Which pre do you use?
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owned both Mc501s and XA60.5s. Pass were more refined, transparent, better stage depth. Mac's had better dynamics & sense of command of the speakers. if i had bigger Pass amps, might have been an easy choice, but as it was, i kept the 501s (my listening bias is 1st and foremost dynamics & control).
tone is equally good b/w both. can listen to both all day, and i can say that about VERY few SS amps.
That is a tough choice given your want of finesse and brute power and only you figure what you want most.
As far as pros and cons:
The 160's are going to draw a steady 600 watts from the wall "each" or around 10 amps total. That plus what else is hooked up in your system, is your room "electrically" up to it? The Mac, considerably less unless you are really cranking it.
The Pass will add some heat to your room. The Mac, hardly any.
For me, I'd choose the Pass. I own the 100.5's and have owned the Mac 1000's and 1201's before. I was always happy with the Mac's but the Pass's make me happier.
I have the XA160.5's as well, but haven't heard the big macs. The XA160.5 idle at "only" 410 watts each, based on Kill-a-watt measurement. I believe the original XA160's actually idle at 600 watts. The .5's have the same specified power consumption, presumably because when driven into AB, they will draw more.
Still, 820 watts for the pair is a fair bit of electricity and heat, so you'll want to turn them off when not listening. These sound pretty good at turn-on, but really sweeten up over the first hour, so you won't get their very best without a little planning or patience.
Another thing to think about is where you live. Pass is in CA, while McIntosh is in NY. If you ever need service on items this big and heavy, it's nice when they're fairly local.
The Mac meters are bigger and brighter and much more entertaining to watch, since the Pass meters practically never move.
At cocktail parties, you could talk about the mac's and somebody might - just possibly - know exactly what you're talking about and be interested:)
The Mac manual congratulates you since now you own the best in the world, while the Pass manual tells you that the world is coming to an end, eventually. The Pass manual is funnier.
At the end of the day, one of these will probably sound better in your system than the other. Do you have these set up with existing equipment, and if so, how does it sound?
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Like both amps but, its all about the power in my view. The Pass amps are limited and could not compete with the Mcintosh massive 1200W of power in 8ohms. Pure Class A is finer but yet less bold and soundstage is not as wide in the Mcintosh amps. Resolution and imaging edge to the Pass amps. Big presentation and depth edge to the Mcintosh amps.
Reliability both good but Mcintosh is better. The Pass amps run in class A and heat is not solid state amps friend. Heat shortens the lifespan of the Pass amps.
I would go with the Mcintosh amps.