McIntosh C200 and C46 Preamps

I have difficulty locating local dealers with McIntosh C200 preamp available for audition. I haven't listened to either C200($7000) and C46($4250) yet. So, I�m looking for your valuable input in selecting a preamp below $7500 to match up with my MC501 mono block amps and B&W Nautilus 802 speakers.

C200 has no tonal control. This seems like such a absolute purist approach and I wonder if the design is that ultimately excellent that makes tonal control unnecessary? The C46 8 band equalizer seems forgiving and offers an option to personalize tonal taste...

My audio preferences include deep but natural bass, smooth midrange and crystal clear unfatiguing high with wide and deep sound stage. The preamp combo shall provide open, airy musical experience with high degree of detail but not overly warm to a point it becomes dark and dull.

I prefer to have XLR connections form the CD source, to preamp and amp. I will also integrate the 2-channel preamp with my Denon 5803 receiver for HT purposes. So, it would help to have a preamp with pass-thru feature to avoid amp XLR/unbalanced connection switching hassle.

Does the C200 fully balanced design with separate controller/ power boxes offer significant sonic improvement to justify $3K more over C46?

I'm also open to any other preamp recommendations? A local dealer carries McIntosh c46, Ayre K-5X, Classe CP-500 and I will listen to them next weekend.

I have the MA6900 Integrated amp that also has the tone controls like the C46. I find them very useful, especially when listening to some recordings that require tweaking. I would go with the C46. I think you will be happeier sonically, and save $3000 in the process.
I own a c46 and like it alot, you really need to hear both in your system, the best way would be to take home the c46 for a few days ( longer the better) and then the c200, let us know what you find. PS I have not heard the c200
Thanks to all for your input... One local dealer is working with McIntosh rep to find me C200 and C46 to audition. Nothing beats the side-by-side comparison, better still if they let me eval them at home...

Be sure to let us know what you think of them! Arthur
I had the MC402 and the C46 for in home audition 2 weekends ago. They're now on the short list for my pending upgrade to separates from my YBA Passion Integre. I liked them alot. I also had the C2200 tube amp and found it lacked the soundstaging and clarity of the C46.

This weekend I'll have in home another combination on the short list: Aesthetix Calypso and EAR 890.
can you tell us more about the differences between the C200 and the C46?
I had the C2200 in house, not the C200...