BAT VK-500 w/BAT pack vs. McCormack DNA-2 Rev. A


Hi,
I'm looking for anyone with experiences with one or both of these amps. I'll admit that I'm biased towards BAT gear, I own a BAT tubed preamp/phono preamp/cd player and I enjoy the family signature. I did own a McCormack Prism II cd player many years ago, and did enjoy the sound. My friend has a McCormack phono preamp that sounded good too. I have heard the DNA 1 and was pretty impressed. I haven't had the opportunity to listen to either of these amps. I'm looking at these two high power monsters and I'm looking for any feedback. Am I best to stick with the family sound, or is the McCormack that much better?

Regards,
John
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Hi John,

I haven't heard the McCormack amp so I can't compare the two. I bought a BAT VK30 preamp and loved it, figured buying one of their amps would be a good bet. I bought the VK-500 with BATpack here on the 'Gon sight unseen (and unheard for that matter) and I love it! I've used it with several different speakers, including my current transducers known for needing power, the Eminent Technology LFTVIII's. The BAT replaced two Classe amps I was using at the time. The VK500 has lots of juice, the sonic signature is somewhat tube-like but with LOTS of balls. It's quite a beast, careful trying to move it on your own. Wonderful amplifier!
I have the amp your looking for, for sale here at audiogon so take what I say with a grain of salt. Also my experience with McCormack is very limited.

I have always enjoyed the sound of McCromack products, they are natural sounding, no obvious coloration or sonic short comings from what I've heard. I have owned several BAT products over the past few years and they are all great, is there better? sure but its going to cost a LOT more. Look at list price of current BAT gear, its gone up a lot, seems like they figured out it was worth more. As Jeff said above the synergy with BAT products is pretty amazing, and of course if you get a BAT amp make sure you run balanced cables to get the most out of it. The BAT will offer greater flexibility if you decide to change your system, you will have enough power to drive most any speaker with aplomb. If you don't need gobs of power and you have NO plans of changing your speakers, the McCormack may be more transparent then the BAT(this seems to be the problem with high power amps, transparency and detail is sacraficed).

Which ever you choose, both are great amps, it depends if you really need a lot more power and want to stick with in the same family. The only reason I am selling is to get even more juice for my current hungry speakers.
I've owned both. The VK-500 was sold long ago and I still have the DNA-2 Rev A.

The VK-500 had some decent authority in the bass regions but that was about all it offered.

I replaced the VK-500 with a Sim Audio Moon W-5 which was much more musical, even a bit sweet in the mids and highs, but the W-5 had what turned out to be some congestion in the bass regions.

I then purchased a McCormack DNA-2 LAE (Limited Anniversary Edition). The best way for me to describe the LAE is that it seemed to provide a combination of the best that the VK-500 and the W-5 had to offer and then even just a bit more. It was faster and cleaner on transients than the W-5 and had even more authority in the bass regions than the BAT. The only thing lacking was that little bit of sweetness that the W-5 seemed to have.

(For a more in-depth description on the above three amps, try to find Peter Moncrief's IAR 1998 review on these three and about 20 other amps ranging in price from $1000 to $33k. He ranked the DNA-2 LAE as the only member in class 1A, the W-5 in class 1C, and the VK-500 in class 2B. His descriptions were quite similar to what I experienced with each of these amps above. BTW, I did not get my hands on Moncrief's reviews until some time after I took possession of the LAE)

Last year at this time, I purchased a used McCormack DNA-2 Revision A. As fine as an off-the-shelf amp the DNA-2 LAE was, in some ways the LAE doesn't even begin to approach the power and warmth of the Revision A. Even though they are both rated at 300 wpc. The speed of the two DNA's is nearly equal with the Rev A just a tad faster.

Both the LAE and Rev A amps are extremely articulate and both are 300wpc. Yet the Rev A is almost tube-like in it's presentation, and sounds more like a 1000wpc amp than a 300wpc amp when using XLR connections. Unlike any of my previous amps including the LAE, the difference between single-ended and XLR with the DNA-2 Rev A is almost a night and day comparison.

The bass of the Rev A is simply phenomenal and unlike anything I've ever heard before or since. The midrange is warm, blooming, and full. Almost tube-like. And the highs are extended, extremely fast, and articulate. Soundstaging literally fills the entire front half of the listening room. Again, this is using XLR connections throughout.

Sorry to rant, but in summary, I see no real similarities between the DNA-2 Rev A and VK-500 amps. One is simply a great amp and one is not. But that's me.

-IMO
You can read the Peter Moncrieff review of the McCormack DNA-2 LAE on AudioReview. Here's the link. Its on the 2nd page. Just click on next 5 reviews at the bottom of the page. http://www.audioreview.com/Amplifiers/McCormack/PRD_115940_1583crx.aspx
I agree with Stehno. He auditioned a bunch of amps as did I. I did not listen to the McCormack but have heard the DNA-2 in the past. I settled on the Pass X-250 which IMO bettered the BAT-500. It just sounded more refinded in my system. System matching is the key so if yo uhave selected your speakers you now need to audition some amps ion your system to see how they will sound. My Pass soes not sound its best on all the speakers I am now auditioning.

Happy Listening.
Thanks for all your responses. I just thought I'd get back and let you know what I wound up with. I know it bothers me when some ask questions and there isn't any follow-up.

The winner is.....a pair of Clayton Audio M-100 monoblocks. I know they are not as well known. I only stumbled on them accidently. I went to listen to a used Jeff Rowland 8Ti when I heard a S-40 (the stereo version). The Clayton was better than the Rowland, hands down. I would have bought it that day, but the 50 wpc rating into 8 ohms, gave me reason to pause. A couple weeks later I saw a pair of the M-100's (100 wpc into 8 ohms) on AudiogoN, I jumped on them. They are sweetly singing as I write. Very powerful for 100 wpc (I know, they all say that). The bass is tight and runs very deep. The high's are sweet, maybe a tad rolled off, but I don't feel like I'm missing any information. The midrange is sweet and warm, almost like a tube amp. The soundstage they throw is HUGE. The biggest I've heard. Timbral accuracy is scary, goosebump good. These amps are a steal at their asking price.
Here is a link if anyone is interested:

http://www.claytonaudio.com/m100.html

Thanks again for your input.

Cheers,
John