Preamplifiers

McCormack LD-2 Preamplifier and DNA-250 Stereo Power Amplifier

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

Well, as afore mentioned, I reviewed this system with my Oppo 980H. The analog outputs were used for both CD and SACD playback. For fun, I also used the output on my Samsung DLP for watching sports and movies via the video inputs on the back of the LD-2. ( I hate leaving inputs unused.) Somewhat complicating my review is the fact that I have just purchased new speakers; Revel F12s, so I am still getting used to their new "sound" in my listening room. They provide a full sound and the dual 8 inch woofers allowed me to evaluate the extension of the amps bass reproduction.

I was getting used to their sound with my Emotiva LMC-1/LPA-1 combo. The LPA is rated @ 125 watt per channel and at moderate listening volume; the output was on par with the DNA @ 250 watts per channel. So, how does one distinguish if the sound quality is the preamp, amp or speakers? Synergistically speaking, they all contribute. I know that people reading this article are going to want to know how the McCormacks sounded compared to another system (like my Emotiva), but I want to keep on track with the McCormacks sound and performance based on their own design and merits. (To answer the question: I am happy with the Emotiva LPA-1/LMC-1 combo as they meet my needs and I am incredibly cheap!)

All of my testing was done without the use of a subwoofer. For music, I picked out Copland 100 on the Reference Recordings label, an HDCD recorded and engineered by Prof. Johnson.

McCormack LD-2 and DNA-250

The tympani in this recording is one of the strongest I have ever heard recorded on disc. It is very deep with a good sense of acoustical depth. The McCormacks pulled out all of the nuances and details with ease. The soundstage was wide and deep. The music was very articulate and remained so with the volume being raised to extremely loud levels. Compared to my Emotiva system (Drat! I was not going to compare), the sound had a warm, almost "tube sound" quality. Very pleasant and easy on the ears. Bass impact was almost gut wrenching! Horns and strings were velvety smooth with fine detail like the ever so slight "stutter" that is heard when drawing the bow slowly across the strings....ah, bliss!

For variety, I played Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick.

McCormack LD-2 and DNA-250

A complex mix of rock/jazz/vocal and instrumental noodling that was well presented by the McCormacks. The whole 44 minute recording is on one track, so pointing out specific standout sections is hard to specify. Suffice it to say it sounded great. Vocals and instruments were in a broad three dimensional space. The last recording was a disc that I think is out of print, called Sonic Fireworks Vol. 1&2. It was a direct to disc recording (recorded on location, without processing or editing) of brass, organ and tympani that has some startling dynamic transients.

McCormack LD-2 and DNA-250

The McCormacks played this stuff with aplomb. Deep, articulate bass and the shimmering crash of the cymbals made the hair on my back stand up! The reverb of the recording venue was well realized in my listening room. Really, if you are looking for something to rekindle your love for your old CD collection, this combination will get your blood pumping. I spent many hours just playing disc after disc. The McCormacks put me in my "happy place".

(Oh yeah, the IPhone. So after saying I would never succumb to the MP3 generation and its insistence on "convenience over substance", I downloaded a few of my favorite CDs and hooked them into the system. Wow! Not bad. When downloaded in a lossless format, the sound was quite acceptable. True, changing tracks was bit of a chore as there was not a remote for the phone. But for testing purposes, I could begin to see the ease and value of music played this way. You can impress an old dog with a new trick. It certainly will not replace my SACD player and I do not recommend buying the LD-2/DNA-250 just for your IPhone, but it was nice to have that as an additional option.)