Heard McIntosh 275 For The First Time.

One of my friend was kind enough to loan me a Mcintosh 275 amp yesterday and that had given me the opportunity to benchmark the tube amp with my solid-state amp for the very first time in my own system. I had high expectations on the unit after reading mostly good comments here from current owners, and I have not left disappointed.

When the amp was unboxed, I was shocked to notice that it weighed like an elephant given its small size, and I found difficulty in carrying the amp and putting it into place. I felt that my Plinius SA-100Mk3 amp although a much larger looking beast, was much easier to handle with the presence of two handles at the front and rear of the amp.

The Mcintosh had all stock tubes and I was informed the amp was a Mark 4(serial number VN1956). The markings on the side panel where the power socket lies had worn off a little. I was told that this is normal as when carrying the amp, the hand would grip on the side panels causing the text to wear off. Does any 275 owners experience the same thing?

When the amp was powered up for the first time, I wasn't too impressed as the sonic signature was more or less similar to my Plinius SA-100Mk3. The amp was hooked up to an ARC LS-16 preamp driving PMC LB1 Signature speakers(I'll try it on my other Proac speakers when I have some time later). After several listening sessions, I began to appreciate the finer qualities of the 275. The first thing that grabbed me was the bass. It was much fuller, tauter and went deeper, in fact too much of it that I needed to lower down the volume and crossover point on the subwoofer. The bass quality of the 275 was at a higher level and as such the integration between the main speakers and sub is now more seamless.

The next notable improvement was on vocals. All I read about the smoothness of tube amps had proven to be accurate. Harshness and digital edge on vocals were eliminated as voices took an organic feel which was pleasant to the ears. Apart from this improvement, I felt that control and refinement of the 275 were superior to the Plinius amp as the overall sound was presented in an unforced and natural manner. The sound of instruments in the background was also more distinct and precise.

Overall I am quite satisfied with the performance of the Mcintosh and find it to be an excellent unit. I read that the amp will take a whole new level if the stock tubes are replaced to high quality tubes (although I'm not too convinced of getting a significant improvement). Now I am having a dilemma whether to consider getting this 275 as I still love the sound of my Plinius amp. No doubt the Mcintosh offers a higher level of performance with a wee bit of control and refinement that are synonymous with most higher-end units, but the Plinius comes quite close. I think I would have to listen to the amp a little longer and decide if it should end up permanently on my hifi rack, a difficult decision I would say. Nevertheless, one thing is for certain. The Mcintosh 275 is a great unit that has opened up the door of many possibilities by giving me a taste of high-end.
Welcome to Mac World.
Yes the 275 is hefty, but unless you going to use it as a boat anchor or move it around the house all the time, you shouldn't worry about its weight. Yes, with frequent handling, one can manage to rub off the print on the chassis. Reasonable care is obviously advised.
As mentioned in numerous threads here, one can improve on the sound by 'rolling' the stock tubes, especially the small signal tubes. Do some research here and on the 'Asylum.
Many people who come from solid state to tubes find the latter addictive and end up listening more to the music rather than the equipment.
i've had an mc275(mk2) for nearly fifteen years and love it, but i can't honestly say that its any better, or 'that' different than your sa100. the rubbed off lettering means that the amp has really been around. reasonable handling will keep that lettering intact for decades.
Thanks for the responses. I have received some advice here that it's got more to do with matching than anything else. My PMC speakers obviously sound better with the Mcintosh 275 as the warm-sounding nature of these speakers coupled with the equally dark-sounding Plinius have proven to be a mismatch. I was told that there is still salvation in my Plinius amp as it is still a good unit on its own, and I was urged to try the Harbeth SHL-5. I need to listen to these speakers soon.

The thing that puts me off with the 275 is I cannot seem to figure out how to handle the amp properly. Although the Plinius amp is heavy, I can move it around confidently since it has the handles which prove to be very useful. There are none on the 275 and the tubes are so close to the edge of the chassis that i need to be really careful not to break anything when I lift it up, which is another arduous task. Maybe I need more practice.
I purchased my MC275 v5 about 6 weeks ago to replace a Classe CA400. I've been extremely satisfied with the change and I have no regrets. My system also consists of the Convergent Audio Technology SL-1 Ultimate preamp, Harbeth Super HL-5 speakers and I use a Rega Saturn as a transport and a Benchmark DAC1 PRE. I also have a REL Strata III sub. Nearly everything aspect of the sound has been improved by the change from the Classe to the 275. The improvements that I hear are similiar to the improvements that you described changing from the Plinius to the 275. In fairness to the Classe, I bought it to power my previous power hungry Thiel CS6 speakers and it did a great job of doing just that.
Ryder - You seem more concerned about moving the amp rather than listening to it. Common sense should apply here. When lifting (carrying) the amp, keep the transformers closest to your body - your center of gravity, with your hands on either side. The Mac transformers are somewhat heavy - they are quality transformers. I suggest you move the amp without the tubes in place. That way you shouldn't have to worry about 'breaking' anything. The amp is small enough in size that you can keep its center of gravity close to you when lifting and carrying it. Hopefully you will position it after some consideration, and not have to move it like barbells. Enjoy it!
There like moving boulders! I hurt my back every time I move my 501's.....so I stopped moving them.
My father had the original from the mid 60s until he died in 2004. Never a sick day off--ran like a champ. Remarkable products. A true classic.
Well - there's McIntosh - - - and then there's everything else.
>>03-13-09: Musicnoise
Well - there's McIntosh - - - and then there's everything else<<

You've made some dumb posts but this might be your piece de resistance.

Not getting any? This last post is a little snarky.
musicnoise might be on to something. THe best I have heard was a Mac Quad combo. Amazing. I have heard many systems with Atmasphere, other OTL amps, solid state, push pull tube and solid atate designs and even though most are out of my price range, the 275 one of the very best amps you can buy for the money. They are compared to many very expensive models and is a top contender nonetheless.
Ryder, the Mc275 will sound much, much better when fitted with a factory-matched quad of Gold Lion KT88 reissue tubes (probably the best KT-88 version ever made) and NOS input/driver tubes.
NOS 12AT7s are still affordable. The Mc275 uses four of those and two 12AX7 input tubes, so rolling tubes on an MC275 will not cost an arm and a leg.

Audiofeil, I sense that perhaps you are a Plinius or Classé dealer ?
I used to own a Plinius SA100Mk3. It is a very nice amp and has tube like sound. In Class A mode is very sweet but I lost some bass output when in this mode. After awhile this amp just didn't have me toe tapping and found it to be quite sterile and thats when I switched to a tube amp. I have never owned a Mac but I can understand why Ryder really liked the Mac. I am not bashing Plinius at all but a really good tube amp with fairly efficient speakers can be very enjoyable :)
Ryder, I feel that your assessment of the 275 is quite accurate. Everything you said I find to be true and I love every minute of it
It's an Amazing amp, after all these years still a solid hard to beat class B performer. The stuff of legends.
It is actually a Class A performer according to Stereophile last I heard
While the stock MC275 IV is one hell of a musical amp with it's stock tubes, one can significantly increase the amps resolution and musical attributes by replacing all of the stock tubes to begin with. I swapped in quad matched Genalex KT88's and NOS Mullard CV4004's and CV4024's and the stock tubes sound lethargic and confused/diffused by comparison. Also of interest is that if one uses the SE inputs that installing Cardas XLR caps on the unused XLR inputs increases resolution and image solidity. I imagine the reverse would be true if one were using the XLR inputs as well.

Of course, a really well engineered amp stand and upgrading the power cord also go along way to wringing out all this musically complete/superb amp has to offer. Don't forget the fuses as well :-)
Nmmusicman, please see my post on Cardas Caps here:
I just tried 24 Cardas Caps on my total system. I gave them a shot because they are cheap, if no improvement I could use them on my video system.

After playing around with them on my cd player, preamp and amp I can say in my case a jaw dropping improvement. More detail, lower noise, better imaging, micro to micro 100% better.

I took them off and took them to my video system, same results, picture was cleaner, audio just like the improvement in my audio system, and blacks and details were much better.

What I found interesting was if I just used them on one peice of gear the sound was so so due to issues with the rest of the gear still be uncovered.

Not sure it is fair to knock a product without trying it, even Cardas website states in some areas you may not hear much of a improvement, but in my case the improvement was close to jaw dropping. It take you 20 seconds to hear the improvement or less.

I just ordered 24 more for the video system. These caps work.
Phillyb -- If the Cardas caps work THAT well, all I can say is your environment must be AWASH in airborne RFI (radio frequency interference.)

Do you have any idea where it could be coming from? Machinery; or perhaps a HAM operator next door? Fluorescents, especially those 'energy-saving' fluorescents are the WORST! And don't forget, any gear that contains A/D or D/A chips (including televisions) will inject RFI into the air as well as into the house wiring unless their power cords are shielded, and the receptacles they're plugged in to have RFI filters on them.
I thought I was just lucky to be the center of Audiofeil's enmity. I see now that he spreads it around widely, and always against what he doesn't carry or attacking any and everyone who has any industry affiliation other than him.