McIntosh - is it that great?

I'm just curious if McIntosh gear is all that great. How does their older power amps compare to new products from other high end manufactures? Are there any products I should stay away from. I like the idea of owning vintage McIntosh stuff. Most of their stuff seems pricy. Is it because it's that good or do people just like to collect their products. thanks for you opinions--Matt
In general McIntosh is average sounding equip. Their older power amps, which I have owned a few of, are not as good as older Marantz and Arc equip. Some of the older preamps both tube and ss were worse than the amps. The newer equip is in general better sounding but it depends on the piece of equip.
Sorry I have to disagree with the above posting. I have found vintage Mac tube gear some of the best sounding equipment out there. I prefer the tube over the solidstate but only have heard the older equipment. For an excellent resourse on vintage Mac gear with pictures and specs go to Also an excellent resourse on buying Mac is I have found him fair, honest and he is usually able to track down Mac gear if he doesn't have any in stock.Tell him Bob C. referred you. Good luck and in my opinion you can't go wrong with Mac.
It is hard to beat the Mcintosh 240 tube amp for clarity and reliabilty -= the 275 reissue in stainless is also a very good tube amp - in solid state the new design 352 is better than the levinson 331 I use to have . The earlier models of the 90's don't quite cut it - anything prior to that has muscle and the newer designs are great.
McIntosh almost completely for over 20 yrs. Very reliable equipment and retains its value more than most equipment. I am not an audiofile, but enjoy the benefits of ownership. Can be pricey, but it retains its value. Had and older amp for 20 yrs and just sold thru audiogon and I did not lose much over what I originally paid for it. Not a tube person because I pay my music loud, like ss. I like the crispness of ss. Just bought a used 18 yr old receiver which I plain on keeping for many more yrs. You can relie on it greatly. I like the convenience of what McIntosh offers on its gear. Designed to play music with all the frills included. But you must listen to their amps because they do have a different sound. My older amp had a deep bassy deep throated sound, and my some what newer amp has a less bassy sound. It is more crispy. I like that because I listen to bluegrass, not as much bass. The whole moral is listen before you buy. You will never go wrong with their reliability.
I bought a pair of McIntosh 60's stock back in 1991 and still own them. They have been upgraded (modified) since then several times. They now sound much better (less of the traditional tube colorations) than they originally did, different caps and star grounding have been implemented. Bass performance is MUCH better now, definitely more slam and power. I am currently working on the high's to eliminate the rolloff these amps still suffer from. Virtues They don't run hot; tubes last forever; superb midrange; very dynamic when additional filter caps are added; reliable; hold their value and are a good investment Are they as good as current amps or even amps from the 1980's? No I can't say they are as neutral as the D series amps from ARC and they certainly aren't as neutral as the current crop of tube amps. Can I live with this amp in my current system? You betcha, more than I can most of the lower end solid state gear I've heard side by side with the McIntosh. Bottom line is that they are a very good investment, will hold their value, are very dependable and they have a very good midrange in the tradition of classic tube sound. If you like that sound, you can't go wrong and in the right system you won't miss much believe me.
In view of the fact that opinions of audio equipment are circumstantial and (as with virtually all categories of audio-stuff) usually very subjective, you'll find that consensus opinion (especially by high-end gurus) seems to rule. Yet even these "experts" have highly variable opinions. McIntosh equipment is criticized by some and praised by others. However, much of this opinion seems to be based upon the momentum of someone elses previous, often distantly removed, impressions. E.g., recent write-ups of Mac SS amps (in Stereophile for example) have demonstrated surprised praise (class A rating). The most telling remark for me can be paraphrased as such; I guess I haven't listened to any McIntosh for a while. I own an early SS amp and one powerhouse built in the '90s. The early '70s amp sounds decent (and still functions flawlessly). The newer amp is obviously superior and, in my opinion, is equal or superior to anything I've heard(some very expensive hardware).It is delicate, dynamic, dead quiet. and to my very experienced ears, natural. Of course ,there are many other amps which meet these qualifications. The Mac pre-amps do demonstratively compromise the sound somewhat. But they are very useful when system flexibility is important. I don't use a pre-amp normally. I run source material (save vinyl) directly into the power amp. So bottom line from this corner is that Mac equipment is just about bulletproof and, if one simply LISTENS, can be as satisfying as anything (tube lovers live in a different world). At the outset I said that opinions are circumstantial and subjective. This applies to opinions of ANY equipment. We should remember that objective evaluations are more consistent and represent truth within their parameters, and that as unique and emotional beings, we can hardly avoid being subjective in our opinions. De gustibus non est disputandum
Hornmeister Who wouldn't agree that objective evaluations are more consistent and represent truth within their parameters? The problem in audio is that the aural perception that each of value is different. It really isn't even an opinion, though that is often how we express it, so much as a value or taste. Take Mc2000 above, he likes ss because of its "crispness", the exact reason I don't like many ss products, go figure. What we hear as individuals and what each of us value can not be quantified or measured, it may at times be predicted by knowing the value and taste. Yes I suppose many of us are influenced by what the Hi-End Guru's fav, but not all of us by a long shot. Experience makes us trust our own ears more than others, especially the individuals who can never quite be pinned down. They can drive you nuts with their nebulous tastes. I certainly agree with most of your thoughtful comments. Now what is it about that world of tube lovers?
mac gear is not for audiophiles it seems more for music lovers who listen to music not systems as far a reliability how many other companies have their thirty and forty year old amps and preamps and tuner selling for more now than they did new
I have owned a few pieces of Mac gear over the years.Their older tube amps 50's and 60's where some of the best gear ever made.Some of the early 90's stuff is not very good but they are again making great stuff.It is very pricey but you have to take into account the build quality.They are hand built in the USA in New York state.The cost of labour is siginficantly higher than most other parts of the USA and a big component of the cost is labour.The amps will last forever and they hold thier value.
Simple answer...Yes.
McIntosh gear is ridiculously overpriced relative to its sound.
McIntosh great?? Yes and No. I would say McIntosh similiar to Rolls Royce enduring value for the money.But it is no Ferrari that has both ends of the spectrum covered value and performance.I have owned McIntosh 20 years ago,but when Levinson,Krell,and Threshold came on market,left McIntosh behind in performance arena. Just my opinion.
I own all Mc units with 2 MC7150amps, C42 preamp, MR78 tuner, MVP831 DVD, 7008CD changer, MPI4 performance indicator, 2 ML2C speaker cabinets along with a MQ101 EQ, (as well as Sonus Faber Grand Pianos and Concertinos)
I've owned Mac for 17yrs. Not only is their stuff RELIABLE, but to me, it sounds awesome. To me, many philes are just not into music, but are really into sound! Music is what it's really about and when you have good gear, Levenson, Classe, Mac, Conrad-Johnson etc' hey, it's just about preference. If it's matched well, it's gonna sound good (assuming it's good gear to start with)
So hey, if your thinking of Mac, go to audio and speak to Frank Gow. 1st, his dad was president of Mac for 7 years. They are located 5 miles away from the Mac labs and are a virtual "vintage" wearhouse of Mac gear. Some of their gear is a bit pricey but if they say it is excellent, they mean it. I just bought a MR78 tuner that was made in 1972! I paid $2000 for it and I swear it looks like it came off a shelf from some high end store.
I used to sell Mac equipment in the 80's (college job). THose 10% direct from MAC commission checks were real nice. However I'd much prefer Audio Research, Sonic Frontiers, etc. MAC is very pricey and a little out of date, of course I could say that about AR too

Yes. They are well built (fit and finish and conservative component margins), have a completely neutral sonic signature and resale second to none. With respect to the sound, they have very low noise/coloration and no part of the frequency spectrum calls attention to itself. No boosted lows/highs or rolled off anywhere either. They are also well engineered (refined), unlike most other esoteric amps I've owned. No strange clicks, pops or noises, good protection and soft clipping which really does work without being audible. It can save speakers too. The meters are truly useful with peak hold and they can be turned off. Looks are subjective, but at least they will match (if you care) if you add newer models later on.
I agree with Nightdoggy. I am currently moving up from
Adcom separates from the mid-90s to McIntosh gear; and
very pleased with the clarity, detail, and pleasant sound.
My Thiel 3.5 speakers are very revealing of every up-
grade I've ever made (including speaker cables and inter-
connects); and the Mac gear just sounds great to me.
Also - unlike some audiophile "darlings" that seem to
go out of favor in a year or so - Mac gear holds it's value
very well. If you don't like the sound, you can always sell
it for pretty much what you paid for it. I might also
mention that MacIntosh is a solid American company in
business for a long time. You won't be wondering about
service - if you need it - two or three years down the road.
I dont know about the older equipment but I recently heard a very high end set up in a custom built room at a local dealer. I personally thought it was the worst system I ever heard and I have heard better set ups at chain stores at one third the price. I highly recommend auditioning something else. Everyone likes something different and maybe you will love it but before you drop your hard earned cash I would shop around a bit.
Nor would I make up your decision on one persons "one time" audition.

I have read numerous good reports, both from mags and users, on various products from their current line.
FYI, Avideo, McIntosh was bought (and bailed out) by a Japanese company--I believe it's Mitsubishi...
No, Psychic, it was Clarion the Car stereo people. Mac would have disappeared were it not for that buyout.
Mac is great, if you buy cheap and sell high.
I totally disagree with Frep's response, "Mac would have disappeared if not for Clarion's buyout" 1st off, Clarion did not "buyout" Mac, but did sink 60 million into the company which allowed them to get into car audio among other things. Mac makes great sounding, extremely reliable gear, and anyone who dissagrees is purely biased to the company.
you would have to pry mt c-11 pre and my mc-240 out of my dying hands!
Is it possible to call Clarion for parts to the McIntosh range? I myself need parts for the MC2100, where right channel is dead. Can anyone confirm that Clarion has parts ?
Went into the local Mc dealer yesterday at lunchtime. Wanted to check out a MA6900.
Asked him what he had in the way of integrated amps. First he took me to receivers. I looked at him and said "I asked about integrated amps not receivers". Next he pulled out a book and showed me a $200 dollar Panisonic unit. I finally asked about the McIntosh units. He showed me a MA6500 and said he could get a MA6900 with a seven band equalizer. I said, "really!" "Are you sure they don't have 5 band equalizers." He just rolled his eyes and assured me they have seven band equalizers.
So I inquired as to what was the best price on a MA6900. I was quoted $5K. Mcintosh has raised thier prices.
The door did not hit me in the arse on the way out.
Hbarrel, were you at 'Audio Arts" by chance?
I bought an MC-7270 in 1990 for $1900. Over the years , the soothing blue meters faded from direct sunlight, the tiny ridges in the knobs flattened out. I sold it for 1895 on ebay last week
Chad, no.
And I'll not name them.
Where I live is SEVERLY audio challenged.
It's not necessarily the fault of the stores but rather due to the economic ability of the surrounding area.
The surrounding area is hitorically blue collared in nature and has the attitudes associated with a blue collar work force.
Try charging more than two bucks for a Bud and people think you're trying to rob them.
You are right in not naming names, I should have kept that private aswell
I am looking at buying an older Mac receiver it is a mac4280 can anyone give me some thoughts on this receiver.
good or bad.
mac is an iconoclistic brand like harley-davidson. i like their sound (some don't). one thing for sure, historically and now, investing in it for a high end system isn't flushing your money down the toilet. mac will be mac and harley will be harley long aftyer most high end gear is landfill. i have lots of other cool gear that i love listening too, but hey, mac is what it is.
I have only had this hobby for a couple of years and with a recent move to vinyl bought an MC2200 preamp. I have loved it. I also bought a Musical Fidelity NuVista preamp. The differences in sound between these pieces and my Anthem PrePro is so distinct it's hard to be believed. I finally realize how subjective equipment choice and evaluation is with higher end gear. I am going to sell my McIntosh and Musical Fidelity because of space considerations, and just run a phono stage through an Anthem D1 Statement.

Long winded, but the only reason that I didn't just buy a McIntosh MX119 to replace all was they don't have HDMI or IEEE1394 on the board any time soon that I know of. Anyway, it's like anything else it's what you like. But from an investment standpoint, it's a no brainer. They are worth what you pay because they hold their value so well. Ferrari's analogy was spot on with Rolls Royce v. Ferrari. They are different beasts, but equally satisfying depending on taste. If you are thinking about purchasing any McIntosh equipment go ahead and do it. You are almost garanteed not to lose money doing it if you decide to trade out of it.

Good luck.

PS - I did try a Mac 501 amp setup for my Maggies and hated it. But it sounded great with a friends Joseph Audio Gear.
If you're looking for a reciever and don't need remote control, I would imagine the 4280 would be good.
some info:

You can also try
I am wondering about the MX132. If I can pick one up for near 2000 is it priced well for it's quality?
I know a guy who went from a Classe SSP (don't know the model but it was the biggest) and just got a McIntosh MX135 to replace it. He is thrilled with the change stating the Mc is clearer and livelier with more detail. I would say the MX132 is similar but not sure....
I would not own anything else. Pride of ownership, quality, sound, resale value.
I own the mc352 (350 wpc) and love the punch and detail it brought out for my b&w N802. I previously owned a conrad johnson mf2500 (240 wpc), and while I enjoyed that amp, I felt the speakers needed more punch. The mac provided that and much more. In imaging and musicality. So, from my point of view, a hardy recommendation for the newer Mcintosh amps.
I agree that there isn't another brand that has the same consistently high resale value. Some models are more popular than others, but the tube stuff is REALLY popular. On two separate occasions, vintage MC275s recently sold on ebay for more than a brand new MC275 IV. There's a brand new MC275 IV for sale right now on ebay where the bid price is almost identical for what you can pay for a new one!

I bought an MC240 and MX110 off ebay and had servicing done (mostly recapping). Sounds really wonderful. Beautiful really, like real (live) music.

Of course, I haven't bathed my $9,000 interconnects in Hai Karate and gone over my speaker cables with a drowsing rod to test for "directionality," so maybe I haven't acheived the ultimate in transparency and other "high end" drivel.

But it sounds really great.
you have a stereo for the ages...

They just look cool too. Like high end audio should look. I would take the aesthtics co these over Edge or Krell any day.
I thought I'd chime in here on one of the reasons I think Mac is so great, at least for their solid state. It's their hand wound autoformers. I got this from something Ron C, of McIntosh, said awhile back. Transistors are not very linear compared to tubes. They get pushed around by speakers, which are not resistors. Mac designs the output stage to be as linear as possible within a certain design and type of transistor they're using then couple it to the autoformer. The output stage stays very linear while the other end of the autoformer deals with the reactive speaker. It seems Paul Speltz is enjoying success with his aftermarket autoformer. Imagine Macs experience with handwinding their own all these years plus they're matched for that specific amp. I hope I haven't butchered his explanation too much.
I'm using a MC2200 & two MC2101 bridged to drive a pair of Watts & Puppies. Front end includes Levinson Reference Transport & DAC, Linn LP12 TT.

I've compared the MC setup against my other Levinson 26S pre & 30.5 power amp.

In general the Levinson produces a more clinical type of sound. However, as far as vocal and sonic quality, the MC will beat the ML decisively. The operatic vocal comes out very smooth & sounds like a voice with the MC.

Incidentally the ML 26s sounds decisively better than the new ML320 upon AB testing.

Running the MC2101 in bridge mode will have a much better imaging, sound stage and sound pressure. It is taking the best of both qualities out of ML & MC combined in one.
No other company has been as consistent as Mac, and is still around doing the same thing after being in the business for over 50 years.

No other company's products have better resale value.

Mac has a real engineering team with over 30 people, unlike some garage operation of other so called high end companies.

No other company has a bigger crowd of loyal repeat customers.

No other company has got the same open door policy and allows you to do factory tours like this:

And yes, I have a pair of MC275 IV and they sound awesome.

I believe Mac's reputation speaks for itself.

I own 5 pieces of Mac gear including both SS and tubes, i fully agree with the above post, Mac is 100 percent...the real deal,no games no gimmicks just pure great stuff.
I have heard, read for years how marginal Mac gear is (audiophile wise). Had to get some brawn to drive a pair of Maggie 20.1's, and got a pair of 1201's to replace an older pair of MC275's. They are very nice, and easy on the ears, they also have responded quite surprisingly to tweaks (power cords, and feet). They now present a dead quiet background, and excelent frequency response. There might be some synergy with the ribbon tweeters in the 20.1's, because I am able to run them full, without a shunt resister.

Overall, I agree with the above comments, and am very happy they seem to be very active in the high-end once again.


out of everything i have ever saw wrote about mcintosh gear & how it sounds or what kind of buyer mac gear appeals to your comments are right on point.

You have to like their styling. I don't.

I'm beginning to believe there is not much difference in any SS amplifiers/ Let me qualify that by saying that the Teac and a few other bottom feeders do sound pretty rough, but I really think that Sherwood (best sound for the money) and up sound pretty darn good. I would like to have a bunch of people who really think there is a huge difference, do double blind listening tests and see what the results are.

I have ownen and still have Bryston, McIntosh, Luxman, Rotel, Hafler, Fisher (Sanyo), Scott, and others, and other than reliability, I don't think there is a huge diference in sound. It's mostly about the speakers, and the room acoustics and synergy between the pieces in the system.

Tubes are definately better sounding than SS, on average, so I think it boils down to synergy and asthetic appeal.

Boy, this will start a flame war, but that's my 2 cents worth.

My friend has a system using a cheap Panasonic reciever only for the preamp and processor functions, using old Haflers for power and we both use Linus Arrays, built at the same time as front speakers, I'm using a Denon AVR-8000 pre-pro, with Bryston power amps and the same Linus Arrays as fronts. His system sounds better...synergy and room acoustics...

I use a Sherwood reciever and a DIY Seas speaker system for my TV and it sounds the TV room..

Bedroom Panasonic reciever and DIY Eton system does not sound as good..

Speakers, room acoustics and system synergy...

Mac does hold it's value though...want to buy one?
Can't say I agree with the above comment at all, but we all hear what we hear, I have found electronics can make a huge difference in the sound. Speakers, in my opinion are last in the chain, they certainly can change the sound but do they make it better?? I believe higher performing speakers can make the sound better as long as you have the proper source and electronics to do so.

I mean if you hook up a 20 yr old cd player and a 100 technics reciever to say the 10,000 Martin will get a sound...will it be good ?? I doubt it.

The store that I frequent ( and they carry Mac) does an intersting demo, they have in their low end room, small speakers...nad,denon etc, they play that thru a pair of pioneer bookshelfs around 200/pr...not bad....then they take the same speakers down to their hi end room and fire them up with a stack of what a difference, much better sound, the stands the speakers are on are more expensive than the speakers.

Anyway I use my Mac gear on a small pair of B&Ws around 900/ just sings.

I own and have tried a fair amount of electronics thru those speakers, there are differences, some small some huge.
Autoformers on pwr. amps in the 21st century. Who da thunk it? Guess it takes time for the news that transistors are low impedence output devices to reach Stone Age Binghamton.