McCormack Micro Line Drive Preamplifiers

Micro Line Drive

3 inputs, tape loop; 1 active, 1 passive output

User Reviews (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9  
Jim VD   AudioPhile [May 08, 2006]
Strength:

As much transparency as anyone could want, at any price really. Maybe the biggest bargain in all of audio. Build quality without par anywhere near this price.

Weakness:

Only 3 analog inputs, not usable in any surround config really. Volume pots easy to slip around. Crappy wallwart power supply, but not even needed for use in passive mode, you can leave it in the closet.

I wrote a review many years ago here on this Pre. It has been my only Pre-amp since 1995. I have inefficient speakers (Mirage M7si) so I use active mode more often.

From what I've read here, nobody knows of a better pre-amp than this one under $1,000 or even $2k. Get one if you can, as they seem to be very hard to find on the web. Probably because nobody will part with it.

This amp will keep surround sound away from your system for a very long time.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Mark M   AudioPhile [May 20, 2002]
Strength:

Great transperency and details(in passive), indpended tape input, enough line inputs, dual-mono design, small and great looking, great for any budget, the best value under $1500 for the right system.

Weakness:

I would replace the stock attenuators by stepped ones definitely.

I believe that everyone here that posted review on that product used it in passive mode. In active mode I get fatigue and switch back to passive. My system is built for passive pre-amplification: Sencitive VTL MB100 amps that always work in ultra-linear mode(due to the small voltages applied) and need just 0.75V to perform 100W/ch and 1.1V to output 110W/ch, ARC PH3 phono with EAR MC3 step-up trany that output together nearly 2V out of my Lyra Helikon SL cartridge. So my system is no as is solely depend on source components meaning that any investment towards upgrade will more benefit from changing source than amplification(not counting speakers) I''m not satisfied with active performance of this unit but I''m not satisfied as well hearing other active units such as Bryston BP25, EAR834L, VTL TL2.5. I.E. every time I''ve tried to come back to active seeking more punch and dynamics with measurable or no success at all with sacrifice of transperency naturality and details, the bottom line was passive Line Drive. I admit that this unit doesn''t have such quality parts as Placette and it certainly lacks a couple of quality stepped attenuators(BTW I''ve modified this unit to have those from Marchand Electronics -- the result was absolutely great!).

Similar Products Used: Bryston 11b, Bryston BP25, VTL TL2.5, EAR 834L, AE3.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
chris shaver   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 08, 2002]
Strength:

It just dissappears in your system. I believe the PASSIVE mode is the best for my tastes as there is more detail there.

Weakness:

lack of more inputs and no remote although i guess that makes it more high end?

Unbelievable unit. This preamp (in the passive mode) is almost not there. You can hear huge amounts of detail and the highs are extremely smooth. I was using a Mccormack DNA 0.5 and the bass from this combo seemed a little muddy and less than crisp. (This was somewhat alleviated by using the active mode) I just found a Levinson 27.5 which I have always wanted. The bass of this system is now perfect. Tight and very dynamic. I am going to mess around with the cables to get the vocals just right but it is real close to my idea of perfection. I will be keeping the MLD for a long time.

Similar Products Used: Parasound PHP 850 Classe CP-30
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Turk   Audio Enthusiast [May 16, 2001]
Strength:

Price,Size,Sound

Weakness:

Could use more imputs

I think this is one honey of a preamp.To think that you could get this level of performance for the money is awsome.I use the unit as a passive preamp, I have enough bass out of my Snells. As a passive preamp the detail is great,so is the clarity. It really took the edge off, and added a richer fuller sound. I do not think I am going to be buying a preamp for many years.

Similar Products Used: Creek,Marsh,Electrocampient
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Bruno Turkovich   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 17, 2001]
Strength:

Bass control, imaging, size, price

Weakness:

Three imputs

My first reaction when seeing this unit was, wow is it small. Luckly it sounds much bigger than it looks. The bass in my system is now more focused, greater detail.The rest of the sound now seems more three demensional. Over all this is a nice preamp especially for the money. I think you would be hard pressed to find a better unit in the price range of about $1000 to $1500.
system: McCormack DNA 0.5 Amp
Rega Planet CD Player
Harmon Kardon TD302 Tape deck
Snell EIII Speakers

Similar Products Used: Rotel, Bryston, Marsh.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Keith Chan   an Audio Enthusiast [Sep 25, 1998]

I bought this preamp after waiting too long for the Creek OBH10 passive preamp to arrive. I was looking for a nice, cheap preamplifier for my new entry-level system; a friend brought over his McCormack MicroLineDrive (which he has hooked up to a pair of Llano monoblocks) to demostrate for me the difference between an active and passive preamp... in my listening tests, I decided that passive was the way to go. I preferred the clarity and details shown by the passive stage. Since then, I've learned a lot about impedance matching and cables matching necessary for a passive preamp, and furthermore, found out that the active stage on the MicroLineDrive is not its forte. And luckily, the output of my DAC (an Entech 203.2) has a rather high output of 2.5Vrms.
With that being said, I think for the price of the MicroLineDrive, it really has a high-quality niche in the entry-level market. Although there are times that I wish there was more of the bass oomph that an active stage would give me, one hsa to remember that for this price range, one would really be hard-pressed to find a good active preamplifier which has the clarity and neutrality that this preamp can give you. And depending on the gain and sensitivity of the amp, the MicroLineDrive can be matched with many many amp upgrades.
With McCormack being bought by CJ, and the recent price increases, this unit is really a diamond in the rough for entry-level systems. It does all I can reasonably ask it to do.

Associated equipment:
Two Sony digital sources
Entech Numbers Cruncher 203.2 20bit DAC
Parasound HCA-1000A power amp
Paradigm Minimonitors
DH Labs Silver Sonics

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
G.L. McCullough   Audiophile [Dec 11, 2001]
Strength:

Ability to run both actively and passively.
There is no better pre-amp for the money.

Weakness:

Strength of the passive stage are the weakness of the active stage and vice-versa.

I have been through way too many components.
Started with Audio Research LS2B MK II and Acurus A-150
I should have never sold the AR piece.
Then on to an array of integrated amps all of which were horrible.
Krell KAV 300i
Bryston B60 R
Audio Refinement Complete
Sold them all!

The MLD is a great piece of audio equipment, possibly the best for the price. I have auditioned nearly a hundred amplifiers to find the right one. The MLD is small enough to tote around to audio shops and friends houses to test the sound. Hats off to Steve McCormack for his ingenuity to build such a wonderful pre-amp.

The active stage has adjustible gain settings +1,+6,+12db and the unit has a passive bypass also.

The active stage has great extension from highs to lows and the bass is rediculously low and tight. The active stage has a bit of hash but this is only noticeable because the passive stage is so liquid.
The passive stage is a little rolled off on the leading edge of transients and the bass is not ass tightly defined.
I also find the treble is not as extended or present in the passive mode.
Some individuals have noted this might be a interconnect problem, something I will have to look into.

Other than these minor quibbles the unit is highly musical and joy to use. Simple and effective.

Current System:
JM Lab Cobalt 810 Speakers
McCormack Micro Line Drive Pre-Amp
McCormack DNA-125 Amplifier
Marantz CD-17 MK II CD Player
Straight Wire Octave II Speaker Cable (Prototype)
Straight Wire Encore II Interconnets (2 One meter pairs)
Chang Lightspeed Line Conditioner

Similar Products Used: Adcom GFP 750
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
crump   an Audio Enthusiast [Feb 27, 1998]

I've been using this preamp for about a month now and highly recommend it with only one caveat: it IS a great stereo preamp with 3 inputs and two (active & passive) outputs. As with other McCormack gear, the build is fantastic, the sound clean and beautiful. For the price, really, you can't beat it. Sure, you can buy better quality but be prepared to spend 2k$ plus. Paired with the DNA 0.5 Deluxe amp (again, highly recommeded), an unbeatable combo. Once I replace my NHT 1.5's (which sound great in this setup) with Totem Model 1's, I'll give up 'the search' for awhile and just sit back and listen, which is what it's all about anyway.But, if you're selling mahogany model 1's...

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Matthew Kim   an Audio Enthusiast [Sep 12, 1997]

After reading all the rave reviews, I was very interested in listening tothis unit. After comparing it to a $2500 Classe pre amp, I was sold. After
a couple weeks of listening to this fine unit, I discovered flaws in the rest
of my system, mainly a B&K ST202plus. It was very bright and glaring in the
midrange.

So I went back to my dealer and borrowed a McCormack DNA 0.5. I was sold! The sound was smooth, warm and very dynamic, more so than the 200 watt per channel B&K. After a few nights of careful listening, I started to notice distortion on vocals and guitars. My first thought was -- the Alpha could not push the DNA 0.5, so I plugged the power into the MLD and ran it from the Active outputs. It fixed it!, but was not nearly transparent or detailed. So I called Alpha -- they said the unit was perfectly capable of running with passive pre amp, so I called McCormack and told them my problem. The first thing the tech asked me was, "Do you have the powersupply plugged in?" Sure, but only when I use it actively, he said "well there's your problem, it still needs to be plugged in, even if used passively because the tape loop buffer will eat up the signal." So I tried it, and waaahlaaa! it worked!!! not only did it work, but it sounded ten times better! Incredible unit, nothing even comes close, I would not even consider buying an active unit after having this unit! McCormack plans to add this warning into their new manuals, BTW. So if you have this unit, and are running
it in passive mode, be sure to have the P.S. plugged in, you'll be amazed at the difference!

Associated equipement:

CAL Delta transport.
CAL Alpha tube DAC.
Kimber AGDL Silver digital interconnect.
Kimber KCAG Silver interconnects with WBT ends.
McCormack MLD
McCormack DNA 0.5
Kimber 4TC and 8TC Speaker cables.
Martin Logan SL3 ESL's.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-9 of 9  

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