Amp Repair Grade: F


In 1978 my father brought home a new McIntosh MC2125 and C28 pre and a pair of ADS 910 speakers. Years of fun. Fast forward 2012 on a trip north my dad brought me the amp and pre. He’d had them cleaned in around 2006 and were used by him for a few more years.
A couple of weeks ago I brought the amp and pre in to be tested and cleaned by a certified McIntosh repair center in MA. I didn’t want to hook it up without being sure it would operate without any problems. I asked them to bring it back to spec, change any bulbs, check meters, and run the amp under stress to make sure it had no problems.
Got it home...about 5 hours of back and forth travel for the whole project and $400 all in. The pre seems to work fine-all controls, and there are many, are quiet and do what they should.
Hooked it up to some old speakers to test the combo and the amp has a mild popping sound in both channels that makes the meters dance to around 1/4 of the way up at full gain on the amp with or without the pre connected. With the "meter range" on "0db" it does not make the sound and on "hold" it isn’t noticeable. With music playing at regular volume it isn’t apparent on any of the "mter range" setting unless there is a quiet passage.
In addition, there is a higher than normal level of hiss coming from the speakers (with or without the pre hooked up), audible from across the room. I always remember there being this white noise, static, hiss, etc, but I suspect it is louder than it should be. When the tech took the glass off to touch up the faceplate he introduced large amounts of dust- looks like fine sawdust into the meters, one of which has a bulb out.
Both peices came back with dust and fingerprints all over everything. When I called and explained my findings the person that answered the phone seemed surprised, apologetic, and willing to have me drive two hours round trip to look at it again. I feel like I don’t want to let them near it again. I feel like they will never figure it out, waste more of my time, and in the end probably tell me the amp is old and I should lessen my expectations. I just say this because I’ve been down this road before with other "certified experts".
This set has some nastalgic value, plus it holds one of the main sounds of repoduced music that I grew up with. I would like to place it into any system I own freely but currently would not play it on anything other than flea market speakers.
Any ideas on the amp or a tech solution? As it stands I have no problem paying for the work done to the C28, but I feel like the amp came back worse off and don’t feel like I should pay for hack service.  I should add that I have no problem spending some money to have this work done right.
bjesien
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Send your Mac amp to Audio Classics in Vestal, NY. They are experts in Mac repair and restoration. And in business a long time!
It’s not just in hi-fi repair, it’s in all the trades. Car repair, home repair, you name it. The old guys who knew what they were doing and cared have retired or worse, and lots of younger guys apparently take no pride in their work. It’s appalling. You now really have to do a lot of research to find good, qualified, caring, old world craftsmen. For McIntosh, roberjerman’s Audio Classics recommendation is spot on.
If the repair shop you went to was Mac certified. I would contact Macintosh and give them an earful.
Though I understand your feelings, I would ask to speak to the owner/manager of that repair shop.

B
I have a MC 2125, replaced the C28 with a NAD that had more flexibility.  I decided to have the pair looked at, brought back to spec.  The nearest McIntosh certified shop was in either Birmingham or Knoxville.  I didn’t want to ship the equipment nor did I want to make the round trips that would be necessary.  But the certified NAD shop was right down the street.  I called McIntosh to find a local repair shop in the Atlanta area that was ordering a lot of parts from them.  They were extremely helpful, and it turned out to be the NAD shop!  I would call Mac immediately and let them know what happened to you.  Ask them for  someone in your area that orders a bunch of McIntosh parts. Visit the shop and look for some technicians with gray hair!!!
I own many McIntosh units. I live in southern California. In 38 years of McIntosh ownership, I have yet to get a satisfactory repair from one of their local certified repair facilities. I long ago just bit the bullet and send my Mc units to either Audio Classics or to the factory. But BDP24 caught the issue just right. How often can you get anything repaired by a younger repairman who actually takes pride in his work? Sad commentary on our so-called service based economy. 
Agree with it’s not just audio repair. I’m a carpenter and GC and I see it across the board. Lots of people don’t care. Give me my money and I’ll be on my way. Btw, if something is not right, it’s not my fault. 
NO accountability. Sad
Go to Dave Cox of Puckerbrush Audio in Norway Maine. I give Dave my highest recommendation!! Dave is an incredibly gifted technician because he is also a radio station engineer. He can fix anything and is reasonable to boot. He has restored countless items for me including Mac tube gear JBL Paragons etc. He is a true craftsman and runs a used audio shop. His used speaker collection is amazing. 
Puckerbrush audio in Norway Maine. Dave Cox is the proprietor and is a radio engineer. He is an audio enthusiast and runs a used audio shop. He has restored countless items for me including Mcintosh a quick bath all the way to JBL Paragon. He is a true  craftsman and quite reasonable. I give Dave my highest recommendation! 
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Agree with bdp24 on the trades. I'm a DIY sort but there are times when I don't have the time (or skill) to fix a home/auto/tractor issue and pay someone to do it. So often I am shocked at the level of incompetency and end up learning how and then re-doing it myself. And I'm not a DIY sort because I like fixing stuff...it is starting to come out of necessity.
Audio Classics in Vestal
or IF you need to ship Randy Vikan in WA state Elite Audio Technician is amazing... had him go over my 240, 110Z and MR-85
recently
he fixed stuff the factory honked up on the MR-85 ....

When you find a good shop, you're lucky!

I’m going to leave the subject of getting anything done right (let alone the first time) alone…

 

Your two McIntosh units have not only sentimental value but real value as well. Why not invest in having them serviced by some of the best, therefore one more vote for Audio Classics. They can provide (at cost) proper shipping boxes that will allow your units to be shipped safely. I have purchase two McIntosh tuners and an integrated amplifier from them over the years that were refurbished and all arrived looking like new and have worked flawlessly for years

 

Ask for Ryan Kilpatrick who manages the service department. You will be in good hands and good luck.


+6 for Audio Classics.  Nobody besides McIntosh itself knows this gear better.
I'd give the shop that did the work one more shot to get it right.  It could be something simple.  You paid for the service and should be able to expect the service that you paid for. 
I spoke with the service manager this morning.  I reviewed my findings.  He asked that I bring the amp back and give them another chance to work on it.  I asked for the opportunity to ask some questions.  
I didn't get excuses and was happy about that.  The one thing that came to light was that the tech knew about the meters being dirty.  He's know in the shop to do good work but sometimes miss details.  They say he can fix anything.  
My take on it is that he's honest but perhaps not aware of expectations that most of us in this community would find normal.  My impression is that he cares (works 5am to 12pm 4 days) he's old school but not precise.
I'm not looking to shame this older gentleman or make a big deal about my standards.  I'm simply going to request a refund for the work done on the amp and send it to Audio Classics.
I was skeptical of the local, easy route, but wanted to have faith that it would be an easy, local fix.  In hindsight my grade wasn't any better than his.  Kind of sad, and as most agree, kind of the new normal.
Thanks for all the advise and I'll update when I have real progress.
     
bjesien

I'm simply going to request a refund for the work done on the amp and send it to Audio Classics.
Smart move. They did nothing right with this "repair," so there's no reason to give them a second chance. You won't be disappointed with Audio Classics.
Ryan at Audio Classics will take care of you.
Sometimes these old school people are repair treasures. As a valued customer would let them fix the problem.  
If not, move on.  McStuff is usually rebuildable.  
Read this thread and, even if old school and "experienced," that's all the more reason he should have anticipated that disrupting accumulated dust particles into the circuitry would cause problems and should have taken appropriate precautions to guard against that in the first place. Heck, that's why we're all so careful to specify pet-free and smoke-free environments when selling our gear, right? We know this! I say get a refund and take your Mac to another, reputable repair expert that will do the work correctly. It shouldn't be incumbent on you to have to explain what the repair person did incorrectly and in the process you end up teaching them. That's not correct. Head elsewhere. I would.
Sorry about your experience.   Ive  been there.   Firstly though be forthcoming on what shop did the work?    Why leave that info out of the equation?    Very important to pass that info along to the community.   For back east repair--  The Vestal NY is likely worth the try although I have never used them.  Absolute Sound Labs in Minnesota  is authorized and stands by their work.    He is also available as a moderator on a Yahoo Mac forum.     The only other recommended I have is in Cali..  Northridge Electronics in Simi Valley..  
Audio Classics is the place for your amp.
Audio Classics are #1 in my book! Helped me with parts and advice on my 2205 that had freight damage! Worked out great!
Heck if you live in Massachusetts it's worth it to drive down to Audio Classics  just for the effects on the male libido, it's better than Viagra.
Have them build you a shipping box for your exact unit and have the Unit shipped back to you after it is fixed correctly
Puckerbrush Audio is the best! Sorry you had problems at the other place!