Recommended preamp for McCormack DNA-125??

Audiogon and the Asylum are full of threads on good preamps for the McCormack DNA-1 and DNA-0.5. The DNA-125 supposedly has a less warm, and more lean and lively sound than the earlier McCormacks. Does anyone have any recommended preamps for the DNA-125? I suppose if something worked well with the DNA-225 it would go well with the 125. I'd be happy to go with tubes.
I have recently purchased a 125 as well and am currently searching for a pre too. As you are probably aware, the McCormack is quite sensitive so it requires a pre with minimal gain.

Passive pre's, like FT Audio LW-1 (I just bought one, you need 2v output on your front end), McCormack make some nice ones themselves, the IRD Purist passive, and Placette, Bent, are some others.

For tubes, I am about to receive a Dodd Audio pre to demo. It is minimalistic, two sets of inputs and one output, has 15 db of gain, and costs $450. Not sure if it will work due to the gain though.

From my reading, many people use an Audible Illusions pre to match with the 125. The AI L1 model I know allows you to set gain for left/right channel.

Finally, I think the Decware ZSLA looks interesting, it is a tube buffer basically. Very minimalistic though, one input/one output though you can buy a switch box to add inputs.

Hope these ideas help,
The Audible Illusions L-1 is an excellent pre for any McCormack amp. It adds a touch of warmth to what is a slightly lean sounding amp. They do form a synergy that is hard to beat. Audible has introduced the L-2, which is a remote version of the L-1, with upgraded features. It uses an upgraded gain control but still allows gain adjustment before the master volume.
Don't under estimate how good the AI pre's are. These are still some of the best---period. At the used price---they can't be beat. A very high quality component using top notch pieces parts.
Hi Shane -

I just want to add a comment about gain. It is true that my amp designs are a bit higher in gain than most (although I see a fair number of both tube and solid-state designs at around the same gain, or higher). This means that - if you pair my amps with a high-gain preamp - you may have trouble listening at low volume levels *IF* your preamp has a conventional, rotary volume control. "Conventional" volume pots usually do not track well at either end of their rotation and they typically offer a maximum of -60dB of attenuation. In this case, you may find that your system gets loud very quickly as you turn the control, and it may be difficult to resolve very low volume settings. Whether this is true or not depends on several factors, including the actual gain of your preamp, the type of volume control used, the output level of your source equipment, the sensitivity of your speakers, and your own listening habits. It's a complex problem, and the only way to know for sure that a preamp works for you is to try it in your system. For instance, many people like the combination of the Audible Illusions preamps with the DNA amps but, to the best of my knowledge, the AI preamps are high gain AND use conventional volume potentiometers.

I think you should consider any preamp that looks interesting to you, but I offer the following observations:

1) A very low-gain (around 10dB or less) or no-gain (passive) preamp is less likely to suffer from this problem. The most important question still remains, though - does it sound good to you in your system.

2) More preamps are available today with high-resolution volume control systems. These are typically remote-control preamps with a lot of steps in the volume control - often 100 or more. This allows you to have a high-gain preamp and still have very fine volume control at any level.

I hope this helps. Enjoy your search - there are a lot of good preamps to choose from.

Best regards,

Steve McCormack
Anyone have experience with using the Adcom GFP-750 preamp with the DNA-125 OR DNA-225 amps? If so, how well did they match up and how did they sound together?
The L-1 preamp I mentioned above can be set for gain at any level you like. There are 2 gain controls that feed the master volume control. The Audible M3A does not have these and I think is the one Steve is refering to. I did use a M3A with a couple of DNA .5's. Its gain is relatively high and hard to control at lower volume settings with high output source components.
As for the Adcom preamp, it works very well with the McCormack amps. Using the passive mode, you might run into a problem with not enough gain depending on your source components. It is a very transparent sound that is really hard to fault. The active stage sacrafices a little in transparency but is reasonable with the gain.
If I was going to go passive, I would look at McCormack's own TLC-1, a very transparent unit. However, with passive, dynamics seem to suffer a touch. Also, at around $1000, the Placette passive preamp is really something. It has a very, very accurate volume control that is precisionally stepped.
McCormack makes a couple of active preamps, the ALD and RLD. I found neither to be as transparent as the Audible in producing a clear picture into the music. Of the two, I like the RLD better.
As you can see, I've been around the block with preamps in search of the Holy Grail! The Placette is the best passive I've heard to date. The Audible is my favorite active preamp and the one I currently still use. I admit though that if I if I could find a solid state pre with the same sound as the Audible, I would go that way. Even though the Audible is trouble free, you still need to buy a set of tubes every few years.
If it makes a difference, the Audible, Adcom and TLC-1 were all given a class "A" rating in Stereophile. Pretty good stuff under any conditions(especially for the money.) The Audible has been praised in about every major(and minor) magazine I can think of.
I looked at the BAT 51SE, a much more expensive preamp. I didn't feel sonically that it was worth the money over the Audible. In fact, in some ways, I didn't think is was as good. BUT, as in everything with audio, this represents MY personal feelings. Over 35 years, I've tried a lot and now I do really have a certain sound that I enjoy(which if you don't like renders this response moot!.) The other thing I firmly believe is you don't have to pay mega bucks for excellent sound. A good example is McCormack equipment. It's darn good stuff, period.
It's kinda like a car that runs the quarter in 14 seconds and for $50,000 more you can have one that will run the quarter in 13.97 seconds. Is it worth the money? All of these pre's are excellent value and have excellent sound. You have to make the call with what work's for you.
Just a short addition. I used a Bent Audio passive with my DNA-225, liked it very much, but parted with it for reasons other than the pairing with the DNA-225. BTW, I liked the Bent better than the Placette. Also, do not forget the McCormack passive line stages, they are very nice, indeed.

I used a Kora Eclipse tube pre and a Sonic Frontiers Line2 with it to good effect. One of the best I heard with the DNA-225 was an Air Tight ATC-3 but it had the issue with too much gain, too quickly.

I have found what I consider to be a great line stage that I am enjoying tremendously with the McCormack - Herron VTSP-1A with the 166-step volume control. No remote, though.
Thanks everyone for the responses. I'm now trying to decide between the TLC-1 and the AL L-1. After I buy and listen, I will post what I find.