If you're planning on driving your Apogees, then you'd have to choose the 6900 which has Autoformer outputs and can drive loads down to 2 ohms. You would also have to make use of the built-in MM phonostage to justify the added expense of that feature. Ditto the equalizer. Ditto the power meters.
Keep in mind that a system's sonic signature or character is 85% a result of the amp/speaker combo. The preamp's main job is to direct traffic and otherwise keep QUIET! Therefore. I suggest auditioning various amps with your Slants using your existing preamp and phono preamp for now. Then slowly upgrade those as you can.
I don't dislike (the idea of) integrated amps, but unless you're contemplating a smaller unit for the bedroom or the office, you could be investing a lot of money in a component that would limit your flexibility, forcing you to throw the baby out with the bathwater in order to make a future upgrade.
You know I don't think the integrated is such a bad idea. The lowest prices you are likely to find are for those. In addition you won't have a problem match pre to power amps fidelity. I have contemplated the same but enDed up with a complete extravagance. I have the smallest power amp they made in the 70s called the MC2505 all of 50 wpc but it has variable gain which in practice work as attenuators i.e. with one source it's like an integrated but dual mono. The sound is I think a bit on the wieghty side almost indelicate and above all authoritative and functional. I keep the runt of the litter to power only my Klipsch Speakers a very synergistic combination indeed but I have my main systems using JM/Focals and Von Schweickerts. So it is a luxury.
The little amp feels like and behaves like an amp twice it's strength and yes it has bass but not the Krell iron fisted bass just no doubt if you have a big woofer these amps welcome them not shirk them.
I echo getting the autoformers for panel speakers not sure if it has the transparency you want with an anti meltdown circuitry. Never tested anything other than cones and domes. still this pugnascious amp succumbed to the previous owners playing too hard and took out some strength on one side somehow a very unusual situation for an amp that exudes an unbreakable air.
Warm, lush, enjoyable, bloomy, not neutral.
Thanks so far for all of your subjective opinions, my Slants drive easily and don't run impedence too low (so that's a good thing!). I easily agree that combos all sound different that's why I search for others that have knowledge, my front end is strictly ARC CD 3 (which is fantastic). I'e done some room tuning and upgraded the PCs (Locus Designs) and have the Slants bi-wired from Grover Huffman, plus I pay very close attention to vibration control. I listen to my music at low volumns and as everyone enjoy the biggest stage I get acheive but....don't want to go back to seperates due to getting carried away with the uograde bug
I posed this question in the speaker fourm but didn't get responces and need some help to evaluate as I also thought of NAD, and maybe MF or Marantz, but looking at a company as well established as Mac and AR also looks to sound good as well. When I change I don't want to have to do it again so the better informed I am the more it helps.
I have had mcintosh Pre-amps and amps for years. I feel that you really can't beat the overall value of the amplifiers or their pre-pros. The magnetic switching promises many years of trouble free service. As far as sound goes. There maybe better, there are definetley worse.
I would sum up the amp sound as a warmer tubelike sound that extends through the complete range of frequencies. I get a very good impact on music that requires it and a the soft soothing sounds as well. I know a few people (BW) that just plain don't like the sound, but obviously a business that has been around since 1949 can't be doing everything wrong. Also one of the strongest re-sale values out there. I did just add an Audio Research LS26 pre map and it seems to be developing a very good harmonic synerygy
that I was skepitcal of at purchase time. I would say that you won't be disapointed and if buyinng used and disatisfied, you should do fine on the resale.
Argyo,Theo,Mechans & Nsgrach, Thanks agin for the subjective input it has helped me as to my seeking at this point. My room is not very big (18x12 roughly) and I sit about 6'-7' from my Slants (near field). What I am hearing is that my current Classe w/ARC is just a bit cool but I want to find a balance between the slam of a Krell and the great tightness of the Classe too but into a bit more warmth WITHOUT changing cables and still retain that crystal top end that I have. Arygo & Theo you might have pointed me more seriously to Mac, Mechans & Nsgrach you are surley right that syngery is what I'm looking for as I listen to my system flat and want to expose just what's recorded and not artifical ingredients, plus I don't know about any of Mac's features and what they do even from the websight so again asking questions is the best thing to do.
Theo I don't know why I hadn't thought of a Mac/ARC combo before with both being some of the must respected names in the business and execptional service backing as well. I've had Aragon 2002/18k that I used before and it was authoritative excellent control on both The Infinity Kappa 8s before I got the Apogees and with the Apogee but I introduced an ARC LS 3 and the difference was literally astounding! I've asked in the Apogee fourm as well for some help and gotten suggestions of;Pilinus, Bryston, Pass, MF,NAD trouble is I don't have local dealers to hear or try them for a couple days, plus I want to get an integrated that retains the PRAT and the NAD has what needed but has lacked in the PRAT area from what I continue to read. My Slants are hybird, ribbon/6' bass and I'll never part with 'em for me the Apogee sound is me and everything fits I just want to warm it up a bit more and get some more of that liquid midrange as well (I never ask too much:). Keep the responces comming becue they are helping to guide me, i appreciate and respect your views it's how I continue to learn as well
I always wanted some Mc stuff, but have never taken the plunge until recently. I picked up a MAC 4100 receiver the other day locally on Craigslist, for 500 bucks. They go on ebay and here for 800-900, so a pretty good deal. The tuner needs some alignment and adjusting, but the unit is really clean and sounds great, no switching noise or hums. This is like a 4th system for me--I sure didn't need it! I am using it as a garage system for now, and am using old crappy speakers, and it sounds great, much more powerful than a typical receiver. The build quality is unreal. Sure, its not the most refined sound, but it's a lot of fun to play around with. A warm, solid, and authoritative sound is an accurate description (previous post above) for sure. Probably not the most transparent you've experienced. Good stuff, try it out and the resale is rock solid. Foreign collectors really seem to love McIntosh stuff. Have fun!
IMHO, I would say McIntosh does not have a lot of PRAT (now that I read your post above) so their products may not meet your sonic goals.
I actually at one time had the Kappa 7's and when the time came for me to switch from a Yamaha amp to Mcintosh I could only afford a MC7205. It sounded better and brought out what I thought was lacking in mid's. Then I bought a MC352 with autoformers and since the Kappas had a reputation for being hard to drive, I feel the autoformer solved that. At that point I had new speakers, the Kappa's had never sounded better. It allowed me to keep them longer than I had expected to. I really belive that McIntosh Amps are under rated. In the sense of power a 350 watt rating is conservative as to what it really can deliver. I have coined the phrase that when the watts can't do it McIntosh torque kicks in and gets the job done seamlessly. As mentioned if you are not happy you shouldn't have any trouble selling it. But I really doubt that we will see it listed.
I recently auditioned these amps and was very impressed. The 6300 and 7000 integrated amps I listened to are finely designed and, to my ears, offer a more neutral solid state sound versus a traditional warm and tubey sound that McIntosh was known for in the past.
They throw a wonderful sound stage and can play quiet or loud with a wide variety of speakers. I personally like them with DeVore 8s and 9s and ATC 7 and 11s, which match well with your music tastes. Because they are more neutral than warm, you want a more precise or smooth sounding speaker.
They have a wonderfully quiet and high quality built-in MM phono stage (sounds great with the Clearaudio Maestro series of MM cartridge), a better than average headphone jack (try these with good headphones), and offer more line stages than you can attach potential devices to. Build is rugged. The 7000 allows you to adjust the frequency range tonalities so you can better match a "desired sound" against poorly recorded material. As Theo says above, their resell is second to none.
My father had the legendary 275 amp for 40 years with no problems. The company has a tremendous pedigree, that was almost lost thru a series of bad buyouts starting two decades ago. The current Japanese capital group, plus their US engineering talent, has brought them back to their original audiophile roots and the new products are brilliant for their pure musicality. I would say that only Luxman out of Japan can match their integrated amps around similar dimensions.
Tone Audio, an online journal, has written several recent reviews, as well as www.sonicflair.com.
Bongofury rightly mentions that Macs newer stuff is much more neutral than past gear. I would classify it as neutral with a natural warmth and slightly rolled off at the extreemes. I don't think you will get "Krell-like" bass slam, but you "should" get a very enjoyable and musical presentation.
Brian & Bongofury, Thank you, now these are a very good comparision that I was looking to find out about! Now should I take it that the newer Mac integrateds have a tighter control over the bass region yet still retain the smoothness and warmth of ealier Macs? What is the autoformer function as well, I didn't find info at the Mac sight and I don't know what it does? Mac sounds like a real contenter in my search for my "last" change in a peice I can add it to MF, NAD (I've gotta listen to NAD yet)and I think I've now exclued Krell and Bel Canto, so this has certianly helped butI still gotta find a way to hear 'em yet Mac that is)!
I have been in the pro music touring space for 30 years and have no financial ties to the companies listed below.
Mcintosh: In simplistic terms, the circuitry you mention protects the internal electronics from overload and smooths out the transients when outputting the signal to the speakers.
The amps are very smooth in their delivery top to bottom, and for that reason, match well with other smooth sounding speakers like KEF Reference, Pioneer EX, DeVore and Harbeth. The 7000 has a purer solid state sound and will pair well with precise studio speakers like ATC monitors, which can take advantage of meaty bass and drums or full orchestra productions.
I have been a three decade user of NAD products at home and at work. The first products were designed in Europe and made in Taiwan, and distributed with KEF studio monitors (the classic BBC sound). Build was remarkably good--I had one amp, the 3200, for 20 years. Later, they sold the company to a Canadian concern and moved production to China. They are brilliant designed and engineered products, but the newest models have had quality issues associated with China. You should read the numerous strings about these problems here in this blog. I started with the legendary 3020 amp in 1982, had the 3200 power envelope in 1987, and have the M3 at the office studio for two years. These amps throw a wide soundstage, are great in the lower to middle ranges, but lag a little in the upper ranges in detail. The 3020 and 3200 had a faintly warm and romantic sound, while the new Masters Series M3 is very quiet and solid state like in its neutral qualities. My understanding is that the new 375 amp released this month takes all of the advanced Masters technology and delivers it in package at 1/2 to 1/3 the price of a M3. I personally have never had problems but Chinese production can be hit and miss.
McIntosh in NY and Luxman of Japan are still made onshore. The ss engineering is brilliant and they stand behind the product with well thought detail. You will likely be very happy.
I can also recommend the tube integrated amps by Leben, a Japanese company with a rabid cult following, and Shindo Labs, if you are looking for a warmer sound. Both sound incredible with the genres you love. Tube maintenance is the only issue with these products--the musicality is second to none.
If you want a pure solid state sound, I would also look at LFD products, made in the UK with an incredible level of attention to build detail. They are relatively low powered (60 watts) so you need to match your speakers well. For a more powerful product, I would also look at Bryston out of Canada, which offers a 20 year warranty on their product line.
Bongofury, Thanks for your explaination and (IMO) objective assesment of other manufactures. I'm trying to make that last change in my integrated amp and have struggled with who to look at as well as finance and want to be in position when I decide to make that "last" move. I do have shps that carry some of the above mentioned product laines but.... they don't have a display to listen to and do an order only as requested. That doesn't seem like good business to me but they have to pay the bills. Thanks again for your opinions and help, I'll post again later when I decide on one.
Retail is always a problem. I have been looking to upgrade as well and have found it difficult at best to navigate.
I very much echo Bongofury's comments. Let me say upfront that I have a lot of respect for Mac gear.
From your comments I gather you are a person looking to buy components for the long run. Hence let me strongly urge you to consider Mac. I feel one of the strong suites of Mac is 'Musicality'. If that is your preference you will relish Mac. Also as others have metioned the resale value, reliability, servicebility & pride of ownership will be second to none!
I have used many brands(mid product level) Mac, Linn, krell, Levinson back to Mac & so on. My main preference now is 2a3 SET with horns. But my HT is full Mac (MHT100, MC252) & this pair is there for the long run. Although I love SET I would easily settle for Mac if I had to. As they say about Mac "Sound of tubes for the price of SS".
I too have used NAD for many years. My first THX218 (China) was superb. But as Bongofury has pointed the most recenet stuff from China has poor quality. My T742 had problems & C272 blew up! NAD backed their warranty & issued a new unit without any questions.
Bryston is a good choice as well due to the warranty. This was not my cup of tea soundwise. Could work if matched with the correct speakers.
Plinius is nice & warm as well. Class A sound (SA102). Gets really hot though. Longevity?? There are so many integrateds around offering good sound & value.
I believe as audiophiles we have the tendency toward something out of the ordinary to touch & feel good while delivering the sound we want to hear. If these conditions are met we tend to change gear less freqently while listening more. Personally, I would love to cherish a Mac for the long run. MA6900 would be an excellent choice (my first Mac).
GOOD LUCK with your decision!
Dilly, Thanks for your comments, as Bongofury has said also. I AM IN FOR THE LONG RUN and as I was listening to the Classe/ARC/Apogee combo yesterday it reminded me that when I don't analize and hear for difficenties how enjoyable it is to listen. I am looking for a bit warmer sound but with control as well and Mac sure seems to be leading the way. At this point I think I'd be looking to either an MA6300 or MA6500 but I'd like to get one already broken in (if possibile). The Apogees nominal at 6 ohms and I do listen at lower levels and with the guts of Mac I think I'd be fine. Mac still leads the search then.
I've a new MC402 power amp, biggest audio "investment" I ever made ... yes, its powerful, neutral and musical, drives my Maggies (MG1.6) with ease, even with a passive preamp.
One of the perks is that no dealer where I live now tries to tell me that I need to upgrade my amp!
I had a Krell FPB-200 before this, found it powerful, with good bass slam (though not to the level of the older KSA series) ... but ultimately, not involving enough.
You will find that the 6300 is a tad warmer than the 7000 and will be a good choice if that is the desired sound. It offers 100 watts which should power most speakers with ease. The only other product I have heard that has a similar sonic footprint is the Shindo Montille amp which requires extremely efficient speakers like DeVores. All in all, you will be impressed.
I had the 6300 and the AX7e side by side with the devore super 8 and Totem Forests. They are both good amps but I went with the Ayre because it has better clarity, soundstage, presence and rythym. It's also very quiet.
If you want SS I would look at the current Luxman, but not the cheap one, or take a look at the Ayre if 60/120w would work for you. It seemed to have the same power as the mac at 100/160w.