350+ views and no responses. I guess that means people are interested, but no direct experience. I'm happy to report that after about 50 hours of listening, I can say that it's a phenomenal preamp. Very, very quiet, projects an excellent sound stage, both deep and wide, and the built-in phono stage is very detailed. Very happy camper so far!
Your report does not surprise me at all. McIntosh is quality.
I just noticed your question. I have a C1100 going into my MC601s. I absolutely love it and would suggest it for anyone that has the space for the 2 boxes and wants to spend that amount on a preamp. It replaced my C2300. I agree with everything you said except for the phono stage. I like the C1100 phono stage but I still prefer my Audia Flight SS dedicated phono stage. I didn't use the phono stage on my C2300 either. My Audia Flight phono stage did cost more than my C2300 though.
That's really interesting because I went from an Audia Flight phono (had a CD One M, too) just prior to getting the C1100. It certainly is a world-class phono stage and can understand how you would prefer it to the one built into the Mac. Unfortunately I had an issue with mine and post -sales support was lacking which caused me to go in another direction.
From what I gathered from the McIntosh guys, the phono stage in the C1100 is a step up from 2300 and 2500. Out of the box it was definitely lacking, but after 50 hours it has gotten much better and am enjoying it now.
I suspect that it will open up more with another 50 hours, so will wait until then before I pass final judgement, but I do think that it does compare well to other phono stages in the sub-$5k range.
Sorry you had a problem with you Audia Flight phono. So far so good for me - keeping my fingers crossed. That is a problem with more exotic equipment and the reason most of my components are McIntosh. Now that I have 100's of hours on my C1100 I'll have to give it another try for its phono stage. I used to roll various tubes with my C2300 but I am reluctant to do this with the C1100 since it is so dead quiet and don't want to mess up a good thing.
I would be really interested in your thoughts after you try the phono on the C1100 with a couple hundred hours on it. I was very disappointed with the issues with the Audia Flight, and did have some reservations before buying, but thought that their reputation in Europe would be worth the risk. I don't think it's an inherent issue with their products (the other two I had were flawless), but the lack of support I received here in the US when I did have an issue was very frustrating.
After that experience, I limited my search to more readily serviceable units and the C1100 turned out to be the best match in my system. You are right that it's dead quiet and, if I hadn't heard the Audia Flight, I could be perfectly happy with the C1100 phono and fully expect it to get even better over time. I'm glad that your experience with Audia Flight has been good so far (knocking on wood) and even happier that there is someone else who can do a direct comparison.
Greg, I switched my VPI Classic 3 w/ Lyra Kleos cart over to the C1100 MC phono stage and gave it another try now that it has 100's of hours on it. My wife and I switched back and forth between the C1100 and the Audia Flight but it was immediately obvious to us that we both preferred the Audia Flight by a considerable margin. For me the C1100 sounds very good but with a direct comparison the Audia Flight sounded more musical to me. I thought voices sounded more resonate and detailed, there was a wider soundstage and instruments were not overshadowed by vocals. So my conclusion is that I will continue to use the Audio Flight until something happens to it - hopefully not.
Thank you very much for going through that exercise. I figured the Audia Flight would be tough to beat head-to-head and I'm sure I am going to miss mine. Hopefully the C1100 will continue to improve and my memory will fade a bit :) My system is still in an alcove in my bedroom until I get the study back next year when I youngest heads off to college. I may re-examine the phono stage next year when I get my dedicated room back.
If I hadn't done a direct comparison I am sure I would have been very happy with only the C1100 and I do love the sound of the AF going into the tube line stage of the C1100 with balanced cables. I also went a little tweek crazy this past year with Stillpoints under most everything - even under and between both of the C1100 boxes and upgraded cables everywhere. I have everything in a dedicated 2 channel room and that made a big difference also.
Luckily I'm good with power cords and cables, so can focus on listening for a while. If I had to compare the C1100 phono to something, I would say that it's comparable to the JC3+ I had prior to the AF. I'm breaking in an MCD550 at the same time, so my use of the phono will be split for the time being, but I'll keep going back to it to see how it goes.
I've also been going back and forth on amps to pair with the C1100, but my trusty old Mark Levinson 23.5 workhorse is turning out to be quite a nice match with the tubes.
Whoa, I forgot about this thread. I actually completed my system with an MC275 amp and an Allnic H-3000 phono/HA-3000 headamp. Stunning combination that has me more than happy.
@theothergreg just wanted to check in and see how your c1100 experiences were. I'm looking closely now at it also.
Oops, I've been away and just saw this. I am very pleased with the C1100. I'm sure you are enjoying it, as well, if you decided to move forward with the purchase. If not, let me know what you bought instead as I'd be curious to know what beat it out.
I have been using the C1100 for over a year now, upgraded from a C2300 and its awesome. As a side note I did swap out the stock tubes for NOS Mullards and that too was a nice/sweet improvement. Currently my C1100 is connected to a Bryston 14b3 with Maggie 20.7s, a great combo!