McIntosh- Sweetest, Smoothest sounding Solid State ?


McIntosh- Are they the sweetest, smoothest sounding solid state amplifier?  
avanti1960
Did a 1960 Avanti win LeMans ?
certain of the Mac SS amps are quite good, focus your inquiry a bit and perhaps we can help.
There are tons of great, fabulous sounding SS Integrated Amps, Pre Amps, and Amps out there. Moon by Simaudio, Bel Canto, Ayer, Boulder, Luxman, Belles, AVA, and on and on. What are you looking for sound wise. Or was that rhetorical?
I love Mac but not a big fan of their SS. Older valve units.. I have them all. Their SS I’ve sold every one I’ve ever owned.. 1.2k on down.

Cary took my breath away after a rework.. V12r what a jewel..

Syrup comes to mind with Mac.. And no idea why.. I run small planars..

Pass design was always my go to amp. Ampzilla was a close second..

NO I haven’t tried everything, but I’ve herd a few through the years.

It went down from there. Of course there is a ton of class ds. I put them in a class of their own.. From crap to fantastic.. I sure like NC500s. ICE too, good modules..
I always wanted Mcintosh equipment and it took 20 years before I could justify spending that much. Finally got some and had it for  years and was never really happy with it. Changed speakers, inputs, etc. Always made the music sound soft, rounded, mushy. Replaced it finally with a Class A amp at a quarter of the power and have never looked back. But that was my experience. My friend has one of their newer integrated amps and it sounds a bit better, he loves it, I am still very content with my decision however. So for some yes, for others, myself included, no. The answer for just about everything in audio. And cars. And….. 
But fuzztone I like lipstick on my pigs.. :-)

Make that "Passion Pink"

Regards
McIntosh SS, for me, is the definition of 'straight wire with gain', or 'do no harm'.

When I went back to efficient speakers, I overhauled and sold my two pieces and went back to tubes.

My SS Amp, MC2250, tested accurate at 305 wpc, was dead quiet, no character added. McIntosh advised me to leave it full volume, adjust volume with preamp. Zero noise.

At listening fun here, everyone always chose tubes over the Ss MC2250, and LP over CD, and Reel to Reel over LP. 

My SS Preamp C28 has some hum in the low level inputs above noon on the dial, just above my favorite listening level, so no noise most of the time, but not enough for Iron Butterfly.

SS C28's phono eq was dry like the amp. I actually preferred my Technics Turntable, AT120's built-in dinky phono eq to the C28. mx110z's phono is a real treat.

McIntosh Tube Tuner/Preamp mx110z: I would get another one without hesitation, and have all the rca jacks replaced by audio classics like they just did to mine. They really didn't find much else to do to it.
I have to imagine that since the OP has been a member since 2015, he is aware of the strong polarized feelings his question would provoke, and just wanted to see what would ensue.
you’re right @roxy54

gotta love sh*t stirrers...

lets see...

digital sucks, analog rules
class d is da pits, class a all the way
b&w’s are sweet and smooth, no?
tube amps aren’t romantic, they are dead nuts accurate
schiit freya is the best tube preamp in the universe
anti skating is for fools
anything you can hear, i can measure
don’t buy chi-fi - screw the commies
my synergistic fuse transformed my system...
tektons rule

💩💩💩💩💩
I'm glad that I'm not the only grammar cop around here Erik. It's lonely sometimes.

jjss49, That was a good post.Thanks.
As the "OP" I ask the question sincerely, I heard Mac a few times and paired with (even) bright speakers they sounded very pleasing and smooth to me, compared to every other solid state amplifier I have heard - except- the Luxman Class A and Vinnie Rossie products. I found both to lean too far to the smooth side for my liking.  

I may be in the market for a new power amp soon. Thank you.
Macintosh has their own sound due to the use of their autoformers, so you either love that sound or want something else, and i am one to want or like something else.
Post removed 
@avanti1960

As the "OP" I ask the question sincerely, I heard Mac a few times and paired with (even) bright speakers they sounded very pleasing and smooth to me, compared to every other solid state amplifier I have heard - except- the Luxman Class A and Vinnie Rossie products. I found both to lean too far to the smooth side for my liking.

I may be in the market for a new power amp soon. Thank you.

your opening post smacked of troll bait given its short statement-type question, without context nor background, thus some of the curt and pointed replies, sorry about that -- with your recent reply let me provide a few ’serious’ comments on your query on mac amps

1. mcintosh now makes all tube, tube/ss hybrid, and straight solid state (class ab AND class d) amps, so as you can imagine, the voicing of the various models can differ substantially - very very few other companies do all these variants... kinda bewildering...

2. traditional mac gear (all tube) featured a notably recessed treble, a forward, bigger-than-life midband, and full and fairly solid if somewhat slow bass... that type of ’classic old school good tube amp sound’ is carried over more or less into all their current amps, but in substantially varying degrees, so you might clarify what models/topologies you actually heard in your recent encounters that led to your impressions of the mac house sound - to me, because of the crazy breadth of amp types they make, their house sound is all over the place these days, so specificity really matters in figuring out what is what among their amps

3. when i think of the sweetest, smoothest well established solid state amplification out there, i think of some of the names already mentioned -- pass/first watt, accuphase, ayre, upper hegel (h390-590-h20/30), sugden, some belles (class a units)... other top models from older brands would include yba, plinius, symphonic line, classe, muse, bedini, forte, audio research 100.2, some might add mccormack (i always found them a touch sharp/lean),  ... a lower cost but very sweet unit is sony’s recent es-grade integrated called ta1-1es... clever, pseudo class a topology but very very sweet, dimensional, seductive sound for fairly minimal $$ (i know you are seeking a power amp only)

4. please don’t rule out some of the better class d newcomers, esp. with gan tech... very clear clean but also smooth, rich, pure sounding solid state

good luck and have fun
On other Forums the OP pounds the drums constantly telling everybody Rogue Audio is what they should buy....regardless of their speakers or musical taste. You know the type...whatever I have is best even thou I have ZERO Experience with High End Gear. Should stick to the Hoffman Forum where MID-FI rules. BTW...MAC Gear is PERFECT for you!!
i currently have a parasound a21+ driven by a cary audio SLP 05 tube preamp.  
i liked the parasound at first but after 7 months or so it is sounding slightly sibilant and less refined.  
@riaa   rogue makes great sounding products and i recommend them whenever they are in the range of a recommendation request.  
i have ventured into tube preamp solid state amp and i am not a fan of the tube class D hybrid sound.  
Here we go again, all Mac haters to the front and start bashing away! Give it a rest guys, this is getting old and pathetic!
sid42,
It's a popular pastime. I'm surprised that George hasn't weighed in yet to say how the autoformers are there to "fix" a defective design.
They do fix a design flaw, poor reactive speaker loads from bizarro drivers…
Give the new Krell K300i intergrated a look, enjoy mine with Monitor Audio PL300 ii. 
Smooth, sweet and powerful --- PS Audio hybrid BHK 300 mono blocks

Cary SLP 05 -> BHK 300 -> Stirling LS3/6


Post removed 
This is only slightly off topic, but what sonic coloration does an autotransformer impose on a McIntosh power amplifier?
None that I can tell, but others will have a different opinion. The Mac amps that I have tried without autoformers sounded thinner overall, and less solid in the bass.
It mat not have the big fancy dancing blue meters, and lacks any kind of bells and whistles, but the Sugden class A solid state amps sound sweet indeed.
Since March 2020 I’ve been working from home and have music on much of the time. I’m actually thinking about getting a Sugden A21SE to use when I’m playing music while multitasking. My tube amp has a fairly pricey compliment of tubes and I cringe thinking about reducing their remaining life while not always listening intently.
here is truly one of the sweetest solid state units (and with good, real world power), for a song... i have zero affiliation, don't know the seller at all -- so a prospective buyer would need to do proper due diligence, and not mind an older unit that may need a little care and feeding over time

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649762917-bedini-ba-801/
It depends on which McIntosh amp. Not all of their amps are created equal. In fact McIntosh makes a ton of stuff I would never buy, having said that I have been a loyal fan of their amplifiers for many years. My system changes from time to time but my amplification has never changed, McIntosh gives me truly no worries, and to this day after almost 15 years of use with no problems ever my Mac MC352 power amp still sounds amazing.
Matt M

I thought McIntosh used output transformers on their SS amps to purposely give them that rounded tube like sound. Not for me, but Which is best is up to the listener.
Carver SS amps of yore used to provide outputs or a switch for tube like sound. Just made it Sound dull, not tube like. 

Check Point Charlie is a Con-man As much as I like the Gear... he is not to be trusted... wouldn’t get involved in a dealer issue.. AT ALL When he Should have

I was effectively ripped off by a mcintosh dealer

Seeing as my filter broke partying  Tom Passafuime, House of High fidelity and Mcintosh are ALL guilty of ripping me off for IT work.
 

 

McIntosh does have a,nice relaxing sound when needed,,not the best for rock or metal, but depends on the,speakers and source. 
 

they are a great quality product. Out of my league, but have auditioned so many over the years!  They are great! Always wanted the 1000W. MOnos!

   Plus that blue glow is mesmerizing and relaxing.

 

 Won’t ever be in my wheelhouse, but there is a lot of as good and better out there!

 

"It may to you"

I have MC 302 and am upgrading (in my opinion) to Moon M400 amps.  I've upgraded my C2600 preamp to Moon 390 (again, my opinion).

My McIntosh system always sounded good to me and that's the feedback I heard from others.  My shift is a result of a need for more power and comparing McIntosh with Moon - I didn't compare to Moon when I upgraded from NAD.

Therefore, "it may to you" is my response.  And as long as you like how it sounds and it pulls you into to listen more and get more enjoyment go for it!

If you want to look at other brands there are many out there and they sound 'different' sometimes.  And sometimes different isn't good or bad until you start assessing how it makes you feel.

I was never disappointed with my SS Mac gear - if not for wanting more power and testing other options I would have been very happy to keep it.

Who cares?  
Transparent is the goal.

It is, but if the amp is not smooth that is an indication of distortion. Its hardly being transparent at that point. 

This is only slightly off topic, but what sonic coloration does an autotransformer impose on a McIntosh power amplifier?

My understanding is that its there to reduce coloration since the amp makes less distortion because the autoformer loads the amp at a higher impedance than that of the speaker. All amps make greater distortion into lower impedances; conversely less distortion into higher impedances. This is a simple albeit expensive way of making the amp sound smoother and more relaxed and its doing it by reducing distortion.

Its relaxed character in the highs isn't a frequency response error- its that way because of less audible higher ordered harmonics. The ear uses the higher orders to sense sound pressure and so is keenly sensitive to them; it also assigns a tonality to all forms of distortion and the higher orders are assigned 'bright' and 'harsh'. So reducing them results in smoother sound.

 

“i currently have a parasound a21+ driven by a cary audio SLP 05 tube preamp.  
i liked the parasound at first but after 7 months or so it is sounding slightly sibilant and less refined.”

I’ve had a Parasound A23+ for well over a year now and it’s not sibilant at all and I do find it refined in my professionally calibrated system. I tried a high end Class D Gan amp recently, and the Parasound was light years better in every way. Perhaps something else in your chain isn’t up to par, misadjusted or maybe room acoustics are bad.