For me, Just knowing that every time I play music, I'm wearing out my tubes makes me nuts (I can handle this in my preamp but power tubes cost real money these days). Also, while tubes sound awesome, they tend to smooth everything out (homogenize). I really like the way some artists use various textures in their music which are more accurately rendered by solid-state amps IMO.
Don’t have the MC402, but do have the MC302 which is just a little less power. I love it and use it in my big system. I have an MC275 I rotate in on my secondary system which primarily uses a MA6600 integrated. When I want to switch out the flavor, I remove the integrated amps jumpers and use the MC275 II Gordon Gow Edition. Both different flavors but both very musical. To be honest, I worry a lot about tube wear so I only run the Mac tube amp 4-6 weeks out of the year, usually in January when it’s cold.
Can you listen to them side by side and let the sound to your ears decide?
What is your pre-amp? I have owned a MC402 for years and have used it with solid state and 2 tubed pre-amps. I prefer the tube pre-amp and solid state amp combo, although I have never had a tubed amp, so preference is based on what I have heard in stores or at friends. But the 402 has served me well and runs surprisingly cool.
generally speaking, if you are not running NOS or exotics, new production tubes sound amazingly good and aren't very costly.
I’m using a Cambridge Audio Azur 851N as a DAC/preamp/streamer.
So seems like most people like sounds of tubes.
Thanks @yogiboy for the article. Its very informative.
For sure buy a beast and then decent speakers...you should end up with decent beastly sound.......is that what you are after?
Try the side-by-side thing suggested above. It should reveal the differences between the products. Although my personal experience with that brand is not positive regarding transparency and accuracy of reproducing the recorded information, you will figure it out IN YOUR ROOM. Best way, and most of all, enjoy the music you like.
Re tubes wearing out VS solid state--they all have life cycles. If you listen 24/7/365, your tubes will have to be replaced occasionally, but the solid state will fail suddenly if it is typical. When? You just never know, but tubes typically have some MTBF rates published by the manufacturer in their specific model number.
I'm a Tube Guy. I can say that the last 4 times I heard a McIntosh solid-state setup at RMAF, I couldn't last in the room for a full song. Nothing good at all.
"Tubes cost really money"
I like that statement as not many people admit to the extra cost of owning tube amps. I have tube amps and have spent this year alone $1300 in tubes. and probably will do the same next year or early year following, preamp tubes do last a long time but power tubes do not.
Depending on the tube type and count that's big money to toss away every couple years, not to mention tube failures and degradation over time. If your not steeped into the tube life I'd recommend passing on tube power amps at least, tube preamps can be great though.
Now if you love tubes then your basically &$%#* as you can't have anything else and the cost is just the cost of doing business. sigh....
I have tube amps and have spent this year alone $1300 in tubes.
Wow! Well, there are tubes and amps and there are tubes and amps. High power pentodes don't last very long. Triodes can last a long time but DHT triodes will degrade over time. But many power pentodes and tetrodes in well designed PP or SE amps just run and run and run. Tube amps can be very economical if you want them to be.
When I purchased a McIntosh MC225 a few years ago it still had the original power tubes from 1963 - and still does, despite playing several hours every day. I have purchased many vintage EL84 amps with original tubes from the late 50s and early 60s. Were these tubes better than modern? Maybe, but it's more about amp design.
I own an MC402 and have owned and auditioned tube power amps. Advantages of 402: stonger tighter base and realistic transparency without giving up warmth. Advantage of tube power amp: more atmospheric midrange, possibly with slightly deeper sound stage and better signal to noise ratio. All sounds but especially massed instruments and piano will be slightly fat, smeared or blurred possibly in a pleasing way depending on your taste. I prefer reality as I go to a lot of live concerts and therefore the 402.
Sorry I meant the 402 will have a better signal to noise ratio.
As far as I’m concerned most Mcintosh Solid State amps sound very similar to
Tube amps, that’s what I love about them.
I had an MA6300 for years and now the
MA6600. Most other amps I’ve heard sound too bright and lack the warmth that
lets me listen for hours without and fatigue.
Maybe tubes are slightly smother but the added cost just doesn’t make sense to me.
Mcintosh all the way, holds it’s value and sounds wonderful 😎
Get solid state now and get tube later!
I use both!
Solid state during warm/hot days!
Tube during cool/cold days!
Most audiophiles loose WAY MORE money on changing gear compared to changing tube bulbs.
After many years I have ended up with a MC272, and amp happy