looking at mcintosh pre-amp c2500. Can I do better for the cost of a Mac?


I'm being told I can get a better pre amp for the money I would spend on a Mac. 

macandtosh
Different? Yes.

Better? It’s all relative and and very subjective. System matching or preamp to amp synergy is more important.

If the C2500 makes you happy, go for it. I have and love a C52, as well as two others. The C52 is the one that makes me happy.
I'm new to high end audio and I have a lot to learn. I fell in love with the sound tube amps or pre-amps produce. I know my pre amp is what I want to build off of. Unfortunately money is an issue so I was hoping to get the best sound for what I can afford. Reading all the blogs and specs on amps and pre amps my brain is on over load. I have only heard mcintosh, Rotel coupled with B&W speakers to reference too. 

With that hat said thank you for ur input @ joeinid. 

You are right about the preamp being the heart of a system. You might state your budget for the system, what sources you anticipate using, your music preferences, need for loudness and room size. With that info we can better advise. It should be an enjoyable journey.
Yes, please tell us more about the gear you have and are thinking about getting. Also, what speakers do you have?

Please do not stress, this is a hobby, a fun diversion, not war and peace. Music should bring joy to your life. The gear is just a means to an end. Most all the gear today is great, just pick the flavor that appeals to you.
Last year I upgraded to a McIntosh C50 pre-amp and MC452 power amp, yes, I know a lot of audiophiles don't like "the M brand", but for several months, auditioning lots of speakers, that combination (to me) really stood out as being very "musical".

I am not a fan of tubes, but I'd think the C2500 would be an excellent choice for someone into tubes.

I previously had a McIntosh MCD500 and MAC6700 and can tell you, no problem selling McIntosh equipment in good condition and you won't lose much to depreciation.  Other brands might be really difficult to sell.
Listen to shindo, vac, arc, etc to get good comparison. 
+1 to joeinid & mesch.  The C2500 is a superb preamp, especially if you want one of the very best MC phono sections and a top end 32 bit 192 kHz DAC all in one unit.  But do you really need that?  Yes, it's pricey, and there is a lot of stuff out there that is even more so.

Being familiar with both tube and SS preamps in the Mc line, I can assure you that you won't go wrong either way, but you do need to think about what you have to have, want to have and wish to have first.  It will save you a lot of hassle, and it is all supposed to be fun.

Good luck & happy listening!

Thank you all for you're input it is greatly appreciated. I enjoy all sorts of music (Country, Electronic, hip hop, alternative, and some classical.) I even enjoy some Jazz on occasion. Anything with live instruments I love.   

I currently have Rotel latest line of class AB amps the MKII(1582 & 1552) 
Oppo 105D blue-ray player, Pioneer elite receiver and B&W 600 series speakers. 

 I'm leaning more towards starting a whole different system to enjoy just my music and  leave my current setup for my movies, football games, fights ect.....

I was thinking tube pre amp, either tube or ss amp, nice dac, and turntable for my new collection of vinyl.


    

All I can say is that I have owned, and loved, my C220 for the past five years.  It does everything I want it to, sounds excellent, and has been very reliable.

That said, I did replace the supplied tubes with Mullard reissue 12AX7s.  The result was a dramatically lowered noise floor, a wider sound stage, and a bit more warmth and smoothness.

My only complaint with the current line of McIntosh preamps is the included DAC.  Yes, digital technology is more mature than it was a few years ago, but I doubt we've seen the end of new formats, codecs, resolution limits, etc.  So, while having a built in phono section makes perfect sense, it makes less sense, IMO, to build in a DAC section unless it is based on a FPGA so upgrades can be made in the field.  But, hey, you might never want a better digital converter than the one built into the C2500, and you could still add one.  But that would make the built-in one redundant.

Tubed preamp and solid state amp is pure pleasure.  A nice combo.   I use the DAC in my MAC6700 for my Rotel RCD1072.  The Mc DAC is a better quality one that the Rotel (six years older) and the Rotel was considered a giant killer when it was released.  For my listening room I have a C2300 and a MC452 which is a match made in heaven. 
http://www.tubes4hifi.com/SP14.htm

In full kit form, $920.

Fully assembled, tested and ready to use, $1350.
Anybody familiar with the sp-14 mentioned in the previous post?

wanders:  I have the SP13, which is just the SP14 with 6CG7 tubes instead of 6SN7.  Essentially the same piece and I'm quite happy with it.
@effischer so I pulled the trigger on the C2500. On paper and through reputation its seemed like a good decision. Cant wait to see just how good its DAC and built in Phono are. I will post my findings once its all set up. ill be sure to make note of all the changes in sound as I go through swapping out my amps and other components as well..... 

 
Great! I am sure you will be happy. Enjoy the upgrade path.

You won't be disappointed, @macandtosh.  Make sure to give it 75 hours or so of use before you consider any serious changes to tubes or the rest of your system.  It will take at least that long to fully break in and start warming up in a reasonable time.  Patience is key now.  

With respect to the phono part, do some archive searches here and do as many auditions of LOMC cartridges as you can.  The Mc can handle them all, but some will be more suitable for your system and listening preferences than others.

You have a lot of choices with amps and speakers, too.  I'm partial to the tube preamp / SS power amp combo for most music, but like my all-SS system for my present needs.  I've also heard all-tube systems that rocked my world, but would have broken my bank.  It's always a compromise somewhere.

Have fun & happy listening!
Congratulations! Enjoy the C2500 and enjoy the ride.
@joeinid, mesch, and effischer...thanks for the info gentleman.