Got my very first system. What's my next move?

Hey everyone,

First of all, I'd like to thank all of you who stopped me from selling my father's 10 year-old McIntosh components. I've talked to some other audiophiles and dealers as well, and it looks like I'll be keeping these babies for a long time.

My first system (mostly given by my father), consists of:

McIntosh MC7300 power amp
McIntosh C40 preamp
McIntosh MCD7008 CD player
McIntosh MR7083 Tuner
Totem Hawk floorstanding speakers
Siltech MXT London interconnects
MIT AVt3 bi-wire speaker cables

Also please keep in mind that my current room is pretty small (10' x 14').

My question was, what is my next move from here? I currently have about $1500 saved up for A/V spending, and if I wait until september, it'll be up to $2500. Many have suggested that I purchase a subwoofer (REL Strata 3 or 5) and some have suggested I invest the money in a good power conditioner (Shunyata something...). I'd like to hear some recommendations from the real audiophile group (the A'goners). Please help :)

Oh, I use the system mostly for music by the way. I'd say about 70/30 music/movies.

Thanks in advance,

to pat yourself on the back. Excellent decision, I think.

Put the money away for a better cause. Blowing your available cash on audio is a bad habit to get into right at the start.

Enjoy the "gift of music" that you have received from your father and put your money to better use.

Of course, if you are independantly wealthy and have more money than you could possibly ever blow, go for it!


Spend some bucks inviting your old man out for dinner for example, great gift he gave you !!!

Enjoy !!!


I read in a gardening book that when you move to a new location,don't remove or plant any trees or large shrubs for one year. Live with the status quo ante for one interval of seasons first and learn from the experience.

I would advise you to live with your system for one year. A year from now,you'll be able to make better informed decisions.

All the best,
Yes you owe a BIG thanks to your Dad.

Learn to just enjoy music and how the system sounds then you can compare and upgrade later if necessary.
ENJOY THE MUSIC! In addition, go to lots of live acoutic events, thus allowing you to carefully optimize speaker placement and room damping toward the holy grail. Some attention to dedicated lines and better AC delivery may be helpful too. RSVP if you like.
It is certainly practical to gain a good bit of experience and be able to find what you like and don't before making a purchasing leap. It seems though that a good power conditioner would be a help in this cause and also be a good investment. That is not a bad idea at all.
Agree with the others, keep the system and enjoy it. Don't become obsessive like the rest of us.
take Dad out for a filet and lobster tail for Father's Day and enjoy your system
What GREAT advise you have been getting! I'm both amazed and agree. I'd spend every buck you have reserved on music (and your dad). Don't get caught up in trying to improve your system yet with tweeks - you can spend a lot for marginal results in your system. Best to save your money for long term major up-grades when you really no longer need to ask others what to do next.
Sell all of it immediately on audiogon or ebay and start all over again looking for perfection. This is the only way to becoming a member of the audio nervosa club :-)
power conditioners are an absoloute waste of cash for mcintosh gear as are ultra hi end cables & power cords.

i dont know what it is about mac gear but it just plain dont need any help sounding great.

ive tried big$$$ cables & power cords with no benifit whatsoever & went back to the stock power cords & radio shack gold interconnects.

if your heart is set on spending some cash buy yourself a nice audio rack, do a search on audiogon under VTI, imo they have very nice & affordable racks that match mac's looks to a tee.

enjoy your system.

You got a sweet system there. Relax and enjoy your tunes. Down the longer audio highway (if you've got this darn audiophoolish disease) give us a buzz when you become dissatisfied or confused or perplexed about something in your system. We'll add some miracle grow to your confusion. peace, warren

Spend every last dime on music. Buy some blues, classic rock, heavy jazz stuff, the better known classical, some instrumental... find out what the world of music has to offer. The gear is a means to an end, your dad gave you a great "means", go forth and buy music young man. Arm loads of it!
Thanks everyone, I can always count on you guys for a good honest advice.

I actually figured out the next step for myself, while I was looking at the audio system on the floor. I need a stand.

Do any of you have any suggestions/recommendations for a good quality stand that'd match well w/ my McIntosh components (black)?

I'm not quite sure how much I'm willing to or should spend on a nice quality rack, but for now let's say $500 absolute maximum.

Thanks again,


P.S. Yes, I did treat my father to an excellent steak dinner back in Singapore (where my parents live) and I'll be forever greatful. Very good quality stands at a reasonable price. Very sturdy great sound quality I have spikes under mine although rollers are an option and are very convenient as well.

Enjoy the system - it truly is a wonderful gift you've received :)
Your next move is to take your Dad out for a great dinner then get yourself some great recordings and enjoy your good fortune! Your system should hold you for a good long time. As for a power conditioner, make sure you can return it if you don't get the effect you want. They don't always make a real audible difference. Unless you are a big bass fan I would hold off on a sub until I got a bigger listening room. Enjoy!
Great responses above. I agree that your Dad was very kind in offering you what he did. I hope that you've gained more respect for both your Father and the components that you currently have after going through all of this : )

As far as equipment "stands" or "racks" go, you're going to get a LOT of conflicting suggestions on the subject. Believe it or not, and i wouldn't have believed it myself unless i had experienced it myself, racks really can alter the sonics of a system in a BIG way. As such, don't rush into something that "looks cool" or is "cosmetically matching". That is, if you value the sound of your system. There are things that make specific rack designs more desirable than others.

My suggestion when shopping for a rack is to look for something that is very rigid yet relatively low in mass. The heavier that the rack is by itself, or any given component of the rack is ( individual shelves, etc... ), the worse your system will sound. Then again, most would not know that their system could sound "better", "worse" or even "different" unless they've tried several different types of racks.

The key to all of this is resonance ( vibration ) control. Obviously, metal can be made quite rigid and low in weight, but at the same time, it will also "resonate" or "ring" once it is excited. That's because metal by itself lacks "self-damping" properties. On the other hand, wood comes in all different types of rigidity and densities, so there are a LOT of variables here.

After learning about the sonic differences between racks and being in a similar position to yours, i looked for some type of platform to build upon that allowed me to experiment a bit. That is, i wanted a design that allowed me to change components ( and sonic signatures ) of the rack itself. The easiest way for me to do this was to look for a low mass yet rigid frame where the shelves were not "anchored" to the support structure. Once i had the basic components for the "frame", i could alter the density and rigidity of the materials used for the shelves. This proved to be very enlightening to say the least.

If you don't want to "experiment" here, and i can understand this, i would probably look for an all wood rack that wasn't real heavy. There are several woods that combine lower mass with good rigidity, producing a rack that is neither "live" nor "dead". A rack system that lacks internal damping i.e. is "too live" will be easily excited ( via air-borne musical energy or floor-borne energy ) and "ring". A rack that is very heavy, overly damped will be "dead" and will muddy the sound while robbing the system of transient energy. Finding the right combo of the two ( "live" but not prone to ringing ) can be tough. Whatever it is that you choose, just make sure that you take into account spacing for adequate ventilation of your components, especially the amp.

If you do some reading in the archives, you'll find quite a few threads on the subject. Take all of these comments with a grain of salt as there are different parties posting here that have a vested interest in your wallet i.e. industry professionals that market products in this category. Some of them acknowledge their affiliations, some don't. Personally, i am not involved in the marketing of any audio related products.

If there is one commonality between the different vantage points involved in this subject, that point would be that racks / support structures DO affect the sonics of a system, for better or worse. While it is easy to overlook this aspect of rack design and just go for form, functionality and / or cosmetics, you might end up throwing away quite a bit of performance that may be hidden within the components themselves by doing so. Sean
I like Sound Organisation rack for $300-$350 sold by Audio Advisor. It is black and unlike many racks, the shelves do not extend beyond the legs. You may not like glass because it rings so you can either switch out shelves or used sorbothane feet for the components. The glass is not a problem for me with lightweight components under 10 pounds.
Also I would HIGHLY recommend roller balls for feet under the CDP. This is the best tweak I ever did to my stereo.
sean,your right on track about metal racks resonating, my last rack was a diy made from oak & my new rack is metal & mdf.

my diy rack seemed to absorb or deflect better, i couldnt get my cdp to skip no matter how loud i jammed but the new metal rack threw the cdp all outta whack.

i ended up filling my new metal rack's leg's with spray foam insulation & this has seemed to dampen the vibration's comming up thru the legs & i had to add isolation devices under the cdp.

so far it seems i have corrected the problem but only time will tell the whole story.

enjoy the system...if you really,really feel the need to upgrade. i would suggest interconnect and speaker cables.


I would look into room conditioning.
Placing pillows behind the speakers will give you an idea of how much benefit there is to doing it right.

If you are handy with hands, there are internet sights that will teach you how to make stuff economically.

I do love the sound of Mac. When they break down, don't throw them away but try to fix them - half of all the macs are still playing after more than half a century!
Try not to leave them on over night - since they are old already.

If you get the itchy to upgrade, do experiment with room treatments before - I sold many components and later realised it was my room.