What speakers are you using? I demoed the DNA-1 in my system about 10 years ago and would never have described it as fatiguing. It's a solid and well-respected amp, and is capable of a firm bass and articulate mids. I just found it to be a little uninvolving compared to my tube amp, but it really wasn't bad.
You have well-respected electronics that should sound good. However, I suspect the synergy just isn't there, and I'm suspecting it's the TAD 150 / DNA-1 pairing, although the output impedance of the TAD 150 is < 600 ohms and the input impedance to the DNA-1 is 100K ohms, which should be fine. That is, of course, if the amp is appropriate for your speakers, although the DNA-1 should drive most speakers well. Are you using Apogee's or some other difficult to drive speaker?This person
on Audiogon found your exact pairing to sound good with Vandersteen speakers.
Can you borrow another source and/or preamp to experiment? Also, try calling Steve McCormack; he will likely be able to guide you here, as well.
I have the DNA-1 matched with the ALD-1, unmodded, and find the sonics are great from top to bottom. I, too, am using the Jolida JD100, and found the stock tubes were lacking. I tried various replacements and ended up with a pair of Clear Music 12ax7's that I have been using for some time now, and have no desire to swap anymore. I'm currently using a set of B&W 805N's, with a B&W ASW600 sub. I'm waiting for a set of Gershman Sonograms to arrive to replace the 805's.
I am using Alon II speakers with the black orpheois bi-wired. The speakers are 88db I think. I took the jolida out of the equation and used my Luxman reciever as a tuner, but still the FM radio station music is lacking in bass & mids. The music just sounds slanted towards the high un-involving. I prefferred my B&K ST202 paired with B&K Pro 10MC pre. I've been over the wiring multiple times. I recently had a marathon burn-in of the Morrow interconnects 10+ days 24/7.
My debate is do I through 500 -750 into the amp? Could there be something wrong with the pre??//
The tube swapping in the pre did not seem to make a significant sound difference. Mazda NOS 12AT7, then Sylvania 12At 7 WA from the 50 -60s, and then the stock chinese tubes... They each should have had a significant sound difference, shouldn't they???
Try the Pro 10MC pre with the DNA-1 and see if it is the preamp.
i sold the pro 10, but the limited minutes using it with the mccormack I noticed i didn't have to turn the volume more than a 1/4 turn before I was at high volume. As for the sound signature, high end more detailed & the bass was about thee same as it is now (can't feel at moderate high volume). I should have played it longer.
I have a TAD150 signature and I can assure you it is not bright sounding. It replaced a Melos SHA gold which is no slouch. I would try a different pair of speakers to gain a reference point. Upgrading your amp will only make a subtle improvement to the sound. My suggestion is try a subwoofer to balance out the highs. You might be surprised. Finally, I suggest listening to steady bass frequencies and switching phase on one and then both speakers and measuring output with a db meter. You may have a incorrectly wired speaker either internally or externally.
Several years ago, after buying a DNA-1 from 1st owner, I toyed with upgrading or changing to another amp. The amp didn't seem to fit well with my system, but after talking with others online and with Steve Mc., I went with gold+ upgrades. What a good move! I must be brilliant.
The soundstage deepened significantly, each instrument more distinct, and there was no 'brightness' to be reckoned with in the mid-high range. Bass was fuller without 'boominess'. The overall result was beyond my expectations.
I use the DNA-1 in the warmer months with a tubed pre (Gill Audio Alana Mk III), and trade out with a ARS Filharmonia integrated (tubed Spanish made heater) in the winter. Both do well in the system, but the MaC definitly has more horsepower and draws deeper into the music than the 50w integrated.
Think about an upgrade, and as mentioned above, speak with Steve; he is quite approachable and not at all 'hard-sell'.
System: Esoteric DV-50s modded
Merlin VSM-Mxe with super Bam
Audience 24au IC's, Supra Sword Speaker Cabling
I have morrow interconnects which I suspected originally, but now have well over 250hrs. on them. Can they still be bright and not allow full music through?
I used a TAD-150 signature and stock DNA 1 for 4-5 years. I found the combination to be a great match, very revealing of upstream changes, new cables, etc. If anything, I'd describe the sound as full and rich, and perhaps not as resolving as other systems that I've heard. I never found that combination at all fatiguing, though.
I agree with the other posters that you may want to focus on other parts of the chain initially to address the brightness that you're hearing.
I reversed the speaker wires on the amp side placing the positive to the negative labeled connection. I listened to one song and found the sound to have a little more bass and slightly fuller.. with a little less brightness. Could the amp be wired incorrectly? The TAD isn't phase inverting like some Cj pres... All other interconnect connections are as labeled. The other course thing about the amp,the left side heat sinks are black while the right side has a purplish hue. I would think both side should genrate similar heat and would be colored in the same manner??
"I would think both side should generate similar heat and would be colored in the same manner??"
You would think so but maybe the previous owner wasn't running the amp equally in both channels at high levels for years. Or the heat sinks were from different batches.
Put a test CD (ie. stereophile, etc.) in and using a multimeter on the amp's speaker terminals measure if both channels are the same. Check DC offset while you're there.
You can't evaluate the sound using FM tuner as a source.
How do the Alons sound with your Luxman receiver using CDs? If still bad, don't rule out your speakers and their positioning in the room.
The stock McCormack DNA-1 lays the basic foundation for a potentially good sounding amp. It provides a spacious soundstage with better than average midrange for a solid state amplifier. Without question it is musically involving and fast. The highs are extended and it is transparent and was placed in Stereophile's Class B rated products. However in its stock form it is not very refined and it can exhibit some grainy highs, this can be offset to some degree withy the right preamp. A DNA-1 with a revision can really take it to a new level.
The DNA-1's bass is not Kell-like but with the right speakers and preamp can bring out a very good bass response. Also the DNA-1 has sufficient gain that you can use it sucessfully with a passive preamp like the McCormack TLC-1.
I have always favored the idea that the most money should go into the speakers because that will dictate what type of associated components & sound you will end up with. Since this whole thing is subjective I would experiment with different interconnects between the amp and preamp as this can either brighten or warm the sound. The costs of interconnects has little to do with system compatibility. If that don't do it try a different preamp.
I've owned the TAD 150 before and liked it a great deal but do prefer the Audible Illusions or the TLC-1 preamp with the McCormack amp.
IME Morrow interconnects need 400 plus hours of break in. MA1's give just a taste of what Morrow is all about. I own 3's and love them.....
I didn't read all of the previous responses. Send your amp to SmC Audio and they will tame the upper midrange and treble and you'll enjoy the increased dynamics and bass power. Your money will be well spent!
I certainly appreciate the plug for my upgrade services, but dvdgreco needs to get his system basics working to his satisfaction before he thinks about having work done. A stock DNA-1 sounds quite good, has plenty of bass depth, power, and punch, is pretty neutral tonally, with a slightly "forward" perspective. If it is working properly, it will not sound like the description given. They are also quite stable and reliable, but it's always possible that there is a problem of some kind - it's impossible to be sure without testing.
The heatsinks are supposed to be black, of course, but some anodizing was not done properly and faded over time to a sort of purple. This has no real effect on their cooling, but it looks crappy. And yes, both sides should produce the same amount of heat. The DNA-1 normally gets fairly warm at idle, but you should be able to leave your hands on the sinks. If there is an obvious difference, it could indicate a problem with either the amp or speakers...maybe. Unfortunately, I have also seen uneven heating caused by defects in the source, preamp, and cables (and dogs, cats, and lizards).
Bottom line: if your DNA-1 is working properly, you need to look elsewhere to fix your issues. You ought to be able to bring in some other amp to see if the sound suddenly improves, or stays about the same. Likewise with your other components and cables. Check all your connections carefully for proper termination and no corrosion. MAKE SURE both speakers are wired in the SAME phase. You might even connect a battery, briefly touching the terminals to make sure that both woofers move in the same direction with a given connection polarity. They certainly should, but you never know...
I hope it goes well!
I connected the speakers to my luxman receiver while maintaining the same configuration on the speaker terminals. Connecting the Jolida CD palyer to the auxillary input on the receiver the sound is full-very nice. So this verifies the speakers are connected correctly as well as the cd player connection is a-ok.
Now how do I challenge the pre-amp, can I connect the pre-amp to the aux input on the reciever then connect the cd player to the pre-amp????
Having owned stock and modified McCormack gear, I would say the upgrades are well worth the cost. Unless you want to dabble in the tube arena, I would say stay with your DNA-1 and get it upgraded. It's pretty darn good SS sound to my ears.
Are you leaving the amp on all of the time? I have a DNA 05 and although I never found it to be anything other than very balanced and enjoyable the sound definately improves after a few days of being left on. I would also try using jumpers on your speakers and just using one leg of your speaker wire. Some speakers sound better not biwired even though they offer the option.
Dvdgreco, you can't connect the preamp to the aux input on the reciever. The only way you can hook it up to the receiver is if it has preamp in/power amp out. Then you could connect the pre to preamp ins.
I would not expect that particular combo of gear to necessarily sound as described, but with room acoustics and other factors, anything is possible.
Could poor synergy integrating system into the room and to your listening position be part of the problem?
It's usually impossible to get a system tuned in optimally without taking this into account, no matter how "good" the components are or might work together.
Have you tried toeing the speakers in or out for example to avoid direct tweeter exposure at the listening position and hear the differences?
Also tweeter height relative to ears usually matters. Does it sound better/worse/different if you listen sitting on the floor versus in a higher chair, for example?
Are speakers positioned in a way that lends itself to optimal bass performance?
Just some things to consider that are common culprits in cases like you describe.
Its always possible that something is not functioning to spec as well but short of exhibiting any blatant issues. Swapping alternate/spare components in and out may be the only way to isolate a problem to a specific piece in many cases.
What Mapman states above I find is very true.
"Also tweeter height relative to ears usually matters. Does it sound better/worse/different if you listen sitting on the floor versus in a higher chair, for example?
Are speakers positioned in a way that lends itself to optimal bass performance?"
I learned this the hard way. I had a McCormack TLC-1 stock and Deluxe as well as a McCormack DNA-1 stock and Deluxe at different times in my main system. I did have issues with glare on certain tracks. I found it was due to multiple issues. I had raised my speakers to high off of the ground. I wanted my KEFs tweeter to be right at my ear height. I found when I stood up the music was a bit better sounding. I then lowered them to their proper height. I had them toed in too much and then I found the cables I was using at the time Zu WAX were really harsh treble wise. I got lots of detail but it got to the point where things would hurt. I changed them out as well and I got another improvement as well.
Mr. McCormack's assessment of the DNA-1 is true to my ears. I think the sound stage is wide and vast as well. I never had any bass issues with either kind of DNA-1 I had.
As for the SMc Audio upgrades. I haven't had them done but when I've spoken to Mr. McCormack or Mr. Kris Jeter at SMc about what options to pursue both have been very professional, courteous and a genuine in their advice. They really want you to get the most out of your money spent. I didn't get any kind of salesman BS from talking to them.
When I was considering having my old DNA .5 modded many, many years ago the most common reply to my inquery as to benefits was "Just Do It! You'll see".
How right they were. So "Just do It" (or find one already done on the used market and make a significant trade up.
I beginning to think my problem is the cumlative effect of an amp that is slightly forward in presentation as well as having exceptional detailed highs combined with speakers which also lend themselves to being more forward, adding to the mix a TAD 150 pre-amp with NOS Mazda tubes which are known to be detailed on the top end..... Electronically nothing is wrong,, just the wrong combination....
So what to do, I am thinking of exchanging the Mazda tubes for Mullards and see what happens. I am also looking forward to a SMC upgrade
What "footers" are you using under your components?
After many more hours of burning in all components especially the morrow cables I am beginning to hear the sound I was looking for.. I also purchased a pair of NOS Mullard tubes which brought back more of the warmth I was missing.
After thinking back on my previous system B&K ST202 with Pro10MC pre the bass was boomy and bloated. My ears were accustomed to poor bass reproduction that was boomy and bloated. The bass I hear now is accurate. I even stopped by a local stereo shop to listen to the same cd's that I had at home and the sound was the same as the more expensive Mcintosh (spelling) B&W speaker combinations.