McCormack Preamp???


I am "new" to higher end audio. I just purchased a used McCormack DNA 1 Rev A to be used with Maggie 1.6 speakers.
As I am starting from scratch, I do not have a CD player yet.

I do not see many comments on about the McCormack RLD-1 preamp. This was on my short list. Is this a good value or am I making a mistake?

Another thought I had was to get a Placette Passive Pre-amp... if I did not like the sound or wanted more impact, I could get another amp and use the Placette as a remote volume control.

Any comments on the RLD-1 or others? My budget would be around $1500.


The passive is a good route so long as you get a CD player with a very good, stable, low impedance, high voltage output stage. Somewhere along the line you need good preamplification for proper dynamics. If you can find such a player, then the volume controls on the placette will be superior to most active preamp volume controls, and that can make a difference in transparency.
But I'm sort of quibbling in details. A priori, the RLD should be a decent match for your system and would take care of the impedance matching problems, making the choice of CD player less crucial.
Unless a remote is a must for you, McCormack TLC-1 is another excellent passive you can consider. It should match with your DNA with no problem. You can get a used one cheap in the market. Very satisfied with its performance, I've been using one for several years.

Hope this helps.
I have a TLC-1 deluxe and a RLD-1 used with a DNA-2 amp.The TLC-1 will give great tranparency and good dynamics if used with a good dac or cd player (I use the Camelot Tech. Uther dac & Morganna 24/96 player with great results).The RLD-1 would be great match if you want a remote, it has great dynamics and overall sound quality for the money.If interested in what other components are in my system and the different power cords,interconnects I've used with the McCormack units you can email me.I think you will be very pleased with the DNA-1 rev.A it is a excellent amp. Happy listening & good luck. Don
Forget about the Placette, the McCormack TLC-1 is the "PERFECT" match with your DNA-1. Don't waste money trying to mix and match with other brands. The money that you would save will get you a very good CD player.
I had used an ALD-1 but the TLC-1 is much more transparent.

I've got a DNA-0.5 Rev. A and tried the RLD-1 in my system. Although great dynamically and tonally, I found the RLD to be a little veiled in the upper treble range, which had the effect of reducing a little bit of detail and air from recordings. Overall I found it to be a good preamp, but its level of transparency was not up to that of the 0.5 Rev. A in my opinion. I notice others recommending Steve's passive preamps and I would probably explore that route too, but I would also try the Placette since I think it has a 30-day money back guarantee and may prove to be a very good match given its reputation for ultimate transparency. Best of luck.
I am not saying the Placette is not a good passive pre-amp but if you are going to match a passive pre-amp with the DNA-1, my experience ( together with others ) tells me that the TLC-1 is the " perfect " match. It probably has to do with Steve McCormack's vast experience in the desgn of passive units starting from 1984. A lot of passive pre-amps are great on paper but you need to carefully match them with the right components. If you are only using the Placette as a remote volume control to a passive pre-amp, then you should think hard of are you seeking for the transparency & the sweet highs that passive pre-amps be able to give you, or just for the convenience of the remote volume control? I don't care how transparent the Placette's review is raving, using a another volume control unit on top of a passive pre-amp will cost you the transparency that passive pre-amps are great for.
John, you can get an used TLC-1 for less than $350, so how much can be your downside if you don't like it?
I've had the TLC-1 and currently own the RLD-1 with two DNA.5 Rev A (one is Rev A Gold).

For the price, the RLD-1 is an exceptional performer, versatile and well made. It won't give you a tube sound (I'll tell you how to get that later), but it is neutral and does a everything you need a preamp to do with no major weaknesses. The digital volume control is something you can easily become addicted to and two sets of outputs make bi-amping easy without using a Y-connector. It also has a theatre pass mode for easy integration into a home theatre setup.

My cost-no-object criticisms would be that it is not as dead quiet as the TLC-1 (probably due to the digital volume control) and you lose just a hair of transparency and soundstaging. Of course, I haven't heard an active preamp under $3k that doesn't have the same issues compared to the TLC-1. None of these differences are dramatic and are trumped by the RLD-1's overall better communication of the music's soul.

There's a reason that you don't see many passive preamps. They only work great if alot of other factors are optimal (i.e. cd output, cable capacitance, cable length, amp matching, etc.). In addition, the type of music you listen to may not suit a passive preamps strengths. With your Maggie's, a passive preamp maybe ultra-revealing, but a little too sterile.

Either way you go, I would highly recommend that you leave enough room in your budget down-the-road to have your DNA rev A upgraded to the the Gold version. In particular, the Plitron toroid transformer and soft recovery diode upgrades are incredible improvements. They do exactly what Steve McCormack says on the website. I was stunned at how smooth and tubelike it sounds without any of the tube tradeoffs. That combination with your Maggie's would be killer. Good luck
You know why you do not see many comments about the RLD-1? Cause it is not better than the ALD-1 or TLC-1, thats why.
I briefly had a new RLD-1 when they first came out. I didn't like it. To be fair, I don't know if it was sufficiently burned in. I threw a tuner on it for 72 hours, and thought it would be sufficient time to give a good indication of what it would sound like.

However, this was after a long hiatus from audio & from a tube preamp. I then bought a used SFL-2, and as soon as I plugged it in, I never wanted to hear the RLD-1 again. This really sold me on tube preamps.
I am glad that you said it as is.
It takes a brave man to admit the facts.
There is a saying " If you are in doubt, try it out"