McIntosh vs. Accuphase

I've heard more than once that Accuphase was Japan's McIntosh and was wondering if someone that has had experience with both brands would like to give their opinions on any differences and likeness these makes share sonically from top to bottom? More specifically the McIntosh MC252, MC352 amps vs like wattage Accuphase units. I've noticed in the specs of both that the Accuphase amps have a much higher damping factor vs. the McIntosh which from what I understand could tell how it might effect bass performance with a given speaker. Any input or stories you might have pertaining to either brand would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Brian/Texas
It is also said that Luxman is the Japanese McIntosh. IMHO this reputation says more about McIntosh than the other brands.
Hi Brian, While I cannot recommend one brand versus another in this situation, and peobably many can't accurately, due to not having both particluar brand Amps in front of them to A/B test,

I believe that damping factor specifications are a over-emphasized one, and perhaps shouldn't be used as a "yardstick" by thinking that one amp that has a damping factor of 1000, must produce tighter, cleaner bass than another Amplifier that has a damping factor of only 200.

Particularly in this case, the damping factor of McIntosh Amps versus others.

While I'm no Nelson Pass to start quoting Amplifier designs, and their distinctive inherit traits, many of the McIntosh Amps over the years have had low damping factors, one comes to mind, my own MC-2105's with a damping factor of I believe only 16.

I know it can be very hard judging equipment, especially if one walks into one shop, hears Amp "A" driving brand X Speakers, and then walking into another, and hearing Amp "B" driving brand Y speakers.

I have no solid answers for you I'm afraid, and maybe others too won't either, even though they've perhaps owned both brand Amps you speak of. Mark
These two designs are very different. McIntosh uses an output transformer much like tube amps and is an A/B design. Use of output transformers probably limits damping. Accuphase amps are usually class A designs with large power supplies. Accuphase was started by Kenwood designers as a higher end brand.
the specs are absolutly worthless. there is no way to say which one you would prefer until you put them into your system and see- they are both solidstate push/pull amps of high power, how much musical difference is there really going to be-not much. from a build quality standpoint, I would say they are both in the very good camp. I think the looks and feel/ergonomics is the only real issue here.
I haven't seen any real numbers to make this more than observation through the years, but I believe that one of McIntosh's strongest market presence is in Japan. That would lend me to believe that maybe Accuphase hasn't quite duplicated the McIntosh sound or level of acceptance. Again just my observation, no toe stompin' intended.
when kenwood's bid to buy mac was rejected, they started their own hi end brand 'accuphase'. the comparisons early on where mainly those of build quality and versatility. early accuphase gear shared the sonic character of kenwood(obviously). the early accuphase gear is certainly good sonically, and because it 'isn't mac' it can be purchased on-the-cheap except for the rarest units. the list prices on new accuphase gear 'like many other brands' are comical. when purchasing anything in the higher priced end of home audio always try to find it used.
All right, that being said. What would you say is the Solid State McIntosh and Accuphase "House" sound? Are they similar from top to bottom or does one thing stand out from the others say driving the same speakers in a similar setup or are we mostly saying cosmetics is the biggest difference between the two and it's mostly personal preference?
I've always thought the Accuphase was called the Japanese McIntosh because they looked the same. The Accuphase gear had the meters just like the Mc did. Sound? I doubt they're the same. McIntosh do a lot of things different to others, and have a lot of things in their amps no one else has.

As for damping factor. 1) I've read that a damping factor above 40 is good enough, and you can't hear or even measure the difference between amps with damping of 40 or above. 2) Damping factor is not as much of an issue with the Mc compared to other amps, due to the fact they use output transformers (autoformers).
I would not compare them face to face since, as stated above, their design approach is quite different, but have a high POO ratio and construction is superb.

I have had both company amps (more Macs than Accuphase) and both are excelent options. An interesting note is that Accuphase and/or McIntosh owners tend to keep their gear longer than other similary priced equipment, and look for having the rest of the system of the same make.


FWIW, I had a MC-352 for some time driving Legacy Focus 20/20s. These Legacy speakers are very efficient, but love current, and have impedance dips below two ohms. The MC-352 was NOT lacking in the bottom end at all. At one time [just before owning the MAC] I was using 1200 Watt Monoblocs, and the 350 Watts/channel from the MC-352 was stronger/better in every way beyond a shadow of a doubt. Therefore, I would not worry about the Mac's ability to deliver bottom end. However, Mac does have a certain "sound" to it. You need to listen to see if it is right for you.
Is there anybody out there who has actually compared amps from these 2 companies?
I have not compared one vs the other but i have listened to both extensively. my dealer handles accuphase and that is what they generally have playing. they also handle mcintosh. when looking for a new amp i listened to both however you cannot listen and compare apples to apples. the mac was the mc402 with output transformers and 400w/ch,selling for 5k, the accuphase was their a60, class a operation 60w/ch, selling for 16k. Unless you have unlimited funds the mac is the way to go. Was there differences sonically, yes, enough to spend another 11k, not for me.
If I did have the funds however; i would probably go with 2 A60's bridged.
the Accuphase would excel at bass control over the Mac. this is due to Mc's use of output autoformers which degrades damping factor (as seen in the spec's). I've auditioned amps from both: Accuphase is significantly more musical.
eldartford... I think you are right. Luxman is the Japanese McIntosh.But I think the new Luxman is very well done compare to Mc. The precision is just mind boggling.This is like comparing the Lexus to a Cadillac. Use to be a cadillac but now it is just a cadi. ( no hurt feelings pls.)

Luxman is making a comeback and when you see thier tube amp... we will be drolling our mouth. I mean the workmanship is excellent. The beauty of the new amp is just wonderful. Japanese precision is an art and you will really see it in thier new tube amp, pre-amp and phono pre. The Universal player is just well done.

I am buying the whole set and i will let you know how it sounds.
Own a Mac vintage amp with thhe gain controls and an old Accuphase preamp. They are very differentin my view from a sonic philosophy but either willcan simmer down a hard edged speaker or digitis elsewhere in your system. I own an old Kenwood same vintage give or take as the Kensonic developement of Accuphase. Trust me I wish my Kenwood came anywhere near the sound of my Accuphase in terms of sonics especially detail and extension. If you could get the Accuphase sound from Kenwood they would cost as much.
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I think that analogy is ridiculus. The newer Mac gear stands up to accuphase and in regards to price and performance, Mac is far and away a better product. Plus, add in resale and the Mac is more like a Mercedes.
I agree Larry...that analogy couldn't be more wrong.
look at the resale value......i guess that would make mac likw gold and the others like....well, an automobile
I have had the chance to compare Mac (both tube and SS) and Accuphase (always the higher-power amps) in a variety of situations. In almost all cases, I have found the Accuphase amps to be "more musical" (never thought I'd use that adjective for an SS amp but I guess there has to be a first time). I have never compared Mac tubes to Accuphase A-series amps at the same time. I think both are top quality. The mid-high-end Luxman amps, which I am pretty sure never make it to the US, are also quite good and I find more similar to Mac in terms of "house sound."

The new high-end Luxman monoblocks (B-1000fs) are shockingly good but are equivalent to about $35k/pair. I could not remember ever being so impressed by an SS amp. Later the same day I listened to the Dartzeel for the first time and was similarly impressed. If I had to choose (price no object), I'd probably choose the Dartzeel. I would however choose the b-1000f monos vs any Accuphase or Macintosh amp I have ever heard.

In the end, MacIntosh/Luxman/Accuphase amps are all quite good. It becomes a matter of choice regarding what kind of "house sound" one likes better and what kind of amp is required for the rest of the system. Out of all of the Luxman/Mac/Accuphase amps (other than the b-1000fs), I would personally go for the A-50s or A-60s.
I recently bought an accuphase e406v integrated (170 wpc @ 8 0hm) Im new to this hi end. Using legacy classics speakers and sony scd333es player.Bought the amp on audiogon on reputation. Im not into sounds and like smoothness and emotional sound. Maybe I need to go to monitors?? Anyone with experience this amp and want to recommend anything beter.This is not class A amp. But has good reputation in reviews on line. Frank (bosephusuno)
I own a Mac 4100 rec and 2 Accuphase E202's yes older vintage equipment. Loved the 4100 till I bought a mint E202 int amp and the Accuphase wins hands down! More detailed and musical .Love the Accuphase.
I have had both McIntosh and Accuphase I have heard the same statement that Accuphase is Japans McIntosh- .

Well I think the true difference is Accuphase has digital down! McIntosh has some of the best power out, and they work exceptional together. But one member said that McIntosh is a Chevy and Accuphase is a Lexus. Well to me a Lexus is a wanna be BMW!!!!!
Vx700 - your post is hilarious!!!

So far no one has addressed the specific question ref the Mc252? Anyone have anything to add on this specific product?
The accuphase is pure class a and the mac is ab so in terms of overall sound quality the accuphase should be better, there is also a big price difference between pure class a and ab. The Mac 252 is a outstanding amp but its in a different league than the accuphase, as you know the accuphase that is the same wattage as the mac 252 is Accuphase M-2000 at $30,000 per pair. accupase is more comparably to lamm or chord, its kind of like saying what would you prefer a Corvette or a Ferrari.
I have never owned either but I've listened to many of both. If I were buying I would lean to the Mac simply because every Mac I've heard for its time has been among the best. And just as importantly has been backed by reliability and service. I can't say the equivalent for the Accuphase. I haven't heard the latest Accuphase but of those I've heard I would say that the perfect speaker one one is not the perfect speaker for the other.
I considered going with Accuphase in putting together my system, but in the end I couldn't justify the price differential vs Mac. There's a lot more used Mac about in the US, and even new it's a lot cheaper here.

If I was in Japan or even Europe it might have been a different story, but Mac gear is a bargain in the US and A!
I'm running an Accuphase E-306 from 1994-97 in my main two channel system. It still sounds great to me. It is driving Revel F50's. My sources are a Transporter for my digitized FLAC files, an Arcam CD36 for CD's and a Marantz tuner.

Have there been developments in the last 15 years that would provide me with a better listening eperience?

It's been three years since is this thread posted
Anyway, Neither Accuphase or McIntosh.
LUXMAN L505U sounds MUCH better than McIntosh MA7000
New LUXMAN Amplifiers simply outclass Accuphase and McIntosh
That's cool that you find the Luxman to sound better than the Mac integrated... but I don't think we can draw the conclusion that Luxman amps "outclass" Mac amps in general...
Kiza, you seem to have a fair bit of confidence about the Luxman L505U outclassing the MA7000. This is the second thread today where you have said that. This is a bit surprising as just yesterday you asked another thread about whether it beat the McIntosh MA6500 (a far older model).

Luxman L 505 U Integrated Amplifier
HI to Everyone
I am intending to buy LUXMAN L505U from Japan. I will also
need Step Up Power Converter. Which one is good or I can buy any. Does it going to affect sound or internal parts.
Does somebody have experience with the electronics from Japan.
Also, is it true that L505U sound much better than
McIntosh MA6500
Thanks in advance for any comment.
Kiza (Threads | Answers)


Am I missing something? Or is the 6500 that much better than the 6800, the following 6900, and now the 7000, that there is a debate?
I don't know if this matters now but here goes it just in case:

We auditioned in a head-to-head comparison (for what it's worth) a McIntosh MA7000 (based on the MC252 amp) and the Accuphase E550. They were fed by a Meridian G08 and powered Avalon Ascendants.

We listened to the Accuphase first. I had always been curious about their amps. Immediately it seemed very very detailed and dynamic. After several different tracks though, it came across as fairly dry and the soundstage was very focused but also rather small. Some of my music wasn't as much fun to listen to as it usually is. Everything happened between the speakers and the imaging wasn't grounded, suffering from "talking head" syndrome. I was kind of bummed after all the fanfare the dealer made over this amp.

So then we swapped in the brawny MA7000. Wow, what a change! The soundstages became huge, to the point of being realistic sounding, the imaging was palpable, the musicians were very well laid out in that space and it all sounded so natural. Music just poured out of the speakers with remarkable coherence and clarity. We thought it was fantastic. It made it seem that the only reason the dealer loved the Accuphase so much is because it costs thousands of dollars more. Otherwise there was simply no justification in our opinion.

Of course personal tastes play a huge role in a subjective decision.

Having said all that, I still want to try an Accuphase (Class A) amp in my own system one day to see if it was a fluke or if indeed the Accuphase amps are "dry."

But from what we heard that day, in that system, if you want obvious detail, the E550 is better and if you want music, the MA7000 is the winner. They are not similar sounding at all.

I have heard Accuphase amps and owned an Accuphase pre for a while. I agree with your thinking that your experience is far from the typical impression of the Accuphase house sound and may have been a "fluke".
Aball in your review you say the Ascendants are powered?
Actually I've talked to a former owner who felt like me that the Accuphase amps can sound a bit dry. But everyone is different.

The Ascendants were powered by the amplifiers I speak of.

Remember that Chevy produces the ZR vettes...I don't particularly like the asthetics of it, but I will put it up against your Lexus for performance!

Pepe...driving Mac and BMW (the Mac of autos)!!!
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LFA is a "super car" costing upwards of $440,000. A new Z0-1 slightly modded will push 700 bhp, cost about $130,000, and still take the LFA. Only problem is you are in a cheezy vette!
what do you think of the McIntosh ma7900 or ma8000?
How did this turn into an automobile thread ? I am sorry that I can't offer any advise about the specific models you mention.
I stress and heavily implore you-you must find a way to audition these amps. They are very heavy so shipping is an issue, otherwise you could find someone or business that could lend you one. Otherwise you are shooting in the dark.