REVIEW: Mccormack UDP-1 Deluxe


I will try to describe my experience with the UDP-1.
The rendezvous took place in my friend’s house, Mr Barrios.
His set up is
Mc Cormack UDP-1 Deluxe
Audioquest Panther IC
Conrad Johnson Premier 17LS preamplifier
Audioquest Cheetah IC
Conrad Johnson Premier 12 Monoblocks
Audioquest Sterling(biwired)
Von Schweikert VR4jr
Michael Green Room Tunes
Herbies Audio Lab Tube Dampers in the Powers.
BBC Spikes

To put things in perspective.
Mr Barrios, as me ,listen mostly to rock. Seventies rock of many kinds like Love,
PFM, Le Orme, The Band, The Who, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Elton John, John Lennon, Grateful Dead, Neil Young, Cat Stevens.
Ocassionally other genres could jump into the rig, Jazz a la Monk, Davis or Coltrane.
And very very few times classical music.
Ok. Lets go.

We tried the machine using his four soft shoes(stock feature) above a maple like wood of almost 4 inches thick. The wood was resting on 3 BBC spikes. One in the front at the center of the transport and 2 in the back at the sides. The spikes were resting on the rack.
This way we accomplished a better separation of instruments and a clearer midrange. The overall presentation of the musical event was better this way.

How is it for the sound?

The UDP1 Deluxe had roughly like 200 hours of break in. We start listening to redbooks cds. The first thing I noticed was the great ability of the player to reproduce tight and musical very low bass notes with a good decay, not dry at all. The bass was very detailed and present. The sound was very full bodied and a bit on the warm side of neutral.
This, the bass completeness and precision, is for me the most amazing trick the UDP-1 performed.

But thats not all.

The UDP-1 is a non-tubed machine. The overall sound coming of the Maccormack was very detailed, very articulate, with a good extension on both extremes of the frequency spectrum.

We listened to John Lennon "Plastic Ono Band" Mobile Fidelity redbook and the sound was really something.
The double voice of Lennon on "Hold on” coming from the two VR4s was very clear, actually. You can heard the two voices blending in the air between the speakers. The piano on "Isolation" was heavy with good weight but not the better I have heard.
The voice of Lennon on “Isolation” also had a very good low extension. The soundstage was big and open, and slightly forward with only a little depth.
That’s an issue.
I never had the feeling that the soundstage was very deep but I’m almost sure that it is caused by room acoustics.

We tried another redbook cds of different production years and the UDP1 always delivered a well controlled and accurate sound. The bass was always tight, never boomy and never dry.
Another thing that impress me about the UDP1 is its extraordinary ability to retrieve information.

When we switched to SACDs, the sound became more non-fatiguing.
I doesn’t mean at all that the redbook sound was fatiguing but SACD was a lot more non-fatiguing. It seems like when I listened to the SACD my mind was working less, trying to fulfill the empty spaces between the 1s and the 0s.
SACD by the UDP1 was the most close vinyl like experience coming from a digital source that I have listened to.
It was very relaxing and real.

We listened to Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells SACD and I think it was very very similar to vinyl.

Next on the spot was Elton John, Madman across the water SACD. We listened to “Tiny Dancer” and "Levon” The voice of Elton John was scaring real and 3d. You could feel the subtle changes coming out of his throat. The guitars were well positioned in the soundstage with good separation.

At last we tried DVD audio. Here I will skip because I really can’t stand the loudness and spectacular flavor of the DVDAUDIO presentation. It is like a very digital experience with a lot of volume and all the instruments and voices attacking at once. Like a relentless attack.

I don’t like it at all. It the opposite of what I define as near real sound. I havent heard DVDAUDIO in others hi end players, so I dont know if this is a Mccormack issue. I think is mostly the format being too digital for my taste.

I have to say that at anytime when we were listening to redbook cds, if someone would have told me that I was really listening to a SACD I would have believed. Because the performance of the UDP1 in redbook was so good that the differences between that and SACD were always very short, if any at all.
I have to clarify one thing. The differences between SACD and redbook on the UDP1 were indeed very short. But, SACD has a special characteristic in his way of representing sound that make its sound more analog like. Maybe a redbook could sound more detailed, clearer and with better bass than a SACD, but for me the SACD always will sound more natural.. Thats why SACD in the UDP1 is kind of a vinyl listening experience.

Also, The UDP1 cant decode HDCD,so it reads the HDCDs as normal cds. We listened to 2 or 3 HDCDs we knew very well, and never miss something in the sound. The HDCDs sounded as well as when decoded.

You can’t say that the UDP1 has a tube sound, nor you cant say it has the solid state typical coldness. Is a very good mix of the best of the tube/warm sound and the best of the ss/accurate sound with a foot on the latter side.

During the session I didn’t at anytime feel any shortcoming in the performance of the UDP1. But, there is always a “but”, remember, is a good mix, it has a bit of every side and not a lot of neither.

Personally, I prefer my sound natural and real.
That’s my goal and that’s why I think the UDP1 is not my cup of tea.
I felt the lack of a more flowing, more liquid sound, and a more organic presentation of the event.
I think it lacks a bit of a more musical soul.

But, the UDP1 is an extremely accurate cd player that, as always, depending on your system and preferences may work for you or not.

For those of the analytical and detailed squad, the UDP1 could become his loyal digital friend.
For those on the relax, organic squad the UDP1 is worth a listen because it has a bit of that, but I don’t think it will be for a long time in their racks.

For the ones who want it all, even at the cost of having only a little of everything, the UDP1 is as near as perfect gets.

Finally, in a system like the one my friend Mr Barrios has, the accurate and dynamic UDP1 has the perfect partner, the Premier 12 with his big and mellow sound.
Like always, listen first, let your ears judge.
Good review. Thanks for the information. Given your musical preferences and the type of sound you prefer, what disc players do you recommend?
Agreed , excellent review. Thanks for sharing !!
Personally, I prefer my sound natural and real.
That’s my goal and that’s why I think the UDP1 is not my cup of tea.
I felt the lack of a more flowing, more liquid sound, and a more organic presentation of the event.
I think it lacks a bit of a more musical soul.
But, the UDP1 is an extremely accurate cd player

tks for the review and the very objective feedback. This being said, as owner of a UDP1 for 18 months, I am really surprised by your assessment. If I had to summarize my time with it I would have said: "not the last word in accuracy but musicality first and foremost. I happen to own a dozen of albums in both LP and CD and the UDP1 is the player that gave me the most ressemblance, the most liquidity..compared to YBA CD3 Delta, Gamut CD1, Quad 99 II, Moon Equinox and Rega Jupiter". On the other hand I spent a week end with a pair of VR4 Jr and I found them to be really short in the "musicality" department...could this be the case for you too? again, to each his own and his opinion but UDP1 is musical before being accurate in my book.
Is it possible the Deluxe upgrade makes it much more analytical and less musical? that would be weird yet possible and geared toward higher resolution systems.
It is early on in the evaluation stage, but I have just
taken delivery on an EAR Acute CDP. I am temporarily running it direct to my amps while awaiting the Full
function preamp it will run through soon. I have never been a fan of CDP running direct, but my initial impressions are very positive on this player. I cannot do without the
soul, and this CDP seems to have it goin on. I have never
felt that in reading some of the great reviews here on the Gon that I could write a good one. I may not have a whole
lot more to say anytime soon, at least until my preamp arrives. Coincidentally, I am running the Acute in to a McCormack DNA 500. I just bought this amp and am primarily
a tube guy. The EAR replaced amy AA Capitole 2. It is too
early to jump for joy but so far , so very good. FWIW,
I still own my tube amps.
Thanks for the comments.

I never use the word "musical" because is a word hard to describe and anyone can have a different aproach to its real meaning.
For start, I have heard the VR4jr for a very long time in different set ups and I can say that his sound is a little laid back, his midrange is not very present, its image and soundstage are first class, very 3d. Also the VR4jr has an amazing bass if you have the time and pacience to tune it(we are talking about hard positioning, a lot of lead shot, and some dacron in the posrt), its highs are beautifulbut not very present. Also, it is not, by any means, a dynamic speaker.
Being said that, I dont know if the above apply for "musical" or not "musical" . Thats is the tricky nature of that word. So it is best to be avoided.

Then, I have said very good things about this player like "During the session I didn’t at anytime feel any shortcoming in the performance of the UDP1". Thats a lot.

Later I also said, "the performance of the UDP1 in redbook was so good that the differences between that and SACD were always very short, if any at all" and later I stated that SACD BY THE UDP1 was the most vinyl like experience coming out of a digital I have heard. Here, we are talking about a leader of the pack.

What I really said is that it has a very good mix of the best of the tube/warm sound and the best of the ss/accurate sound with a foot on the latter side.
And that maybe can be more of the likings of the analytical squad. But I never said the UPD1 was a analytical unit all the way.
I liked it a lot but I would prefer something a more liquid, organic sound (most in the midrange is you ask me)presentation of the event.

Now, I havent heard the regular UDP1 so I dont know if the deluxe is more analytical.

For Markphd,
As for cd players I like
Universal Players: Audio Aero Capitole MKII, Ayre Cx5 and APL Denon 3910.
Redbook only players: Bat VK-D5Se, Monarchy ,Meridian 508.24 and Audio note CD2.

I did not mean to upset you and I find you quite defensive. That you said good things or bad things is not the point, I am not affiliated with McCormack nor in love with any of my gear...I find that your comments were interesting since somehow opposite to what I experienced, no more no less. At the same time, I have a hard time really understanding what you meant...
Personally, I prefer my sound natural and real.
That’s my goal and that’s why I think the UDP1 is not my cup of tea. I think it lacks a bit of a more musical soul.
You not only use the term "musical" but also "musical soul"..hum, what does it mean? implying the sound was neither natural nor real..humm, what is a real and natural sound?

May be so I can undrestand really what you meant in your review "neither tube nor SS, neither analytical all the way nor organic, neither musical nor natural or real but very good and accurate (real vs. accurate, please explain!)" what kind of player would be your cup of tea? I think I and many on Agon would love to find a very accurate player with a lot of musical soul and organic while real, which one would you suggest?
Hi Behene,
Sorry if my words sounds so defensive. That was not my intention.
Maybe I didnt explain myself as I would have wanted.
Now, I will try harder.

I meant "Musical soul" as a lack of organic, liquid, sound. I didnt use that word to qualify the sound of the machine at all just was trying to build an image so others could easily understand the idea.

When I quoted in my earlier mail all the good things I said in the review, just was trying to give you an idea of the difficult line Im trying to draw here.
A terrific machine with a little step into the analytical side.

Then for "real" in audiophile terms, I understand a sound that can make me believe im listening to the performers and not to a stereo set up.
And I really think real and accurate are not the same in anyway. At least for me.
An acurate sound, very detailed, with extremely good separation of instruments sound could make you more involved with the "wow that trumpet" "heard that timbal?" "what a bass line!!" mood and less involved with the music itself.
A lot of my audiophiles friend have almost forgot to listen to the music and they prefer to listen to the great highs, or the very defined bass.
Just like to go to the circus, and when the clowns come out, you instead of just watch and listen to the jokes, dedicate to watch the color and shape of the clown shoes and how they reflect the spotlights. You missed the jokes completely. It is an option indeed. Thats whats happening more and more with some people I know. Happily, not all.

When I wrote all that nor this, nor that, I was trying to state a difficult middle point between a ss and a tube sound. Thats all.
I havent find that player yet, my quest continues.
But I always prefered the non upsampling ones and my likings are somehow on the warm,organic sound.
I have been an owner of the UDP-1 Deluxe for 9 months and have had many wonderful hours listening to a variety of music. Recently I changed the stock PC to an Audience Power Chord. WOW, what a difference that made. The sound is much more dynamic, silky smooth with an even blacker background, more musical soul. If I didn't know better, I would believe I was listening to a very good vinyl rig. The UDP-1 Deluxe appears to be very sensitive to power chords. Just curious, were you listening with the stock chord?
I owned both the original UDP-1 and the Deluxe version and I liked the original better. This is not the first time that this has happened to me with a component. Updated components usually sound different but they do not always sound better to me. The Deluxe was more analytical and less musical to me. There was a coherence to the sound with the original UDP-1 that seemed missing with the Deluxe version. I did think the video was better with the Deluxe version.
I guess if Albert has one it must be pretty,ok.--Check his system.