Modwright LS100 w/phono.
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First thing - and by necessity - I decide to wait a while (onhwy61) as the buyer that I had for the McIntosh withdrew when he realized that I had no screws in the cover due to tube rolling activity. Currently the safest bet would be Modwright as I am very impressed with the tube modified OPPO that I own. Excellent sound and excellent workmanship. I have not heard sofar anything about the quality of the optional phono section. Any opinions or expereiences there?
I put Atma-Sphere and VAC on the shopping list and I am investigating now. With Atma-Sphere I would have to change all inteconnects as I currently use home made silver wire VACUUMSTATE RCA connects except for the phono that is a Nordost Heimdal. I guess the silver wires could be resoldered
Thanks for responses.
Just a few thoughts.
I own a C220, which replaced a C-J PV11. For my amplifier, the C220 is a much better match, and I am quite pleased with it. That said, a McIntosh rep told me recently that there is little sonic difference between the line stages of the C220 and the C2300. Yes, the phono stage can do MC, and is highly adjustable, but otherwise, the circuits are the same (although you get the cool blue meters with the C2300).
Also, I upgraded the tubes on the C220 to Mullard reissue 12Ax7s, and everything got better - lower noise, more refined treble, etc.
It's hard to live without the ease of use that McIntosh provides once you're used to it!
The search is over...after much soul searching and considering my bank account I finally settled for a ModWright LS 100 with phono. I have already ordered sophia electric 6SN7 for the line stage and CIFTE 12AU7X for the phono. With my tube modded OPPO 83 (also ModWright) I run Amperex NOS 6SN7 tubes and it made a significant improvement over the stock Tung-Sols. It took the glare out of voices. Thanks to everybody for the valued input. Well the search is over for the time being at least....as "best sound" seems to be a journey not a goal one ever reaches.
I agree with onhwy61, wait and give it time. I also own a C-220 and its what it doesn't do that makes a good pre-amp great. You mention more colours with the 3B versus the Mac, I have to wonder if those colours are part of the recording or something the 3B is adding. If those colours are present in every recording you listen to then I suspect the amp is adding something. Even if it is and you really cant live without it then go with it. Listening taste is very much a personal thing.
Dan recommends a Mullard 5AR4/GZ34 in place of the stock Sovtek. Sorry, I didn't mean that you should replace it with a completely different tube. However, Dan has mentioned to me that a 5U4G will also work and give a little more of a relaxed sound.
Here is a thread on tube rolling with the LS100:
Mofi...Look to be a few versions/makers/year of the Mullard....any particular version/maker/year I should consider or steer clear of..
And yes...I got a pair of the Amperex...nice as well, but it seems my preference was the tung sol 5687s due to my setup...you have sparked my curiosity on the rectifier tube now...
Looks as if I should seriously consider not only to replace all tubes related to the signal pathway (which I did) but also relatd to rectification. Not everybody agrees that this is necessary...??? It is certainly worth experiemnting - and it lookd as if the Mullard NOS are the measure of all things. Any opinions on that.....
I would like to thank all contributours to this thread. It has helped me with my decision. I finally settled for a ModWright LS 100 which is now installed in my system. I have replaced the stock tubes by apropriate NOS tubes and the preamp is currently burning in. Still, the changes to the sound of my system are clearly identifiable. The C220 has a more relaxed sound, a bit more distant, a somewhat more damped concert hall. The ModWright commands more attention, is a bit more resolving and seats me closer to the performance. Bass perfectly sculptured sweet mids and some more punch in the highs. The cymbals stand out more but have nothing hard or edgy to it. On the downside, the C220 has the better ergonomics and lets you play with your system - in particular comparing music played from different sources i.e. the same track from vinyl to CD to hogh-res download adjusting levels etc on the fly. But as listening to music is the ultimate goal of my system, I guess I am better off now.
Thanks again to all that helped.