Home   News   Reviews   Show Reports    Partner Magazines       

January 2014
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Woo Audio WTP-1 CD Transport And WDS-1 DAC
Simplicity of design and modest pricing makes this duo a winner!
Review By Anthony Nicosia

 

Woo Audio WTP-1 CD Transport And WDS-1 DAC  In business since 2004 Woo Audio was founded by Wei Wu and his two sons. Their mission then and to this day remains, to fulfill the desires of the most demanding audiophiles by designing and handcrafting high-end audio equipment to delight both the listener's eyes and ears. With over 40 years' of experience building amplifiers and other electronic products Wei Wu came to the conclusion that a simple design would sound the best. As a result, his philosophy is based on simplicity of design, both electronically and esthetically. Simplicity also means cost-effectiveness, so it is hardly surprising that Woo Audio has earned a reputation for building products that satisfy even the most demanding music lovers all coming in at a very reasonable price. It was quite interesting to note that on their website the following was found:

"Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler" -- Albert Einstein

Pretty smart fellow that Einstein and when you consider he did all that theorizing before the onset of computers well that in itself is even more mind-boggling. Speaking of creative people, Wei Wu is the company’s chief engineer with Zhi Dong being the co-engineer and mastermind behind all those elegant case designs. Then there is of course Jack, who, in addition to his technical responsibilities, is the public face of the company. It is through Jack that I was able to arrange this review.

Actually I first discovered Woo Audio quite by accident, when searching for tube amplifiers via the internet. Luckily for me I found a link to their product lineup where I was immediately struck by the sight of the beautiful WDS-1 DAC and the WTP-1 CD transport. The fact that they were priced at only $1199 a piece, not bad for a high end product, quickly grabbed my immediate attention. Currently my system sports an Oppo Digital BDP-95 universal player ($995 when new). The Oppo is a great all around disc player that can do Redbook, SACD and DVD Audio as well as being a Blu-ray player. Having quite the reputation for being "a giant killer" among the world of CD players I thought it quite interesting to see how well this combo from Woo Audio would stack up against it. Doing my due diligence by reading through the Woo Audio website and looking over all their tube power and headphone amplifiers beforehand I had a strong hunch the WDS-1 and WTP-1 would do just fine. Happily that proved to have been a wise educated guess on my part.

Ok so the WTP-1 is not a Blu-ray player, I have a separate room/player for that, and reads only Redbook discs but honestly most of my friends have Redbook only CD's anyway. SACD and DVD Audio sadly just never did seem to take off with the mainstream public. As for the WDS-1 it was made to go with the WTP-1 but can also be used with other makers’ players as well. What this combo from Woo Audio has that others may find lacking is a volume control, allowing one to eliminate the need for a preamplifier from the audio chain. Simplicity is good as it puts less between the recording and you. The more that is in-between the more things might change and the more expensive it can get. Think not only the preamplifier but an extra power cord, interconnects and even maybe the need for a larger power conditioner to allow for that extra equipment. Come to think of it when you consider the cost of my $5000 Aesthetics’ Saturn Calypso preamplifier maybe these products from Woo Audio are actually much cheaper than those players who lacking a volume control are in need of  the expensive of a separate preamplifier.

The following review was mostly done bypassing any preamplifier in an effort to display the capabilities of both products from Woo Audio. The WDS-1 comes with two settings, one for "slow" the other "sharp", my preference was for the slightly extra detailing that came with the sharp setting, and was how most listening was performed. You will of course want to experiment with each setting as your tastes and room may very well vary from mine. Connections between the player and my amplifier were accomplished in balanced mode using Acoustic Revive XLR cables.

 

WTP-1 Technical Data
Woo Audio WTP-1 CD TransportOn the design side this transport is housed in a beautiful all-aluminum layered chassis with screws hidden from any viewing angles giving it a nice sculptured look. Being a top loaded player access to the transport is done via an arm attached to its cover. Simply move the room to the left to gain access to the transport. Once inside you will find a SONY laser head and mechanism along with a magnetic disc clamp to place on top of your CD's before playing. Made especially for the WTP-1 is a customized toroidal power transformer, ultra-low temperature coefficient Crystal clock and high damping suspension springs for the CD tray. There are Individual power supplies for both digital and mechanical circuits, multi-layer military grade PCBs along with Ultra-low noise, high precision resistors. As for the crystal oscillator it is located at the DAC chip to help keep jitter low. Foot stands cost only $15 for a set of four and are necessary when stacking the WTP-1 directly on top of the WDS-1 DAC. An AC umbilical cord to attach Transport to D/A can be had factory direct for only $10. Standard with the transport, but a $90 option with the D/A is an all-aluminum remote control. The remote is relatively small, sturdy and fits easily in most hands. Its only drawback, if you can call it that, is there are no numbers with which to recall tracks but rather one must move back and forth one at a time or in fast forward mode.

There are four digital displays with matching buttons on the front panel to control CD operations. On the rear panel are outputs, one each, for S/PDIF coaxial, TosLink optical and XLR AES/EBU. If you are looking for the on/off switch you just might be in for a surprise. It is on the top front left hand corner. The WTP-1(transport) and WDS-1 DAC from Woo Audio can either be placed side by side or stacked one onto the other if the optional feet and AC umbilical cord are purchased. Once done turning on the WTP-1 activates the WDS-1 simultaneously, hence the reason for the location of the on/off switch to be on the top corner and under the feet/weight of the WTP-1 when stacked on top.

 

WDS-1 Technical Data
Woo Audio WTP-1 CD Transport BackLike its companion the WDS-1 also has an all-aluminum layered chassis (with screws hidden from view) individual power supplies for both digital and analog circuitries, a custom built toroidal power transformer and multi-layer military grade PCBs. Chipset is a PCM1795 D/A and Sampling rate is up to 192kHz/24-bit for all inputs. Looking at the back panel one sees Inputs for Asynchronous USB 2.0, TosLink optical, XLR AES/EBU and S/PDIF coaxial with outputs one each of RCA unbalanced and XLR balanced. Again the on/off switch is located on the front left hand side to either be turned on manually or placed under the WTP-1 transport for simultaneous power on/off operation. There are four digital displays with matching buttons on the front panel. One each for input and filter and two for volume control allowing the transport to be used without a preamplifier if you so choose.

 

Let The Music Begin
Having been a while since last listening to Bob Dylan it seemed that maybe it would be fun to rekindle memories from my youth by playing songs from his Blonde on Blonde CD [Columbia CGK 841]. This classic Dylan album has been well received and is packed with many popular hit songs, one of my favorites being "I Want You". Here we can clearly hear Dylan’s signature vocals in its entire splendor. If however you prefer to take some of the sharp edge off his voice just hit the filter button on the remote and switch from a sharp to a soft setting. For me the preference leaned towards the sharp filter adjustment giving both vocals and harmonica a more realistic sound. Those with a system that already sounds overly analytical might opt for the soft setting to thus avoiding sounding over the top with detail presence. On the classic "Rainy Day Women" my Magnepan loudspeakers had no problem throwing a wide soundstage left/right. Members of the band could be pinpointed on stage whooping it up in the background as Dylan sung the lyrics. This Woo Audio duo delivered the goods with emotional content and detail throughout this entire album, bringing back sweet memories of days long since forgotten.

As long as we are dipping into songs from yesterday it seemed like a good idea to play something from the Grateful Dead’s album American Beauty [Rhino R2 74397]. On "Friend of the Devil" we are treated to a spectacular listening experience with Jerry Garcia on guitar/vocals and David Grisman playing Mandolin. Again set on sharp the presentation was vivid and full of all the minute details this musical experience had to offer. It is time to talk about bass and "Truckin'" was a good place to start as the song geared down into those lower regions with the help of both guitars and drums. When playing this track it is good to turn up the volume and let it take you for a ride you can feel in your chest. I am not talking about some overly hyped up exaggerated bass notes but just good rock and roll feel good music grabbing at you with tight clarity.

Moving now into a more laid back jazz mode it was time to place the CD Jazz on the Row, a 2007 Sampler CD [2007 San Jose Jazz] into the transport. With twelve difference performers recorded there it was difficult selecting only a few as all were so very good. The vocals of Nicolas Bearde on "Can We Pretend" put me in the state of mind to grab for a nice glass of wine to sharing with close friends or perhaps just my wife and myself. The Woo audio transport and DAC were able to convey a level of emotional content one would want from a jazz selection without missing any of the inner details of the musical event. To feel the performance without missing out on the physical features of the individual playing of instruments was indeed a great joy. This duo did nothing to stand in the way of allowing a double bass to emotionally express itself without the loss of the finer texturing of notes that they defined so sharply. Please do not get me started on Kaye Bohler "I’d Rather Go Blind" as here vocals were simply magnificent with an ample sense of air around her voice. When she sang the music filled the space between my loudspeakers giving me a sense that the loudspeakers had disappeared. You know how some songs just get you involved well this duo from Woo Audio never failed to take me there as song after song took hold of me and never let go. The WTP-1 and WDS-1 sounded so good that I quickly forgot the preamplifier had been taken out of the loop.

Woo Audio WTP-1 CD Transport And WDS-1 DACThere are two things that matter a great deal in the NFL, speed and size. Also like the NFL they may not be the only things worthy of discussing but still many audiophiles find this on their list of must haves. One reason to purchase my Magnepan 3.6 speakers is that they offer up a healthy plate of both. The CD Polyphonic Dialogues [2L63] from 2L featuring Joachim Kwetzinsky on piano was spectacular as it displayed both ample quantities of speed and a true sense of the instruments lifelike size.  Could this combo rock? You bet it could and switching over to the Rolling Stones Get Yer YA-YA’s Out [abkco 90052] proved it to me. Here the band sounded true to form on "Sympathy for the Devil" as a good sense of pace made one want to move with the music. The width of the soundstage and depth of soundscape on "Honky Tonk Women" was refreshing. You got a good sense of the distance from the stage to individual layers within the audience. This was very impressive indeed. Sometimes equipment reviews come along that get me lost into feeling good about the music rather than searching for technical reasons as to why. That’s how this reviewed ended up which is a testament to both the gear from Woo Audio and of course the music itself.

2L has some very good recordings and many like the Polyphonic Dialogues mentioned above are SACD Hybrids and therefore can still be played back with the WTP-1 reading just their Redbook CD tracks. Another SACD Hybrid CD is the String Quartets [2L71] album. Here an excerpt from Ludwig van Beethoven’s "String Quartet in E flat major, Op, 74 "Harp" highlighted some of the Woo Audio’s strongpoints. Soundscape width and depth were immense with layers of musicians pinpointed clearly within the performance. As it did with vocals there was a sense of air around instruments adding a sense of realism to the performance on hand. String instruments exhibited good inner detail as even small vibrations became clear and the slow decay of notes took me that much closer to the sound of a live performance. This music from 2L and the two components from Woo Audio was just an incredible match exhibiting how good each truly are.

 

Woo Audio and my McIntosh MC2102 Tube Power Amplifier
I just could not resist placing the McIntosh MC2102 with its 100-Watts of tube power into the chain. This amplifier is equipped with eight KT88, four 12AX7 and four 12AT7 tubes.  My Aesthetix Saturn Calypso tube/hybrid preamplifier was used as a bridge between the Woo Audio products and the power amplifier. The McIntosh was connected to the preamplifier by way of XLR cables from Monarchy Audio. This was how my system is normally used with a preamplifier in the chain and how I thought it fitting to finish up this review process.

Woo Audio WTP-1 CD Transport And WDS-1 DACYo-Yo Ma & Friends Songs of Joy & Peace [Sony Classical 88697-24414-2] has a wide selection of various performers and musical styles each accompanied of course YO-YO MA on Cello. The MC2102 by its very tube amplifier nature took some of the sharpness off the music in exchange for that midrange magic many of us so dearly love. On "Here Comes the Sun" the vocals of James Taylor took on a deeper sense of depth and dimensionality plus a little warmer tone as well. The sound of the Cello had a smaller club feel to it bringing the performance closer to me. There were many ways that made me prefer pairing the Woo Audio duo with my tube amplifier and hybrid tube preamplifier. Perhaps that is because Woo Audio is so heavily into tube products and it would seem only natural they should use their own tube gear to voice this setup. Either way they were still a welcomed addition to my system used with either my solid-state or tube power amplifier and with or without a preamplifier. The harmony of the trio from the Assad family on "Familia" sounded far more in tune with each other than I had remembered. Again some of that sharpness eased back a bit but only in exchange for more of a life like overall tonal quality to both instruments and vocals. That exchange for you will prove to be a personal experience but one I doubt will disappoint you whichever way you choose to go as these are quality products from Woo Audio.

Renee Fleming on "Touch the Hand of Love" gave a proper sense of distance between her and the backup singers. Towards the end of the song the long decay of her voice hanging in the air to slowly trail off left me sitting there in awe. But what about the bass man, the bass, could it still give you that good feeling even with tubes? For that answer I moved over to the Santana CD Supernatural and the song "Maria Maria". Here that old familiar feel it in your chest bass seemed close to tight as ever. Perhaps it was backed off a bit but that was a product of the tube amplifier and not the players. When reinserting my solid-state amplifier for a moment the bass did tighten up a small notch. The opening guitar sequence from Everlast’s "Put Your Lights On" sounded truly masterful as he so lightly touched upon those chords giving one a sense of the delicate nature to his performance while his husky vocal style remained the same adding a nice contrast to the event. Once again none of the "fun" aspect of the performance was lost here with this dynamic duo from Woo Audio and the tube amplifier.

 

Conclusion
Summing it all up this combination of players did an incredible job at their price point and a bit beyond. You may opt to use them with a preamplifier or not, that is your choice. Just like setting it to sharp or slow will be a personal decision you must make. With regards to simplicity, Albert Einstein would surely have been proud.

Obviously by now you must have understood just have well received these two products from Woo Audio were welcomed into my home. If you have a CD only system, which mine is not, then a preamplifier might be something you care to do without. This alone justifies these two products as an outright steal of a deal. Please understand there are better players out there but it will cost you dearly and you just might not think their differences worth all that extra money. While not finding them extraordinary in any particular area they were very highly rated across the board without any noticeable glaring weaknesses. These products would do well placed in a high-end audio setup or connected to a computer if desired. However you decide to use this setup I would think you will "Enjoy the Music" as they are both quality components from the design team at Woo Audio. A definite high recommendation is in order here.

 

The Listening Environment
The review room is eighteen feet eight inches long by thirteen feet wide with loudspeakers and equipment kept on the short wall. The cathedral ceiling starts at eight feet on the short wall slopping upwards to reach a height of thirteen feet in the middle than returning to eight feet at the opposite end. The hardwood floor is partially covered by a nine by six foot oriental rug lying down the long ways facing toward the loudspeakers, placed dead center between but not under the listener or the audio rack. The room has no doors but there are two openings. One opening is in front of the right loudspeaker on the long wall giving access to the hallway the other behind the listening position to a formal dining area. There are two large floor standing GIF Tri-trap acoustical panels one in each corner of the short wall in front of the listener and two panels from Acoustic Revive (AR) located on the wall directly behind each loudspeaker. A third AR panel is placed flat against the right side wall with Numerous Auralex Studiofoam squares to found placed along walls and high up in each of the four corners of the room. All the audio equipment is located in a Synergy Twin S30 Salamander audio rack placed about a foot away from and in the middle of the short wall opposite the listening position.

 

Review Equipment
Magnepan 3.6R Loudspeakers
McIntosh MC452 Solid-State Power Amplifier
McIntosh MC2102 Tube Power Amplifier
Aesthetix Saturn Calypso Tube/Hybrid Preamplifier
Audience aR2p-TO Power Conditioner (connected to amplifier)
Acoustic Revive RPT-4 Ultimate Power Supply Box
Cherry Synergy Twin S30 Salamander audio rack

 

Tonality

Sub-bass (10Hz - 60Hz)

Mid-bass (80Hz - 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz - 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear  
Soundscape Depth Behind Speakers

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

Specifications
WTP-1 Top Loading CD Transport 
Sony laser head and mechanism
Outputs: S/PDIF coaxial, TosLink optical and XLR AES/EBU
Output Voltage: 500mV p-p
Crystal Oscillator Stability: 0.3ppm/°C TCXO
Clock Jitter: <90pS
Remote Control: All-aluminum premium remote
Power consumption: <10VA
Finish: Anodized aluminum
Dimension: 84mm x 230mm x 320mm (HxWxD)
Weight: 10 lbs.
Price: $1199
Foot stands (set of four) $15
AC Umbilical Cord: $10 (30cm or one foot cable) used to connect the AC outlet of the WTP-1 to the inlet of the WDS-1 D/A so you can switch both units on with the touch of only one button on top of the WDS-1

 

WDS-1 Digital to Analog Converter
Chipset: PCM1795 D/A
Sampling Rate: Up to 24-bit/192kHz for all inputs
Inputs: Asynchronous USB 2.0, TosLink optical, XLR AES/EBU, S/PDIF coaxial
Outputs: RCA unbalanced and XLR balanced
Max output: 2.2Vrms @ RCA, 4.4 Vrms @ XLR
Frequency response: 10 Hz to 20 kHz (+/-0.5dB)
Distortion: <0.002%
S/N: 120dB
All-aluminum premium remote control (optional)
Finish: Anodized aluminum
Dimension: 84mm x 230mm x 320mm (HxWxD)
Weight: 9 lbs.

 

Company Information
Woo Audio
Fax: (718) 764-6393
E-mail: wooaudio@gmail.com
Website: www.WooAudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gryphon Audio

 

 

 

     
Quick Links

Twitter  Facebook  Pinterest  RSS          


Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews

Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Preamplifiers
Amplifiers
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc

Superior Audio Archives
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews

Music Reviews
Classical Music
Jazz, Bluegrass, Blues, Etc.
Rock, Pop, Techno, Metal, Etc.

Columns
Editorials By Steven R. Rochlin
Audiolics Anonymous
Nearfield By Steven Stone
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles


Partnered Magazines
The Absolute Sound
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
CANADA HiFi
hi-fi+ Magazine
HIFICRITIC
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine

Show Reports
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2014
California Audio Show Report 2014
Capitol Audiofest (CAF) 2014
T.H.E. Show Newport Beach 2014
High End Munich 2014 Report
AXPONA 2014 High-End Show
Salon Son & Image 2014 Show
CES / T.H.E Show 2014 Vegas
TAVES 2013 Report
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2013
Click here for previous shows.

Resources And Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions
High-End Audio Manufacture Links

 

Daily Industry News
High-End Audio News & Information

Internet Browser
Audiophile Internet Browser V12

Mobile Phone Apps
Android Audiophile App
Windows 8 And Phone 7/8 App

Other
Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty
300B Tube Comparison

For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics

Stay Informed
Join Our Free e-Newsletter 

 

 

       

Home  |  Sitemap  |  Industry News  |  Equipment / Music Reviews  |  Press Releases  |  About Us  |  Contact Us

 

All contents copyright©  1995 - 2014  Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.