anything else in their price range.

Neither of the 3 can quite compare to the astounding fidelity found in the Concero HP Dac/Headphone amp .

I'd estimate as a percent, that the Meridian, Fireflies, and Dacport, can each achieve about 70% of the ResonEssence Concero HP sound regarding resolution, detail,  articulation, and sound stage.

 

 

Also, it goes without saying that in this price range, and considering the companies that created these sound reproduction devices, you dont have to wonder about "EQ balance" regarding the Concero HP or the Fireflies.

Both have amazing frequency balance.

I find their individual sounds complimentary to each other when comparing the Fireflies as a Tube USB/Headphone amp with the Concerto as a Dac/Headphone amp.

Using all the headphones and music i listed, i would say that the Fireflie's Headphone amp is reasonably  close to the tonality  of the Concero HP but cannot touch the Conero HP regarding articulation, detail, dynamics, or depth of sound stage..

The Fireflies has a good Dac, while the Concero HP has a world class Dac.

As a USB Tube Headphone device the Woo Fireflies is incredible.

Attaching your favorite CD player to the Fireflies analog RCA imputs will give you a significant upgrade in sound through the headphones as compared to the output of your CD player's headphone jack.

I have a nice Marantz 24bit CD player and playing it through the Fireflies tube tube amp circuit is a decisive improvement over the headphone sound  found in my Marantz.

 

Both the Concero HP and the Woo Fireflies deal with cymbals and reverb tails  similarly, = lots of resolution and detail.

Both drive all the phones i listed with ease.

In my opinion, if you are using HD Sennheisers, and prefer this family's generally warmer tonality to the more clinical sounding Beyers or AKGs, then i would suggest you go with the Concero HP ..

I dont own Audeze headphones, so, i cant offer a true comparison for you of which would sound better  regarding these 2 units.

The week of Feb 10th - 17th, 2014, i'll receive a set of custom ordered ZMF modified Fostex T-50RPs, and i'll post an update here regarding using those phones after examining them with both the Fireflies and the ResonEssence Concero HP.

 

If you can afford both the Fireflies and the Concero HP, then.....why not.

If you prefer the Tube sound in your headphones and view the  USB Dac of the Fireflies as a insignificant "add on", then of course get the Woo Fireflies because it really is  a Tubular wunderkind.

If a world class tube sound does not make your honey drip, then save your wallet $150-USD and get the ResonEssence Concerto HP as its a Killer DAC/Headphone amp.

Its remarkable.

Really.<

 

And finally, 2 more for your consideration.:

 

The Woo Audio Fireflies looks like an Apple Device, and of course its aesthetic value is a step above the Concero HP.

I would say that if you mated the Fireflies with a Mac Mini you would have an amazing looking combo.

And also, the VOLUME knob  on the Fireflies is miles ahead of the Concero HP regarding smooth feel and the way it more expertly  integrates within the volume control circuit in your Laptop/PC.

 
Final thoughts...
 
The Dac in the Woo Audio Fireflies is solid and comparable to a Meridian Explorer or a CEntrance DacPort, however its the Fireflie's USB Headphone Class A tube amp experience that will leave you euphoric and smiling.
On the other hand...
The amazing ResonEssence Concero HP has a wonderful cohesiveness  regarding its significantly detailed and lush presentation that simply captivates and thrills.
Its a beautiful thing to hear.
 
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 
 
Music used in the comparison. ****
 
Selections from:
 
 
1. Sarah Jarosz - "Build Me Up From Bones"
 
2. Youn Sun Nah - Same Girl
 
3. Sissel - "Northern Lights"- DVD
 
4. ToTo - "Falling In Between, LIVE in Paris" - DVD
 
5. London Grammar - "If You Wait"
 
6. Eliane Elias - "Kissed by Nature"
 
7. Natasha Borzilova - "Balancing Act"
 
8. Guthrie Trapp - "Pick Peace"
 
9. Catherine Durand - "Coeurs Migratoires"
 
10. Cara Dillon - "Hill of Thieves"
 
11. Bee Gees - "Saturday Night Fever" (2003 Remaster)
 
12. Jimmy Wahlsteen - "181st Songs"
 
13. Tine Thing Helseth - "Storyteller"
 
14. Lang Lang - "Live at Carnegie Hall"
 
15. Pergolesi - "Stabat Mater" (Barbara Bonney & Andreas Scholl)
 
16. Midori - "Encore"
 
17. Antje Duvekot - "New Siberia"
 
18. Smoke Fairies - "Through Low Light and Trees"
 
19. Queen - "Sheer Heart Attack" (2012 Remaster)
 
20. Rush - "Hemispheres"
 
21. Pink Floyd - "The Wall" (EMI Europe Remaster)
 
22. Loreen - "Loreen" (2013 re-release)
 
23. Boston - "Boston" (remaster)
 
24. Maya Isacowitz - "Safe & Sound"
 
25. Ariane Lydon - "Lady of the Green"
 
26. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals 
 
27. Keane -"Hopes and Fears"
 
28. Steely Dan - "Gaucho"
 
29. Paul McCartney - "Band On The Run"
 
30. Elton John - "Goobye Yellow Brick Road"
 
 
And 2 Youtube Concerts...
 
1. Level 42
 
 
2. Larry Carlton Trio
 
post #2 of 10

Thanks for the comparison.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post
 

Thanks for the comparison.

 

My pleasure.

 

Thanx for checking it out.

post #4 of 10

nice review! I have DT880 250ohm, which one will you recommend when using as usb dac/amp combo?

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by IINx View Post
 

nice review! I have DT880 250ohm, which one will you recommend when using as usb dac/amp combo?

thank you for the question.

I also have the DT880s.

And its a tough call, trying to decide which of these 2 Pro Units to use with that particular  headphone, as its a headphone that tends, like an AKG 702, towards the bright/articulate presentation, which would favor it towards the Fireflies which has slightly more (tube) warmth in the mids then the Concero HP.

So, the idea being...........clinical headphone matches tube warmth = sonic Nirvana.

And it is........but.......But, as the DT880 is so revealing, then its interesting to mate it with the Concero HP which is such a revealing gear as this is like combining 2 microscopes to look deep inside the music.

I like both of these aspects, so, i would say that the Beyer works well with them both., depending on what you are looking for..., and what you are hoping to discover.

If you want classic high end analog wamth then use the Beyer with the Fireflies.

If you want to microscope all the details that you can find in what  you are listening to, then go with the Concero HP and the DT880.


Edited by FullBright1 - 2/28/14 at 5:13pm
post #6 of 10

I can't thank you enough for your detailed reply, it really helps!

I think Concero HP is more tempting to me, as it doesn't require an external power supply like Fireflies (I am a laptop user)

I have read several reviews of Concero HP online and the feedback seems quite good, which makes it even more tempting.

I have a few questions that I would like to make certain of before I buy it.

 

1. You said they are very revealing, but are they fatiguing as well? My listening time is usually longer than 1 hour.

2. I listen to a variety of genres, I enjoy trailer music and metal and female jazz, I wonder if this combo play them well? (I'll put some links below)

3. Have you by any chance tried Herus as well, I read in a brief listening impression that it isn't far behind Concero HP on performance, which is unbelievable to me since their price gap is huge!

 

Thank you again!


Edited by IINx - 4/6/14 at 1:06am
post #7 of 10

Thanks for the comparison - especially interesting to me as I've just traded in the Concero HP for a WA7! I guess it depends what you're trying to drive but ultimately I found the amp in the HP just wasn't up to the job of powering my Beyer T1s: especially with quieter recordings, it ran out of steam very quickly. The DAC, however, is first class and with lower impedance headphones, a smart choice.

 

I actually had a Herus prior to that, and the sound quality wasn't miles off the HP - smooth and detailed; certainly superior to other dongle-type DAC/Amps I've tried, such as the DragonFly. I used to use the Herus with my laptop + Senn Amperiors and it did a fine job.

 

If what you say is accurate about the Concero's DAC being better than the WA7's, I guess the Fireflies could be paired up with a Concero HD, since it has RCA connectors and a means of bypassing the inbuilt DAC.


Edited by WraithApe - 4/5/14 at 4:30pm
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by WraithApe View Post

 

If what you say is accurate about the Concero's DAC being better than the WA7's, I guess the Fireflies could be paired up with a Concero HD, since it has RCA connectors and a means of bypassing the inbuilt DAC.

 

I love my Concero HP dearly.

 

And once upon a time I had a maxxed (blackgates and all) WA6SE that amazing.

 

But, the HP + fireflys gets up in the territory occupied by the Chord Hugo... having heard one, no question about it, I just throw the extra $600 and get one of those.  It's only about 30% larger than the Concero HP, has a built-in battery, that high-end blutooth support (lossless up to 24/96 IIRC) *and* it sounds stupendously awesome.


Edited by bobeau - 4/10/14 at 1:23pm
post #9 of 10

I wasn't that impressed with the Hugo - at least not in terms of its synergy with the T1; obviously depends on what headphones you pair it with. The Hugo was powerful but really made the T1s sound harsh and glassy. They're bright phones anyway, and the Hugo just seemed to accentuate that.


Edited by WraithApe - 5/21/14 at 10:48pm
post #10 of 10

Thanks so much for this comparison! I've just taken delivery of a WA7 (upgraded harmonix tubes), and it disappointed me so much I'm returning it. I was previously using a WA3 (with nicer tubes as well) and a Peachtree DAC•iT X, and the WA7 can't approach the articulation of bass nor scope of soundstage nor overall richness of signature that this combo had. I wouldn't even have "upgraded" to the WA7 at all, if compromises hadn't been made regarding how much dining table real estate my rig could occupy, ha ha...

 

Before I'd pulled the trigger on the WA7, the other main contender was the Concero HP... So with the WA7 going back, that's what I will be getting. Great to read a comparison that appears to confirm what I've been thinking... Only wish I'd stumbled on it before I flipped a coin and went with the Fireflies.

 

Ah, well. Can't wait to hear the HP.

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