Mark Levinson 331 or McCormack .5 Rev. A

I am planning on either upgrading my McCormack DNA 0.5 to Steve McCormack's Revision A ($1,000) plus add Balanced Inputs ($400). Or sell my McCormack and purchase a used Levinson 331. Does anyone have experience with either of these two amplifiers? Just looking for some good advice...Thanks and much appreciated.
Hi Jla; I've owned the DNA.5, DNA-1DX, and DNA-2DX, and I auditioned, in home ,the ML 331 for a week. I clearly preferred any of the McCormack amps, although I have not heard an up-graded DNA amp. I do intend to have my DNA.5 upgraded though. In my system, the ML 331 produced a huge but un-natural sound stage that I did not like. Also music had less "body", ie the 331 was very "airy and transparent" but lacked focus. Again, I preferred the McCormacks with my Vandersteen 3Asigs. I think it was a system mis-match thing. The DNA-2DX is a GREAT amp-- best of the bunch, but I have not heard the upgrades-- from what I've read, they too are supposed to be great. I'd up-grade the DNA-.5, and if you don't like it, then sell it. BTW, the DNA-2DX can often be found used for about the same price as the 331. It is dual mono, 300 wpc @ 8 ohms and weighs about what a 331 does, and I consider the DNA-2DX much more musical than the 331. The 2DX may be balanced too (but I'd have to check-- I use it single ended). It does have good bi-wireable output posts. Good Luck. Craig.
....should have added that the DNA-2DX is a true powerhouse-- 600wpc into 4 ohms, and 1200 into 2 ohms. The 331 has great bass, but the 2DX has more natural bass. Craig.
For what it is worth, I agree with Garfish (Craig). There are two new reviews this week on Steve's amps that I think are worth reading. I am providing the links below: Best of luck on your search for perfection!
Thanks Craig and Albert for the advice. I really appreciate it...John
In my experience with the 331, I've found it to be a fantastic amplifier. In reply to Garfish's response, I've found that whatever is upstream of the 331 is what you get. Differences in cables, preamp, and source are easily identified and very audible. A lack of focus, I think could probably be attributed to the cables in the system and find the focus of all the 300 series Levinson amps to be superb. If a Levinson works in your system as well as in mine, you'll look no more. Chuck
Thanks Chuck, Do you leave your 331 on standby when not in use or does it run to hot. Also, if I decide to go with a 331 I will only have a little over 3" left in my rack for top ventilation. Will this be enough. One last question I heard the 331 will not accept Nordost Z-plugs or any cable that is terminated with bananas...true?
Hi John; The 331 actually runs pretty cool-- Don't remember about use of banana plugs though. Re: Chuck's comments on the 331. I shouldn't have made it sound like I was bashing the 331, which I didn't intend to. The 331 is a beautiful well built amp, but in my system, the McCormacks were just more musical. At the time I had a Sony XA7 CD player, Muse Model Two DAC, SF Line 2 pre-amp, and very good Syn. Res. ICs and spkr. cables. As I now have ML 37 transport and 360S DAC, the 331 may work better, but I'm so happy with the DNA-2DX that I'm not motivated to try anything else. Hopefully you can audition the 331 and let your ears be the judge. Cheers. Craig.
Hi Jla - I am not familiar with the McCormack amplifiers, but I have been using two M-L 331s in bi-amp mode with Vandy 3A Sigs for a number of years. I think that this set-up works very well. Certainly, the Vandys liked to be bi-amped: base, resolution and soundstaging all improved. I always left my M-Ls on standby when not in use. It is true that the M-L amps take spade lugs; they have some very nice plastic handled knobs that are great to use in tightening without over-tightening.
Thanks Kweifi, But does the 331 allow for the use of banana's? In my case Nordost Z-Plugs.
They will not work with the zplugs. You can send your nordost cables back to the factory for re-terminating.
Hey John: To answer your questions about the 3" clearance for ventilation, no problem. I have my 331 on the bottom shelf of a Salamander cabinet. I have the sides on the cabinet. I have about 3" and have not had any problems. The amp runs cool. As for the 331, it is a great amp. However, I have to agree with Charlie. What is up front makes a great difference. But, just as important is the fact that I don't anybody that hears the same. What may sound good to me may not sound good to you. Therefore, you need to make the judgement yourself, with your equipment and cables. By the way, just to let you know my 331 is listed for sale, however, it appears that I have been under priced by other 331's lately....that is what makes this a great site, power of competition. Good luck on your decision. PJ
Paj and Charlie, Wanted to let you both know that I am running my Wadia 850 directly to my McCormack .5 via Nordost SPM (single-ended). Thanks agian for your input...John
I just bought the DNA-1 Delux w/rev A and switchable balanced inputs. It is great sounding. Good soundstage, clean with detail, and excellent bass. It's not quit the match of a tube amp on soundstage, but close. I'm using it with my Vandersteen 3aSigs and Audio Physic Virgo's. It sounds GREAT with both of them. The vandersteens were especially improved. I have liked the sound of every DNA amp I have heard. I have not heard the 331. There was a discussion of its sound in stereophile a few months back. It was the issue where they reviewed the 334. They compared it and did an update to a 331.5 revision. Stereophile currently has a DNA1/A that they in the process of reviewing. They mention it every once in a while.