Conrad Johnson DA2b... "Is it the Tubes?

Yes my curiosity surrounds the Conrad Johnson Da2b. But first I must back up and explain my situation. I am looking for advise and feedback. The system I have now is the best components that I could afford to buy second hand. (being that I am only a 22 year old college senior). First let me explain my current system. Mcintosh 7100 amp, Mcintosh C-36 preamp, Pioneer Elite PD-65( as a transport), Conrad Johnson Da2b DAC(XLO digital cable connecting the two), B&W 602 II's, The interconnects and Speaker Bi-wiring were the Best Monster cable I could afford. Before the addition of the CJ and Elite, I was using a crappy sony 200 disc changer that had to go! When I made the upgrade I was not that impressed. My question is it the tubes? The DA2b was 2 years old when I got it and still has the stock tubes. If so what tubes should I get? The new set up has added warmth to my music but it seems that much clarity is missing and there is actually less of a sound stage.I listen to everything from Jazz to classic rock. Being not that experienced in the audiophile world I may be wrong and it may not be the tubes at all and something else, but I know for 2000$ retail the DA2b should sound better than a sony changer and it barely does. HELP!! ps- affordable!! solutions will be greatly acccepted as well as critiques of my system as a whole! Thanks! Adam
Adam- Given the rest of your system, I don't believe that the CJ DAC (and to a lesser degree the PD-65) are your best choices. Though I like many of CJ's products, their DACs require a lot of modifications, including better tubes, to sound great. If possible, I'd consider a different DAC and/or transport, or simply a CD player that will match your system and tastes. A used Polyfusion 800 DAC will certainly improve the sound and can be found occasionally at about $800. A used Sony XA7es CD player is an excellent CD/transport unit at around $1K that would allow you to dispense with the PD-65/CJ/digital cable. There are many other units and combinations that can provide you with the sound I think you're looking for at around the same price that you probably spent on your current digital equipment (around $1K ?). Good luck with your search. As an afterthought, some of the lowerend Monster stuff is quite limiting sonically. I'd suggest that you try to borrow some better cables just to eliminate this as a potential contributing culprit. Just my .02. Goodluck with your search.

I had the DR1 transport and DA2B DAC with a 14preamp and 12mono blocks and thought it sounded magical. It certainly sounded better than the adcom stuff it replaced. Many of the DAC are now getting up in age and may need the tubes replaced. Call CJ and give them your serial number and you can tell when the unit was built. If its been more than 5 years I would be supect of the tubes. You can get a replacement set from them or try Kevin and UPSCALE audio in CA. You see his ads everywhere. He also my be able to shed some light into your problem. Good luck.

New tubes will almost certainly make it more crisp. However, speed and detail are not the apparent goals of CJ gear. Natural harmonics, natural level of detail, nuance and lifelike reproduction are, IMO. New tube set will be worth the modest investment, even as an experiment. Kevin Deal of Upscale in LA is indeed a great resource.
IT IS NOT THE DA2b ADAM. I no from exp.You need to git rid of the PD65 & Find a used theta data basic 11. A great combo. I went threw this with the pd65. & a audio bud let me use his data basic. And whase I blown away. So I bought one. Or just find a better transport. The pd65 is a pour transport.
don't waste your with separates for your source. I would call Kevin but not to retube your dac but to get a njoe tjoeb. It is the first player I have owned in three years under $1500 and it gives thema all a rune for their money. I enjoy it as mucha s my CD50 in my main system.