tube dac

Generally speaking, will a tube dac have a significant impact on a tube pre- power amp system. I have a mf a5 cd player and im looking for a tube pre to match with a pair of ss monoblocks. Speakers are Nola Viper iia. I have been intrigued by the reviews of the Havana DAC.
Yes!I ventured into tubes first with a preamp, then added a cdp,and stuck with a ss amp.Adding another tubed component was a huge step towards the illusion of the "artists in the room." You'll have to audition that Havana and see if you agree.Good luck in your quest.
Thats good to know, Jt. Once I get the pre, the Havana goes high on the list.
A tube CD or DAC will take the edge off the CD sound and make it much less fatiguing. My system is all tube, and the tube source made a huge difference. More musical and enveloping sound stage. You can fine tune your tube DAC or CD player with different tubes as well.
I've tried several tube DAC's but found they lost out at what digital does best.
If you prefer overly warm colored sound , go for it.
Look, just because one tubed system sounds soft does not mean that all will. Likewise, SS systems are all over the map from harsh to analog-like.

If tube design is done well, and I'm talking about power delivery, it will do everything as well and have a more liquid midrange. The highs may not go quite as high and the lows may be a bit flabby, but that is the compromise with tubes.

One of the best tubes for DAC output is the Siemens CCA grey-plate. I have a DAC with near-new ones in it. The highs are every bit as good as my SS DAC. The lows are a bit flabby though.

If you find a good design, then the only compromise with tubes is a bit of flabbiness in the bass.

If you want tight bass, then stick with SS.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
All I can do is try it out. This will be my first outboard DAC, SS or tube, so I want to see what it will do for my system.
I totally agree with Steuspeed.You can can get all of the frequencies right including tight bass with different tube combinations.All of the brands sound different and it takes some time and patience to find the ones that shine in your particular components.
Whatever DAC you buy, plan on a NOS tube upgrade. It can take the piece to another level, your pre-amp as well if you are running stock chinese tubes.

I didn't see that you had a tube CD player before. Talk to Andy at and upgrade that tube to the best one you can first. A small investment that will gain confidence in your future upgrades.
I never really considered the tube in my CD player, but it makes perfect sense to upgrade. I will take a look at the website and give Andy a call. Thanks for the tips. I'm about 85% sure I'm going to pull the trigger on the Doge 8 preamp and the Havana DAC, but I am still researching. Thanks.
Hawk28, the Havana has a very natural, unfatiguing presentation. Part of this I would guess is the simplicity of NOS and use of a tube output stage, it is not a buffer as in the Paradesea which is tubier sounding and somewhat less resolving. The plus with the Havana is a deep well placed soundstage and very nice tonal textures, a bit rich but non-fatiguing and throughly enjoyable. What I noticed early on was a lack of detail which was confirmed when I purchased several other DACs over the past 18 months. I still have the Havana which I doubt I will sell and float it in the system now and again but the missing detail is always readily apparent. I can say it really isn't that big a deal on much music, primarily small ensemble, vocals, jazz and even some classical but the soundstage is somewhat smaller and air around instruments is not quite as apparent, subtle but quite noticable over extended listening. The top end is somewhat softer and not as etched but I often find this a welcome thing, not a negative at all as some closely miked recordings can at times sound piercing. It is all about balance with this DAC and the MHDT folks have done a very good job with this design. I feel it is well worth checking out, especially if you can find one used and maybe a few different tubes thrown in as is often the case when purchasing used. You can research all you want and that is a very good thing but nothing substitutes listening. I will say this, most of the audiophiles I know that have heard the Havana in my system and theirs REALLY like its presentation and overall musical involvement. It is hard to go wrong with this DAC at the price point.
CD players that use a tubed output stage will have the greatest impact on sound. Some players will have a tube placed in a non critical part of the circuit path for the purpose of marketing.
To specifically answer your question, some tube DACs will have a more significant impact than others in my experience, they are not all the same. Using different tubes will further impact presentation.
Tubegroover, thank you for your reponse. Your statements further confirm what I am looking to get out of a DAC - musical involvement. Hearing every single detail never meant that much to me. I just saw a Havana here on the gon for about $550. So, I will wait patiently for the next one and pull the trigger, but only after I buy the pre of course.
Have you considered the Monarchy Audio NM24? You can use it as a pre and a DAC. And, it will give you the ability to compare tubes vs SS. It is quite a versatile piece and like all Monarchy Audio pieces, it is built like a tank.

Tubegroover described the Havana well, I really enjoy the presentation of the dac and while it isn't the last word in detail it really is very musical. Trying out different nos tubes allows for fine tuning. I also upgraded the Dac chips and this does help with the detail and clarity and is well worth doing IMO.
I have considered the Monarchy piece, but I think I'm a little more drawn to the Havana, for whatever reason. Greg, thanks for the corroboration. I will look for a Havana, and look into the chip upgrade. What chip did you upgrade to?

The chips are from Arrow Electronics here: The part number and Decription is PCM56P-K/DAC 1-CH 16 Pin PDIP Tube. These are the same chip that is in the Havana, just a higher grade which is the K designation. I believe they are about $13.00 each and you need two. They make a good improvement and are a no brainer for the price. Let us know how you like the dac.

Greg, thanks. I will look into the chips after I secure the Havana in about a month. Im waiting for my preamp to get here.