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At last, the companion piece for the Aria WT power amplifiers are shipping.
Fully-tubed phono and line-level preamps built to last
with sound quality second to none.

Shown: The WV5 Preamplifier

Tube Phono Stage • Separate MC & MM • Tube Balanced Line Stage • 4/Tube Power Supply • Toroidal Transformer• Home Theater Passthrough • Remote Control Volume (optional) • Available in Standard (Classic Counterpoint Sound) or Premium XL Build • Lifetime Warranty

Also available in optional black or silver on special order, see "custom color" (below) for details.

All Aria Products are made in the United States (click here for details)

NEWS: Special Offer: Get a 20% discount on the matching Aria WT power amplifiers with a purchase of a WV!

Overview

There are three WV models, each available in two levels of build quality.
All WVs are available in two build levels: standard and the premium-build XL.

The WV5 (pictured, right) is a complete all-in-one preamplifier model incorporating a phono stage and a line stage.

The WV11 (looks like a WV5) is the line-stage only version, for people who don't use vinyl. It is a WV5 with the phono stage and MC transformers removed. The two phono inputs will accept line-level signal and can be used with an external phono stage.

 Both the WV5 and WV11 can be ordered with optional remote-controlled volume and will work with any high-quality power amp, although the gain structure and impedances make them ideal matches for the Aria WT amplifiers.

The WV9 (pictured, right) is a phono-only version intended for use in systems with an existing line stage or with preamps with less than state of the art phono stages. It is essentially a WV5 with the line stage and volume control removed. The line level inputs are blocked off. The WV9 can be used with any line stage. Versions with special features available.

WV Series Product Details

Phono stage (present in WV5 and WV9)

  • Pure triode tube signal path with a passive riaa network, reliable and quiet.
  • Two phono inputs: MC and MM. Phono 1 (MC input) uses the wonderful Sowter 8055 MC transformer 1:10 stepup transformer which is suitable for MC cartridges in the 0.3 to 1mV range. For cartridges which fall outside this range, other transformer models can be custom-mounted. For example, if you have an MC cartridge which needs more or less amplification than the Sowter 8055's 1:10, the Lundahl LL9206 can be installed. The LL9206 can be wired to provide 1:5, 1:10, and 1:20 step ups. It sounds nearly indistinguishable from the Sowter 8055 lacking only a taste of emotionality and rhythm. Or, if you have some transformer you'd like us to install in your WV, please email me and I'll check it out. Here's a page which describes the transformers I listened to before settling on the 8055.
          Phono 2 (MM input) is designed for cartridges which have higher output than most MC cartridges and provides standard 47K ohm MM loading.
  • MC loading is accomplished via loading plugs containing resistors inserted into MC load RCA jacks. One set provided with preamp per customer-requested loading value. Normal configuration with 8055 transformers and nothing inserted into MC Load jacks is 1,000 ohm. For custom values, click here.

    Options for the WV5 and WV9


    • The MC input can be eliminated on the WV5 and WV9, leaving a dual-input MM-only version by not installing the MC transformers in Phono 1 position, saving at least $240 (depending on current pricing of the Sowter MC transformers + shipping cost from England), Phono 1 then becomes the second MM input.
    • WV9 (only): Balanced outputs can be provided by installing a modified line stage. See Special Versions for more information.
    • WV9 (only): A volume control can be added to WV9 by installing a modified cathode-follower type line stage. See Special Versions for more information.

    Occasionally someone asks me why I first amplify the MC signal with a transformer before feeding it to the tubes, rather than just feed the MC signal directly to the tubes. Been there, done that in the Counterpoint SA-5.1 and SA-2. Tubes are too noisy for MC signals. Here's a more in-depth look at the subject.

Line Stage (present in WV5 and WV11)

  • Pure triode tube signal path, completely balanced.
  • Switchable to handle either 6-volt or 12-volt dual-triode tubes. This feature provides a broad range of "voicing" options far beyond what normal tube preamp offer, as well as being able to use lower-gain tubes for higher-sensitivity systems (where volume is difficult to control). See "Tube Types" for more information.
  • Three line-level inputs, one of which is switchable between XLR balanced and RCA.
  • A fourth line input labeled "HT" (home theater) does not go through the line stage or volume control, providing a direct connection to the output jacks. This may be used as a home theater pass-through for the right front and left front channels. The WV5 and WV11default to this input when in standby or powered off, so home theater systems can be used even if WV is fully powered off.
  • The WV5 and WV11 standard build units use the fine-sounding ALPS RK168 volume control. The XL version uses a DACT four deck attenuator -- the best sounding volume control I've ever heard (see "XL Version" for more information about the differences between the standard-build WVs and the premium-build WV XLs.)
  • The line stage is 100% feedback free making it a perfect match for the companion WT power amplifiers or other power amplifiers with 28dB or less voltage gain. If more range is needed from the volume control, the gain of the line stage can be lowered by using a lower-gain tube, and by inserting resistors (available separately) into onboard jacks to pad down the signal.
  • No balance control.
  • No tape loops.
  • "Pre Send" jacks provide direct, unamplified, connection to input signal.
  • Two sets of RCA main outs and one set of XLR balanced outs per channel.

Power Supplies Details (present on all models)

  • The high voltage supply for the tubes is pure tube: fully-tubed rectification and regulation. This is a completely reliable and great-sounding design.
  • Choke input configuration for spacious, quiet background.
  • Dual filament supplies, one for line stage and one for phono stage, both delay/soft-start for prolonged tube life.
  • Heatsinking (for the filament supply) is internal for cool reliable operation.

External Power Supply Box (all models)

  • External box houses a custom-made Plitron transformer, IEC AC inlet, power switch, fuse and main power pilot light.

Other Details (all models)

  • Front panel switch provides mute and standby function. Like in Counterpoint designs, the WV's standby function turns off the high voltage but keeps the tube filaments lit for extended, quiet life.
  • The main power switch on the power supply box permits turning the unit off entirely.
  • All inputs and output connectors are fully RF bypassed (no sonic degradation).
  • All switching is done with gold-contact relays, same as are used in the Counterpoint SA-5000, Magnum Opus, SA-11, and other Counterpoint products. These relays have proven 100% reliable even after 20 years of operation and are completely transparent-sounding.
  • Dual circuit boards in the audio chassis: one for the input and output connectors and switching components, the second for the active electronics.
  • Resonance control: As developed in the Alta Vista Audio upgrades for Counterpoint products. Completely removes circuit board and tube resonances responible for blur and glare. Sounds are detailed without etching or brightness. The input/output connector board is firmly-mounted to the chassis with a compressed wool felt damping pad under it; while the circuit board with the tubes and associated electronics floats atop a thicker wool felt pad. There is no better way to decouples the tubes and sensitive components from external chassis and airborne vibrations.
  • Simple, strong chassis design.
Standard vs XL Build
The Standard WV
The XL (Premium) WV

Click on the image for a larger view (1MB, opens in a new window)

Photo Gallery

Click on the image for a larger view (1MB, opens in a new window)

Photo Gallery

The Standard WVs use parts like you'd find in the very best electronics. In some cases, certain parts, like resistors and capacitors that are responsible for the "Classic Counterpoint" sound (e.g., as found in the Counterpoint SA-5.1) have been deliberately selected. Roederstein resistors, Reliable Capacitors, and Continental Capacitor Inc.'s Type A audio-grade capacitors are used in the Standards. The part types chosen have all proven themselves in Counterpoint products which are still in operation more than 25 years after having been manufactured.

The premium-build XL versions (WV5 XL, WV11 XL, and WV9 XL), like the Aria WT XL amplifiers, use the best-sounding highest-quality parts, period. Those familiar with my Alta Vista Audio upgrades for Counterpoint gear know that I am very picky about the parts we use. These are parts which are too expensive to be used by manufacturers who sell through retailers.

As an example, the premium parts used in the WV5 XL include: a DACT CT2 balanced stereo (quad) stepped 24-position volume control; "Naked" Vishay TX2352 bulk metal foil resistors in 28 locations; Mills wirewound resistors in 13 critical locations; Caddock Tetrinox resistors in 4 locations; a Plitron power supply input choke; Dynamicap foil coupling and bypass capacitors in 15 locations; Continental Capacitor Inc.'s Type A capacitors; Van den Hul CC-18 carbon wire with WBT crimp-on solderable gold tips in all signal path connections (40 wires); Cardas GRFA RCA jacks in all 20 locations (other types available on special order, see Note 1, below); Cardas wire power supply umbilical cord (6 feet standard, custom lengths available); and a Silent Source IEC inlet (See Note 2). (Precise component count details for the WV11 XL and WV 9 XL is different because these products don't have, respectively, a phono stage or a line stage.) NB: These are the part that I've found to be the best-sounding to my ear. If you have some other parts you'd like us to use in an XL, please contact me and we can discuss a customized WV for you.

Tube Types

"The option of being able to change tube types in the line stage is genius. I hunted down a pair of Siemens CCa (6922) with `D' getters from 1952 for the phono stage. Together with a pair of Philips 12AU7 Miniwatt in the line stage, it is no less than fantastic.
      "After I got the WV I converted to vinyl and began using Tung-Sol `round plate' 6SN7GTs in the Aria WT100 amps connected in mono. And yes, the WV is good, but it gets good help from the WTs: `steel control' is the word.
     "For CD playing I found the Tung-Sols a little too sweet, and have been trying 6SN7Ws (1944 Sylvania) and 6SN7GT (1952 Sylvania `Bad boys'). As you know, both tube types have deep bass. But on vinyl the Tung-Sols have plenty of bass and are a lot faster.
     "So as you understand: it does not get a lot better than this. But as you also mention on your home page, the choice of tubes is a matter of personal taste."

E. Pederson, Norway

Owners of WV Series preamps can post comments like this about tubes and read about other's tubes discoveries on the members-only Aria WV Tubes group.

The heart of any good tube preamp is the tubes, and the WV is so transparent that the difference in sound quality between indifferent and the very best tubes can make the difference between a sound that is merely very good, and a sound that is stunning.
      I wish I could ship WVs with the best tubes already installed into the sockets, but it's simply not practical. Finding the great-sounding tubes (such as Amperex, Telefunken or Siemens) in production quantities is not possible, although they can be found in small quanities from many sources.
     Also -- what if your idea of the best sound is not mine? Why should I raise the prices of the WVs by $400 by putting in the tubes that I think are the best knowing that you may not agree with my tube selection or already have your own?
     
BOTTOM LINE: For these reasons, the WVs ship with "good quality" tubes (probably Electro Harmonix or Sovtek 6922's, depending on availability) warrantied for one year. These tubes work, they sound okay, and they are quite reliable, but they are by no stretch of the imagination good enough for a product of the WV's caliber -- it deserves much better than these "good tubes." Think of these tubes as the "house wine," inexpensive and palatable (usually) but if you want a great wine with your meal, you need to order it separately. So for the WV, you'll want to find better tubes.

      Here are the tube types that can be used in the WV, you'll find that it is quite flexible.

  • Phono Stage (WV5 and WV9): Two tubes used, can use any 6-volt filament tube with 9AJ and 9LP basing, such as: 6CG7/6FQ7, 6GM8, 6N1P, and 6N30/6H30, but it is really based around the 6DJ8 tube and its relatives: 6922(WA), 7308, 8223, CV5231, CV5354, CV5358, CCa, CV2492, CV2493, CV8065, CV10320, ECC86, ECC88, E88CC, E88CC/01, ECC868, E188CC, E288CC. You can read more about this family of tubes, with some recommendations, here. These tubes do not have any influence on the sound of the line stage (below).

  • Line stage (WV5 and WV11): Two tubes used, can use any of the 6-volt tubes listed for the phono stage (above) as well as most 12-volt filament tubes with 9A basing, including: All 12AU7 types (A & WA), 12AV7, 12BH7, 5814A, 5963 (untried), 5965, 6067, 6189, 6414, 6680, 6829, 6913, 7062, 7730, 5814(A), (CK)8431, CV4003, CV491, E82CC, ECC82, ECC802(S), ECC99, E180CC and equivalents.
         An internal switch permits switching the line stage so it can handle 6-volt 9AJ and 9LP based tubes as well as 12-volt 9A based tubes equally well. All signals, line and phono, go through the line stage, so its sound influences everything except the Home Theater left-front and right-front pass-throughs, since they are direct connections without any involvement with the active circuitry.

  • High Voltage Regulator Power Supply Stage (all WV): Uses one 6GC5, one 6JC6A, one tube rectifier, and one 5651. Click here to read more about the power supply tubes. Expected life of these four tubes: at least 20 years. The high voltage regulator powers the line stage and the phono stage so its sound is extremely important. It will not affect the Home Theater pass-throughs.

Electrical Specifications

Phono Stage (present in WV5 & WV9)

Gain (when using 6922/6DJ8 type tubes in phono stage and 1:10 MC transformer): MC: 55dB (will raise .4mV MC cartridge to .22 volt), MM: 36dB ( will raise standard 4.7mV MM cartridge to .3 volts). Note that vinyl usually has peaks reaching 12dB above these levels, so output from phono stage will be around 1 volt on peaks.
Input Impedance: MC: 1K ohm with no cartridge loading plugs installed, can be lowered with loading plugs per customer order. MM: 47K ohm (standard moving magnet).
Overload Margin (per EIA RS-490): MC: 30mV (37dB headroom ref .4mV), MM: 300mV (36dB headroom ref 4.7mV).
Signal To Noise: MC: all noise 74dB below 1kHz 0.4mV input signal, 20Hz-20kHz, input shorted; MM: all noise 75dB below 1kHz 4.7mV input signal 20Hz-20kHz, input shorted. These figures are the theoretically quietest possible from a tube phono stage, indicating that the design provides the greatest dynamic range possible. More about tube noise and phono stages here.
Crosstalk: Greater than 70dB channel separation, 20-20kHz.

Line Stage (present in WV5 & WV11)

Gain: Depends on tube type. Some tubes (but not all) below. (gain is shown in dB, balanced in to balanced out / RCA in to RCA out)

    • 6414, 6829, 7062: 33/25dB
    • 12AV7: 29dB/21dB
    • 6922, 6922(WA), 7308, 8223, CV5231, CV5354, CV5358, CCa, CV2492, CV2493, CV8065, CV10320, ECC86, ECC88, E88CC, E88CC/01, ECC868, E188CC, E288CC, 6N1P, 6829, 7062/E180CC: 28dB/20dB
    • 12AV7, 12AY7, 12BH7, 5965, 6414, 6913: 26dB/18dB.
    • 6CG7, 6GM8, ECC86, ECC99, : 24dB/16dB.
    • 12AU7/5963/ECC82, 12AU7A/6680/7730, 12AU7WA/6189, 6067, 6680, 7489, B529, ECC82, ECC802S, & more types: 20dB/12dB.
    • 6H30Pi (AKA "6N30"): 18dB/10dB.

Input Impedance: 100K ohm (higher is ALWAYS better, never accept a line stage with less than 50K).
Line Stage Output Impedance: This is not a fixed number, it varies according to the tube type used. You can assume it never goes higher than 5k ohm, and is closer to 3k typically. This is plenty good for driving cables with no more than 1200pF capacitance, and power amps with no less than 50K ohm input impedance (higher is always better -- see "Associated Components" below).
Signal To Noise: -91dB (14uV noise) below 0.5V output reference, IHF weighted, 20Hz-20kHz, volume control at minimum.
Crosstalk: Greater than 68dB channel separation, 20-20kHz.

Power requirements. Available in 100V (87Vac to 118Vac), 115V (100Vac to 136Vac), and 230V (200 to 270Vac), all 50/60Hz. 75W.

Physical Specifications

Dimensions:
Audio chassis: 19'' (48cm) wide x 17.5'' (45cm) fore-to-aft x 5.5'' (14cm) tall; allow at least 2'' (5cm) at rear for interconnects and at least 4'' (10cm) above for ventilation.
Power supply chassis: 10'' (25cm) wide x 10.5'' (26cm) fore-to-aft, by 5.5'' (14cm) tall; allow 4'' at rear for interconnects.

Weight:
Audio chassis: 30lbs (14kg);
Power supply chassis: 8lbs (3.6kg).
Shipping weight approx. 65lbs (30kg) in wood crate. APHIS-approved wood used for overseas destinations.

Pricing (Sold by direct sales only! These are the wholesale prices. If you want to order through a dealer, double these prices. More about this here.)
Standard Models  
WV5 Preamplifier $ 6,700
WV11 Control Amplifier $ 6,350
WV9 Phono Equalizer

$ 6,350

Options: WV5 and WV11, add $175 for remote control.

 


XL Models

 

WV5 XL Preamplifier $ 8,700
WV11 XL Control Amplifier $ 7,650
WV9 XL Phono Equalizer $ 7,650
Options: WV5 and WV11, add $300 for remote control.  


Price difference between standard and XL remote options is due to difference in parts cost: standard volume control comes with DC motor pre-mounted, and drive electronics simpler; XL volume control needs stepper motor mounted and more complex drive electronics.


Lead Times: Standard WVs typically require a two-week period to build, XLs need an 8-week lead time due to the special parts which need to be ordered.

Pricing Notes:

  1. These prices are direct sale prices -- wholesale prices. In other words, if Aria was in the business of selling to retailers, like conrad-johnson, Aesthetix, or any other brand you'd find in a store, these would be the prices the dealer would pay. High end audio electronics retail prices are generally two to three times higher than wholesale. Compare the WV products to dealer products costing twice to three times as much. More about this subject here.

  2. Standard models can be ordered with a 50% deposit, the balance to be paid when the preamp is ready to ship. XL models are built to order and require full prepayment.

  3. Pricing does not include shipping cost or California state tax if sold to a resident of the state of California. All models ship in sturdy wood crates.

Warranty

All WV models come with our Lifetime Warranty.

Associated Components

Mains Cord
: Please note that all versions of the WV ship with an inexpensive Brand-X AC Mains cord. The WV deserves the best power cord you can get, but I don't want to raise the price just to put in my favorite cord (Silent Source).

Power Amp(s): It's just as silly to expect a tube preamp to perform well into a power amp with a low-impedance input as it is to expect a Ferrari to exhibit any pep if towing a trailer. For that reason, the most dynamic and transparent sound will result with power amps that have input impedances greater than 50kohm. 100kohm is even better. As Lew Johnson of conrad-johnson wrote, "Most [power] amps range in impedance from 20kohms to 100kohms. A few are as low as 10kohms. Below that is irresponsible." The Aria WT power amps have 470K input impedance for just this reason and are highly-compatible. If you insist on using power amps with low input impedance, then I recommend you use a transistor preamp, which is clearly what the manufacturer had in mind when he chose a low, tube-hostile value.

Interconnects: Between the WV and your power amp, the interconnects MUST be shielded. RFI (radio frequency interference) may result in audible buzzes or other noises if unshielded or poorly shielded interconnects are used. You may be able to get away with using poorly-shielded cables when the preamp is transistorized and/or uses massive feedback to lower its output impedance, but a tube preamp with no buffering or feedback has a high output impedance and the signal is easily polluted by any strong RFI fields. This is especially true when using the single-ended (RCA) outputs on the WV. The balanced outputs (WV5 and WV11, optional on the WV9) are less-susceptible to interference, but still.
      If you really really really want to use unshielded interconnects, then I recommend no more than 1 meter between the WV and the power amp. If that doesn't work then either give up the WV or give up the cables. I've done all I can.
      The interconnects that go between the WV and your source products (CD player, etc.) can be shielded or unshielded, check the source component manufacturer's recommendation.

A la carte upgrades

There is no way to stop the march of progress. Better parts are created and discovered all the time. It would not be possible to continually change the WV preamps, or create new versions, every time a better part is invented. So in addition to the standard and XL version, which are presently "frozen" designs, I am making the following special parts upgrades available for all versions.
A la carte upgrades

Custom Black or Silver finish
The standard color finish for the WV is champagne fronts and sides with silver knobs. After building black and silver components for 25 years at Counterpoint, I was frankly sick of that color combination. But if you'd rather have your WV in black, or silver, or a custom combination, then it is available on special order. You can specify any combination of black, silver, or champagne for the two front panels, the audio chassis side panels (the power supply sides are always black) and the knobs. Mix and match! $250, allow two to three weeks for the refinishing.  
 


Better RCA Jacks WBT 0201. To upgrade all 20 jacks on the WV5 or WV11 to WBT 0201 (a very detailed-sounding jack), add $560, or add $290 to upgrade the 10 jacks on the WV9. No partial orders.
    

WBT 0210Ag. To upgrade all 20 jacks on the WV5 or WV11 to the WBT 0210Ag (smooth, rich sound) add $790, or add $390 to upgrade the 10 jacks on the WV9. No partial orders.

Delivery. These parts are stocked and won't slow down delivery of a WV.

We can also use any chassis-mount RCA jack that has a plastic or other insulating shoulder washer which fits a hole .440 inches (11mm) (or a little bigger) in diameter. The jack must have lugs on the back to accept soldered wires. If you have some part you'd like me to consider, please advise the web site of the manufacturer and I can investigate and advise pricing.

New! TX2575 "naked" Z-foil resistors REPLACES already superb Z201 Bulk Foil Resistors
At the end of 2007 I announced the availability of the Vishay Z201 bulk-foil resistors as an upgrade optionover the TX2352 "naked" Vishay resistors used in the XL version of the preamp. All but two WV owners asked me to delay shipment of their preamps until the Z201s arrived in March, 2008, and so I ordered enough resistors to upgrade all the other WVs.
    When placed the order, I asked Texas Components whether it was possible to make an unencapsulated "naked" version of the Z-foil resistor, just as they make the famous "naked" version of the S102C/K resistor. They told me that they didn't have such a version.     Well, it turns out that they were secretly working on a "naked" Z-foil resistor, and they announced it in the middle of February 2008. Two days ago I received a sample of the new "naked" Z201 (called the TX2575), and it is sweet, sweet, sweet -- just as removing the plastic encapsulation from the S102 revealed the exceptional purity of the sound of that part, removing the ecapsulation from the Z201 resistor showed how wonderful the Z-foil parts are.
    Luckily, the batch of resistors being built for the WVs were not so far along the production line that I couldn't change the order and have them built up in the naked TX2575 version.
     All WVs originally slated to receive the Z201 resistors will receive the better TX2575 resistors, with no additional delay and no additional charge.

Did you know that when an audio manufacturer says that they use Vishay resistors, they may only be using cheap resistors -- and they are telling the truth? Click here to read to read more about the truth in labeling of Vishay parts, and who's behind the honest-to-goodness "real" Vishay resistors.
I wish I could use TX2575 resistors in all my products, but they are simply too costly. But I can let you know that they these parts exist, and make them available as stand-alone upgrades.
a la carte pricing for the naked Z-foil TX2575 resistor upgrade
WV5
(uses 22 Z-foil TX2575 resistors)
WV11
(uses 16 Z-foil TX2575 resistors)
WV9
(uses 12 Z-foil TX2575 resistors)
If specified when WV is ordered (1) $990 $790 $590
If WV XL sent in later to have naked TX2352 C/K foil resistors removed and TX2575 naked Z-foil installed (2) $1,690 $1,300 $1,120
If Standard WV sent in later to have standard resistors removed andTX2575 naked Z-foil installed (3) $1,360 $980 $790

Explanation of pricing:
(1) Price is for full set of TX2575 minus the TX2352 resistors.
(2) Price is for full set of TX2575, and labor to remove and discard original TX2352. Shipping not included.
(3) Not all of the resistors in the standard can be upgraded to foil type resistors. Price is for partial set of TX2575 z-foils , and labor to remove and discard original standard resistors. Shipping not included.
(4) All foil resistors, TX2575 included, cost more as the resistance value increases. That's why the pricing does not scale directly with the quantity of resistors used in a product. A WV11XL, for example, has more high-value resistors than a WV9XL.

Delivery: First batch of resistors needed for initial orders expected by 3.18.08. After that, allow 4-week lead time for these parts.


LAT In'tl's Silverfuse Umbilical Cable

The umbilical cord which connects the power supply chassis to the audio chassis is normally either a Belden 9-conductor cable (PVC/copper) on the standard WV, or a bundle of Cardas Teflon/Copper wires in a braided sleeve on the XL version. I also offer the fine-sounding LAT International's Silverfuse wire as an upgrade. For that we use 18 conductors, doubled up for strength.

a la carte pricing for the LAT International Silverfuse umbilical:

On any XL type WV, add $52 to upgrade from 1.8 meters of Cardas to 1.8m of LAT Silverfuse. Add $50 for each 0.5m additional.

On any standard WV, add $300 to upgrade from 1.8m of Belden to 1.8m of LAT Silverfuse. Add $50 for each 0.5m additional.

Delivery: Allow three weeks to build up these umbilicals to order. This will not normally delay an XL WV which usually needs five weeks to build. Standard WVs may be delayed a week or two.

Special Versions

Some available modifications to the existing models.
Special Versions

Volume Control on WV9

The WV9 does not have a volume control. A volume control can be added, in the following variations:

  • Direct Passive The output of the phono stage goes into the volume control and then directly to the output jacks. If requested, one set of output jacks can be wired to the volume control, the second to the output of the phono stage (normal connection for the WV9). The output impedance of the volume control can go as high as 25k ohm at the -6dB setting, so interconnect capacitance should be kept low, preferrably no greater than 220pF, which means a very short length (contact your interconnect supplier for recommendations).
          Cost for Direct Passive with standard volume control: $120; cost for Direct Passive with stereo DACT volume control: $349. Price includes knob. Add $200 for remote.

  • Tube Drive As above, but with a pair of tubes wired as cathode followers installed in place of the line stage which is not present in the WV9. The cathode followers are wired between the volume control and the output jacks and lower the output impedance so long interconnects can be used. Cathode followers are low in coloration and do not provide any signal amplification. If signal amplification is desired, then you need a WV5.
          Cost for Tube Drive with Standard Level components $350 (includes standard level volume control); cost for Tube Drive with XL-grade components $950 (includes stereo DACT volume control). Price includes knob. Add $200 for remote.
 
   

Balanced Outs on WV9

The output of the phono stage is single-ended. A pair of tubes wired as phase-splitters can be installed in place of the line stage not present in the WV9 to provide a balanced output. A pair of XLR connectors are mounted to the rear and the RCA jacks remain connected to the phono stage as in a stock WV9.
      Cost for Balanced Outs with Standard Level components $320; cost for Balanced Outs with XL-grade components $800. Volume control can be added to the balanced outs for $30 (standard) or $150 (DACT). Add $200 for remote.

  1. The IEC Mains inlet was originally going to be a Furutech one, but after listening to the new Silent Source inlet, the Furutech has been completely knocked out of the running.

For the morbidly-curious...

The WV was in development for several years. Those who followed the development blog know that the initial idea was to use a no-holds-barred massive dual mono tubed power supply with shunt regulators. I built up a prototype of that power supply for testing and refinement. It sounded darn good. But guess what? The simpler power supply that ended up in the WV sounded every bit as good (especially with good tubes), is 5 times less expensive, is far far more reliable (complexity decreases reliability), and weighs far less (reduced shipping costs and liklihood of damage). Really, then, except to please the Hummer crowd, there was no reason to stick with the larger supply. You can see a picture of the "Hummer" power supply here.

For the audio chassis, I had originally planned to use octal tubes, such as the 6SL7 and 6SN7. I also built up a prototype and tried many different phono and line stage designs. This chassis was also the test-bed for various MC transformers and volume controls. But the truth of the matter is that, again, a smaller more compact design worked every bit as well. A photo of the "big audio tube" audio chassis project is here.

The final stage of any new product is the "proof of concept." After evaluating the big tube power supply and the big tube audio chassis, I built up a prototype which was to evolve into the WV5. The proof of concept was put up against stock and upgraded SA-11s, SA-9s, and upgraded SA-5.1s and SA-5000s, several well-regarded Other Brand preamps, as well as the big tube prototypes. It came out on top every time, and has been refined into what is now the WV Series of preamps. A picture of the proof of concept is here. It ain't pretty, but it proved that the design was viable.

"All I can say and report is that with the WV XL, the music sounds REAL. I have a Baldwin grand piano at home (not a baby grand) and the piano on a majority of my LPs sound like the real thing. My son plays the violin. The violin notes on the LP via the WV XL sound just like his notes. I don't know nor do I care to know all the descriptive lingo all the reviewers use. That is really all relative to me. What is important to me is if I hear a plucked string on the LP, does it sound as if my son plucked the string here at home (LIVE!!!). You know what? On the majority of my LPs, it does!!!! I am fortunate to have good equipment."
– F. Wells
Mercedes, Texas


"Several months ago I had the opportunity to listen to the prototype of the Aria WV5 XL preamp in two different systems for the better part of a day. One of the systems was my own, in which I use a Counterpoint SA-11 modified to the max by Mike Elliott, an Aesthetix Io Signature phono preamp, and, at times, a Linn Linto phono preamp.
     I was stunned by the significantly reduced veiling that immediately was apparent when the WV was introduced into the system. Imaging was improved as was the musicality of the system. As time went on, my friends and I lost our desire to keep comparing the WV to my components and to an excellent, Elliott-modified Counterpoint SA5000 preamp. We simply kept dragging out more LPs to see how they would sound. I heard stuff going on in a number of records that I had not noticed previously! But this enhanced detail never seemed “etched” or “bright”—the music simply sounded “right” and consistently caused me to smile and relax. I can’t wait to get my hands on the WV I have on order!"
– Paul Lambert


"I was comparing the WV5 XL prototype with a highly-modified Counterpoint SA9/SA11 combo. To my ears, the WV had a much more solid image. I guess you could call it image density or aural saturation, but the vocals and instruments took on a very vivid and lifelike quality. It's kind of like the audio equivalent of a great TV set compared to a great HDTV set... the WV simply made things more real, as if you could just reach out and touch them.
      Amazingly, the WV was able to do this without losing one bit of the incredible detail and accuracy that the SA9/SA11 system had. In fact, I felt that the added realism that each image took on with the WV actually made it have more detail without sacrificing any roundness or lushness to the sound .
     Which brings me to the tonality of the unit: I believe that for an audio system to sound real, the sonic signature needs to be incredibly accurate. The WV is able to convince the listener that the performance is being re-created in a way that is spot-on to the original. Each and every frequency band in the audio spectrum seemed to be right-on, with no emphasis or lightness anywhere.
      When compared to my modded SA5000, it just seemed more coherent, as if every instrument and vocalist were sewn from the same fabric. That's not to say that the unit is homogenous in any way, but that the overtones and cues that affect the listening experience are all intact throughout the soundstage, creating a performance that is a truly convincing listening experience.
      What made this effect even more amazing is the fact that it wasn't recording dependant. To enjoy the tonality of the WV, you don't need to go find the best acoustic recording in your file. On the contrary, everything from Keith Jarrett to Lucinda Williams to Pink Floyd just sounded right. There was nothing to note about the sound of the system.
      The WV allowed the listener to simply enjoy the performance in the end of the room."
-- Kevin Ferry
 
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