Whether for actual sound quality or their retro-cool factor, tube amps have crossed one leg over the line from niche audiophile territory to near-mainstream visibility. You can even purchase 5.1 or 7.1 vacuum tube systems from large electronics manufacturers these days. But the Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies takes the prize for most beautiful tube-based gear we've seen in awhile...
Our resident audiophile is often singing the praises of digital-to-analog (DAC) amps for headphone listeners. Sometimes the equipment offers a polished utilitarian aesthetic complementing audiophile performance. Other times, these devices definitely live within the realm of "enthusiasts-only" design. File the Fireflies in a special category of "I need to know more about these!".
Imagine one of those all-glass Apple Stores miniaturized for the desktop, and you'll have a close approximation of the handcrafted WOO Audio WA7 “Fireflies” Amp/DAC all-aluminum chassis and glass design. The almost 5" cubed vacuum tube headphone amplifier works with a built-in USB Digital-to-Analog Converter (it appears Windows-only drivers at this point). The digital to analog conversion is capable of up to 32-bit/192k sampling rates so your highest quality format files aren't tainted before reaching your ears from your computer or mobile device. Here are a couple hands-on reviews from an audiophile's take on the performance if you're interested beyond aesthetics.
At $999 each, the WA7 isn't anywhere near the realm of an impulse buy for the regular MP3/stock earbuds listener. But much like Joey Roth's ceramic speakers, on design alone, the WA7 is sure to get a lot of attention beyond those normally following home audio equipment.
(Images: Woo Audio)