Arcam Alpha 9 CD Player Ring DAC

Barcam

Standard Member
Hi everyone, I'm a newbie on here and trying to find out some information regarding this CD player.

I have owned my Arcam Alpha 10 integrated/10P power and 9 CD player from new, must be close on 20 years now! It's given sterling service in that time with no problems whatsoever. I realise it's now all very long in the tooth but I'm still very happy with the system as a whole.

Unfortunately, recently, whilst out there was a power outage in our area, when the lights finally came back on the Alpha 9 started making a buzzing/whining noise even when switched off. ( my home cinema projector has also taken a hit and won't power up ) The frequency of this noise increased when turning on the unit and although all lights and display illuminated the unit would load but not play the disc.

It would seem that the mains transformer has failed and these are no longer available from Arcam or elsewhere. I am therefore thinking along the lines of perhaps getting another used Alpha 7 or 8 in good working order and swapping the DAC from my Alpha 9 to the lower spec player or similar.

I know the Alpha systems were designed to be upgraded at dealer level but what sort of job would this turn out to be, assuming of course that my DAC survived the power surge. Is this just plug and play or something a lot more difficult?

Thank you all in advance for your time.

Mike.
 

DT79

Distinguished Member
I should think if you could get a working, good condition, Alpha 7 or 8 on eBay then you could either port the DAC one way or the transformer the other. Plus you also have a spare drive mechanism which is what usually fails. You’d have to open them up and take a look. If you didn’t feel confident doing the job yourself, it would be a piece of cake for any electronic repair shop. I’m sure you could find someone in your area without too much difficulty.
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
Why not take the opportunity to upgrade to a CD92 which has the ring dac.
 
I would buy a new player, even entry level players today are far better than high end players from the 90's.

Those old Ring DAC's are nothing special IMHO, and nothing like the stuff DCS do now!

This is a good one for £250:-

 

DT79

Distinguished Member
Why not take the opportunity to upgrade to a CD92 which has the ring dac.
Or, I think, the CD23T from the FMJ range If you want go fancy.
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
I would buy a new player, even entry level players today are far better than high end players from the 90's.

Those old Ring DAC's are nothing special IMHO, and nothing like the stuff DCS do now!

This is a good one for £250:-


I guess that's a matter of opinion and of course I've not tried every modern player at home but I do own an Audiolab M-DAC and Arcam irdac which are relatively modern and well regarded and I still think my Ring Dac players sound noticeably nicer when used on their own.
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
Why not take the opportunity to upgrade to a CD92 which has the ring dac.

I'm not sure that's an upgrade is it? I think it's identical on the inside and as far as I recall, even the boards used in it have Alpha printed on them. I may be mistaken but I think the only difference is the casework which wouldn't match his current Alpha amps. The 23/23T's did have an upgraded power supply but I don't think the 92 was any different. I think picking up a 7 and swapping the DAC board over is probably the best way to go unless he spots a cracking deal on 9/92/23.
 
I'm not sure that's an upgrade is it? I think it's identical on the inside and as far as I recall, even the boards used in it have Alpha printed on them. I may be mistaken but I think the only difference is the casework which wouldn't match his current Alpha amps. The 23/23T's did have an upgraded power supply but I don't think the 92 was any different. I think picking up a 7 and swapping the DAC board over is probably the best way to go unless he spots a cracking deal on 9/92/23.

I doubt you can just swap the DAC board, it may have different power requirements to the lower level boards... Is the power transformer the same?
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
You can just swap DACs. They designed the diva range to be upgradeable. So a cd72 could be upgraded to cd192 with a new DAC/PSU. I believe that the 7x and 8x and maybe the 9x all shared the same internal components bar the DAC.

I knew the diva range were just updated alphas but after a few beers last night it sort of skipped my brain..
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
You can just swap DACs. They designed the diva range to be upgradeable. So a cd72 could be upgraded to cd192 with a new DAC/PSU. I believe that the 7x and 8x and maybe the 9x all shared the same internal components bar the DAC.

I knew the diva range were just updated alphas but after a few beers last night it sort of skipped my brain..

The OP actually messaged me about this last night as he had seen in other threads that I've swapped DAC boards over before but I think I've only done it from one 9 to another. I know they sold upgrade kits so it's a straightforward job but do you know if there's anything more to it other than plugging in the DAC board and fitting the plastic support posts? I was just wondering if there's any tiny switches or links or anything that need changing or removing. Would be handy to know for the future.
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
I came across the above info on a hifi forum when I was researching used cd players. An American site I believe. Maybe stereophile. It was a very large thread dedicated to the diva range.
 

Barcam

Standard Member
Hi Guys, I would like to thank you all especially Timmy C for your help and suggestions in this matter. I have managed to find a practically new Alpha 7 which I intend to swap my Alpha 9 DAC and front panel etc over to. Only problem I have at the moment is trying to get the cd drawer open as the 9 won't power up anymore. Any ideas? Many thanks in advance.
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
It's a while since I took one apart so I can't remember what's what exactly. If you remove the white plastic clips that connect the transport to the bottom of the machine, will it not give enough movement to allow you to unclip the panel on the front of the tray?
 

Barcam

Standard Member
Hi Everyone,

Just a bit of an update and some good news regarding my Alpha 9 CD player.

I purchased a really nice Alpha 7 CD player that's hardly had any use, original box, upgraded remote, leads, manuals and everything for £68.

I also managed to download the service manual which included circuit diagrams and lots of other interstiing stuff and digested it all over a couple of evenings.

I can now report that I have used the Alpha 7 as a donor for my Alpha 9 DAC and surprisingly, it was a really straight forward and successful job. Using the Alpha 7 chassis, CD transport and main PCB I swapped my original front panel over to retain the Alpha 9 badge and HDCD decoder indicator.

The Alpha 7 main circuit board is more heavily populated (than the Alpha 9) with Its own little on board DAC. These components are simply switched out of circuit by removing a 16 pin dil plug (which is attached to its own little PCB) which must be removed before fitting the 9 DAC. The DAC then simply plugs into the main PCB with 2 ribbon candles and also had to swap over the 2 plastic stand off pillars. I had to remove a blanking plate on the back panel for the 2 Alpha 9 DAC output sockets. All went back together easily and the jobs a goodun, £68 well spent me thinks?

I did track down the company that manufactured the original transformers and they would make me one to original specs for £85 plus vat, which I didn't think was too bad. Obviously some other components may well have been damaged by the power surge so I think I have gone the right way using a donor player.

Thanks to everyone that has contributed towards this thread, this forum is a great resource. Still very happy with my ageing Arcam system. Thanks again.

Regards, Mike.
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
Glad you got it sorted! :thumbsup:
 
Hi Everyone,

Just a bit of an update and some good news regarding my Alpha 9 CD player.

I purchased a really nice Alpha 7 CD player that's hardly had any use, original box, upgraded remote, leads, manuals and everything for £68.

I also managed to download the service manual which included circuit diagrams and lots of other interstiing stuff and digested it all over a couple of evenings.

I can now report that I have used the Alpha 7 as a donor for my Alpha 9 DAC and surprisingly, it was a really straight forward and successful job. Using the Alpha 7 chassis, CD transport and main PCB I swapped my original front panel over to retain the Alpha 9 badge and HDCD decoder indicator.

The Alpha 7 main circuit board is more heavily populated (than the Alpha 9) with Its own little on board DAC. These components are simply switched out of circuit by removing a 16 pin dil plug (which is attached to its own little PCB) which must be removed before fitting the 9 DAC. The DAC then simply plugs into the main PCB with 2 ribbon candles and also had to swap over the 2 plastic stand off pillars. I had to remove a blanking plate on the back panel for the 2 Alpha 9 DAC output sockets. All went back together easily and the jobs a goodun, £68 well spent me thinks?

I did track down the company that manufactured the original transformers and they would make me one to original specs for £85 plus vat, which I didn't think was too bad. Obviously some other components may well have been damaged by the power surge so I think I have gone the right way using a donor player.

Thanks to everyone that has contributed towards this thread, this forum is a great resource. Still very happy with my ageing Arcam system. Thanks again.

Regards, Mike.

Great news! Did you go over the boards checking for dry joints and out of spec resistors, caps etc?

Out of interest could I ask your motivation for all this, and sticking with the Arcam CD player?
 

Barcam

Standard Member
I have 4 Arcam Alpha units which all match each other. I have the 7 tuner, 9 CD, 10 integrated amp and 10 p power amp which is bi- amped to a pair of Castle Harlechs. I reckon to replace all the Arcam gear with new I would be looking at the wrong side £3000. I cant really justify all that expense when I'm happy with what I have.
 

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