This lovely Cayin Headphone Amplifier HA-1A MK2 uses 5 valves:
1 x NOS Tung-Sol 12DT5.
2 x Balanced ECC82 (also known as 12AU7).
2 x Matched EL84 power valve.
There’s not a lot wrong with the 12DT5 and there aren’t many alternatives anyway.
However, the EL84 power valves and in particular the ECC82 preamp valves will benefit from an upgrade.
We recommend JJ valves for the ECC82 and Sovtek for the EL84 valves. These are of very high quality and give a long life.
If you are on a budget and just want to upgrade just a couple of the valves – do the EL84s first as that will give the biggest sound improvement. If your valves are old and tired the change all four.
The upgrade will give you superior sonics and a noticeable lower noise floor.
This particular headphone amplifier reacts to the type of valves used and this upgrade is significant. You could spend five times as much on NOS valves but whether the difference is noticeable or worth the extra cash is debatable.
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