About us

Welcome to Upscale Audio

Upscale Audio is the world's largest purveyor of vacuum tubes, including rare, vintage, and 'new old stock' tubes that aren't available anywhere else. Every tube we sell is tested and graded by us with state of the art and proprietary equipment. The Upscale seal on every tube we ship is your guarantee that you are getting the very best available.

We also supply everything else one needs to enjoy music at that level where your living room is a stage with your favorite artist playing just for you. Our experience spans decades and we enjoy guiding you in this fantastic hobby that stirs emotions on demand. Whether you are retubing a component or designing a whole new system, from source components to loudspeakers and everything in between, we strive to be a resource you can count on time and time again.

Our philosophy is simple, but rare on the retail side of this industry; create friendships. We hope that by providing expert advice and recommendations, generous trade-in values, best-in-class products and, of course, our signature "I just got the hook up!" prices, that you will call us first with any need you may have.

Just think of Upscale Audio as "Your Friend in the High-End Audio Business."

 

About Our Retail Store in Southern California

Our location in Southern California is comprised of listening rooms, turntable setup and tube-testing stations, offices and warehouse. Our state-of-the-art listening rooms feature our best-selling analog and digital products including amplifiers, preamplifiers, disc-players, DACs, streamers, turntables, phonostages, cables, power-conditioners, and loudspeakers. The breadth and depth of our loudspeaker offering will allow you to discover the perfect speaker for your home. We take pride in crafting music systems for our customers that continue to delight, listening session after listening session. While our normal business hours are 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday, we suggest calling ahead to discuss your needs before visiting for the best experience.

 

About Our Founder, Kevin Deal

Founded by Kevin Deal (aka "Uncle Kevvy") in 1994, Upscale Audio and Mr. Deal have been featured in the New York Times, Jazz Times, The Absolute Sound, and other publications covering high end audio and vacuum tubes.

He often shudders at the words but many in the audio industry refer to Kevin Deal as the “Tube Guru”. Unquestionably, he ranks as one of the foremost experts in vacuum tubes. 

The track that brought Deal into the world of high fidelity was created by three pivotal events that unfolded before he was ten. Entranced by his neighbor’s oscilloscope, then five-year old Kevin proclaimed he wanted to grow up to be an electronic technician. At nine, he launched his first business venture, buying Hot Wheels directly from Mattel for fifty cents apiece then selling them to his friends for a dollar; doubling his money while underselling the established retailer. A few years later, the sounds of Joplin, Hendrix and Zeppelin bewitched him to the degree that he dreamed of nothing but music. Three pivotal events that ultimately married technical expertise, business acumen and passion under the umbrella of high fidelity.

Born in 1958, Deal’s introduction to tube audio came when he was 18 and working for Mission Electronics. Two years later, at the tender age of 20, he was a store manager for Cal Stereo. He then shifted to the Federated Group during their hi-end heyday before finally landing at Rogersound Labs, where his “tube epiphany” occurred. “I realized that my shoulders dropped and my head grooved whenever I listened to tube gear, so I started experimenting. I was obsessed with how two similar tubes could create such a vastly different sound and I set out to learn everything I could.”

Deal studied intensely, digesting not only the internal construction of tubes but their history as well. He scoured shops for the unusual, curious as to how they would sound. During one of his hunts, he came across a massive cache of rare tubes and borrowed against every credit card he had to buy them. Thus Deal launched Upscale Audio in 1994, providing primarily tube upgrades while selling a select group of product lines. With a reputation forged on exceptional customer service and product knowledge, Deal has built Upscale Audio into one of the premier retail establishments in the country.

 

An excerpt from Jazz Times

Kevin Deal of L.A.’s Upscale Audio, a store known for its deep commitment to tubes and other esoteric audio gear, shares similar ideas while outlining his technique with new customers. “We like to keep this place a bit goofy; I think that helps put people at ease. I don’t want us to have any sense of stuffiness. Sometimes a customer might be sitting in a chair as I talk to them lying on the floor. And maybe I’m wearing fuzzy slippers even though I sell some of the most expensive equipment in the industry to some very wellheeled people. But my style disarms them a bit, so they know I’m not just trying to get into their pockets.

“I have a very informal conversation with people and I ask a lot of questions. I want to get a sense of what is important to them, what floats their boat. I have to find out what they have seen and heard and what their expectations are. I lay people out like a psychiatrist to get to some core stuff. Often people are trying to recreate something that hit them when they were younger.

“Usually I don’t ask a customer what kind of music they listen to. I ask them what gets them off. Do they want the music to have that clear sparkle or do they like that glass of Courvoisier, that golden-glow thing. You can play your favorite jazz LP and have it with a little bit of bite, or you can play it with a smoky, rounded crunchy sound, but it’s still going to be jazz. So asking someone if they like jazz is a silly qualifying question. ‘How do you want it to sound?’ is a more appropriate question. And I never ask a customer to buy anything; I give them enough information, after their interview, so they can make their own decisions. I help them find something fun that has an emotional hook, so when they turn it on it’s going to trip that trigger.”