Reviewed by: Rootman (Audio Enthusiast)
Review Date June 28, 2010
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Value Rating 5 of 5
Used product for More than 1 year
This is my third McCormack amp. I’ve gone from the DNA-1 Deluxe, to the DNA-225 and now this. The other two were toys compared to this. I call this one the Velvet Hammer from Steve. It’s being used to drive a pair of Magnepan 3.6r’s through a VTL 5.5. It’s like the Energize bunny; just keeps going and going and going….until you stop or blow those Maggies up!!! It even makes Maggies have bottom end, contrary to what everyone believes about a lack of bass with 3.5′s.
The one thing I do notice, is that when a recording is bad, it’s really bad with this amp because those etchy highs are really etched with this much current driving your speakers. On the other hand, there’s so much control and reserve headroom available, it takes you to places on recordings that you’ll never hear with the other two amps I’ve owned, or other amps that I’ve borrowed because of the power reserves it has. Initially when I bought it made me want to play all my favorite albums in one night when I started hearing Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn like they really played, rather than what I thought they sounded like.
So where does it really shine. I would guess I would say that the mids and highs are really pristine with this amp. The more you listen to female vocalists, like Patricia Barber, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall or Bonnie Raitt you just can’t hear enough of them. Male singer like Jackson Browne and Elton John, really sound like themselves, instead of like listening through a glass of water like with other amps.
I know Magnepan says that Bryston amps match up well with their speakers, but I’m telling you after having had this DNA-500 for 3 years, that their Mono Block 7′s can’t hang with the Velvet Hammer, and as good as the Conrad Johnson 350 SS amp is, it gives up long before this girl decides to stop partying no matter what kind of music you’re feeding her. The Bryston’s sound edgy and brittle after a few weeks, and the CJ is a great piece, but dollar for dollar, just plain isn’t as good a value as Steve’s top of the line. Funny that CJ now is manufacturing the McCormack line in 2010…..
If you can find one of these amps for around $4000 and are looking for something in this class that’s solid state, then you should give this one a listen. As with everything in this business, it might be for you and it might not. Different ears hear different things when they sit down to give things a listen. I find all of Steve’s amps to be very musical to my ears. They’re not tubes, but they sure have a lot of those tube like characteristics that I love in tubes. Why don’t I use tubes versus something like a DNA-500 you might ask? Convenience and power. You have to spend a lot more money on tubes and more time to get what I feel is an equivalent sound for the buck. To my ears that’s probably twice the investment to get the return I feel I’m getting for my buck. That’s a lot of bang for me……..
Good listening….Trust you own ears, not someones review!!!!!!
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