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.