McCormack Micro Integrated Drive headphone amplifier Sam Tellig, February 1998
For $795 you can get the McCormack Micro Integrated Drive, one of the great bargains in high-end hi-fi, even if the name is a mouthful and doesn't tell you exactly what the unit does.
The MID is more than a headphone amp. It's also a superb active line-stage preamp (with two line-level inputs but no tape loop). As a line-stage preamp, the MID compares with some of the best solid-state line-stage preamps selling for $2000 or so.
But wait, there's morea set of speaker jacks on the back, 5Wpc. With solid-state, especially, the best-sounding amps tend to be the lowest-powered. With tubes, toopower corrupts.
How does the Micro Integrated Drive sound as a power amp?
I laugh my evil laugh.
If your digs are smalla studio apartment, for instance, or a dorm roomthe MID does it all for you, serving as an integrated amp and as a headphone amp. Just get a pair of efficient, easy-to-drive speakers like the phenomenal floorstanding Zephyrs from Triangle Electroacoustique, now available in North America.
At $400, the combination of the Creek OBH-11 and OBH-2 gets you very close to the McCormack Micro Integrated Line Drive at $795twice the price. But the McCormack can double as a line-stage preamp or as an integrated, in a pinch. Before you buy the Creek pair or the Musical Fidelity X-Cans, ask yourself: Could you use a great line-stage too? Would you like to have a backup amp? If the Creek OBH-11 and OBH-2 are bargains, so is the McCormack Micro Integrated Drive. Maybe, with all its versatility, even a bigger bargain.Sam Tellig