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Intro and questions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone,

My name is Scott. I am a soon-to-be-retired air traffic controller at MSP tower. Prior to my government service, I was a manufacturing engineer at a couple of different computer companies in the Twin Cities area in the late 70s and early 80s. I have been a tech and gadget geek for most of my life and am into photography, guitars, and motorcycles.

My wife and I have a lake house on Lake Superior. We will be moving there permanently in 2 years to retire, spend time with the grandkids, and enjoy life. I have drunk the Apple kool-aid which explains my current equipment roster: Mac Pro, iMac, a couple of MacBooks, an iPad and IPhones.

I recently re-ripped my entire CD collection to ALAC and put it onto an external SSD drive. I am very much enjoying being able to surf my music collection via iPad Remote and have the iMac send it all via airplay to the stereo system - NAD receiver, C370 amplifier and Magneplanars.

My music is Steely Dan, Bob Dylan, KD Lang, Dave Grusin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eagles, Jackson Brown, Pink Floyd, Tedeschi Trucks, etc. No Rap, No Metal. I like tight bass and clear vocals, music with a lot of space around the individual instruments - not the Phil Spector 'Wall of Sound', organic approach.

My Maggies will not fit in the lake home. I have a very small listening room overlooking the lake and am currently running my trusty NAD 7020 into a pair of Linn Kataan bookshelf speakers. They are wonderful for casual listening and anything more would overpower the room. I found this site in my search for good quality headphones so I can still do some serious listening - preferably with a good book and a great whiskey!

My plan is to install an iMac in the lake home and bring up my library on the SSD. The iMac will then be able to feed the music to the rest of the home. In searching for external DAC/headphone amps I found the Woo Audio WA7. I am pretty well set on it - the reviews have been great, the aesthetics complement an iMac, I can pass the DAC through to my NAD for casual listening, and to top it off, I am a sucker for tubes.

My budget is $2K to $2.5K. I do not plan on getting the tube power supply, so the WA7 will take $1K out of the budget. Do you think my amp to headphone price ratio is good, or am I skewed one way or another?

Based on my music preferences and the existing equipment listed, what headphones would you all recommend?

I will probably get the upgraded tubes for the WA7 at $100. The power supply looks to be an additional $400. This money would have to come out of the remaining headphone budget. Would this money be better spent on better headphones or on the power supply? The $2K number is a bit mushy, but the $2.5K cap is firm.

post #2 of 9

The ratio is good, 

You really should treat yourself with an HD800, no less.

post #3 of 9

Welcome. Happy retirement!


I recommend starting with the headphones first and then finding out what will pair well with it.


For the sort of soundstage you describe, I would not recommend a planar because I find them to be thick. So a dynamic model.


One important question: Do you need isolation from outside noise? You mentioned grandkids.


If you don't need isolation, HD800 is the best for the sort of soundstage you want. It's "picky" about which amps it sounds good with, so you'd need to look into which tube amps are recommended for it. I don't know how good WA7 sounds with it. I'm also thinking you can get better sound for the money with a more conventional set up. But focus on the headphones first.

post #4 of 9
Hd800 sounds like a good suggestion if you aren't that sensitive to treble..
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. I don't need the isolation; in fact, with grandkids running around, it's good to be able to hear what is happening!

The 800's are definitely on my short list. I do wear glasses, so an around the ear seems to be a better plan than an on the ear. From what I have read, the WA7 is probably warm enough to work with the top end rich 800s. As a Magneplanar owner, however, I can't help but be partial to a planar headphone like the Audeze.

Finding a local source to demo seems to be an issue. My free time is generally spent in Northern Minnesota where the pickings are slim. Trying out and returning high end equipment is not much of an option, therefore I like to dip from the well of collective wisdom as much as possible.

Any thoughts about the tube power supply for the WA7?
Edited by Beammeup - 5/8/14 at 8:24pm
post #6 of 9

HD800 is very comfortable and feels lighter than it actually is. If the treble on HD800 is an issue, which it can be, the Anax mod takes care of that.


The Audezes are rich and dark sounding with a sort of in between soundstage--bigger than the Hifimans and smaller than HD800. They're also kind of heavy, though the weight is better distributed than the Hifimans. (I haven't tried the new Hifimans yet, but they can only be better than the old ones.) But they're very impressive in their own way.

post #7 of 9
If you want planars I'll have you consider the Hifiman he560, maybe even the upcoming he6 replacement, though that'd not be before the end of the year. I'm quite positive the 560 will be a lot more comfortable than he6 and the Audeze line.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
I've been eyeballing the oppo pm1 / ha1 combo as well. This would fit well into my budget.......AAARGH! So many choices!
post #9 of 9
Originally Posted by Beammeup View Post

I've been eyeballing the oppo pm1 / ha1 combo as well. This would fit well into my budget.......AAARGH! So many choices

A lot of hype to cut through, but I doubt the soundstage is anything special. I'm also the guessing that the treble roll off won't play rock so well as some others. But all planars have those issues to some extent.
Edited by Claritas - 5/10/14 at 11:30am
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