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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: McCormack DNA-125 Amplifier (SS) by Axiom13

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REVIEW: McCormack DNA-125 Amplifier (SS)

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Model: DNA-125
Category: Amplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: $1250
Description: 125 wpc into 8 ohms
Manufacturer URL: McCormack
Manufacturer URL: McCormack

Review by Axiom13 ( A ) on May 08, 2003 at 07:42:04
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for the DNA-125

I was advising some fellow 'philes on amplifiers, and wrote them this rather long email, so I thought I would just put this up for general consumption.

I have been fairly fortunate in that I have been on the receiving end of a fairly wealthy audiophile who is constantly changing components, if not exactly 'upgrading', so I have had several power amplifiers in my system, such as the Aragon 8008ST, CJ MV 55, Plinus SA-100, Jeff Rowland Model 2 and recently ML 331. However, all good things have to come to an end, and recently I actually had to buy my own gear, and after the usual process, settled on the DNA 125, the MF A3cr, plus a used Ayre V3, to name a few.

I think the cosmetics are cool, and the build quality is inspiring. The chassis seems fairly solid and well-damped, and the feet are supposed to be sourced from ModSquad.

I have been a fan of the DNA 1 previously, but felt that somehow its resolution was never quite up to snuff. The DNA 125, while being slightly less muscular on paper, seems to me at once more resolving and powerful. While I would not call it a bassmeister, it isn't actually all that far off, and seems to have a well-controlled, but more importantly, tuneful bass. It drives my little Aerius i's and Model 1's pretty well, and these aren't the friendliest impedance loads around! I guess there is also a little trace of euphonic warmth due to the choice of output device, but there isn't any appreciable fuzz, and the highs are smooth though I might have liked just that little bit more extension! I felt that the A3cr sounded really clear, but somehow didn't draw me into the music as much as I would have liked... ditto for the Ayre, even when run balanced.

I think the speed is there, and the imaging and harmonics are so good for the money I can't really complain. Perhaps I would like a smidgen more resolution and perhaps a deeper soundstage, though in terms of width it is more than acceptable.

At the price I think the balance of strengths are remarkable. I am sure that there are many good and better amps out there in this price range, but I don't think anyone can go far wrong with this gem.

Now, perhaps with some mods .... grrrr, the insanity continues :)

Product Weakness: see above
Product Strengths: see above

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: See above
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Adcom GFP 750
Sources (CDP/Turntable): CAL Alpha/Delta; Arcam FMJ23T
Speakers: Aerius i, Totem Model 1
Cables/Interconnects: Wireworld, Analysis Plus
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Everything!
Time Period/Length of Audition: 2 years
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: McCormack DNA-125 Amplifier (SS) - Axiom13 07:42:04 05/8/03 ( 4)