Review: McCormack DNA-225 Platinum Edition Upgrades Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

(Disclaimer: This review is l o n g. Allow plenty of time, multiple sessions, and/or a full pot of coffee.)

It’s no secret. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my McCormack DNA-225 since acquiring it three years ago. Just prior, I was in a home theatre-based funk, having departed the dedicated two-channel milieu during my younger “married with children” years. With over 2,500 LP’s and nothing to really “hear” them on, I bequeathed the HT system to my wife and start anew in a room she graciously bequeathed in return (beat THAT deal!). My plan was to start modestly (relatively to some) and seek “bang for the buck” used equipment, lest my wife immediately shut down the whole operation in the face of today’s rather ludicrous pricing. Later, I reasoned, the good vibes she heard (she loves music but hates ill-spent money) would allow me to upgrade one a piece at a time – and with mutual justification! So, it started. The DNA-225, a Kora Eclipse preamp with phono, an Oracle Delphi MkII, a pair of PSB Stratus Goldi speakers, and Cardas Cross cabling. A quick look at my system reveals that the DNA-225 is all that remains – and with good reason. Oh, many components have cycled through in each position until arriving at my present system, including amps, but I could never part with the DNA-225. Other amps have included Pass Labs Aleph 2 monos, a Sonic Frontiers Power 2, a Classe CA-300, and Conrad Johnson Premier 11A.

I read very good things about the McCormack upgrades to the older DNA amps, but previously nothing was available for the DNA-225. Subsequently, I read that Steve McCormack had made such upgrades available and read with interest his web site. When another ‘Gonner posted a review of the “Gold” DNA-225 upgrades, I decided to pull the trigger. Shortly thereafter, Steve also began offering “Platinum” upgrades, and so I contacted him. BTW, the referenced review by Bruce with respect to the “Gold” upgrades can be seen here:

Let me first say a bit about dealing with Steve McCormack. Here is a guy who, let’s face it, is a legend in his field. Anyone who knows audio also knows of Steve’s sterling reputation for producing quality gear. Enough said. But, how many guys like this can you even speak with? How many that you can speak with will call you personally on the phone and begin by apologizing if they are taking up YOUR time? How many guys that you can speak with pick up the phone when you call their business? How many guys who pick up the phone take the time, care, and patience to find out your needs, suggest but not push, and give an honest assessment of what to expect? Finally, how many guys after doing all this and AFTER you’ve bought and paid, give the same level of service, respect, and attention? Yes, the answer is very, very few. Hopefully, this subsequent review will answer questions regarding the quality of the upgrades themselves. If anyone has questions regarding who they’d be dealing with – put them to rest. Place your trust and confidence in Steve to do you right. I have dealt with literally thousands of folks in business over the years and Steve ranks with the very best of the best.

So, I send the amp off to Steve and I receive it back in a shade over three weeks. It sounds great right out of the box, paired with a Pass Labs X-1. Thunderous bass, sweet, airy midrange, and extended highs. However, I note that the top end is a wee bit splashy and the bass registry is really good, but maybe a hint diffused. I am wondering if my money was well spent, in total. Things improve over the next fifty hours but I am convinced that it is the X-1 that is not my cup of tea, as I did not care for it much with the CJ amp, either. Spoke with Steve about a passive. I had previously owned a Bent 102 passive and while it was excellent tonally I thought I gave up some dynamics. I mentioned the Bent NOH, and Steve opined that this would be a very good match. As luck would have it, I found a NOH at auction (John Chapman at Bent is currently on hiatus in building these). I decided to replace my Audience Power Chord and I ultimately chose a Shunyata Taipan Alpha (from Galen Carol Audio).

I was unprepared and downright devastated by the difference these changes made. You know the feeling, it is almost humbling. NO loss of dynamics with the Bent in the system and the Taipan solidified the bass immediately. I decided to let everything settle for 100 hours or so before making final judgments. There were plusses and minuses during this time which are, I think, common to most all equipment and I will not detail them. After allowing the mods and cable to break in, I thought I was ready to write this review. However, the DNA-225 kept sounding even better, and better as time passed such that I thought I’d best wait – but loving every minute of it! Finally, after about 250 hours, I figured things were what they’d be, and I could NOT be happier, unless I had live bands and combos taking stage in my music room every night.

To conduct what I considered a proper review, I decided to then select 25 LP’s from my collection that are fairly representative of the variety of music I listen to and works that I know well, with different genre in proportional relation in number. I picked LP’s with the highest sonic quality, some middle-of–the road, and some that have been left wanting in my experience. Sorry, no digital media in this review. I have only a pedestrian CDP and while CD’s sound very nice in this system they cannot approach my analog front end. One final note about the music and media. I listen to very little classical and the one LP I picked is among the few that I really know well. However, I am confident that fans of the digital media and classical genre would be just as thrilled with the performance of the Platinum DNA-225. The 25 LPs below formed my musical benchmarks and I listened to all of them critically, completely, and twice, over a period of about two weeks during morning, afternoon, and night sessions:

Eagles: “The Long Run” Asylum X5E-508
Clarke, Corea, Henderson, Hubbard, White: ‘The Griffith Park Collection” Elektra E1-60025
Rickie Lee Jones: “Rickie Lee Jones” Warner BSK 3296
Steely Dan: “Aja” ABC AA-1006
Temptations: “Sky’s the Limit” Gordy GS957
Karla Bonoff: “Karla Bonoff” Columbia BL 34672
Edgar Winter Group: “They Only Come Out at Night” Epic KE 31584
Miles Davis Quintet: “Relaxin’” Prestige 7129
Booker T. & the MG’s: “Soul Dressing” Stax ST-705
Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers: Blue Note 1518
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: “Symphonian Dreams” UA GXH-56 Japanese Pressing
Steely Dan: “Pretzel Logic” ABC ABCD808
Bill Monroe: “Bluegrass Instrumentals” Decca DL 4601
Jennifer Warnes; “Shot Through the Heart” Arista AB 4217
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Blue Note 4003
Ravel “Bolero” LSO/Monteux: Philips 6570 092
Ozark Mountain Daredevils: “Men From Earth” A&M SP-4601
Yes: “Fragile” UK Atlantic 2401 019
War: “The World Is a Ghetto” UA UAS-5652
Cannonball Adderley: “Somethin’ Else” Blue Note 1595
Stylistics: “Round 2” AVCO AV-11006-598
Stevie Wonder: “Music of My Mind” Tamla T314L
Beatles: “Beatles for Sale” Parlophone PMC 1240
Art Pepper: “Intensity” Contemporary S7607
Beatles: “Rubber Soul” Parlophone PCS 3075

OK, I have always vowed that I would pimp slap the next person I heard say, “It’s like I’m hearing all my records again for the first time”. Well, consider said slap happily self-applied!

The combination of authority and finesse of this amp is virtually unparalleled by anything I have heard personally. It is characterized by both superb slam and detail and an ultimately textured layering of the music with just the right amount of space and depth. It is as if a living presence replaced what was formerly just damn good sound. Above all, it is NATURAL – natural in the sense that it is the closest thing to a live performance one might imagine. Dynamics? In spades. Ability to handle a full range of frenzied and varied activity? Oh yeah. Try listening to “They Only Come Out at Night” on a lesser piece. There is so much electronic work, furious and frenetic riffs, and chord changes all over the board that it will probably sound a mass of confusion to most in places. This amp dissected it all and presented it coherently so that I could pick out stuff that I never knew existed. Just awesome to the point where I have changed my mind about this being poorly recorded LP to knowing that most amps just can’t handle it! The Pass Labs Aleph2’s had nowhere near this kind of control.

Absolutely rock-solid, visceral bass with nuance and texture. On “Long Distance Runaround” Chris Squire had me literally twisting in my seat as he bent those bass notes. The Temptation’s repetitive urban soul bass line in the long version of “Smiling Faces” had me so absorbed that I felt drained when the cut finished. The Sam Jones upright bass on “Autumn Leaves” was brought to the fore like never before, oh so resonant, but still behind and just to the side, complementing Miles and Julian. Perfectly executed.

Mid-bass is as rich and complex as the recording was meant to be and integrates perfectly with the lower bass and its transition into the mid-range. Stanley Clarke’s work on “Griffith Park” sounded like I had never experienced, the subtle nature of some of the notes finally coming through to shine with definition in and within the individual notes. The bassoons and trombones on “Bolero” were stunning both in the contrast between reed and brass but in the placement of these, and all the other instruments, in the soundstage. The soundstage of the Platinum DNA-225 is, by the way, stellar. Wide, yes, but only slightly wider than the already good performance of the original. The really significant improvement is in depth and height and an uncanny, almost spooky, ability to pin-point image notes from individual instruments or voices in their proper space, without losing subtly, texture, or flavor.

While the Platinum DNA-225 is tonally remarkable across the entire range, the mid-range is of particular note since any real question about the original was in this area. The sweetness without being syrupy (which I found the CJ amp) and the spaciousness without being dry (which I found the Classe amp) are just unbelievable. I hate to use the term “tube-like” because some tube amps fall very short in this regard, but it is the mid-range equal of the best tube amps I’ve heard. Much nicer than the SF Power 3 and better than some mega-buck Nagras, in fact. The upper mids and lower highs are equally impressive and seductive. The sax on “City, Country, City” by War is one I’ve always liked. On close listen, I can actually hear the tone of the note change in one spot as Charles Miller leans forward and then back, thus exposing more and then less of the bell to the microphone. Incredible, and though the passage is rather quiet, this startled me and I had to listen for it again in a subsequent session to make sure it wasn’t an illusion. You get that level of finesse from VERY FEW amps. If you do, will the bass lines ground your butt into your seat while your head soars above the speakers on extended highs? This one does.

I love female vocals and I have listened to many, in addition to those on the selected LP’s. The conveyance of phrasing on female vocals like Jennifer Warnes on “Don’t Make Me Over” had me near tears it was both so sweet and raw. Karla Bonoff on “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me” going from powerful to high and extended really drove home what pretenders are Sheryl Crow and others. And Ricki Lee. Her soft, whispery passages throughout just floated on air and mixed so seamlessly with the music of her jazzy/funky crew. My wife commented that she was so-so on that LP previously but loves it now! There are three female backups on Steely Dan’s “Black Cow”. They rose just behind and directly over the head of Fagen, as it’s performed live. But, not only were they supremely clear, you could pick out the nuance of each of the three ladies’ voices. I punched the air with my fist, so pleased was I with this. Not to be outdone, male vocals are great, too. The Stylistics’ Russell Thompkins Jr. is so clear and sweet on “Break Up to Make Up” (I’ve heard that song hundreds of times on many systems and it NEVER sounded SO good) and HIS phrasing of Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” will change your mind if you’re not into Soul. Another level of appreciation for Stevie’s voice as an INSTRUMENT was also realized….and Al Green? Fugedaboudit!

An ex-drummer, I pay close attention to the sound of skins. From Art Blakey’s cool and collected sound with Miles and the Messengers to Don Henely’s natural and electric sticks on “Long Run” to Bruford’s machinations and finesse on “Fragile”, they are all such a joy to hear. Perfect separation between high-hat, snares, and toms. The ability to hear what part of the skin is being struck along with a knowledge of recognizing how tightly the skins are keyed to attain certain sounds are an added treat. Even with Ringo. One could tell the difference in the hammer hitting the kick bass, the ensuing reverberation, and the subsequent dissipation of sound into space. The delicacy and timing of Jeff Porcaro’s work with the Dan came through beautifully and impressed my younger son so much that he is looking into more of his work. And, yes, he’d heard the same tunes multiple times before. The point/counter-point of sax and drum on “Intensity” can lead to a slightly uncomfortable transition on some systems. Not here. Smooth and seamless – fluid intensity.

Stringed instruments and piano are also just right. As an aside, some of the credit has to go to the Ridge Street Audio cables which deliver strings and piano, among most everything else, better than any cables I’ve known. Bill Monroe was at his very best, what with his mandolin virtuosity and the DNA-225’s ability to capture even the quickest notes in all their glory. Banjos where you can hear the pick scraping the top before and after the strum, the pluck and the resonance between string and top, just like being stage side Acoustic guitars on “Dreams” and “Men From Earth” were, well, unearthly beautiful and full. Acoustic. Just like they should be. And, oh the block chords on piano, which I love. Red Garland on “If I Were a Bell” is magnificent and the DNA-225 puts him right in front of your seat. So good was it, that I had to pull out “Steamin” to hear him on “Surrey With the Fringe on Top”, my parent’s favorite song.

Therein lies the one problem with this amp. It is SO seductive that you are compelled to pull out one record after another. You know, if THAT LP sounded THAT good, what will this one sound like, and on, and on. Without a flexible or independent job, one could run the risk of being fired for lack of attendance. Oy!

Component matching should not be a particular problem with this amp. It has the power and finesse to drive most any speaker. While it matches perfectly with my Bent NOH linestage, a friend recently brought over his Air Tight ATC-2 preamp and it was truly breathtaking in combination, also. I would recommend a transformer-based passive or very neutral tube pre with this amp so that the full luster of the DNA-225 can be realized. In original configuration (100Kohms input impedance) the DNA-225 was a bit particular about volume control. While a high quality and finely stepped attenuator is still crucial, in my mind, it is not as much so given the new input impedance of 10Kohm. YMMV.

I know that these upgrades are substantial and WELL worth the cost. I do not know if this DNA-225 will perform equally in ALL systems or if I have gotten very lucky with respect to synergy. When I initially spoke with Steve, I indicated that I was looking for a home-rum amp that would be a lifetime keeper. I can tell you that he hit the ball out of the park. It is the first piece I’ve owned where resale value is of no issue. When I’m gone, one of my sons will get this one.

The only thing I plan to change on this amp is the faceplate and top plate. I am in final production of an acrylic top plate with standoff lugs and a faceplate crafted from Corian, damping materials, and wood veneers/inlays. Will post pictures in my system link when complete.

I hope that others will consider these upgrades for their DNA-225 or DNA-125 (though I have not personally heard those upgrades). It is worth buying one used and having them done, too. I will not attempt to list all of the upgraded parts used in these modifications. I have included some before and after pics, though. For those that know the difference, the parts and such are listed on Steve’s site:

Not surprisingly, these upgrades are in demand and there is a waiting list. Get your name in, enjoy your DNA now, and be worry-free in expecting the very best when it returns. Steve McCormack has suggested that the very ultimate performance is with a pair of these in monoblock configuration. Oh, I save as I write!

(Final Disclaimer: I am not in any way associated with SMcAudio, McCormack of Virginia, or any other audio manufacturer, distributor, or dealer.)

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
Other amps heard in my system:

Amps I've owned-
Pass Labs Aleph2 monos
Classe CA-300
Conrad Johnson Premier 11A
Sonic Frontiers Power 2

Amps loaned by friends-
Air Tight ATM2
How did you bribe your wife to install acoustic panels?
I went to war for that and lost.
Nice review, 4yanx.
And as a McCormack DNA-2 Rev. A amp owner, I think I understand where you are coming from.

I've owned my Rev. A for over two years and have yet to hear anything even close to it. So far anway.

If your DNA-225 Rev Platinum is anything like my DNA-2 Rev A, you should be thoroughly enjoying older and less well-engineered recordings.

I've done a number of upgrades and tweaks that I consider well worth my while. However, none of them can quite match the sonic gains of the DNA-2 Rev A.

That's why after owning about other 6 amps including a DNA-2 Limited Anniversary Edition amp and demo'ing a few more, I am quite confident in saying that the amplifier (good or bad) is the key to any system.

Get this part wrong and it probably does not matter what else one does to their system. Get this part right, and nobody will understand your enthusiasm. That is, until they hear it.

It is MY room and I'll place in that room whatever I choose! And, hey, are you saying my panels are ugly?!

Seriously though, she is very understanding about audio and appreciates improvements. Oh, she may roll her eyes at first, but if something makes an improvement, she'll concede that it does and often give really useful input that makes me change or consider something else. After all, especially when we listen on weekend nights, she wants it to sound as good as I do. That said, if we shared that room for multiple uses besides music, I MIGHT not be so lucky....
Great write-up!

I am very happy owner of a DNA-500 and I was wondering if you have any idea how the Platinum Level DNA-225 compares to the DNA-500.

Zybar - I heard the DNA-500 in two other systems and can very much see why you're happy with yours. I'd REALLY like to have one to A/B with this Platinum DNA-225 in MY system.
George and 4yanx, after upgrading to a DNA-500, I promised myself I wouldn't think about comparisons and further amp upgrades for awhile.....still working on the preamp thing a bit though.

4yanx, good to hear you are enjoying your new Platinum upgrades, I am sure they sound exceptional. - Tim
Thanks for the excellent review. I'm using a Classe CA300 now but am considering the DNA225 with Platinum upgrade. If you get a minute could you compare these 2 amps directly? This will give me a firmer idea of the McCormack. I will probably not get a chance to hear one so I'm trying to listen to as many opinions as I can. Thanks!
Great review! Can you elaborate a little on DNA-500 vs the DNA-225. And what were (if) any impact going from 100k to 10k ohms using the Bent passive?

Anyone compare the DNA-500 with a DNA-2 rev a?
Rja, I had the Classe CA-300 and the original DNA-225 at the same time. While I found the low end control of the Classe very good, indeed, I found its presentation of the soundstage less "3-D" and with less air than the McCormack and the top end more than a bit edgy. Though I no longer have the Classe for a direct comparison, the Platinum DNA-225 best it in every area, and in no small degree, than what I recall from the Classe.

Saltyfries, I hesitate to compare the Platinum DNA-225 to the DNA-500 because I have not had the both of them in my own system. I heard the DNA-500 in two other systems and its incredible control AND liquidity struck me most and these are attributes shared by the Platinum DNA-500. IF anyone in the Bay Area, CA has a DNA-500 that they'd like to bring over for a comparison, I'm game!

John (Stehno), I very much appreciated your last line:

Get this part right, and nobody will understand your enthusiasm.

After rereading my review I was hoping that it didn't come off TOO enthusiastic. More listening in the past few days leads me to believe that impossible. Gotta hear it!
Oh, Saltyfries, I forgot your question about impedance. As you may or may not know, the 100K ohm input impedance of the original lead to a crucial need in selecting a volume control of very high qaulity and with fine increments - lest the volume get out of hand and be plagued with the "one notch too low, the next too high, syndrome".

I used a Herron VTSP-1A with the stock DNA-225 and LOVED it. It has, IMHO, one of the best volume controls available. With the Bent in conjunction with the upgraded Platinum, I am using the XLR inputs on the DNA-225 (only RCA previously). In that sense, I am not comparing apples to apples, and I am not a tech type that can explain much in that respect. I can say that volume control is not an issue and that the background is just midnight black, even with the volume cranked beyond where I'd ever use it.
Thanks 4yanx. Steve directly answer on AA also.

Hi Saltyflies -
Thanks for your input. Again, I acknowledge the desire for "greater exposure" as noted above, but I must point out that I already have more work than I can keep up with. This may be seen as either good or bad depending on your viewpoint. I see it as a positive, and I confess that I value being a small, quality-conscious company.

Regarding your questions:

1) What are the differences between a DNA-500 vs. DNA-2 (fully modded) – specifically does the 500 sound more like the newer or older models.

I can only give you the short-form answer here. To try to answer this question in depth would be equivalent to a thorough review. In brief, the DNA-500 is a new design and clearly reflects this in its performance. It is more neutral than the earlier amps, more like a “window on the performance.” The DNA-2 (including the fully upgraded versions) have more of an identifiable personality, with a bit of roundness and warmth. Both are extremely powerful and are able to drive any speaker with ease and authority, but the dynamic reach of the DNA-500 can be literally frightening. (I read a comment from one owner who stated that the DNA-500 can “take your head off with a well recorded rim-shot.”) The 500 is also built with an excellent parts complement. On the other hand, the DNA-2 Revision A upgrade is totally rebuilt with the finest parts I have found. This gives it an edge in relaxed liquidity and instrumental texture. It “fleshes out” voices and instruments in a very seductive way. Well, that’s as far as I’m going to go on this topic here. Please call me if you would like to discuss this further.

2) My understanding is the modifications change the amps input impedance from 100k ohms to 10k ohms. What impact (if any) for passive preamp users?

This is only true in the case of upgrades that include my new balanced input circuit or those that have been converted to monoblocks. Please note that this includes the DNA-500 in its stock form, but does *not* include the DNA-2 in stock form. An upgraded DNA-2 may or may not include the new balanced circuit, as this is optional. I now use a transformer for input balancing and phase-splitting, and this results in a 10K input impedance. Most active preamps will drive this without any problem, and many transformer-based passive systems (like the Bent Audio NOH) also do a fine job. However, passive units that use conventional volume potentiometers or resistive-ladder attenuators (without active output buffering) and a few tube preamps with unusually high source impedance (over 1000 ohms) are not likely to give the best match.

3) Grapevine says you’re cooking up a new buffered/ passive – any comments?

It’s true! I have been working hard on a completely new type of preamp design for several years and it finally about to become a reality. The prototypes are working extremely well and I could not be more pleased with the performance. I am planning to release both unbalanced and fully balanced models, but it looks now like the unbalanced version will be ready first. I am not prepared to say any more right now, but I will get the word out when it is ready to go.

Best regards,

Steve McCormack
I've been looking to replace my amp for some time now. Over the years I've followed McCormack; reviews, opinions etc. Today I ordered a DNA225 with the intention of having it upgraded to the Platinum Edition. I look forward to scheduling time with SMcAudio for the up-grade.
I don't subscribe to the flavor of the month club so I usually live with a component for years before I look for something better. Thanks for the review, it was my final impetus to get a new amp.
Rja, I am truly humbled that anything I might have to say would lead others to make an actual buying decision. However, I believe that you have made an excellent choice and hope that you will enjoy your amp for many years to come. I will have keen interest to hear of your impressions. Best of luck to you and, as always, enjoy the music!
Well 4yanx,
I got the amp but unfortunately because of a backlog, I can't get it modded for 2 months. These mods must be VERY popular! I talked to Steve and got my name on the list though.
Cool! You will still enjoy the amp for the two months before sending. This is a great opportunity to do some critical listening to a variety of recordings - maybe jot down a few notes of your impressions. Then, after you get the piece back and all for breakin, run the same recording again and compare to your notes! I'd be most interested in your results. Good luck!
BTW, please do me the favor of taking a quick look at the redesigned top and face plate that we did on this DNA-225 (in my "other" system link) and tell me what you think.
I think I had a birthday between the time I started and when I finished your review. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I have been curious about the DNA amps for a while. Your review addressed many of the important issues, or questions one might have. There's also a few good LPs on the list you wrote.
I don't think I'll be going that FAR! Right now, the sonics are all I'm concerned about. I will say though, the standard face plate could definitely use a redesign. It's a bit dull and the logo is boring as well. But as long as the amp works and sounds great I'll have to put up with it.
It would be great if someone began a custom face plate machining business? There's all sorts of wild things that can be done with anodising these days. The possibilities would be endless. I guess electronics designers don't usually think in these terms although that new RED amp from Switzerland is breaking some new ground. Even the innards are interesting.
Well 4yanx,
SMc was a bit backed up but Steve called and told me the Platinum up-grade will be completed this week. So, should have it back sometime next week. I'll try to post my impressions.
Finally received the Platinum up-graded DNA225 after a few delays. This amp replaced a Classé CA300. My initial impressions are very favorable. One thing that really surprises me about this amp is its power. Going from 300w per channel to 225wpc concerned me but the 225wpc actually seems more powerful than the 300w per channel. I have no explanation for this phenomenon.
Describing the CA300 in relation to the DNA225 could be summed up in one word: Dull. Overall the DNA225 has a fuller sweeter sound with better articulated and deeper bass and a clearer more pristine high end. All this with amazing speed.
The CA300 always had a harsh edge on the treble that seemed to worsen as volume increased. Sibilants would frequently become aggressive and annoying, spitty if you will. Although total elimination of sibilants may be impossible and probably unnatural, the DNA225 handles them with more grace.
Overall I am pleased with the amplifiers performance and feel the DNA225 is definitely a step up from the Classé. To be fair the Classé was 10 years old and had served me faithfully for that time. In fact, McCormack could take a lesson from the Classés build quality although this would undoubtedly increase weight and cost.
Thanks 4yanx for your review which started my investigation of this amp. By the way, I was able to purchase a dealer demo DNA225 with full warranty on Audiogon at a considerable savings.
Rja, congratulations on your fine new amp.

I would not be surprised if the amp gets even better as it burns in longer.

Regarding the increase in perceived power by stepping down in watts is not necessarily a 'phenomenon' as you say. As far as I know it simply has to do with quality of power, not quantity. There's power and then there's power.

Interesting that you noticed a perceivable reduction in negative sibilance. Normally the only way I am aware of reducing negative sibilance is to properly treat the noisy AC with rare but good quality AC line conditioners. I don't think McCormack is attempting anything like that inside his amps/revisions.

And it is possible to totally remove negative induced sibilance from reproduction. However, there are still often times negative sibilance embedded in the recording itself produced by the microphones and/or recording equipment. Obviously that type is impossible to remove. But anything generated within the home environment can be completely eliminated.

On another note, I recently purchased 8 Isoclean gold plated fuses ($25 ea) to replace the $0.25 off-the-shelf fuses in my three dedicated line conditioners and 5 more inside my DNA-2 Rev A amp (1 main fuse in the back and 4 inside the amp).

The 4 outside fuses went in first with little to no improvement within the first 48 hours. Then I opened up the amp to replace the 4 internal fuses. Within the next 48 hours, I experienced a very nice improvement. One that I would equate with my new Oyaide wall outlets.

The music is more detailed, faster, richer, fuller, and more natural. These fuses are sold only thru (I think)Artistic Audio out of Newport/Laguna, CA.

Again, I hope you enjoy your amp.

Stehno, I'm using the Oyaide outlets as well, the red ones, and am pleased with htheir performance. About the fuses, are the ends only gold plated or is the actual fuse materials different? I'm curious about these. Never thought about how they might affect sonics but I see where they could. Thanks!
Not sure about the actual lead, but there is improvements are pleasing and significant.

If you've not cryo-treated your Oyaides, you should try that. I've had both. The uncryo'ed versions were the best outlets I've owned. But the cryo'ed versions provide significant gains.

I still own my DNA225 Platinum Edition plus I sent it back for the ARC (advanced rectifier circuit). Never a problem with it (knock on wood) since the day I got it, almost 10 years. My best investment in audio.
Great! I just posted a review of the latest and greatest upgrades for a DNA/225, thanks!