Mcintosh C28 VS C712 Modern Vs Classic

I currently have both amps in my possession, McIntosh C28 and C712. I have done a little but of maintenance on both units and I can gladly report that after a small tuneup they are functioning incredibly well.

The new mac:

I have noticed that the newer mac sounds shrill, etched, feels cheap, light, flimsy, and has a sounds that I can only describe as hallow. It is like it is missing something. Not your typical list of audiophile adjectives, but I think some of you might know what I mean. Both amps are far from neutral, but I was thoroughly unimpressed with the C712, especially with regard to its phono section.

The old mac:

The C28 is a beauty. At first I only purchased it because the offer was so good that I simply could not turn it down. The amp is in near mint condition. Initially I never considered it since it has no remote and I absolutely despise the push buttons on the front of the unit. This was foolish on my part! The old Mac is immaculate. I suppose that some may claim that it is a matter of preference, but I simply do not see how anyone could possibly like the phono reproduction better on the newer unit. I have to say, Mac has overcomplicated the C28 and added a lot of nonsense features to it. I would ultimately like to have cut them out of the signal path at some point. The sound of this amp is very tubey, mellow, laid back, rich, and full. It makes me want to listen to music more and for longer time periods. Is there some terminology for the opposite of listener fatigue? well if not there should be, and it should be synonymous with c28. I have completely fallen in love with this gem despite my initial prejudgments. I was expecting the bass to be a little flabby, not even, tight and precise. I found this to be unusual and the results differed vastly from my expectations. The build of the unit is impeccable. It is built like a tank and is made to last and blast. To me this seems to be an extremely undervalued gem. I have grown up on mac gear, as a kid and listened to my fathers mac kit. I suppose I have been chasing that type of sound since I started this hobby, seems like I got a little taste of it now.


I am curious if anyone else has had a similar experience.

Am I crazy or is this little preamp truly an undervalued treasure?

I am also curious how the other 2x or 3x series preamps perform relative to the c28.

Can anyone offer some tips on refurbishing the wood cabinet?

I have a volume control that I cleaned with a contact spray. This has cured the crackling sound that it had a first, when the dial was turned. The unit is old and the volume pot squeeks when I turn it, is it safe to grease part of it to fix this problem? If so how do I do it?
Is it worth it to replace the volume pot, and would this part even be available? I have thought about desoldeering and putting it in an ultrasonic bath, is this safe or will this damage?

Lastly, I am sure I am not the only one who has a strong dislike for the push buttons on the front of the unit. I recall seeing a mode some time ago wherein the picture illustrated a mod of some sort where they were removed and replaced by something. It looked great, I wish I would have emailed the owner. Any ideas as to how I can 1.remove the push buttons and replace them with something that doesn't look too bad and 2. should I remove some of the unnecessary components fro mthe signal path? By this I mean the loudness feature, mono stereo features, or any of the push button functions (filters etc.), or top of box dials.

I am already planning my next mac purchase, this stuff is incredibly addictive. I am looking into some tube power amps, but I am not sure what direction I am going to follow yet. I am also planning on getting a cd player and tuner. The new mac gear seems to be well outside of my budget but I am so thrilled and taken aback by the vintage gear that I am very excited about building a vintage kit. Note: I am not using the c712 as a measuring stick for all newer mac gear, that would simply be foolish.

Well, I hope to hear from you guys. Thanks guys!
Mac was never one for a short signal path. The only thing of theirs I ever owned was a C8 preamp which had the capability of running the power output to the speakers THROUGH IT. Muddy was not the word for the sound. Mac has always walked their own path and has had their own fans, most of whom were not "audiophiles" It does not surprise me that the older unit sounds better. Mac has never been in the forefront of transistor design [LOL]. I was at a Mac clinic in the 60s when a graduate student from Cal Tech came in with his homebuilt transistor amp, which was labeled "Feng's Folly" on the side. After putting it through the measurements the Mac representative ask him if he would like work in upstate New York, he was only half joking. A fix of a temporary nature for the volume control would be to get a Creek remote volume control. I use one on my video system and it does not seem to be too bad; it would probably pass unnoticed considering the complexity of the rest of the circuitry. You could then address the volume control if and when you did a major modification on the circuit.
I have a C30,similar but not exactly the same as your C28.Dont do any modding,just maintenance[sp] would be my advice.That and .25$ will save your audio future perhaps,good luck,Bob
Thanks, BTW what is: "Creek remote volume control" googled and got nothing?

Audiophiles don't like mac? Since when? I guess I am not an audiophile.
I have heard only the very best new tube gear from mac, and the old classics like the 275, so I am not fully aware of how audiophile or unaudiophile the rest of their product offerings really are. That said, I really like the sound of the C28, and it is certainly not muddy. As a side note I suppose that there is also a large degree of variation, even
within one product, given the age of most of these units. Do you think that this is accurate?

I was looking for a nice solid state piece vintage or not vintage to put into my system; but I have more recently become very interested in getting tube power section instead. I doubt I will be disappointed, I will be sure to report my results and findings on AGON nonetheless; but you never know it could turn out not to be my cup of tea. Given the re-sale value and the market liquidity for old mac gear I don't things can go to wrong even if I am wrong.
Mac owners tended to buy equipment and own it for years and not to be seen in HiFI shops looking for the latest upgrade. That part is quite admirable. The downside was that Mac, although usually very well made, did not represent the best value or the best sound. When I got my first stereo amp about 1963 I chose the Dynaco Stereo 70 over the Mac 225 because the general view, which I shared , was that it sounded better. I have spent over 30 years off and on as a "high end " dealer , I never sold it , took it in on trades [never offered] nor dealt with anyone who had it in their system until about 4 months ago. Mac owners tend to be more music orientated than equipment orientated and fall outside the "audiophile" community in that regard. As to the Creek, it is the OBH 10 Remote Volume Control. I bought one here on Audiogon. It has an input, output and remote and does just what you suppose. Creek is the opposite of the Mac, cheap, plain, simple, and performs MUCH better than you think it could. I have one of their headphone amps and it works very well as a line stage. I would stick to the tubes, Macs reputation was made by them and their transistors have not had the same rep. There are a couple of MR 71 tube tuners here for sale in Louisville, not by me, if any of you Mac fans are interested. EVERYBODY thinks Mac made great tuners.
Stanwall: Don't know what axe you have to grind against McIntosh, but you are dead wrong about their equipment. I have owned some highly regarded equipment over the years (Krell, Audio Research, Spectral, Dynaco, Leak, Placette, just to name a few and my current electronics the McIntosh C-220 preamp and the MC400 power amp driving a pair of Duntech Sovereigns is as good a sound as I've ever owned. I have heard that you are a dealer (I could be wrong). Did McIntosh shut you out as a dealer? Really none of my business, but IMHO opinion, you are dead wrong on your assessment of McIntosh gear. Of course, they have only been in business for 60 years and if they are as bad as you make them out to be, they've been fooling the audio world for a long time. Have a nice day.
No, I sold Krell, Classe and other things I wanted to use myself. They use to discourage reviews, look at old Absolute Sound and Stereophile mags and see how many Mac reviews you find. For years they use TRANSFORMERS in their transistor amps because they didn't know how to make them without them. I didn't realize that this was a controversial idea, it was common knowledge for years that Mac enthusiasts were a breed apart, like K Horn users. I have been selling audio equipment since I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the early 60s and use to hang out at the Allied Radio outlet buying things to try and then selling them to other students. My efforts have been directed toward promoting products I like rather than making money, which is hard to do in Audio in any case. I was the first one in the country to get Stax and Spendor, both of which I showed to the person who became the original importer for them. I bought all the first Monitor Audio speakers that were shown in Chicago when they came over for the first time and promoted their sales because I liked them, by the way ,do you remember how bad the first Mac speakers sounded? I don't know where you have been but I have lived in Chicago, New York and Washington DC and in none of them was Mac part of the audio scene, they had their own dealers who sold to mac fans. I never said that they bad, just that they were never part of the leading wave in the advancement of audio. They have always reminded me of Cadillac, they are not bad cars and many will buy no other but how many serious drivers buy them?
Stanwall: You asked where I have been? I've been lots of places (Germany 9 years, Iran, Italy, Austria, Turkey, Yugoslavia to name a few places). I am a retired US Army man and have been a music lover since I was 4 or 5 years old. I am 75 years old and my first music system was a wind-up grammaphone with 78 RPM records. I heard my first audiophile grade system i Frankfurt, Germany in 1958 and I have been an audiophile ever since, but not much of one since I like McIntosh gear' I was also offered the National Sales Managers job for Audio Research by William Zane Johnson (better known as Bill) in 1973, just a couple of months before I retired from the Army. Didn't take the job as it was much too cold in Minneapolis for me. Bill Johnson was and is a fine man and sometimes I'm sorry that I didn't take the job. I am not exactly a novice about audio equipment, but I just always believed that if you can't say anything nice about a person (or an Audio Company) better not to say anything at all. Of course it's a free company and you can say anything you like. I guess you feel that people who like products that you don't like are ill informed or can't hear. Well, McIntosh will still be here after you and I are long gone. Enjoy life and don't be so critical of something that is. after all just a great hobby. Health and happiness to you and yours.
Stanwal, Has a point. When I first got into audio at the age of 15 there were 2 Mac dealers in the Detroit area. When I visited them they would not give me the time of day. They had an attitude like walking into a Ferrari dealer. It really turned me off to Mac stuff to this day.
I have also certainly encountered the elitist attitude that seems to be common to McIntosh dealers. Though I must say my encounters with McIntosh labs have only been positive, thier service is impeccable. Nonetheless, this has nothing to with how their products sound. I have also only had positive experiences with people whom I purchased used mac gear from, which is pretty much the only way I can afford to do it.

Now, they have some products that are just special and deliver that magical McIntosh sound. Stereophile has done soem reviews and there are other reviews out there. I think that their new products receive a lot of scrutiny and face a lot of competition, and they should after all at $7,000 + for each piece people should be picky. Upon listening to their old gems like the 275, or the 110 tuner preamp it becomes hard to argue that the prices they command do not provide a tremendous amount of value. They are rock solid and certainly HIFI. I suppose I fall into the category of music lover as well, I would like to forget that I my audio rack exists as I get lost in the emotion of the music. Audiophile seems to be a sport, somtimes, wherein people forget that this is about music. I see little value in paying for and dwelling on the inaudible. This usually ends in a $100,000 system and ten test recordings; totally ridiculous in my opinion.

But this debate about whether or not McIntosh HIFI, is boring, pointless, and beaten to death.

Now, if anyone can offer some specific advice regarding a cabinet refurbish, C28 mods, or their encounters with the C28 against McIntosh's other C2X or C3X preamps I would really like to hear it. Thanks again guys.