MacCormack Upgrades from SMc Audio?

Hi all, My Phono Pre-Amp is a MacCormack Micro Phono Drive bought back around '96.

Just doing some surfing today, I stumbled upon Steve MacCormack's site, and see that he lists two upgrade revisions for the Micro Phono Drive, and also produces a better outboard Power Supply versus the original Wall Wart that came with the unit.

From the sound of his description, his better revision B upgrade essentially replaces just about every component in the unit, going to better Burr-Brown Op Amps, trimmed RIAA Stage, Vishay components, etc, etc. The cost of this upgrade is said to be $500, and this was actually what I paid for this unit new when I bought it.

Also, the Outboard power Supply costs $275, WBT RCA's another $60 Whattya think?
To further elaborate, I was wondering if others felt this B revision would be a good choice, and if others have ever owned this particular component, (and perhaps even others?) had it upgraded, and how they liked it after?

My Turntable is the VPI HW-19 with MK-IV Platter, AQ PT-6 Tonearm with AQ Emerald Tonearm Cable Upgrade, and Benz Glider Hi-Output Cartridge. Mark
Can't speak to your specific unit, but the SMc upgrades to the DNA amps are breathtaking, service is excellent as well.
If you look, you'll see I'm a big fan of Steve's mods (I have a DNA 0.5 Platinum... have owned a DAC-1 "platinum" and also the full sized Phono Drive). Now you know my prejudice.

I also know that if you like the component and end up liking the mods (I'm sure you will), then you'll probably save up and go for the higher level... I've learned to wait and just go that way.

Having said all of that, and not being familiar with the upgrades to the particular piece in which you're interested--I'd go straight to the horse's mouth & call Steve and ask him about the bang for the buck. He's always been very open & honest with me and a very nice guy.

good luck,
Thank you very much folks for the opinions, and vote of confidence pertaining to Mr. MacCormack, and the high degree of quality work he does.

I know from reading the Description of the modifications he does, particularly the better Version B Upgrade to the Micro Phono Drive, in all actuality, it sounds like a completely new unit inside, with very little resemblence to the original unit in many respects, other than it all still fits within the same original case.

I have written Steve MacCormack privately, as he is a member of this forum, so perhaps if, and when Steve can find the time, he'll possibly respond with his input about this topic. Thank you again folks! Mark

You might want to call him... I think he probably answers his phone more regularly than answering his email.
Hi Mark -

Thanks for your interest in my work. One correction: the $500 upgrade you describe is the Revision A - not the "B." You are absolutely correct that the Rev A is a complete rebuild, including circuit topology improvements as well as a full set of the best resistors, capacitors, wire, and jacks. The result is a very serious phono stage, and the people that have had this work done have expressed a lot of enthusiasm about the finished product. It's an across-the-board improvement.

The new power supply (the Micro Power Station) is optional, but recommended. In truth it is a relatively small upgrade over the original wall-wart, but it *is* an improvement and it does allow you to use a good after-market AC cord.

Regarding your e-mail question about the gain, I am a little surprised that you aren't hearing any clipping when running your high-output Glider with the High gain setting. There is no danger of hurting anything so it's no big deal, but watch out for phono stage clipping on highly modulated records.

That's all I have for the moment... I am currently out of town but will be back in my office on Monday the 27th if you wish to call.

All my best to you and other 'Goners,

Steve McCormack
Thank you Steve for you kind, and helpful reply, and responding while you're away.

I'll get back with you by phone about my interests with the upgrade soon.

I'm going to take your advice, and try the Micro Phono Drive at the Lower Gain Setting for now, and see how I like it. Thank you again Steve! Mark
Hello again Steve/All,

After changing the gain settings again (to low gain on the Pre-Amp), I find that I really have to push my Mac Amps quite high to get volume in what I feel is an acceptable level.

I can recall this issue some years ago, when I first got the unit and did the set up, and stayed with the high gain setting ever since.

I have never noted any clipping on any LPs of mine, but I will admit, the high gain is a little bit on the "hot side", and that a gain level that would be in between the two factory settings would've been perhaps ideal-better.

My Benz Glider which was the very first version when it first came out years ago, is claimed on the spec sheet to have a 1.9Mv Output at 3.54 cm/s, but on the actual Lab test graph-sheet my personal Glider is tested at 1.8Mv.

I've read that the newer Glider H2 is spec'd at 2.5Mv.

Back when I bought mine ('96), there was no such thing as the Medium Output Glider, but there was the standard low output Glider if I recall. Mark

Hi again, Mark -

No problem with using the High-gain setting if you are not running into overload problems - go ahead and use the setting you like best. One thing you might try is loading your Glider with something below the standard 47KOhm input load. You could try loading resistors in the 10K / 5K / 1K range, for instance. It is possible that you might find an input load that will reduce the drive level slightly and improve the sound quality. See what you think.

Best regards,

Steve McCormack
IME, there is no question that lower loading will improve the sound of Glider carts.
I'll have to give this a try. I know I have the 3 sets of resistors still that was originally supplied with the Unit. Just hope that the paperwork is with it, so I can identify which was which.

Guess the most important thing is to make sure I match the pairs that I throw in, as it takes two of the same value to be installed.

From what I remember from the instructions, two would be inserted into thier respective "ports" I'll call them, by bending the wire ends, making the resistors's wires look like little a little "U" and inserting them.

What should I expect with the values that Steve has mentioned eralier?
Better restraint?, smoother sound? Or?

I'll report back when I have more. Thanks, Mark
Hi Again, So what would you folks feel would be the best loading for my original Hi-Output Glider with AQ PT-6 Arm?

I read mention of a general practice of loading to 25 times that of the Internal resistance? Does this mean the Cartridge's Internal Impedance? If so, My Glider is listed at 85 Ohms Internal Impedance, in which number I come up with is 2125?.

Thier recommended loading is very vague, from 1000-47,000 Ohms. What would be the best place to start with this MC? Mark
I'm thinking my suspicions, and computations are correct, and that approximately 22K would be a good place to start with the Glider?
I may not have the correct resistors then in this case, and might need to buy them? Where can I buy these Caddock resistors from? What do I ask for? Sorry for the dumb questions! lol Mark
I have just found my little bag of 3 pairs of resistors that were included with my McCormack Micro Phono Drive. Thier values are 1K ohm, 200 Ohm, and 100 Ohm.

It states in the manual, that these resistors are to be used in parallel with the 47k ohm resistor already installed from the factory, and to insert 1 for each channel in the sockets marked R/C1 and R/C2.

It says NOTE, if you wish to calculate the total load resistance with these resistors installed, use this formula:

R(total)= 47,000 x R(user) / 47,000 + R(user)

What should I use? If I don't appear to have what I need, what resistors will I need?

Sorry for being dumb about this, math was never my forte, and thank you all in advance. Mark
I had a Glider Lo output and found it sounded best loaded at 100 ohms. If you do a search, you will find a formula in a recent thread for calculating total resistance of 2 or more resistors in parallel. That is probably what you would end up with if you are inserting additional resistors, but leaving the 47k load in place. And your description of how to insert them sounds correct. I found it to sound more alive. Not brighter but less flat.
Sorry for the thread hi-jack again but does anyone have any feedback on any recent SMc Audio upgrades to vintage McCormack DACs? How do they sound? I have a vintage stock McCormack DAC-1 that I like but I fear it may be part of the glare issue I'm experiencing right now from my system. Other members have pointed me to a Monarchy NM24 DAC as a potential replacement which I realize is a totally different animal vs what I have currently. I'd like to stay with McCormack though.

I read the 6moons review about the SMc Audio Ultra DAC but was wondering if anyone had any newer modded McCormack DACs and what their thoughts on them were.

Thanks in advance.
Start this as a thread in the Digital Forum and I sure you will get a lot more information.

P.S I will also post my thoughts on my DAC-1 Ultra that I just received back from SMc Audio in August.