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I tried a Mullard CV 4004 for a while and then switched to a Brimar. Both came from Kevin at Upscale. I liked the Brimar better but ended up switching back to my older 16 bit CAL Sigma for personal reasons. Even though the 24 bit Sigma II was much more open and detailed sounding, i really prefered the much warmer sound of the original design. Stictly a "personal taste" and "system" issue as i know others that think that the earlier version is WAY dark sounding. While i've got an EVS Millenium II on order, i've got another CAL Alpha coming in next week to hold me over. I'd still like to find another killer deal on an ARC DAC 3. As to the "member" that thought tubes in a DAC were ridiculous, all i can say is, YOUR LOSS. You've NEVER heard "music" come from a CD until you've heard a good tube based digital system. You might have heard a lot of "detailed sound" come from a CD, but never "music". I didn't believe it either, but first hand experience taught the "science" and "common sense" in me a lesson on this one. Open your ears to a whole new world and enjoy your system instead of analyzing it. Sean
Get the low noise 12AX7 tube directly from CAL. Costs about $35.00, but by far the best option IMHO. The other thing that helps with those is to upgrade all of the connectors from the crappy board mount style to the thru the bulkhead types. CAL has the connectors available for $60 for all 3. Did this to a unit I own and the changes were simply astounding. Takes about 2 hours, but if you are capable, the change is well worth the cost. I have been through tubes from Kevin @ Upscale, the 12AX7LPS, NOS.... I have spent more on experimentation than I did on the original hardware, but the stock CAL Low Noise tube is best (IMHO).