McIntosh MC-275, MX-110 preamp and La Scala's??

I am one for experimentation. Thermionics not only peaks my curiousity, but thrills the @#%$@%# out of me.

Being a beginner in the very complex society of thermionic valve technology, and the versed audiophiles..., many of which are on the 'Audiogon' website.., I move ahead with confidense in matching up components that make sweet misic.

I have matched up a MC-275 (90's new generation), a MX-110 preamp tuner (a poor mans glorified C-2200), and a fresh pair of awesome Klipsch La Scala's (black in color to match the MC-275). I have elected to listen to my music with a Shanling CD-T100 compact disc player. If you have noticed..., the entire set up is 100% thermionic valve (tube).

The sound production is SWEET! The efficientcy of the Klipsch La Scala's are pretty much evident, for I have never heard music produced so magically, and so controlled..., untill I met up with a man named 'Will Vincent'. Most refer to him as the 'King of Dynaco'.

Getting pretty interesting? Please read on!!

While on the famed 'Audiogon' website one warm afternoon down here in sunny Central Florida, a couple of months ago, I came across some wild and wierd looking Dynaco ST-70 reproductions built by Will Vincent himself. Some had cosmetic effects and colors that would make 'Liberacchi' blush. I've even seen a bananna colored one! Imagine that?

I just had to contact this Mr. Vincent to find out who he was and what made him tick. To make a long and uninteresting story short, Will Vincent designed for me a pair of Dynaco MK-III mono blocks. Because I am somewhat on the conservative side..., my color scheme was a gloss black front/face plate with a smart looking blue diode which illuminates when the power is on and a toggle switch on top of both units used to switch the circuitry from UL to triode mode, a wrinkled flat black body, chrome outer plates on the 3 huge power supply transformers..., all powder coated and all controls and inputs/outputs are beautifully mounted in the rear. He told me that these units will out perform the MC-275. Yea right! That remained to be seen..., I mean heard

The circuitry of the MK-III's stayed close to that of the original design of 1957.., but 'BEEFED UP' with better caps, and better power supplies. Each unit is rated at a conservative 60 wpc using Electro-Harmonics KT-88's, but can easily be pushed without breaking a sweat to a whopping 75 wpc with still the same distortion rating as if it were pushing 15 wpc. Freaking amazing!

OK..., I disconnected both my MC-225 & MX-110 and hooked up these beefy looking MK-III's. As a preamp, I used a rare 6 tube Dynaco PAS-4 (90's release), with a dbx Project 1 spectual enhancer 296, to control my lows & highs. I maintained the Shanling CD player and the La Scala's to keep somewhat the playing field level.

Queens 'Bohemian Rapsody' was inserted in the Shanling while the entire valve system was warming up. When I cranked the system....., "HOLLY #$#@$#!!" I died and went to Heaven. Someone out there pinch me.., I must be sleep.., this can't be real!!!

It is beyond me how a pair of MK-III mono blocks designed by Will Vincent can out perform the 'Holy Grail' of all valve amplifiers.., the McIntosh MC-275? In both UL and triode positions, the beefy, but simple circuitry design of the Dynaco amps ran circles around famous MC-275.

Please don't get me wrong. I still sleep with my big mac, but choose to lead a double life with the mono block Dynaco's.

My question is a fair one. Because both of these amps were developed/designed circa the same era, although the MC-275 predates the MK-III some 10 years or less, and both having newer/better/stronger circuitry being that they are both recent generation models...., Why is the Dynaco so much better on all levels????

My Klipsch La Scala's tremble with terror with the sight of the Dynaco's. I guess its because of the awesome efficientcy they possess. I have always been under the impression that the McIntosh products were for deep pockets, while the Dynaco was for the poor and less fortunate audiophile? If this so..., then the saying "You get what you pay for" is a falacy in this case.

Mr. Vincent has indeed built a better mouse trap, although never diverting from the original circutry design. I believe I am in line for an education? I am open to all schools of thought and corrections, for I am just a beginner in this fabulous world of thermionic valve technology.

Why are the Dynaco mono block MK-III's so much better in every aspect at $1400.00 (custom)..., than the MC-275 at $3700.00?

Can anyone answer this question?

A true lover of tubes,

Darren T. Jackson
USMC Electric


Interesting writeup.

You didn't really explain in what sense the Dynaco sounds better than the Mcintosh.

Can you maybe go into a bit more detail about how the Dynaco sounds different than the Mcintosh, aside from "better" ?

>>Why are the Dynaco mono block MK-III's so much better in every aspect at $1400.00<<

They're not "better".

You prefer that sound.
The Dyna-vs-Mac comparison is of course one that has been around for decades but it's one of my favorites!

There are SO many levels to this purely in the circuit design - the Dyna uses an input pentode, the Mac has an all-triode driver design. The Dyna uses a tube rectifier, the Mac uses solid-state diodes. The Dyna uses an Ultralinear output stage, with mainly global NFB from the output tap, and the Mac uses a "Unity-Coupled" output stage with both local NFB and global NFB, derived around different transformer windings. Both Dyna and Mac are rightly renowned for the quality of their output transformers, but the way they're wound represent very different design philosophies. And for the most part, each of the above approaches has a similar level of merit.

Then you get into the economics, how much of the (customer's) money should be spent on each part of the circuit? What are the cost tradeoffs in reliability and sound quality? How long is the product supposed to last, and how much maintainence/repair can be expected? Again, the Dyna and Mac amps are wonderful examples of two very different ways to treat these questions, but each IMO equally masterful.

But I rant. Specifically to your situation . . . I feel that most of the shortcomings of the Dyna's design will be much less apparent with a pair of La Scalas than with direct-radiating speakers . . . when you really drive the amps hard into a demanding load, a Mac 275 will absolutely flatten the Mark IIIs. But the Mark IIIs are still really nice . . . and believe me, you're not the first person to prefer a Dyna to a Mac . . . they're both true classics, in the best sense of the word.

There's also a bit about the MX110 . . . its output impedance is pretty high, and somewhat volume-control dependent. It isn't a problem when coupled to an original 275, but IIRC on the newer versions with balanced inputs, they dorked around with the input impedances for the unbalanced part . . . and I think its somewhat lower.

The Mark IIIs (if original) have a 470K input impedance, which will ensure that either the MX110 or the PAS is doing its absolute best.
this isn't to dis either(i have an mc275 mkll and its a keeper for life), but something else that i've prefered over the dynaco(sweet)and the mac, at least with with kornerhorns, belles, and lascallas is the mc225 or the infamous marantz 8b(or its stepchild, the vac auricle). the big ol'klipsch and el 34's are like peanutbutter and jelly.
Gee I've heard my buddy's so called C2200 side by side with my MX110z. My Mx110z was twice as good. The C2200 was not even close. My buddy was in shock when he heard how my MX110z just blew away his expensive pretty new mac.
With a Shanling CDP, I suspect any amp that adds more "pleasant" distortion will be preferred over a more neutral and accurate amp.

The sibilance from a Shanling digital product is just plain bad in my experience, and it will sabotage any objective assessment of downstream components.

Thus, while your conclusions may be totally legitimate based on YOUR system. I would hardly use this one example as evidence of a categoric conclusion on brands of amps.
Congratulations on your match made in heaven.
At one time I ran a Baldwin (converted organ amp) built by Will Vincent driving my Klipschorns and I have to say that I preferred that amp over some VERY expensive others I had come and go.
Some food for thought- although I never had one, I heard that Juicy Music (by Mark Deneen) pre amps along with Will Vincent's Baldwin's and Dynaco's mated to Klipsch speakers will take it to another level.