Cal Audio Alpha 24/96 upgrade?

I have a Cal Audio Alpha Dac, and I am wondering if it is worth having the 24/96 upgrade done. Is it worth the cost, ($450)? Will it make that big of a difference? Or is it money that should be saved for something else? by the way, I am using a Cal Audio Delta CD Transport.

Thanks in advance.
If you haven't tried swapping tubes in this unit, i would go that route before spending the money on the 24 / 96 upgrade. Then again, i know others that have done the upgrade and found it WAY better than any tube swap. It's all personal taste and system based. I've got 3 different CAL dac's and they all have different sonic signatures.

If you are hell bent on doing the upgrade, you should probably do it relatively soon. I don't know how much longer CAL will be doing these mods, but i don't see it continuing that far into the future. Sean

What kind of tubes would you recommend to try? I don't know alot about the different ones.

Hello Ton1313-
I have done the upgrade AND replaced the stock tubes with others. I have tried NOS Westinghouse, Mullards and Teles. I have decided that my Amperex goldpins sound best. Now to answer your question, in hindsight, I would not have made the investment in the upgrade. Yes, it is an improvement, but the ROI is zero. Given the opportunity, I would sell the CALs and look at a Metronome, Electrocompaniet or Resolution player instead. IMHO, all of these sound better than the CAL.
Thanks for the input. What kind of differences did you hear over the stock tubes with the others? Where did you get them? and how much do they cost. I think for now, this might be my best approach.

You are also recommending a CD player instead of seperates?
I don't have much experience with the hi-end players.
I "somewhat" agree with Camadeco as you might have summed up from my first post. Bargain hunters ( most everybody on this site ) see the 16 bit Alpha's for sale at reasonable prices and have a hard time spending the greater amount of cash for the 24 bit. As such, it may be harder to move them at a price that takes into account the cost of the upgrade.

In terms of tubes, there are literally dozens and dozens out there. What tubes work best in your system is going to be up to personal taste and the tonal balance / amount of detail that your after. My suggestion is to "start cheap" and work your way up. It is quite possible that you can find something that you like for low bucks and it MAY end your search. Then again, there are those folks that are "never satisfied"... : )

There was a similar thread to this one a few weeks back. I think that Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio said that the Mullard's were what he sold the most of for this piece. Then again, i think that people have read that others were using them and tried that as a starting point since they already knew that they would be decent. Kind of a "monkee see, monkee do" type of events. No offense to anyone on that statement, as i too was a "monkee" : )

You might want to try looking at to see what they have. These are new tubes and they are an electronics supplier. For the price of one "big name" set of tubes, you can literally purchase a wide variety and see what works best for you. For your convenience and for those that may be interested, i've included some part numbers below:

072 - 410 Sovtek 12AX7WA / 7025 LOW NOISE $5.25 EACH

072 - 420 Sovtek 12AX7WB / 7025 HIGH GAIN $5.90 EACH

072 - 662 Philips 12AX7WA $10.80 EACH

072 - 680 G.E. 5751 $11.50 EACH

I somehow posted early and didn't finish the job. Is this what they call "premature....." ??? : )

Even if you ended up buying a pair of each tube listed above, it would set you back a whopping $75 including shipping. This would give you 5 sets of tubes to compare (4 new pairs and the originals). As such, $75 would not even cover ONE pair from a "tube specialist".

While these tubes may not be on the "hot list" of "tubeheads", they would give you a good idea as to the different sounds and levels of performance that are possible with some simple tube swapping. Keep in mind that there are literally WAY more options open to you. I simply suggested Parts Express and these specific tubes as a matter of pricing, availability, selection, convenience and listed those that i know will work in your specific piece of gear.

Here's a link to the previous discussion on this subject:

Hope this helps and widens your options. Sean
One other thing. If you use your DAC on a regular basis, i would simply leave it on all the time. I've done this and never had any problems whatsoever. Life expectancy of a low level tube like this is VERY long compared to what you get out of a power tube. Not only does this negate warm up time, the internal temperature of the DAC remains consistent, making its' operation more stable. Besides that, the high volume of in-rush current DEFINETLY shortens the lifespan of ANY component. The only time that i would worry about leaving it on would be if i lived in a "black-out" zone or the area was prone to very heavy electrical storms. Sean
Your CAL setup has a very nice sound. The tubes give that combo some bloom. I use to have it about four years ago. Also Metronome is made in France and imported out of New York city by Fanfare international. Who has a very poor track record on their service department.(I know personally)The Metronome cd 2v is also a nice sounding peice but not one of a high recommendation from me.It depends on your budget? Its not worth the upgrade on the cal.Yes you will hear an improvement but no its not worth the money. The Theta miles is a very nice sounding cd player no longer made but very good especailly at the price you will buy it for on the used market. About 1,300. The Arcam FMJ is a great sounding cd player as well. The Wadia 850 is very good also. My favorite is The Levinson 39 as many people know. Good luck if I can help you in any way please feel free to email me and I will assist in your quest for a great player. good luck: Daniel
I bought my Cal unit from Galen Carol Audio.
At that time, he ststed(and I purchased) a matched
set of low noise RCA 5751's. They sound much better
than the stock tubes and only(?) cost $20 each. I also
have a VAC and Aronov tube preamps so I have tried
NOS tubes of different makes in the Cal. I always
return to the5751's. It is a matter of personal
taste in sound and your system in general. I have also
heard the upgrade degrades the overall sound quality.
I am putting my $450 plus shipping towards either an
EMC-1 or Audiomeca unit.If you have the matching Cal drive,
it reportedly won't read 24/96 formated disc's. You will also need a new transport. Buy a new player and save thecost of a better drive and cable.
Thanks for all of the great advice everybody, I think I will be trying some different tubes for now. Later on I might consider a better player, or maybe a combo dvd/cd like the Cal CL-20 or equal. Has anyone used this player? and does it sound as good or better than my Alpha/Delta?
I have a Cal Icon, and have a/b it extensively with the Alpha/Delta combo. Very slight increase in low level resolution in the 24/96 alpha. Why spend $450 for an upgrade that is small when you could get an EVS Millenium II for $1050 and make substantial improvements and get true upsampling to 24/96