McIntosh MA2275 - opinions


I am lusting over the MA2275 so much right now and I hope someone will talk me out of it.

Kidding aside, I now own a (current) C22/MC275 combo, and I am happy about it, except for the unconvenience associated to the room it takes.

My actual questions to owners and former owners are this: I listent mostly to vinyl (MM cartridge), and I was wondering if the phono stage in it is tube based, and if it is good? Also, does the amp sound “veiled”?


black_circles_records
Your McIntosh C22 Preamp is totally tube. It's RIAA phono eq and phono 'low' level signal boost, up to 'high/line' level are done by tubes, then sent to any amp, in your case a tube amp with 1 set of inputs.

A moving magnet LP cartridge (most common) sends a 'low' signal out to be processed by an RIAA Phono Equalization curve (bass boosted/treble cut), somewhere, then it's signal strength boosted, somewhere, up to 'high/line' level. (original ceramic cartridges sent 'high/line' level signals straight to the amp.

Amps amplify any 'line' level signal. Amps have 1 set of inputs, integrated amps have multiple inputs which allows several line level sources to go directly to the integrated amp. They often have volume controls, some remote volume. You use one input for the preamp's selected output to go into the amp. All pre-amp output is 'high/line' level strength.

Some integrated amps have passive pass thru for preamp signals to bypass all switching and volume circuits. In this case the pre-amp's volume is used, not the integrated amps volume control.

Traditionally, the low level cartridge output is sent to a preamp phono 'low' input, and the preamp has it's own RIAA phono eq circuit and subsequent phono signal boost up to 'line' level, then off to the amp.

These days, the phono preamp (RIAA eq and signal boost) may possibly be located within a TT, The TT then sending a 'line' level strength directly to an integrated amp (amp with multiple inputs), or, into a 'line' input of a pre-amp, then on to the amp.

My TT has a switchable internal preamp, I can use its switch in 'line' position, or send cartridge signal 'phono' position. Using SS C28 preamp, I preferred the TT preamp, now using tube mx110z preamp, I prefer the mx110z's phono preamp.

Moving coil cartridges produce a very low signal strength, and require a signal boost first, up to the moving magnet signal strength, then that is sent somewhere for RIAA phono eq, then boosted again up to 'high/line' signal strength to go to an amp.

McIntosh amps have switchable signal strength inputs, one is 2.5v to match their preamps which output 2.5v.
RIAA phono eq is how LP (long playing) records were achieved.

During recording, the bass signals are cut, thus smaller/narrower grooves are needed/made by the cutter. Move narrow grooves = Long Playing.

At the same time, the highs are boosted, enlarging the grooves so the same size stylus can track the narrower bass grooves and the wider treble grooves.

It also separates the highs further from surface noise frequencies, like Dolby did later for tapes.
I forgot,

thus, for phono playback: the bass has to be boosted back to normal, and the highs have to be cut back to normal. That is what the RIAA phono eq circuit does.

If a TT cartridge output is plugged into a line level input (without RIAA eq or signal strength boost), it will sound awful, no bass, screechy highs, and low volume, needing more pre-amp/amp signal boost, pushing either or both parts of the system up into noise/distortion range, especially tube equipment.

Believe it or not, early CD's, (early players costing $5k), some of the LP masters went directly to CD without RIAA eq, and the horror stories about CD's sounding awful resulted.
Don't do it!   Years ago I foolishly sold my MC275 MKV paired with an Aesthetix Calypso preamp to try an MA2275.  While the MA2275 looks very cool and appears to be well built, it's not remotely close sonically to the MC275.  The MA2275 is soft, wooly and yes, veiled sounding... very disappointing.  

If you want to go the tube integrated route, one of my first choices would be a used VAC Avatar or Avatar Super.   I'd also look at Luxman, Prima Luna, Manley, Cayin, Octave and Line Magnetic.
pdreher thanks man, that’s what I needed. What do you think of the GSI75 by ARC?

Never heard ARC before. I’m used to Mcintosh as far as high-end goes. Is ARC overrated? They seem to eat tubes
I have owned both the 2275 and the gsi75 although it was many years apart. Do NOT even think about getting a 2275. It was VERY disappointing. Your c22/275 combo is light years ahead. What kind of speakers?

the gsi75 is amazing but I cant speak to the phono stage, I never used it. The dac is also quite good.

what are you after? What is missing from your experience?
I have 805D3. I know it is generally accepted that 800s B&W are better matched with SS, and that they are very forward, but there’s something I hear in 800s that I don’t hear anywhere else, and I mean AIR and that floating ease with details. I had Sonus Faber, Magico, Tannoy Prestige (also fabulous), but the way I hear music in my head is the B&W way.

Nothing wrong with my combo per se, but I’d like a little more meat from the 805, and integrated speaks to me as using less room.

I am certainly done thinking about the 2275!
It all depends on what you are after. The gsi75 sure fits your expressed desire for fewer boxes and by extension, fewer cables. My recollection of the phono stage is that it was highly adjustable. It is a solid state phono stage however. The dac was actually quite good.

the downside of the gsi75 is what you get is what you get, zero ability to season the amp if it doesn’t check all your boxes. One manufacturer of kt150’s, one manufacturer of 6h30’s, no tone controls, about your only opportunity to affect the sound would be on the ac side and speaker cables. Maybe phono cartridge. Maybe through dsp with roon but that would be about it.

make no mistake, the gsi75 was arc’s all out assault on building a reference quality integrated and it is an exceptional piece, especially at used pricing. Biasing was no issue and it was rock steady. I had mine matched up with wilson audio duette 2 speakers and it was a really special setup. As i type this Im trying to recall why I moved on from it and frankly, I must have been crazy LOL.

good luck and best wishes.
ghasley great imput! I never heard and ARC amplifier, but heard a Ref preamp on Boulder and Wilson Sasha 2 and the image was crazy good.

Is ARC better than McTubes? How would you name its sound?