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McCormack Active Line Drive
2 Reviews
rating  4 of 5
MSRP  1995.00
Description: Active line stage with gain and 1 passive path, 5 buffered line-level inputs, 1 passive line-level input, 1 balanced main output, 2 unbalanced active main outputs, 1 unbalanced passive main output, 2 tape loops with dubbing capability, optional phono module, optional external power supply, optional deluxe parts package, non-inverting.


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Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Allan a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: May 4, 2000

Bottom Line:   
This review is really for the UPGRADED ALD-1, Revision B. The original Ald-1 I purchased was only used for 2 months before I upgraded it.

I could be critical of its (the original ald-1) sound, but that is not my point. Let me just say that AFTER the upgrade, this unit's prior limitations were GONE. By upgrading the power supply, critical components, wiring, this preamp had OUTSTANDING soundstaging, with lots of air around notes, and sounded SMOOTH as silk. Far better than the stock unit, needing to be heard to be believed. The difference was that large.

OK, so I'll say it - the stock unit had a harsh/tinny quality I didn't care for, and lacked transparency - this is gone with the upgrade. The sound reminds me a lot of the BAT preamp I audioned.

Do yourself a favor, and buy hte ald-1 used (cheap) then send it to Smcaudio (seve mcCormack's company) for the upgrade - you will not be dissapointed.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1997

Overall Rating:3
Submitted by Gary Okada a an Audiophile

Date Reviewed: March 21, 1999

Bottom Line:   
This is a nice, full featured preamp which fails due to lack of transparency. While there are a host of bells and whistles, this amp did not make its way into Stereophle's recommended components list. I mention this, because Stereophile is often accused of being in love with McCormack Audio, since their products are almost universally reviewed with superlatives in those worthy pages. Yes, I am a fan of both the high-end company and the magazine. However, I must be critical of the ALD-1. It just did not connect me to the music in my system at the time that I formulated my opinions of it. Let me hasten to say that this preamp could very well do the job for you in your system, given its host of fine features and powerful sound. Aside from the transparency issue, there is a slight but noticeable electronic sound to this component when used in the active modes. This will not necesarily be a bad thing in many systems. There is a bit of added body to the images with this preamp, along with a bit more fullness in the bass, which will generally offset the loss in detail in that region. In many systems, this may be quite pleasing. Given the state of affordable high-end CD 7 or 8 years ago, the characteristics of this preamp might not be a bad thing. However, I built my system on the belief that I would be slowly upgrading it toward an increasingly transparent system, with compensation for the weaknesses of existing components being a secondary issue at best. When I had reached the point where I had Monster M2.4s speaker cables, purely AudioTruth Diamond x2 or purely Monster M2000 Sigma interconnects in the most critical listening paths, personally modified Infinity RS 9A Kappa speakers, and Steve McCormack's SMcAudio Revision Level A modified McCormack DNA-1 amplifier, I was listening to CD straight through to the amplifier. The ALD-1 was just gathering dust when it wasn't used to allow my stereo to split duty as a home theater sound system, albeit in only two channel stereo until I saw what appeared to be a can't pass deal on a Muse Model 2 DAC. The addition of the Muse Model 2 dictated the use of a preamp and comparing the sound of my CD player straight through with the Muse through the preamp. While I was at it, I decided to AB the CD player straight through against the CD player through the preamp. There were noticeable differences right away, but they were harder to pinpoint when ABing and trying to analyze them than when simply trying to enjoy music. Since the Muse was close enough to the CD player when the CD player was played through the preamp, I decided to risk the $200 for the Bessel Analog Reconstruction Filter option. After getting the Model 2 back from Muse and after reburning both it and the preamp back in, the Model 2 was the clear winner, but there was deja vu to the McCormack DNA-1 Deluxe upgrade (NOT the Revision Level A upgrade!), where the difference was defintely in favor of the upgrade, but the difference merely covered the cost of the upgrade. This all changed when I upgraded to the Audio Research LS-3 preamp. After a few weeks of flat out enjoying the LS-3's benefits to the system, a more thorough analysis of the difference between the CD player and the Muse with Bessel option than a one time sampling of 5 CDs quick check was in order. It was hard to believe that there was ever any doubt that the upgrade was more than worth the $200. It was also impossible to give the CD player a completely honest chance. The CD player's analog outputs had not been used in quite some time, so it would stand to reason that they should be broken in again beyond any shadow of a doubt. What they got was being played into a powered on preamp all night and all workday with the power amp turned off, and, during all listening sessions, being played through an unselected input. Admitedly, they got no rest after 4 days of this before being completely ruled out forevermore when compared against the Muse when each was played through the LS-3. The difference was decidedly in favor of the Muse and overwhelmingly in favor of justifying the $200. Sadly, the ALD-1 is only used now as a replacement for the ancient Denon PRA-1000 in my ancient mid-fi "other room" system, which never gets played anymore, since the big rig sounds better through the door and around the corner. The ALD-1 would get 3-1/2 stars if it had not had an $1895 list price when I bought it. I rate it as 2-3/4 stars as it is.

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Duration Product Used:   an Audiophile

Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

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