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Cary 300SEI and Woo Audio WA5 (or LE), any impressions?

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by rfprice, Sep 11, 2014.
  1. rfprice
    Can anyone comment on these two integrateds? I'm trying to feel my way in and through the world of 300b SET. I've had my eye on these two amps for some time, but I'm not even sure if the difference between them is a matter of taste or quality. A stock WA5 is about half the price of the Cary. Does this indicate a difference in overall performance level? A fully-loaded WA5 is approximately the price of the Cary. Does this bring them closer together? I'm flying blind, and am trying even to just get a sense of where these stand in relation to each other (and in relation to other available 300b designs).
    People seem to have strong opinions about the Cary, both good and bad. This fact makes me more appreciative of the Cary, not less. The word that jumps out at me from people's reviews is "magical." User reviews of the WA5 are universally positive. I haven't read a single negative word about it. But might this mean that the Woo is a great all-around performer, but not quite spectacular in any particular way?
    The 6moons review describes the WA5 as overkill for solely headphone use (in comparison to a Yamamoto HA-2). Well, I've never heard the Yamamoto either, so this tells me little. However, although I hope that my next amp will be able to drive a pair of moderately efficient speakers, I want to put my money toward optimal headphone-stage performance first. I'd even forgo the speaker taps entirely and buy the LE version if I thought that the performance trade-off would be significant.
    Would appreciate any and all advice. Thanks.
  2. ralfoto
    So I am using the Cary 300sei with both headphones and speakers...it is truly magical...but then again I have KR 300b tubes in it and a NOS VT231 driver tube...this is my second Cary...I have the LX version back in the late 1990's and loved it though it kept blowing the 300B XLS tubes.
    I have also owned the TRV Tri 300b amplifier, which has a built in phono stage and headphone jack...and both this and Cary have remotes....it is also very nice though mine had a huge problem and I had to let it go back to the manufacturer in Japan.
    I can only say that you need to hear the Cary and whatever else in real world situations....all the crap on paper does not mean much...many other factors..which "cans"...which speakers....tubes...interconnects...all effect the sound but I feel that it is really involving, and easy to listen into the night with the Cary....no fatigue....one caveat...I am listening to lots of jazz...mid range is really important to me...bass less so...high end also important....
    hope this helps...
  3. rfprice
    Ralfoto, thanks for your response. In fact, since making that post, I once again broke my rule about buying equipment blindly. I purchased the Cary. I liked Woo's outboard power supply and dual headphone inputs, but I decided that the Cary would be the safer gamble (having never heard either machine, and with no likely possibility of hearing them). Besides, I got a pretty good price on an F-1 version.
    Mine has the stock tubes, and I'm mad curious to try some alternatives. Many people have said that the stock tubes are dull, but I have nothing to compare them to. I hear great things about the KR and also Sophia, but I'm not in great rush to swap out the 300b. But I've heard that many people have moved to the NOS VT231, just like you. Sylvanias and RCAs. It's really a big improvement?
  4. ralfoto
    Is your amp blue...and was it from BC?
    Well the vt 231 does make a huge difference...and you might also consider some other 300b tubes that are not as costly as the KR or Sophia....there are some svetlana from the 1990's tht run about $300 a pair...very nice.
    I would suggest you try different drivers first....i also have used some Hitachi tubes from the 1960/70's ...again since you are using the stock 300b these might be better than VT 231.....
    Let me know how to reach you and we can speak more....I also might have some I would consider to let go...okay and enjoy.
  5. HiFiGuy528
    Not at all if you care about getting the best sound possible from your headphones investment.  :)
  6. Stereolab42
    The Cary 300SEI uses solid-state rectification. If you're going to spend a fortune on a "tube" amp, make it 100% tubes!
  7. rfprice
    Solid-state rectification? Now, that's interesting. How about the Woo?
  8. Stereolab42
    Woos typically use tube rectification, as it should be.
  9. rfprice
    Welp, the Cary had some problems and so had to go back to the dealer. It is still great, and I am still thinking about getting a replacement, but at least for right now, I am back at the beginning.
    So any further thoughts? Any compelling reason why a WA5-LE (with parts upgrade) would be a better choice? (Other than the rectifier, which is a very good point.)
    Also, could I ask a favor from some kind owner of a WA5? I want to know if both components can sit side-by-side on my amp platform. By the stated dimensions, the two together are just a little too wide. However, only the feet need to sit on the platform. So could I ask someone to please measure the spatial area of the footprint?
  10. ralfoto
    what type of problems....I am using the 300sei now and it sounds amazing....Tube rectification or SS...in this unit not that much sonic difference actually....have had both types and really so many other factors affecting the sound.....
    Gerry Mulligan meets Johnny Hodges...feels like I could be there...on the cans....on my speakers well that is pure bliss.

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