what preamp goes best with mccormack dna 500, follow up....

any thing new, any bodies updated experience with some of the newer tube preamp.  i know the article at the time said the vtl 5.5 sounded great with it.  but that was almost 20 years ago.  what about now. just curious thanks........


The DNA-500 is a pretty blank slate so really depends on what you have now and what improvements and sound characteristics you’re looking for.  Without that info this is a total crapshoot. 

soix,  what i have is


speaker alon IV'S (was also thinking of a more efficient model) 

preamp herron v1

cd nad 565cee

acoustic zen, wow II's

and signal cable everywhere else

more clarity, some info is being sacrificed for others, better sound stage, again i listen to everything, just want to know what is better.     





Good to see you posting again. I would consider a Conrad Johnson pre-amp.

Keep me posted.


Happy Listening!

If you are seriously thinking of changing speakers I would do that first, then adjust your components to optimize the sound quality for the speakers. Then do cables and powercords.

I would absolutely look at the Backert Labs Rhumba Extreme preamp as being a great match for that amp.  Contrary to jafant's suggestion,  I would steer clear of c-j preamps - their output impedance curves are all over the place with changes in volume and the big McCormack works best with XLR inputs anyway.

You’ve got a very good amp and preamp.  Maybe try some tube rolling in the Herron to inject more sparkle and life into the sound?  Frankly, if I’m you I’m looking at the speakers.  Many newer speakers have more natural detail and better 3D imaging and a bigger soundstage with better overall transparency than speakers of yore.  As an example I’d mention these Joseph Audio Perspective 2s in their gorgeous Sapele wood finish that’ll likely expand your audio horizons in all directions.  If not, just sell them for little/no loss, but IMHO that’s the prime area for an upgrade given what you’re looking for.  Just my $0.02 FWIW, and best of luck.


blackbag 20   i cant afford that stuff

jafant thanks, knew you would chime in, i have a conrad johnson.....et3se

jwpstayman,  i was considering the xlr type amp

soix   thinking about selling off some of my stuff to get me one good preamp



The CJ ET3SE is fine for an older pre-amp. If you enjoy the CJ house sound, there is plenty of room for upward mobility. Keep me posted.


Happy Listening!

Your weak links, in my opinion judging by the components list, are your source and interconnects (AZ Wow).
Heron is supposed to be a very nice preamp and DNA-500 is an awesome amp. I used to own DNA-225 and drove it with ARC LS-25 preamp and ARC CD3 cd player. If you want to pursue the preamp change, ARC should be on your list but again, I think you will end up in the same situation unless you upgrade your source and cables (in this order). 

audphile1  i had a oppo on it at first, switched to the nad, gave it a more mature sound.  i love the sound of the wow's.  not a fan of arc. sounded to mechanical for my taste.  

jafant,  tried to move my dna 500, had to pay some one to do it for me.  between my age and issues was thinking of getting out of the audiophile thing all together.  i know if anything was to happen to me my wife would be lost.  thinking of selling it all and getting a more manageable system.....

@kennesawjet I had pretty much all AZ cables including Wow and all the way up to Absolute Copper. As you go up the line you get a noticeable improvement in clarity, resolution and soundstage while retaining the warm sound signature. One of the best combos and values is the pairing of Silver Ref II and Matrix Ref II. As to the ARC preamps, I’ve never heard one that sounded unnatural or mechanical and I had the following preamps in my system: LS15, LS16, LS25, Ref1 and Ref6. 

These were paired with various amps and speakers starting with DNA-0.5, DNA-125, DNA-225, Pass X250.5, Pass X260.8 (with Ref6). Not trying to convince you but your statement about ARC sound is a bit unusual and inaccurate in my opinion. Keep in mind, you have to have all your components on the level. These preamps are revealing and will show you what’s up and down stream. It’s likely that either the source, the amp or thd speakers you heard with ARC preamps were not up to par. A low quality digital source will make itself known thru a transparent preamp like the ones I mentioned above. So perhaps that’s what you heard…just a speculation…since we hear things differently. Your system, your ears, your room. 

+1 @audphile1 You might try waiting for a suitable used AZ Silver Ref interconnect to come available (I’ve got a couple pair but won’t part with them) and try that in place of the Wow and see what happens, and it’s also the cheapest and easiest thing to try. If it provides an improvement in the right direction you’re probably onto something, and adding more Silver Refs will give you even more as in my experience their qualities are cumulative.  I’ve used the Silver Refs with my McCormack 0.5 for many years and find them to be a very synergistic match and provide precisely the sound characteristics you’re looking for.  I can only imagine they’d be a big improvement over the Wows. 

@kennesawjet I am not familiar with your particular preamp and couldn't locate any information googling herron v1. 

If it is a tube preamp you know their tubes often loose fidelity slowly over time.  If it is a tube pre and you haven't changed tubes in a while I think it may make a marked difference for the better.  If by chance it uses 12ax7, as mine does, you might consider trying 5751 tubes in the line stage (not phono stage). GE 5751 black plate triple mica tubes are affordable and very good.

Of course if your preamp is SS, forget the above.