I’ve own these amps for a few months and wanted to a quick comparison. One thing to keep in mind is the price difference. The Woo Audio WA7 is priced at $999 and comes with a DAC (comparable to a DACmagic XS/Dragonfly). The Pathos Aurium comes in at $1,500 and doesn’t include a DAC. I’ll be using the Chord Hugo as the source for this comparison.
- Sennheiser HD 800 (modified) + Stock cables
- Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies
- Pathos Aurium with stock tubes
- Chord Hugo
- Chord Silverplus USB Cable
- Kimber Silverstreak RCA Ultraplates
- Sennheiser HD 800
- Lenovo T420
- PS Audio P10 Power Plant
- Better authority
- Thicker in a good way
- Smoother, not as edgy
- More natural presentation
- Pairs better with the HD 800 IMO, more human-like
- MUCH more musical
- More dynamic
- Sweeter sound, organic, sounds beautiful
- Drums just have this realism to it I didn’t get from the Fireflies
- More cohesive
- Not as detailed as the Fireflies
- More euphonic
- I like the textures more on the Pathos
- Has a grey overtone, lush. Probably the tubes.
- More natural presentation, especially for vocals and low-end presence, synergies well with HD 800 to me.
- I think most would prefer the Pathos in a blind test, no doubt. Works well across all genres.
- Better layering
Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies
- Definitely on the brighter, leaner side with tubes
- Not very engaging in direct comparison with the Pathos
- Lacks a bit of weight and body compared to Pathos
- The Pathos is better at texturing and imaging IMO
- Soundstage possibly wider than the Pathos at the cost of coming off a bit thin
- The sound has a sheen to it
- i think the Fireflies have better clarity and soundstage
- Much blacker background
- Matter of taste. If you like brighter, Fireflies.
- More tonal balanced. Pathos is more colored but in a good way
- Better for classical
- Has a more delicate sound to it, light on its feet. Pathos has more weight and musicality
- Better separation
- Bright room, black black background
As far as sex appeal…it’s quite obvious the Woo Audio WA7s takes the spotlight. You have to see this on your desk in person to do it any justice. It’s probably the more attractive headphone amp I’ve ever seen.
When it comes down to sound quality, my personal preference was the Pathos Aurium with the HD 800 by a wide margin. It just sounded more like cozy, smooth, and musical. It doesn’t have the whole tube sound but does give it that touch of that addictive organic bloom. The WA7 had a much blacker background, great for classical and strings, and a wider soundstage. However, it just wasn’t as engaging for my tastes. If you’re a detail fanatic and listen primarily to orchestral music, you may prefer the WA7s. If you want some soul and body in your music, look no further than the Pathos Aurium. It doesn’t fail to please.
I assume the review is of the original WA7 (32/192 DAC) given you had owned them a couple of months at the time of the review? (I think the newer 24/384 DAC version was first available in March?)
If so, curious to hear if you’ve had a chance to listen to the newer model and how it compares! Better to get the newer model or get an older one and add a DAC like a Mojo (assuming Hugo is not an option).
I’ll try to get a review unit of the new WA7 but I no longer have the original. I do have both the Hugo and the Mojo and I could say without a doubt, it’s better than the original WA7’s DAC.