McCormack DNA2 Review “Why I bought This Amp”

I first listened to the McCormack DNA2 amplifier in early 2001.

At that time this amp was already considered fairly old.

But, great audio products hold their value for a very long time and if they are still great – why not keep using them. Incredible values can be found on the used market. This amplifier is one of those values.

This amplifier had no trouble strutting it’s stuff with authority from the very moment I played the first note through the loudspeakers.

mccormack dna2 amplifier picture

The first thing you will notice when hooking this amp to most speakers is that it will probably make your other amplifier seem week in comparison. I think the main reason for this is probably damping factor and just overall power output. The total output power into four ohms reaches around 780 watts per channel.

The next thing that I noticed was the frequency extremes seemed much clearer and cleaner. Deep bass was reproduced with authority and easily controlled the drivers of my Thiel CS2.3’s that I used for this review.

Anyone who has heard the Thiel CS2.3 would know that they can sound a bit harsh if your source equipment and amplifiers are not absolutely perfect. The Thiel CS2.3 are/were revealing to say the very least.

But when I hooked up the McCormack DNA2 to the Thiels – they came alive. They sounded coherent, smooth and musical to a startling degree. That statement is not very descriptive – sounds like magazine review jargon and meaningless talk. How about this: They were not harsh anymore and sounded like they were producing real music.

I also listened to the Thiel 7.2 with the DNA2 powering them and the same thing happened. The nice thing about the 7.2 and DNA2 combination was that the extra bass offered by the larger speaker was perfectly controlled and articulate. The bass of the 7.2 and DNA2 in combination was portrayed realistically and sounded like real instruments.

This amplifier showed me something I will never forget about Thiel speakers. Except for the very deepest bass the Thiel 2.3 and 7.2 sounded almost identical in the same room when driven by this amplifier. The DNA2 proved to be an excellent match for both of these Thiels.

One problem though… It could have been another issue elsewhere in the chain but I tried this amplifier with a pair of Avalon acoustics Eidolon loudspeakers which was a match made in hell.

It didn’t work at all.

I could have been inclined to say that the Avalon speakers were the problem but I had heard the Eidolon’s with a pair of Audio Research tube amps and they sounded fantastic.

So, my best guess is that something in the chain was not creating an ideal mix with the big Avalon’s.

So, my only caveat with the McCormack DNA2 amplifier is making sure you give it a try before you buy. With most speakers the DNA2 should make your system much more musical and enjoyable.

There have been many comparisons of the McCormack DNA2 to much more expensive Krell amplifiers. I cannot verify this claim other than to say that of the Krell models I have heard it did have a striking resemblance of deep bass authority, power and weight. This might be what others were raving about. They have a similar ‘type’ of sound for sure.

Revisions, anniversary editions, and other related DNA2 models: I reviewed all of the DNA2 models demoing one unit against the other for more than 2 days. I came to this conclusion: The basic DNA2 amplifier – in my opinion offers the best bang for the buck. The other models and revisions offer slight improvements in one area or another but overall the best things about this amplifier are offered in the basic version.

Neutrality scale of 1 to 10: A 1 being thin, cold or clinical. A 10 being warm, fat, or dark.

This amplifier would score a 6 for neutrality. Just slightly warmer than neutral with bass a bit more pronounced. The good news is that it controls the bass perfectly so it can easily get away with this as a benefit and not a hindrance to performance.

And by the way, I bought one of these amplifiers too.


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