McCormack Amps w/upgrades or other SS/Hybrids

Hello. I just read an excellent review written by Chip Stern on the DNA 500. I also went to Steve's website and saw all of upgrades. Do any of you have experience with his Platinum upgrade? Would you mind describing the amp's sonic atributes and how it compares with other amps with which you are familiar? I currently have a VAC 70/70 mkIII amp, a First Sound Prescense Deluxe MKII preamp, an Audio Logic 24mxl DAC, an Accustic Arts Drive I transport, Merlin VSM-M speakers, Cardas Golden Ref int.s an SCs, Michael Wolff carbon ribbon PCs, and it is all plugged into a BPT 3.5 ultra.

I do like the VAC with vocals, strings, and non-complex music. However, in my 18 X 26 room, it runs out of steam. Also, I have to keep the doors of my Salamander cabinet open while it is running. With small children, I need to constantly watch that they do not get near it. I have been considering the new Dartzeel amp or a Lamm hybrid. The upgraded McCormack might be a possibility, too. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
I have experience with Steve's Platinum upgrades including his new Carbon/Silver Wiring upgrade. In fact, the DNA 500 is fairly similar to my fully modded DNA .5 monoblocks, although it is in one chassis and the DNA500 does not have the two Plitron toroids or carbon/silver wiring to my knowledge.

There may be other differences, but the overall design and power are probably close enough for me to confirm that Chip Stern's review is pretty accurate. I've heard quite a few SS amps in 20+ years in the hobby, and it's by far the best SS amp I've ever had in my system. Sixmoons tends to go overboard in their reviews, but other credible reviewers have said similar good things about the DNA500 (

That being said...I'm not sure that the DNA500 or any SS amp is the optimal match for your Merlin speakers. You may want to pose that question to Bobby at Merlin for more insight, but usually I've heard his stuff sounds best with tube gear (especially OTLs like Joule and Atmasphere). On the SS side, I only heard them briefly with Simaudio gear and wasn't particularly wowed. At one time, I also considered Merlin speakers myself, but learned it was not the "optimal" amp to complement the Merlins. Nevertheless, things could have changed and I could be wrong.

On the flip side, you may want to make sure that the Merlin's are the ideal option for your room size. Depending on your tastes in playback material, volume and presentation, I can see other options fitting the bill with your already excellent associated equipment. Unfortunately, if you want to get rid of the hassles of a tube amp, you may not be able to avoid factoring in a potential speaker change -- depending on what level of performance you want.
You should consider the Berning amplifier, for a couple of reasons:
1)Even though it's rated same power as the VAC, I think you'll have a tough time getting it to "run out of steam" driving the VSMs, which are a perfect match IMHO(said the guy recommending what he owns).
2)It runs very cool for a tube amp, and is quite small. It should be fine running in your Salamander w/doors closed, (assuming open back).
Not sure which rack you have, but I think you might be able to get perforated doors that will increase ventilation, too. Some folks have found small battery fans that run silent(computer supply houses sell them)for similar situations.
I agree w/Labtec's comments, but would guess that some ss amps would sound fine w/the VSMs.
The downside to the Berning is that they are hard to get, with an average wait of a few months last I heard. Good luck either way, Spencer
Labtech: Thanks for the great explanation o8
Sorry guys. The rest of my message was cut off. To paraphrase, you both offered excellent suggestions that I am considering. Thanks a lot.