McCormack DNA1 options

I own a McCormack DNA1 and a TCL-1 preamp and Merlin TMS-SE monitors[which I really like].

While I have been very pleased with this combo I do find
it, at times, a tad forwards, somewhat grainy, and harsh/tizzy esp. at the higher frequencies.

I listen to a wide range of music, esp acoustic and vocals.
I'm in a position to upgrade and I was wondering how best to invest.

A) Get the DNA1 upgraded
B) Purchase a tube preamp
C) other ?

Thanks for your input

I can't speak for the TLC or Merlin but I can for the DNA1. Is yours the standard or Deluxe? I have both a .5 Deluxe and a REV A. There is a world of difference between the 2 amps. The REV A is much smoother and fuller sounding. The sound is laid against a black background and much of the grunge is gone. In addition, I do run a King Cobra power with this amp. Pretty much everthing that is listed at: about the REV A is true.
All things being equal, the McCormack's are typically anything BUT "grainy, tizzy or forward". While there is probably room to move in terms of improvements with the upgrades, i would look elsewhere in your system first before thinking that this will be the cure. Sean
I own a DNA 1 that I bought new and had uprgraded to Revision A. Even prior to the upgrade, I completely agree with Sean'a comments. My guess is your problem is most likely with your cabling, (of course your speakers and CD may be playing a role too :) ) What kind of speaker/interconnects are you using?
Sean makes a good point, but my opinion would be to do both A & B. The McCormack upgrades are excellent and I'm a big believer in tube pre-amps. I've not heard your speakers, but they have a good reputation, and so I'd suspect your ICs or spkr cables first-- or maybe other things?

I had my DNA2 upgraded to Rev. A and love it-- smooth, liquid, dynamic, detailed, exc soundstage etc. And a friend felt the same about a DNA1 Rev. A. Good Luck. Craig
I'm not familiar with your preamp, but like the others stated above, it very well could be your source. I have a DNA-2 LAE and I've not experienced the negative attributes you mention.

There is a chance that if the amp and/or preamp AC lines/outlets are shared with say your digital source, coffee blender, microwave, furnace, light dimmers, etc., there could be sufficient noise in the AC lines to possibly approach one or more of the attributes you mention. It's amazing how much more articulate your system can sound when each component is given it's own dedicated line, some kind of power conditioning, etc.. Even disconnecting the ground can lower the noise floor significantly.

Of course, if it's in your budget, a few days ago I saw a McCormack DNA-2 deluxe Rev A for sale in audiogon for $4200.

Thanks for all the pointers.
The discussion of cableing was very astute (you guys are good !). I should have qualified my description of the
system by stating that 97% of the time I am very satisfied.
This system continues to blow me away. It's really impressive. Here are some other details.

DNA-1 (non-delux)
Digitial source Rotel 951
Monster Power HTS 2500 MkII
Cables and IC. --well these are kinda a hodgepod.
Electrical power etc. very old house with non-dedicated
Small sized room, with lots of acoustic treatments
(this was a huge improvement.

So perhaps I'll work on some cableing...
and then get the Rev.A and a tube pre....

Onwards and upwards.

Just a note on the tube preamp option. I have a DNA-0.5 Deluxe and recently bought a used BAT VK-3i to replace my previous ss preamp. The VK-3i is a wonderful piece of gear but the combination produces hiss that is clearly audible from my listening position. Thinking it might need to be retubed, I spoke with Kevin at Upscale Audio and he seemed to think the problem is that the amp is too sensitive. Victor at BAT also thought that might be the problem. Sure enough, I was able to hook up another amp and the hiss decreased dramatically. Now I have a dilemma since I really like both pieces. What I'd really like is a VK-200 but that's another story. I assume that the DNA's high sensitivity is due to Steve's preference for passive preamps but I don't know that for sure.

Good luck.

I matched my DNA 2 with an Atmasphere mp 3 pre amp and the results have been astounding compared to my previous line stage and the 7 other auditioned pre amps. If you have a dealer near by give it a listen.

Check your power. I have a DNA-2 with a digital front end. I noticed some of the characteristics that your describe before I went in and put in decient power conditioning.
Not sure if the DNA-225 I have will compare in combination with preamps in the same fashion as your 0.5 Deluxe, but I can tell you that the DNA-225 paired with a Kora Eclipse (Siemens goldpin tubes) produces absolute "blackness". Might be worth an audition for you.
i have a dna1 that i used to run direct from a variable output dac. sound was very transparent, but overall thin. i then added a ai modulus l1 and it added mucho body and dynamics with no hiss. i've heard that the modulus line of preamps are a good synergistic match with dna amps. you might want to give one a try. harry
I experienced the same problem when I auditioned an ARC LS16 tube pre in my system. (DNA-1 dlx/Maggie 3.6/R´s)
Your sound is grainy and harsh because your cd player is pretty bad. I'd reccomend getting a resolution audio piece. That will certainly have a huge impact on your system.