WES Review, September 21, 2011
My initial interest in audio started around 1950 when I began to build audio equipment from kits manufactured by Heath Kit. From that point forward I began a restless quest for more realistic and dynamic sound recording and playback..
In the late 1980s my wife and I moved from our large home to a 2,700 sq. ft. town home in Connecticut. Our new residence did not lend itself to my large “ultimate” system.
My STAX SR-007 MK2 would continue to be the “speakers” of my new system. My research led me to the Weiss DAC 202 and the WOO AUDIO’s WES (replacing my STAX SRM-007T II amp). And, of course, high level interconnects and power cords where appropriate.
It is well known that the STAX SR-007 MK2 excel at reproducing the treble range of instruments. However, when coupled with the WOO AUDIO’s WES, the reproduction of the shimmering of cymbals, the delicate overtones of all instruments, including the air around them and of the recording venue, is impressively live. The balance of the presentation is as immersive as I have heard.
Comparing my experience with some of the best speaker systems versus the STAX/WES presentation, you cannot overlook the fact the speakers must deal with the room environment, which, of course, is not the case with headphones. No matter how well “tuned” the room may be there will always be a contradiction between the reproduced venue and the room environment. In this regard the STAX/WES can be absolutely magical, assuming the material is well recorded. Binaural recordings add yet another dimension not possible with speakers.
In full orchestral pieces, as choruses of strings, horns, and other instruments come to be highlighted during the performance, it is as if they leap out into focus with startling realism. I use the word “startling” on purpose because frequently I could “feel” the presence of the performers! You could not avoid the conclusion that you were indeed a member of the audience.
In jazz pieces, with or without vocals, I was transported to the venue of the performance with all the cues one might expect. In the legendary recording “Jazz at the Pawn Shop,” the only thing missing was that I was not served a drink! That was how complete the ambience is recreated. The percussion of the piano, plucking of the bass, reeds of the sax or clarinet, projection of the horns and “gun-like rapport” of the drums are as if they were flashlights aimed right at you. Further, all instruments, solo, in chorus or in full orchestra arise out of “black silence.” A restart of the music following a brief hold is as impressive as a flash of lightning, arising almost unexpectedly out of the blackness. The WES is absolutely invisible in the system yielding not a clue to its presence by coloration, hiss, hum or whatever.
In my 60 years as an audiophile, never have I experienced a more complete and satisfying experience as I am enjoying with WOO AUDIO’s WES.
Afterthoughts, May 21st, 2012
I figure that we are nearing 500 to 600 hours.
After about 100 hours the quality and reality of the sound became so "live" that it became addicting. We couldn't stay away. Be it jazz: horns of every kind, guitars, bass, drums cymbals, piano, you name it: You are there!! Be it classdical, chamber, orchestral, percussion, opera, the sound just "sucked you in."
This past week, something new "kicked in" which we didn't expect. Up till now, soundstage, depth, clarity of massed strings, smashing percussion, etc., everything just sounded as real and lifelike as I have ever heard.
This past week we entered a new level. We scheduled a series of string orchestral pieces to listen to, pieces we have listened to before. But this time there was a noticeable 3D quality to each individual instrument such that in massed strings we hear the chorus with surprising clarity… the massed violins and their positional information is precise; the massed violas and other stringed bass instruments are likewise clear with exceptional positional clarity… and their merging, melding and combined chorus has a 3D texture we can feel. Solo stringed instruments more clearly than ever before present individual string's resonance with amazing clarity, including fingering. Likewise with all such instruments from guitars to harps, to bass, etc.. Horns of every description present their individual resonance, again, in a 3D fashion. What is so amazing is that you can clearly perceive the body movement of the individual musicians.
I may not have adequately described what we are hearing, but trust me, this is a new phase of the WES.