Building a System around old McIntosh Components

A friend of mine has a McIntosh 2100 solid-state amplifier (100 wpc, very heavy) and an MR-65 tuner. He's wanting help building a system around it. The room configuration is pretty much set. The speakers face the couch and back up against a large plate glass window (nice view). I would say the speakers shouldn't be rear ported, nor should they be too high to block the view (e.g. around 30"). He can move them forward for more serious listening... then the situation becomes more near field.

So I'm thinking a tube preamp (<1000 used) like a Quicksilver, Eastern Electric, or??? For speakers, any suggestion on what would mate well with this amplifier? I really like Totem and Spendor, and they could be either monitors or floor standing (<1500 used). CDP will be bought new (Music Hall or Rega Apollo?).

Also - those who know this McIntosh gear... do you think the amp should be serviced to replace caps or do you think it should still be fine. I imagine the tuner definitely needs to be serviced. Who does McIntosh repair well?

Thanks for ideas. Peter
Lots of preamp choices out there - including one of the older Mac SS preamps that were designed to work with the MC2100. You might browse

I've used Terry DeWick in TN and Audio Classics NY for repairs and updates on McIntosh equipment, including tuners, and have been well satisfied with both.

Have fun.
I think if you are going to do any McIntosh repair or refurbashing there are tow choices that I would consider.
FIRST: McIntosh Labs SECOND: Audio Classics. I would try Mc-Labs first. They will do the most thorough checkout and return the peice to original spec. Be prepared to wait though as everything is as mentioned a very thorough checkout. Audio Classics are all old Mc people and can do a near equivalant job. But I think that Mc will actually re-ship in new box as well. They always have my stuff.
They are great people to work with and love their gear as much as we do.
Another preamp I'm thinking about is the VTL 2.5. I really like the McIntosh 2200, I've heard it before, but I think it's too pricey.
In considering a preamp the first question should always be, "Do I need a preamp"? The answer, if you are not a turntable user, is often no. McIntosh has recognized this with the release of their latest optical player, which has a (usable, quality) volume control and an output of high enough level and low impedance so as to drive most any power amp. If the power amp has good sensitivity and a high impedance input most any CD player or tuner will do well in driving the unit directly, however.

If you listen to CDs only, vis-a-vis DVD-A or SACD, the purchase of a good DAC with a low impedance output and a voume control is a most advisable move. The Benchmark DAC has set the bar, it is cost-effective and sounds superior to ones costing 4-6 times as much.
That amp will need a rebuild. I just did my 240 and am about to do another 240 and an MX110. There is no point in investing much without replacing at least the caps and rectifiers in that 2100. If you are handy with a soldering iron, it is a very simple task.

However, the tuner job won't be easy like the amp. That one should be sent off and AudioClassics would be my recommendation.

Afterwards, I would suggest getting a Mc C712 preamp or a C15. The speakers will have to be fairly upfront - a laid back sound will definately not suit the 2100. Nor will a speaker that isn't highly detailed. I would suggest something from Triangle or JM Lab for best synergy with vintage Mc gear. Any new cdp will round out the system nicely (my vote goes to the Apollo if top-loading is compatible with his rack). Arthur
Thanks Arthur. How does the rebuild requirement from a SS amp like the 2100 differ from a tube one like the 240? Given the shipping costs, is it easier to just have it done here in Seattle than shipping it halfway across the country?

Is the tuner really worth rebuilding? I saw in TAS that a company buys them used in the low $200 range and sells them in the upper $200 range. The cost of shipping and rebuilding could be more than the cost of the tuner. Again, maybe it's best to go local in Seattle?

Thanks for the speaker recommendations. All the Best, Peter
The rebuild requirements are the same except that you won't be changing the tubes. The electrolytic caps lose their capacitance under dynamic loads (i.e. music) and the failure of the main power supply "can" caps will wipe out the power transformer. Also the archaic selenium stack rectifiers need to be replaced and I would recommend the latest technology HEXFREDs for that. The inrush current limiting thermistor also should be changed since it undergoes extreme thermal cycling and will basically shatter if you touch it from all the tempering it has received in the last 45 years.

All these parts are used on both tube and SS Mc amps. A properly rebuilt MR65 will go for much more than $200, no doubt. If you disagree, let me know and I will buy yours. :) However, repair costs for the amp and tuner will be very high if you can't do the work yourself. Finding someone local that you can trust to do it will be tough. There aren't many people around that have the patience and care to do such tedious work. The only place on the west coast that I can recommend would be Vacuum Tube Valley in Lakeport CA. Their website is I get my parts there - they are top quality and the can caps are about as close to a direct replacement as you can find these days, but they aren't cheap of course.