California Audio Labs DX-1 Cd Player
with internal exposed single ended lampizator
How much bulshit can one sell
if it says Made In USA ???
This player definitely looks (and sounds) better with tubes than
without. It is a wolf in a black sheep skin. I begin to fall in love
CAL was an American company active in the 90's which tried to be a
response to European NAD and US based Audio Alchemy. They tried to
produce high end entry level digital players on the budget. At that
time CAL products were real value for money.
This player - DX-1 is very simple design, with Matsushita mechanism and
technics MASH DAC plus CAL power supply and output stage.
It has enough room for lampization so I took my soldering iron without
The chip is unknown to me MASH DAC from Panasonic: MN66271 with large
scale of integration with a clock, digital filter and voltage converter
built in. So I could use its direct Vout pins as signal source.
The box is so ugly it is pretty. It is COOL in today's vocabulary. With
tubes sticking out proudly it is a newborn beauty.
One cool feature is that the remote can switch it on and off without
using the POWER button on the player.
The mechanism although not hi-end one, is very reliable. It is silent,
smooth and VERY fast to read each and every DC be it an original or a
The display is very cool looking - retro style green-ish.
I installed new RCA's with Arcotronics MKP output caps as seen above.
All high voltage power supply uses 3 capacitors from Aerovox (UK)
with gigantic reservoir of 330 uF each.
With lampizator - the power supply of anode has very comfortable
conditions of operation - DC flows at 5 mA REGARDLESS of the musical
signal - this is the nature of SRPP scheme. So there is no demand for
super stable voltage (un-regulated) or for fast response circuit.
The typical Lampizator toroid mounted to the left leg of the player.
Original transformer has now less demand. There is two of them to do
the job now.
I do not drive the wires at 90 degree bends like the swiss companies
do, but the wires are well organized. Even if looking a little messy.
In the empty box there is a CAL PCB with power transformer and a
regulator, and a Technics boombox wholly integrated mechanism, which
has all functions - dac included - in one integrated chip. I think the
whole thing is a scandal, to sell boombox mechanisms as highend.
Manufacturing date is 1995.
Made In USA.
The CAL player on my subjective scale of sound quality is right 60 %
the top. Somewhere just a hair below the Kenwood 5090 and similar to
DVD Panasonic (with better bass and attack). The
sound has no faults or flaws. It may only lack the magical natural
timbre of the Philips DAC chips. After trying two Technics
I confirm - CAl is a Technics with american ugly box. Genuine Technics
(see them elsewhere on my page) are equally sweet, rich etc.
Despite terrible reputation of Technics, after lampization they play
This is what one ebayer wrote about his CAL DX-1:
SquareTrade © AP6.0
Cal Labs is well known for
producing exceptional audiophile CD players. The sound is impossibly
sweet and never brittle. This California Audio Labs DX-1 is almost
pristine cosmetically and in sound quality. Includes remote control.
Includes original factory paperwork and color four page rave review
There are only a
few truly great CD players that I have heard, and the proof of Cal Labs
quality is the fact that I have a Cal Labs in my main system. The
transport mechanisms are sturdy and durable. The overall build quality
is first rate. 1 bit, 32x oversampling. Stereophile says this about the
engineering: "Perhaps most impressive was the tracking performance of
the laser pickup. It was able to negotiate the 4,000 micrometer defect
in my Pierre Verany #2 test disc—the most extreme defect available on
the disc. Only once before have I seen a player execute that feat. If
you buy your audio equipment by the numbers, the DX-1's suggest you
should reach for your wallet.
The great struggle
in the CD era has been to get the same analogue "something" that
software bits just don't produce—until Cal Labs came along and with
artistic engineering and outstanding digital to analogue processing
delivered CD sound that finally delivers analogue dynamic sound.
No high end etch.
No mud. Just blissfully analogue sounding CD reproduction that at long
last rivals audiophile vinyl.
I struggled for a
very long time to create a system that truly honoured great recordings.
I got great amps, speakers and a first rate preamp, and it still wasn't
right until I tried Cal Labs. Man, what a revelation that this was the
key to unlocking my system.
Well, this DX-1 has
been put through its paces for 10 hours. Not one skip. A marvelous
transport for your favorite outboard DAC, too. Digital coax output.
CD player quality
is where it all starts. If you start with junk, you end up with junk.
Cal Labs pieces are highly reliable, track beautifully and make a sound
confirms: "I listened for solid base response that delivered a pounding
to the speakers but was never boomy. I listened for a transparent
midrange that was free of any noise and distortion ant low signal
levels. I listened for high-frequency response that was clear and open
and never brittle. The DX-1 delivered in all categories to great
Oh dear oh dear - so
much bullshit about the cheap technics? C'mon people,
what are you smoking ???
"artistic engineering and
outstanding digital to analogue processing " dear Mother of Lord -
aren't you going over the top ?