Classe' DR-6 MKI vs MKII


I wish to buy an old Classe' DR-6 to drive my Jeff Rowland Model One and my ML Aerius. I wish to know if the last DR-6 version (balanced inputs and outputs) reflects a true balanced design and the overall quality of the sound respect to the first DR-6 version (balanced outputs only).

Thank you for your help.


Luca58, IIRC there were 3 DR6 versions. Version 1 can be identified by the use of the 3-piece gold handles. Version 2 had 1 piece black handles and the Model 6 was a rebranded DR6 with a remote option. All three models shared the same topography and all 3 had single ended and balanced outputs.

You can download the DR6 schematic at
I recommend the Classe Six ll. The Six is very different than the DR-6, and the Mk2 version of the Six adds remote control option and some upgrades. I found the Six Mkll more open and natural, more alive. I felt the same improvement with the Twenty Five amp compared to the DR-25. I owned both, but that was some years ago. Stereophile did a review of the Fifteen and compared it to the DR-15 and I feel the comments apply to the preamps as well. I always used these components balanced.
There are very very subtle changes performed to the circuitry between the original DR6 and Model Six. In some instance a few passive parts were changed to justify Glen Grue’s removal of any reference to the original designer Dave Reith (DR). The DR moniker was dropped and even Dave Reich’s name removed from the circuit board and replaced by Glen Grue’s name (who was a marketing guy, not a designer).

The whole model line was then re-released with admittedly, better cosmetics, but with the same circuit design. Classe was a huge advertiser in Stereophile, so when Stereophile did a review on the Classe Model 15, they had to really “reach” for design differences, most notably; changes to some impedance matching, input regulation and a resistor value change which are very minor revisions. Surely, not justifiable for a complete review unless you are a huge advertiser that just went through a change in ownership.

A quick call into Classe and they will tell you that there are insignificant difference between the DR and Model X series. It was a marketing play, not a design upgrade.
In my system it was a significant sonic upgrade. I did not like the DR-25 and very
much liked the Twenty Five, kept it for 7 years...different systems rooms
preferences...and yes, Classe told me also the differences were very minor and
essentially inaudible...
There are also many older threads here from listeners who much preferred the DR series...
My point is simply you need to listen to the different versions yourself.
J135, I am not disputing what you hear.

My former dealer was one of the original and largest Classe dealers back when Dave Reich got started. He was also a Classe dealer when Glen Grue took over the company and forced Reich out. He was my source of information, plus I owned a lot of Classe equipment.

Grue was a marketing guy who saw a need to generate publicity without incurring the expense of a complete product overhaul, therefore, he decided to re-brand the existing line with new cosmetics and leverage his advertising budget to garnish “new” reviews. He also understood the power of suggestion in that if you claim a new and improved version, people will buy into the premise.

Yes, I would recommend to the OP to audition the pre in question, but I would not get too hung up on the “version” as they all have a very very similar sound.
Thank you very much for your answers!

I already own a Classe' DR-5, which is a good preamplifier but I find that its sound is a bit too bright. I also own a JRDG Synergy 1, which is a fabulous piece with a very natural voice, but, by contrast, it seems to lack energy in some cases.

A friend of mine has then suggested me to search for the DR-6, as he told me that it may represent the right compromise between the two.
Also try a Rowland Capri. I owned the original, have not heard the Series 2.
I never heard of a Classe DR5, Model 5 or whatever being described as bright?

J135 and I are going to agree on one thing...try out the Capri.
We also agree on brightness not being an issue ...
Yeah, I have never heard of the Classe DR-5 being described as bright either. I have even more difficulty imagine that the DR-5 is bright with a Jeff Rowland Model One amplifier. That is surprising, but I do believe you.

If you are committed to a solid state preamplifier, perhaps you should keep an eye out for a Klyne Audio Arts System 6 or 7 series preamp. They are difficult to find, and tend to sell very quickly on the used market, but are worth the effort to search for, IMHO.
I owned both a DR-5 and later, upgraded to a DR-6 MKII. Neither is bright so you should check that out elsewhere. If you read the old TAS reviews they were both described as "dark" which they were. The DR-6 II had an external power supply in addition to the one on the main board. It had even better bass, was a bit quieter, and a little more open and dynamic. The sound was beautiful. I recall that a few people preferred the older DR designs. I didn't benefit much when I upgraded to a Pass Labs X0.2. Well worth seeking out.
I am guessing that you are drawn to the DR-6 in any incarnation, but you have a chance to get a deal on a particular one as we speak, and are asking for a little insight as to whether or not it is a good risk. With that in mind, I admit to quite a bit of experience with this model, but have no experience with other preamps in my system since I bought mine nearly 20 years ago. I remember going through a string of preamps over a period of ore than five years since I decided to upgrade. Trying new gear in the 90's was easy for those of us in driving distance to Salon I Audio in Wisconsin Rapids, where the owner treated customers like royalty. I don't remember all the preamps that marched through my living room back then, but I do remember briefly owning a top of the line Counterpoint, as well as a magnificent Klimo and matching Merlin phono stage that at the time cost double what I eventually paid for the DR-6.

Once I installed the Classe, I gradually lost interest in preamps and lost the obsession to keep looking. I am sure there are probably some better ones out there, especially with so many excellent newer materials and components, but I don't care to go down that road even today. I have just gone through two years of system upgrades incorporating well over a hundred changes, the only mods to the preamp are pretty fundamental. Both the preamp and its separate power supply rest on their own isolation platforms. The PS is on a 18"x12"x2" maple cutting board resting on mapleshade isoblocks. It's feet have been replaced by Herbie's dots. The preamp's sits on Herbie's Lamp Black roller platforms and its maple block is also on mapleshade blocks. It really sees to like good power cords. I am currently using an old Top gun but also sounds nice with asynergistics master coupler I bought on Audiogon. In the future, I am hoping to replace the umbilical with a special version from Revelation Audio Labs that is said to put it in another league altogether.

I no longer use the phono section after falling in love with several low output moving coils that required just a bit more oomph than the Classe provides, so it is currently used only as a line stage.

The balanced in/outputs are not just for show. I used mine to control a pair of AtmaSphere MA-1's until they went bad last winter. I am now running a pair of 600w D-Sonic monoblocks balanced and use the balanced input from an OPPO BDP-95 for cd and SACD. even with the volume turned all the way up, there is no hiss or hum when listening to the speakers from an inch away (no signal, of course).

My Classe has never needed service, despite being in service continuously while always powered up for more than 20 years.

So, if you are thinking that you might get a giant killer preamp from the past for six or seven hundred dollars, you are right to consider one of these. But, if you have the totally unrealistic expectation that your bargain bin preamp is going to sound fantastically neutral, be quiet as the grave, provide a superb phono stage, sound wonderful matched to a pair of $7000 tube amps or even the new high-powered class d amps, and can be improved with application of fundamental audiophile setup tweaks and advanced cable technology that just never happened when it was new, you will probably not be disappointed.
Thank you very much for your very kind helps.

Your descriptions of DR-5/DR-6 performance make me aware that some problems occur in my listening room, so that some frequencies are modified leading to the bright sound. I'll try to find these problems.

Any comments on the possible choice between DR-6 and Synergy?

Thank you.
@ J135 and Brf

Thank you for your suggestion as I have never listened to the Capri preamplifier. I have just read the few words reported by the unofficial JRDG info database of site on the Capri-Synergy comparison: "

Retail price - 3098 euro
The Capri is a sort of Synergy lite, but more compact in a new smaller width, with switch-mode power supply and slightly less features. According to friends, it sounds more accute and less full/fluid than earlier more elaborate designs."

Don't you agree with this opinion?
Read the numerous Capri threads here from audiogon member guidocorona
I read them some time ago, but I could not find any comparison between Capri and Synergy preamplifiers. I'll search again, thank you.
there are dozens or more threads, so a long search...
I have a DR-6 with gold handles. Before I purchased it I looked at the other DR-6's variants (one with sculpted handles and the one that is called the Six). One Six model did have Grue's name on the circuit board but it looked a lot like the DR-6 that I had. If you value cosmetics then get the later variants. I used mine to power a pair of DR-3's and a DR-9 in a bi-amp setup. Given the price these older versions sell for, they're a steal. My DR-6 was taken in a few months ago for a check-up. Phono section was spot on to the RIAA curve. The tech said that considering how old it was, it was designed fairly conservatively with low stress on parts.

If your budget can take it. you might want to be on the lookout for a DR-7. It is a 2 box preamp that is Reich's assault on the state of the art. One just sold at Echo Audio for about $1400. The pics are still there if you want to see what it looks like.

Good luck!