Sounds like nice upgrade for your system! Congratulations!
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Thanks for sharing your experience. It tracks very closely to mine. I did find that going from RCA to the balanced inputs made a substantial difference. The noise floor is so low now that every note rides on a background of absolute black silence.
Matt has good advice about the preamp, too. I had originally paired my amp with a C2300 and was hugely impressed. I ended up having to go back to a SS preamp for a couple of specific requirements in my application, but that C2300 was one sweet unit.
Have fun & happy listening!
Very happy you found a nice improvement!
I'm on my second stack of McIntosh electronics and I find they sound really "musical", compared with the other brands I've auditioned. They are also a really good match for Focals, and their "unforgiving" tweeters (I have a pair of Focals as well).