My 2ch front end. first quality system

It seems my ears have led me to audiophile banishment. I have been putting together a 5.1 HT/2ch Stereo setup for several months now. Actually Ive been researching and auditioning for several months. I now have my speaker setup, 2ch. cd source and 2ch. amp setup in place.

It seems two products ive chosen arent well liked amongst the internet elite. I will list my final choices as pairs, both winner and runner-up, as well as my perceptions on the two. Keep in mind several other products within the price range we also auditioned.

Speakers! It came down to Vienna Acoustics Beethovens and B&W N803's. There was something majestic and lively about the N803's that spoke to me. In one case I confirmed my preference with an identical front end. The Beethovens had a flat and reserved presentation to my ears. Although I greatly enjoyed both, the B&W's won me over. Remember these were the finalists so im not knocking the Beethovens at all.

2ch amp! Considering 3 additional speakers needed to be powered within my moderate sized HT/2ch room, overall size and weight was a factor in my choice of 2ch amp for my mains. The finalists were the McIntosh MC202 and Bel Canto eVo4 (bridged). This I enjoyed greatly because I had both amps in my room to audition at one time. Countless hours were spent between the two and again both are winners. The differences I heard are very easily identified to me now.

When I seriously listened to these amps they were always given a proper warm up time and sound levels adjusted using an spl meter. The most noticeable difference would be in the base region. The McIntosh had a fuller more rounded base presentation though not lacking definition at all. It was as if the McIntosh was playing base at 2db higher with "slightly" more bloom or roundess to rising and trailing edges. On to the midrange..

To my ear this is the strong point of the Bel Canto. It had a more forward midband presentation.. less recessed. The music was there for you to hear as it should be. Both amps have near identical tonal qualities throughout the midrange but the Bel Canto brought it out for you to disect with your ears. This difference Im speaking of is "very subtle" but many notes and listening sessions later the difference was unquestionable. The high freqs..

Talk about a toss up. I tried extremely hard to identify distinct differences in the high band but I cannot. The McIntosh gave me the impression of a "slightly" more relaxed high band but I cannot help thinking this perception was caused by the fullness (roundness or bloom) in the lower registers I noted with the MC202. If I was "forced" to make a definitive statement on the upper frequencies between the two I would say.. the differences are "very" subtle but the McIntosh was slighty softer in the high band. The Bel Canto was a "touch" more detailed.

Side note: Without blowing up my speakers I will say the Bel Canto bridged at 360x2 fully balanced gave me the impression of more headroom at high volumes. I ran the McIntosh into clipping (power guard) just to see what DB I would get out of it and although it was well beyond what would be considered as "reasonable listening levels" for my room, the Bel Canto would drive a tougher load. Price and power dictates...

I could go on for pages and pages but I will conclude here. I said earlier I was doomed to audiophile banishment. Yes I chose the McIntosh MC202. Something felt and sounded correct with the B&W + McIntosh combo...

I just realized I need to actually purchase cables instead of using loaners! Another bag of beans there! Hope you all enjoyed my first foray into this realm. I guess my choices wont be well supported but hey, I followed my ears!

Enjoy the Music! Vedric
If you're happy, there is no sense in worrying about what others think.
Agree with S7horton. Forget about what others think unless your are soliciting ideas/opinions. Just enjoy!
Ahhh, yes. The McIntosh love affair. It happened to me as well and I have to say I have not regretted one minute of it and am actually very thankful for it. I continue to audition anything and everything but I always leave the dealer happy to come home to my little McIntosh amp and preamp. They just talk to me is such a sweet, relaxing way with, as you said, bloom and air, perfect coherence and a silky bass to die for. I have listened to many Mc amps and they all have these beautiful qualities. It is simply the type of sound that appeals to me more than any other. So, do as I do and enjoy your McIntosh. Life is good, isn't it? Arthur

I am a happy Bel Canto owner. Someone could hold a gun
to my head and I wouldent change my BC.

Enjoy it and dont worry what other people say.
Its about what is right for you...

Happy listening :-)
Thanks for the replies guys. My post really wasnt about worry as much as the irony of where my ears took me.

Having read forums for months, no doubt ive seen many of the "opinions" regarding the two products I selected. The subjective opinions are exactly that. I have no problems reading about other peoples experiences. On the other hand I could not have selected more polarizing products. Its as if each brand has an underground network of anti-fans! :)

I suspect now that I will gain even more enjoyment reading some of the more provocative threads.

Take care! Vedric