I've frequently raved about Woo Audio's all-tube headphone amplifiers in this blog, so I was surprised to see that the company's new WDS-1 digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is a solid-state design. Woo still offers the full line of made-in-New-York-City headphone amplifiers, with prices starting at $495.
There's also a new matching WPT-1 CD transport. Build quality is superb; these components have the sort of detailing you see on high-end gear that sells for two or three times the price of Woo's products. Each unit is 9 inches wide and 13 inches deep so they can be stacked, with the CD transport sitting atop the DAC, or they can be placed side-by-side.
The WPT-1 transport is a proprietary top-loading design, with a swiveling top cover that hovers over the CD. The transport features a Sony laser and drive mechanism, isolating suspension springs supporting the half-inch-thick solid-aluminum CD bay, a precision magnetic disc clamp, and the rear panel has coaxial, optical, and AES/EBU digital outputs. The WPT-1 comes with a small, all-metal remote that looks great and is easy to use. It has a felt-covered bottom, so it won't scratch your furniture.
The WDS-1 DAC can be used with a preamp in a hi-fi system, but since it has a digital volume control, it can be hooked up directly to any power amplifier, negating the need for a preamp. The DAC's connectivity suite includes asynchronous USB 2.0, optical, AES/EBU, and coaxial digital inputs, and RCA and XLR analog outputs. The clock source is an ultrahigh-quality crystal oscillator located near the DAC chip, for lowest possible jitter.
The Woo components have a neutral sound quality, with excellent resolution of fine detail. I listened to a wide variety of music on CD, and the Woos' clarity and resolution were top-rate. I was less impressed with the sound of the WDS-1 when it was hooked up to my Mac Mini computer (using the USB output). The sound was thinner and brighter than I heard with the WTP-1 playing CDs.
The Woo WTP-1 and WDS-1 are currently being sold direct from Woo for $1,099 each, the price will rise to $1,199 each in a few weeks. If you're in or near New York City visit the Woo Audio suite at the New York Audio & AV Show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on April 13 to 15.