McCormack DNA-1 upgrades by McCormack of Virginia

Has anyone out there heard the upgrade that McCormack of Virginia (aka CJ) makes to the DNA-1 or DNA-1 dlx? I have read a lot of great things about Steve's mods to his own original DNA units and the later series he designed for McC VA, but can find almost nothing about McC VA's mods to the original DNAs. From what little I can find the mod is called the "R1" and they claim it can make a DNA-1 more like a DNA-225, fitting a new main PCB into the DNA-1 and reworking the output pc boards. Would love any input from anyone that has direct experience with these upgrades.

I am peronally trying to decide which McCormack path to take, original DNAs versus the new units, upgrades versus monoblocking, etc. and am trying to gather as much data as possible on the various options. I have talked to Steve a bit about some other topics (I know it is always best to talk to him directly per the other threads) but I know he is swamped at CES right now so I didn't want to bother him. Thanks all!

My current system: Rotel RB1080, Tube Audio Design TADAC, Rega Planet 2000 (transport for the DAC) Chario Academy 1 monitors, Signal Cable ICs and PCs connecting everything, with a Topaz Line 2 power conditioner. Also have an Acurus RL11 preamp but this was taken out of service when I got the TADAC as I now run balanced lines from the tube section of the DAC directly to the amp. The TADAC is a really great little piece of gear by the way.
Due to the lineage of the DNA-1,I would imagine that the "parts" quality could be improved.Listen to the current generation and see if it is to your liking.I can't see a reason to monoblock these.Do you really need 300W+ for your speakers-efficency/roon size?
I have a pair of the deluxe monoblocks in storage right now waiting for the opportunity to mod. They're powerful enough for my inefficient martin logans, but the more power in this instance will be beneficial as to clarity and the like. I would do it based on others reviews.
I was going to say: oh, well, you don't need to buy a DNA 225, a DNA 125 is more than enough. But now I read that those chario are 81.5 dB sensitive and they're a nominal 8 ohm!

So the natural question is: would you consider buying more efficient speakers? Personally I would... If not, you really need a DNA1/225

I own a DNA 0.5 upgraded to revB. In your case a DNA1 revB would be a good value IF YOU FIND IT USED. DO NOT BUY A USED DNA1 and upgrade it to revB.
Luigi - Thanks for the input. The Chario Academy 1's are 8 Ohm, but are rated at 84 dB by Chario, and even higher from the bench readings by Stereophile (John Atkinson said "I found the Chario Academy One to be a little more sensitive than specified, at an estimated 85.5dB/2.83V/m (B-weighted). Its impedance, which remains above 10 ohms over the entire band except for regions in the lower midrange and bass (fig.1), suggests that it is a very easy load for an amplifier to drive.") So they are not as inefficient as you might think. In regards to buying new speakers, unless I can find a pair of Usher BE-718's or Odyssey Lorelei's for a really good deal I don't plan on moving the Chario's out of my system anytime soon. IMHO these particular Chario's are a seriously underappreciated speaker - beautifully made and very good sounding. I assume you are recommending against upgrading a DNA-1 myself as the resell value isn't recognized and a pre-mod'd used amp is more economical way to go? I am actually considering a used pair of DNA-1 DLX mono-blocks, already mod'd by SMc (although this is on a hold for personal medical reasons, hopefully for the short-term, but keep your fingers crossed). I know these might be overkill for the moment, but should support whatever speakers I throw at them in the future. How do you like your DNA-0.5 rev B?

Mig007 - How do you like your DNA-1 DLX monoblocks? Anything you might compare them to?

Tpsonic - No I don't need the power, but I do need (want?) the balanced connections that come with the monoblock conversion and am a firm believer in option theory, so the DNA-1 DLX mono's will give me extra flexibility for next steps in the future, whatever those might be.

Thanks all for the input!

yes, upgrading the DNA-1 is a bad idea because of the resell value. I made this very mistake myself, with my DNA 0.5!

I do like the DNA 0.5 revB. It has great timing and musicality, very good imaging, and great timbre. The only small issue is that it does not have the absolutely grain-free sound of TOP amplifier. However, consider that I do not use any AC filtration, which might make the mccormack grain-free. And to put things in perspective, the sound of my old Classe' Seventy was much harsher than that of the DNA.

Oh, given that the Chario are 85 dBs sensitive I guess the DNA0.5/125 should work fine.

About the Chario: what is it that you like about them? If you like the sound of 2-ways mini-monitors, you'll be delighted with a pair of Tannoy coaxial speakers... With those small drivers something tells me that the Chario distort a lot, albeit you won't hear that as distortion (been there, done that!). Just to make sure, I checked the Stereophile review, and, as I suspected, they don't measure the distortion...
This is meant as constructive "criticism", in no way I want to question your choice of the Chario.
Luigi - I love my Chario’s, my sub and my TADAC DAC, the Rega as a transport is fine, and while the Rotel 1080 does a good job, I feel that the amp is is the weakest link in the system. The Chario’s are great monitors, but they are not “mini” at all (the are 14"x8"x13" and weigh 20lbs each). They are constructed and finished beautifully, like or better than a good pair of Sonus Fabers of comperable size. They go low in bass for a monitor, but I also have a True Jr. sub that integrates really well with the Charios. In fact I had a professional system tweaker (works for a local high-end shop) say that he was amazed at how well they worked together seamlessly. I used to have a much larger and less controlled sub in my system and the Sunfire is so much better and more musical. The Charios mid’s are definitely their best feature, but the high end is also very good and clear and as stated before the low end is also good, although the sub integration makes the whole system rather moving. I also use steel shot filled stands with the Charios and that also made the low end more powerful. Overall each upgrade I have made so far has been fully revealed by the Charios, they’ve kept up as far as I can tell. So they aren’t the rate limiting step (yet). By the way the greatest system adjustment advice/tweak I ever received regarded room dynamics. So I now have heavy curtains on the front of my room and small hangings in corners in the rear of the room. This really opened things up. Thanks for the input!
From what I can see, in Italy Chario is considered to be better than Sonus Faber – by COMPETENT people.

What I wanted to get to with my comments is just that people sometime are overly concerned with their electronics but the problem lies in their speakers. And I say this because I made precisely this mistake...

Once I heard guy dismissing an amp because said amp had 0.2% THD. And many people would agree with him.. But do you know how much THD typical HI-FI speakers have? 5-10% (no, it's not a typo...).

That said, if you love the Charios by all means enjoy them!