California Audio Labs

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Emil

California Audio Labs
« on: 18 Jun 2018, 05:42 pm »
If you're old enough  to remember, they were pioneers in digital audio in the early 80s when CDs were in its infancy.

I still see their gear on the used market for good money such as this ad below

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649444342-california-audio-labs-sigma-ii-tube-dac/

Why? Nostalgia?  Still competitive?

roscoe65

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Re: California Audio Labs
« Reply #1 on: 18 Jun 2018, 06:13 pm »
Short answer:  The Sigma (delta sigma) is no longer competitive.  In fact, I don't think it ever really was.

However, I used to own a Delta Transport and Alpha DAC.  The Alpha was a ladder DAC (18 bit IIRC) with tube output stage that sounded very good.  It's possible that if you could find an Alpha it may be competitive, but for not much more money you could probably find a secondhand Border Patrol DAC (TDA1543) that would blow it out of the water plus it would have USB input.

Emil


Emil

Re: California Audio Labs
« Reply #3 on: 18 Jun 2018, 06:40 pm »
Besides CAL , I've seen Theta digital going for big money. Here's a 30 year old Theta Pre Gen 3 selling for $1499

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis8jd6e-theta-digital-dspre-gen-iii-amazing-dac-fully-tested-da-converters


roscoe65

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Re: California Audio Labs
« Reply #4 on: 18 Jun 2018, 07:46 pm »
You can still have CAL gear repaired :scratch:
https://www.approvedaudioservice.com/cal.html

$999?
https://www.ebay.com/itm/california-audio-labs-DAC-alpha-and-delta-/192527688703

I had to send my Alpha back for a new PT.  Looking under the hood of the Alpha makes it seem pretty mundane these days.  Given the age of the unit, we would probably want to recap and maybe upgrade a component or two.  By the time you're done you've spent $1,500.  I own four inexpensive DAC's that are superior to my old Alpha.

Letitroll98

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Re: California Audio Labs
« Reply #5 on: 19 Jun 2018, 12:51 pm »
And those are asking prices, if you check completed listings in eBay you'll see most of the crazy priced stuff remains unsold, I searched all the CAL products to get more results than one model.  Although everything that did sell went for somewhere over $100 which is still pretty high for cdp's and dac's of this vintage, and a couple got up around $300.  They had a sweet sounds with the tube output, but I imagine you could do much better with a bargain dac and a tube buffer these days, digital has an incredibly short shelf life.  So I suppose it's nostalgia and uninformed buyers.

BobM

Re: California Audio Labs
« Reply #6 on: 19 Jun 2018, 05:19 pm »
I had a Cal Labs CD player for many years. It was smooth and non-fatiguing, if not the final word in detail. Very pleasant for the $ but not what I would call "audiophile" anymore.

Emil

Re: California Audio Labs
« Reply #7 on: 20 Jun 2018, 11:40 am »
I had a Cal Labs CD player for many years. It was smooth and non-fatiguing, if not the final word in detail. Very pleasant for the $ but not what I would call "audiophile" anymore.

here's a chance to get it back for a mere $500 :duh:
https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis90he1-california-audio-labs-icon-mkii-hdcd-cd-player-cd-sacd-players

grsimmon

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Re: California Audio Labs
« Reply #8 on: 20 Jun 2018, 02:53 pm »
I had a long-running love affair with the CAL model CL-10,   a 5 disk changer and I owed several of them.   Build quality was really good; used it as a transport to external dac.  Worked great but now I am single-disc only.