dude, ANY McCormack you get will far surpass your idea of what quality is. Just eeny meenee mineee moe it, and you will be happy.
I have gone through so many amps in the past 30 years, mono blocks, stereo, etc etc. I am never selling my DNA amplifier.
I am looking forward to someday getting the revision for my son, so he has something to have for 30 years.
I have heard the gold DNA-1 is the way to go, as far as sound quality. But I am sure owners of the 225 will chime in as well. either way you go, you will be happy. There is no wrong decision.
I have a DNA-1 Deluxe with the SMc Audio Revision A+. At the time, that was the highest level of revision available. I have and continue to revel in the sound of my system with that amp. I don't know that much about the 225, but have no doubt that it is a fine piece of gear. Don't see how you lose with either amplifier. Flip a coin?
A while back I spoke with Steve about this, and he said the DNA125/225 were roughly on par with what was the Rev B upgrade mods in older models. If that’s the case then a DNA1 Gold is likely to be significantly better than a stock 225. By far your best value IMO would be to wait for a DNA1 to come up used with Rev A or Gold upgrades already done since you’re basically getting big discounts on both the amp and the mods. That said, there’s a DNA1 with silver upgrades available here now. If you can get a good deal on that it will obviously cost much less to upgrade to gold level. I’d be sorely tempted if I’m you since modded DNA1s don’t show up all that often. Hope this helps and best of luck.
I have a DNA-1 Deluxe with the SMc Audio Revision A; in 2014 I had SMc upgrade AC inlet to Furutech and replace internal wiring with Shunyata Cohergenic (Steve’s suggestion). Great amp became even better.
If it works for you, I also recommend the Lightspeed Attenuator from George Stantscheff. A unique product that offers outstanding clarity that pairs well with the McCormack allowing the amp to be heard.
Get a non functioning unit and have it sent to SMc Audio. They will essentially remove everything and give you a new amp.
There is one DNA-1on Ebay with a 'Make Offer'. Have the seller ship it directly to SMc. Pat or Steve will guide you through the upgrade process.
I bought a stock 225 a few years ago and loved it. When I saw a Platinum come up for sale, I snapped that one up. It was a big upgrade from the stock amp. I sent it in close to two years ago to be upgraded again. It's now labeled an Ultra 15. I had planned on starting another system with my stock 225 but may consider selling it? Never heard a DNA-1.
Their upgrade program is different now than from several years ago. Steve makes his own internal wire, uses different solder in various places based on sound quality, etc....Very meticulous. Great to work with!
gdnrbob....the ebay amp is the one I went with....thanks for the tip. Everything just fell into place today, he accepted my offer, and the seller who is a very cool guy, lives about 30 min from SMC and took it over to Steve today.
Steve said it was a mono amp and I missed that, wasn't in description but it's a bridged mono so he said converting to stereo would not be a problem.
Going to get the gold revision along with the upgraded transformer.
I wasn't looking at a DNA-1 but seems like this is the one to go with. Can hardly wait to get it back and running.
Congrats! As a long-time DNA-0.5 Rev A (now considering upgrade myself) owner I'm sure you'll be thrilled. Keep us posted once you get it broken in.
Good for you dyl71.
Steve/Pat are converting my DNA-1's to monoblocks as we speak.
As I said, he is going to remove everything, so whether it works or not, or a monoblock is not an issue.
I had the gold revision done a year or two ago, when I found another DNA-1-non working, I decided to go for monoblocks.
It is going to take some time. Steve auditions everything before he sends it out. In fact, he usually adds small upgrades as new things come his way. Just be ready to be wowed.
+1!!! gdnrbob Good lord, those amps are going to be awesome. Congrats! Please let us know of your joy when they arrive.
Wanted to update this, as mentioned earlier, it will be a DNA-1 with a fresh Gold revision, along with the plitron transformer, wire upgrade, diodes, and maybe something smaller along the way...but for the most part that's where we're at.
Been itching to try one of these amps for awhile, little more than I planned as far as budget but the consensus is it will be money well spent.....can hardly wait now....:).
Still own a DNA-2 LAE with 2014 Signature upgrades and it sounds great. Currently using expensive Class A monos that do not necessarily sound better, just different and slightly more to my liking. Ncore NC1200 monos did not sound better to my ears than the DNA in my system. You are really going to enjoy your amp.
BTW, who is Pat? Steve's partner used to be Kris Jeter. Is Pat new?
I wanted to update this, as the amp will be shipped this week. I ended up moving up to the Ultra Platinum DNA-1. With the price of the build, I contemplated an integrated setup but for the $$$ it seems like the DNA-1 will be well worth it, can't wait.
@dyl71 I just looked at SMc Audio's site. If I understand correctly, you are getting the highest level of DNA-1 modification. My Revision A+ as it was called years ago was the top revision except I kept the original transformer. I know how great my amp sounds. I very much look forward to hearing from you about the beauty you are about to receive. Congratulations!
dyl71 - exciting stuff. Enjoy your "new" amplifier as I am sure it will sound great. Based on your description, it sounds as if you probably had Steve install the Plitron transformer, which I understand should improve dynamics even further. Since you probably discussed the upgrades in detail, you would know whether the input transformers were part of the upgrade, which should be true if the upgrade included balanced inputs. In any event, the stock DNA-1s came with an input impedance of 100K ohms and the upgraded DNA-1s (either monoblocks or with balanced connections - anything where Steve added the input transformers) have a much lower input impedance of 10K ohms. If you don’t have the input transformers, then you likely retained the higher input impedance.
Below is a link to an Audiogon thread where Steve explains this situation. If you have the lower input impedance, you need to be more careful about matching with a preamp and I have found that most (but not all) tube preamps and most (but not all) passives will probably not mate well with the lower input impedance. However, just about any SS preamp, passive using autoformers, and Steve’s own TLC-1, which is a unity-gain, buffered preamp, should mate very well. Steve offers upgrades to the TLC-1 unit that turns a very good sounding older preamp into an excellent sounding preamp regardless of age and virtually regardless of price, IMO. I have tried/owned around 20 well-regarded preamps (tubed and SS) in the $5-12K range, and my upgraded TLC-1 with outboard power supply beat all of them on sonics, ease of operation and just about any other parameter...except having a remote, which I do not miss at all. I have heard he is doing very good things with the micro line drive preamp also but not quite to the level of what he can accomplish with the TLC-1.
Good luck with your upgraded DNA-1!
Pat ( I don't know his last name) has been my contact since I contacted SMcAudio. I don't know about Kris, but maybe he isn't on the phone as much as Pat. Some folks are better at taking calls than others.
Yes, I got the amps back a while ago, but haven't put them to their paces, yet. I needed to have Bob Worzalla at Sound Anchors make me a pair of stands to hold my subs and amps (besides the McC, I have a pair of Atma MA-1's- for my winter listening as they get way too hot).
Steve and Pat knew I had Atma's and gave it their best go, given my budget.
I will post my findings when everything gets put together, which includes not only amps, but new speaker cables, and Equi+Core power conditioners.
Yes, I know I am ill.
Good luck with the DNA-1 monos. Please do let us know what you think of them, and how they compare with your MA-1s. Steve and his crew do great work and he certainly pays attention to the details and does all he can to meet the expectations of his clients.
Well, the amp arrived a few weeks ago...I've only managed to get about 10-15 hours of listening so far based on a crazy work schedule.
First off, this a finely crafted amp. I also didn't expect the size as I've only seen some pics of it, fit and finish are top notch.
The first few familiar recordings I played, I was immediately taken in by the smoothness and clarity this amp provides. Granted I need to give it time to bloom, but so far it's taken the soundstage to another level.
All the instruments and vocals seem to have increased clarity in the quiet passages, the highs are not harsh in the least bit, very smooth and natural. The light, delicate taps of the ride cymbals have pronounced decay time, it's quick when it needs to be, and slow and smooth as well when required.
I was able to hear the wood of the guitar at times before, depended on the recording, but for the most part it was in the background, albeit slightly hidden. Now it's there and I will contribute that to the lower noise floor and just the overall low-level dynamics this amp puts out.
The bass is full and tight, the amp just doesn't seem to run out of steam and nothing gets smeared along the way when you turn it up.
Overall, it's like a big, dark, liquid hole in my listening room filled with holographic instruments. The big (well-modded) SDA's already provide a huge soundstage, but the DNA allows me to step right in front of it. I won't say it's like lifting a veil, it's more like being right up to the stage. Everything appears larger and clearer, but not overwhelmingly so, this amp just seems to do everything so well.
I would like to swap the fuses for some Synergestic red or blue in the very near future after it gets some hours on it, but for now I want to let it open up first.
I finally got my DNA-1 monoblocks set up and burning in as I write.
I concur with dyl71, the sound is very clean and holistic.
My only problem is that the Vandy crossover for my 2wq subs only goes to 22K ohms in balanced. I think I need a lower setting. When I get some energy, I'll try them with the RCA cables and RCA xover, which goes down a bit more. This will probably be a new post comparing my experience with Atma-Sphere, McCormack and Ayre.
I recall Pat mentioning how much better the amps would sound using them. I can't remember which one- Red or Blue.
When you are talking about replacing the fuses in these amps, (mine is a former DNA-225 which takes 7, I believe) on the circuit board), ...are you referring to replacing these or just the one on the ac input?
7 X $150.00 adds up quickly. I need to call in to Pat. Two years ago, when my last upgrade was performed the fuses recommended then were the Hi-Fi Tuning.
Yes, do call Pat, he can give the best info.
As far as replacing all the fuses, then yes, you should change them all out, if possible. Though even replacing just the AC fuse makes a difference.
The HiFi Tuning were his choice, but I recall this past month he said the Synergistic fuses were the way to go. Again, I can't remember which one.
And, my DNA-1monoblocks are back and running in nicely. -Definitely giving the Atma's a run for the money...
I have the DNA-1 with the Gold + Platinum upgrades. Although I have Stereophile Class A mono block amplifiers that I was using, I am back to the DNA-1. Adding the MicroZOTL MZ2 preamp and using it with the DNA-1 is a killer combination! I have had my DNA since 1994 and upgraded it in 2014 - this heirloom will definitely be passed to my son.