McIntosh MA 6500

Anyone know about this integrated? Better yet, anyone know where I can find some reviews on this piece? Thanks.
Not aware of any reviews. I have heard both this one and the 6900. There was a thread about these two integrateds here at audiogon about onemonth ago....check it out. Great features, incredible build quality, very smooth, non fatiguing sound. Good luck,
Check - it may have some info. usually is the place you may see one up for bids. Search Mcintosh. Ditto on Pardales comments. I own the 6850.
Sam Tellig of Stereophile wrote a rave review on the 6900.
The main differences were power ratings, equalizer and the
autotransformers that the 6500 didnt have.He even bought the review sample.
Seth, who started this thread, is a friend of mine and I am sure he appreciates the above information, but I know he is aware of all the above information. I do believe, besides wanting to know of any reviews, he was looking for someone who may own one and/or compared one.

I am surprised we do not hear more on the 6500, the 6900 is still quite new. I heard the 6500 in store a year ago and it sounded nice to me, as much as you can tell on a totally different system than your own and different room. At this price point, the Plinius and others get plently of acknowledgement and I would be curious how the Mac compared, not speculation.
I have owned both the MA6500 and the MA6900. I upgraded from one to the other. They are both very fine pieces and you should be happy with either one. The reason you don't see much press is that McIntosh historically does not market their equipment to the media outlets. However, this is starting to change and you see a lot of reviews of the MA6900 these days. You also don't hear much from peers because many audiophiles shrug off any mention of McIntosh as worth considering. I was originally drawn to it because my grandfather had it and it was also one of the most musical amps I heard (and I auditioned many). A lot of non-audiophiles also buy McIntosh because of its reputation, convenience, and ability to be placed in custom installations. These people tend not to lurk around audio forums so you can't hear their feedback, and many of them may not have a critical ear either.

I upgraded to the MA6900 because I tend to keep my audio equipment for the long haul and I preferred the sound of the autoformers and appreciate the equalizer. This amp just sounds spectacular over a wide range of musical styles. The MA6500 was nearly as good, and some would argue that the extra $1500 for the MA6900 is not worth it. Either amp would be fine for you if you like the sound. It is frustrating to me that there are so few high-end amps that have tone controls. I'm running my system in a large room and I appreciate being able to boost the bass and lower-mid range to increase the low-end response. Sure, it's nice to hear the music as-is, and the McIntosh amps can do this because in the center position the tone controls are out of the signal path, but few listening rooms are perfect and some compensation comes in handy. The MA6900 is very musical while still detailed enough for my ears. So many amps I listened to were hyper-detailed which was interesting, but ultimately fatigueing and many of them were too bright in the high-end.

For reviews, also see Hi-Fi News and... oh, I forget the name of the magazine, but it's a current issue (both British). Hi-Fi news called the MA6900 a dream and a bargain to boot. But the press has focused on the MA6900; the MA6500 is almost equally deserving of praise in my opinion. I'd say you can't go wrong with either.
Budrew, thank you for the reply, it's much appreciated! Could you follow up with the amps you compared these to and what your system consists of?

Sure. I also auditioned the following:

Arcam FMJ A 22 and DIVA A85 and A75
Rega Mira
Creek 5330
Plinius 8100 and 8200
Magnum Dynalab MD208
Sim Audio I-5
a few others I forget

My current system:

McIntosh MA6900
Rega Jupiter CD player
Tandberg 3011a tuner
Tannoy D500 speakers
Harmon Tech interconnects
Thanks Bud, this info is helpful! Were any of those that you tested close to the Mac's IYO?
No : )

Some excelled at one thing or another, but the McIntosh just pulls it all together so well.
I've owned the MA6500 for the last 2 months. I previously owned a Cary 300sei (300b 11-15 watt integrated SET) which I consider the best I had ever heard. The Cary replaced an Audio Research D-130 and LS-3 combination (also very good). My room is 12 x 12 x 9 high and I wanted to use Spendor s3/5 speakers (84 db/1 watt/meter) The main issue with the Cary (or any tube amp) was the heat it generated in my small room. Therefore, I wanted to find a cool running integrated that didn't leave me totally homesick for the Cary.

I am totally happy with the purchase of the MA6500. It has more than surpassed my expectations. The synergy with the Spendors is fantastic. My three sources are CD, SACD, and FM (I purchased a used McIntosh MR-7084 via Audiogon) Human voice reproduction is important to me. This is an area where the Cary excelled. The 6500 gives me the same response to voice that the Cary did. You can recognize when human voice reproduction is correct. It just sounds right.
The 6500 with Spendors does this very well. The overall presentation is natural, nothing glares, nothing booms. Music has its natural flow, the annunciation of vocals is excellent.

I have not been able to hear the 6900. According to an email to me from McIntosh, the 6500 combines a c15 preamp with a direct coupled version of the MC202 amp. The 6900 uses a autoformer coupled version of the MC202. I would guess that the 6900 (because of the autoformers) would be a benefit with speakers that have a low or unusual impedence plot. It would also be more beneficial if you have need for more refined tone control. Only auditioning the 6900 in home would tell for sure.

But, I'll probably never find out. I'm very satisfied. After lots of upgrading and experimenting, I think I'm happy to keep what I have for a while.
I would like to add to Finaol's comments, that the 6900's preamp section is a cross between the C41 and C42.
I've been consider a McIntosh integrated amplifier.
Don't have one nor have yet to audition one.
With that said... according to the McIntosh website the 6900 has the ability to remove the tone controls from the signal path while the 6500 does not. At least according to the comparision chart I was just reading.
Hbarrel, I could be wrong, but I assumed that all their tone controls are out of the signal path when set at the 12 o'clock position, I believe this to be true.
The tone controls are completely removed from the signal path in both the 6900 and 6500 when at the 12 o'clock position.

Quoting from the MA6500 manual,

"Bass and Treble Controls
Adjust the BASS and TREBLE controls to suit your listening preferences. The bass or treble intensity can be increased with clockwise rotation and decreased with counterclockwise rotation. All tone control circuit elements are removed from the signal path when the controls are in the center or flat position."
I have listened to both. They are both fantastic pieces. They do sound different. Two things I heard that were genuinely different were the way each amp handled bass and the way each amp handled human voices. They were different, and I believe many people would differ in their asessment of which one they preferred.

I genuinely believe that, depending on your speakers and room characteristics, one of these integrateds could sound better than the other. I also believe one could genuinely prefer the general sound of one over the other (in either direction). For me, I preferred the 6900, I also needed one blanced input, so I went with the 6900.

I don't think a person could go wrong with either, its choosing the one that best suits your needs and taste that is the key. You must, must, must, must, let your ears be the judge. Enjoy!
I just upgraded to the McIntosh MA6900 from a Rotel amp and pre-amp. The McIntosh isn't sounding as musical to me as my Rotel was, the McIntosh is more tame down and yes more smooth at the high-end freq. but less dynamic. The detail quality is about the same. I was hoping to gain more by going with McIntosh but it sounds too tame, too refined. Is this the normal sound before break-in or is this how the McIntosh MA6900 is going to stay? I have about 72 hours on the MA6900 so far. I would appreciate any help if someone can. Thanks.
What is the rest of your system?
The System is:

McIntosh MA6900 Amp/Pre
Rotel RCD-1072 CD Player
2005 Klipschorn Speakers
High Quality IC and Speaker Cables

The only thing I took off the system was the Rotel RB-1080 amp and Rotel RC-1090 PreAmp, and added the McIntosh MA6900.

I think the sound is too refined in a way that I don't hear echos in certain passes like before as if filtered out for a smoother presentation, less dynamic than before, smoother highs but at cost
of dynamic impact. Detail throughout about the same. I'm wondering if this will change
with more break-in time? I thought I would hear more of a difference than this???? The vocals about the same but without echos as noticable when singer's voice echos in the accoustics of the room that is recreated on the Klipschorns. Does the McIntosh need more break-in or might I have a defective one?? The McIntosh dealer assured me I would hear more detail but I'm not, it's about the same but the McIntosh seems to slightly filter out some detail, like echos and such for in favor of a refined smooth that might be the cost of doing this? It's been confusing and stressful for me, and the Rotel has a wider soundstage while the McIntosh is more stuck right in the middle and not bringing the sounds past that point. I also tried it on my Klipsch RF-3 speakers with same results.
Not sure what to do at this point. Wondering if I made the right move now. :(

Anyone have any good suggestions where I should go from here?? Thanks.
Hmm, well play with the EQ, up the midband a bit, and the treble if you feel it is too restricted now, thatÂ’s why they have the controls.
Contrary to Undertow, I don't think the tone controls should be the solution, the amp should sound fine on its own.

Have you talked with the dealer that you purchased the Mac from?
I would give your 6900 a chance to burn in over 100 hrs first, while the tonality does not change much after the first 40 or 50 hrs, they do tend to "open up" after 100hrs of burn-in in terms of soundstage and resolution. Also try different taps. I find on my 501 monoblocks the 8ohm tap is the more "musical" tap overall even though my speakers are rated at 4 ohms nominal.
Also try different taps.
I thought the same thing also flyski, but he has a 6500 not a 6900 and the 6500 doesn't have that option.
I was responding to nomail who seems to have the MA6900.
Gotcha, my bad, I went back to the top of the post which listed a 6500. In light of this oversight, I agree that "noemail" may want to experiment with the different taps.
Hello Nomail...
I had the Rotel 1072 CD player here for a couple months. The Rotel is a good all-rounder but I would call it very polite and unexciting...if you have a chance to try another CD player I would highly recommend it.
Thanks all for trying to help! I finally gave up and went back to the Rotel. Maybe something was wrong with it, not sure. The dealer was going to get another one but I told him if something is wrong with it, should not have ever passed McIntosh quality control to leave their factory. He said it sounds normal to him when he listened to it on my setup, so I don't see any point in getting another in if it's going to sound too refined in my case?? Oh well, atleast I tried. Thanks again all.
Digging up an old thread. I figure, better to reply to one existing than create a new one. I have a pair of Monitor Audio Silver 9i speakers that are presently in my HT setup with some M&K surrounds. I am starting to seriously consider finishing out my HT in M&K and moving the Silver 9i's into a dedicated stereo setup. Is something like the 6500 going to be a good fit for my Monitor Audio 9i's? Would I be limiting myself in any way with a Mac integrated rather than a pre/amp setup? Or on the flip side, is a Mac integrated paired to my Monitors going to be silly? I think my MAs are really nice speakers, but I don't want to overdo it. If a Mac connected to them is like having a Ferrari engine in a stock '78 Rabbit (sure it would be more responsive than stock, but you could not take full advantage of that 4.3 V8) maybe I need to aim my sights lower. I personally doubt this, as I think they're pretty good speakers.

I figure, I can get into this integrated for probably less than comparable preamp/amp setups, but I could be wrong. What else should I look at? I have heard these speakers work *very* well with tubes, but my knowledge of tube systems is not great, and I really know nothing of where the price/performance of a tube exceeds its SS cousin. If I can get better sound out of a 2500 dollar tube pre/amp or integrated, it is certainly going to be investigated.

I don't know if this will help, but I mostly listen to CDs. At present I have no dedicated player, but I am looking at a modded Oppo or something from NAD. Am I providing a major weak link in this little chain so far? It should also be noted, I have a decent vinyl collection, but I have never had a phono stage. This would rectify that.