McCormack Power Drive DNA-1 power amplifier 1992 Review context

Sidebar 2: 1992 Review context

I auditioned the McCormack DNA-1 in my reference system without the usual Muse Model 18 subwoofer. The presentation's low-frequency performance would thus be determined by the amplifier under scrutiny and not be obscured by the powered subwoofer's contribution. After removing the Model 18 subwoofer from the room, I spent some time with the VTLs driving the Hales System Two Signatures by themselves—something I hadn't done for months. My favorable impressions of the Model 18's contribution to the system's overall musicality were confirmed. The Model 18 considerably improved the soundstaging, focus, and, of course, dynamics and bass extension.

The preamp was the Audio Research LS2 line stage, from the unbalanced outputs. The digital front end was the Mark Levinson No.30 digital processor, driven through its AT&T ST-type optical input from a Theta Data transport. A Well-Tempered Turntable and modified Arm (The LP Lab's mod was reviewed in January) fitted with an AudioQuest AQ 7000 cartridge (all on a Merrill Stable Table) formed the analog source. A Vendetta Research SCP2 phono preamp finished off the analog front end.

Because this was a stereo amplifier under review, my usual 3' runs of loudspeaker cable were replaced by 8' lengths of bi-wired AudioQuest Sterling/Midnight. Interconnects were primarily AudioQuest Lapis (balanced and unbalanced), AudioQuest Diamond, Expressive Technologies IC-1, and Straight Wire Maestro. Other power amplifiers on hand for comparison included my long-term reference VTL 225W Deluxe Monoblocks and the Boulder 500AE amplifier reviewed by JGH last October.—Robert Harley