McIntosh D100 Digital preamp review


Had a listen today @ AudioClassics Vestal NY: first impression very good for the price! Very deep soundstage , great resolution and bass. Musical instruments piano , sax, standup bass all very natural , timbre and decay very realistic. Vocals had great presentation and " air" in between , a listen test for me is the inhale exhale in a singers voice on accurate recordings adds to the realism in reproduction which the D100 had albeit not as much as other preamps demonstrate . My current setup is two Mac 275's fed direct from Benchmark DAC HDR pre via Mac mini running audirvana software ( which is major improvement over ITunes) to Dynaudio special 25. After 4 hours of A:B comparison MAC D100 is like a Mercedes S class and the Benchmark is like a BMW 7 series, both are VERY good just a little different MAC more relaxed and refined the Benchmark more responsive and dynamic. In an all MAC system the choice would be obvious in a mixed system boils down to personal preference and system component matching I would be happy with either. Rumor has it that a new Mac c2500 is coming with built in DAC and tube line stage so wait for the best of both worlds plus it has signature blue vu meters something that would have sealed the deal for me on the D100 ! If your in the market for a $2500 dac pre the D100 is a very good choice and will allow hours of musical indulgence even if it appears to be a product gap filler for hard core MAC aficionado's.
super_g_man
Great that Mc has come out with a DAC that at least for them is a real value. For those who have Mc components without a DAC and want to keep their system McPure this is a dream come true. This would really make me want to keep my MA6600 for many more years too come, not that it is not already a keeper.
the D100 would be an easy addition to your MA6600 as it has both fixed and variable balanced outputs , that way you could compare the preamp function of the D100 to the internal preamp in your integrated. It also offers USB, Optical and SPDIF inputs, I did not listen to the inputs via USB , only optical from an airport express module, and as you probably know the USB implementation varies in sound quality from one manufacturer to another but I would suspect that Mac got this right anyway. The next gen MAC DAC implementation may have a higher grade DAC chip set and be priced accordingly.
Super g man, were you able to determine what chipset the D100 uses? Over at Audio Aficionado, this has been a long guessed-at question.
Supposedly the ESS Sabre dac chip but not the top of that chip set line. Insider info says it is very close to the same circuit as in the MDA1000.
I believe results will be similar using the D100 or MCD1100 as a DAC.
 
Chuck Hinton 
 
 
Chuck Hinton of McIntosh and Snell Tech Support
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Sandy.. you should post your system, would love to view it.