Woo Audio has announced a new dongle DAC / headphone amplifier in which a larger-than-average aluminum chassis pulls power and digital data in via USB and outputs an analogue signal via 3.5mm or balanced 4.4mm sockets. On the side panels, we note controls for volume attenuation and play/pause with D/A conversion coming from an (unspecified) ESS Sabre DAC chip that supports PCM up to 24-bit/384kHz and DSD up to DSD256.
The twist in this story is given away by the unit’s name. The TUBE Mini puts a pair of slimline tubes on the headphone amplifier’s input stage whilst the output stage is loaded with MOSFETs for a hybrid design offering a maximum of “1 Watt into 8 Ohms”. A power rating into the more standard 32 Ohms isn’t given. However, Woo Audio claims the TUBE Mini puts enough juice on tap to drive a pair of HifiMan Susvara.
Woo Audio also warns users of sensitive IEMs to be extremely careful and that also the TUBE Mini is not a DAC to drop into your pocket to walk around with. Why not? The tubes sit in a sprung-loaded suspension system to minimise – but not completely eradicate – microphonics.
My best guess is that Woo’s TUBE Mini is a travel-ready tube hybrid DAC that’s best deployed at one’s destination, or at the very least whilst stationary. A good option then for anyone wanting to add a little tube warmth to a hifi or head-fi system fronted by a smartphone, tablet, PC, Mac, Raspberry Pi or Schiit Urd CD transport.
Your choice of black, silver, red or blue. Price? US$499.
Further information: Woo Audio