Nice review. I wouldn't be two quick to upgrade your sources or speakers. They all offer outstanding musicality regardless of their relatively modest prices.
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McIntosh retains the same look & build quality as when it was first conceived. Because of this, some may think that the technology inside is old school which is definately not the case! Considering the number of years this company has been in business and the natural progression of improvements, who would know better than McIntosh how to build quality sounding gear. I personally have had some of their pricy new products and they are astonishingly good. Albertoderoma, thankyou for your indepth & interesting thread!
Congrats Alberto! I recently listened to a Mac at a local audio shop and the experience was amazing. I too listened to different equipment but the same thing happened over and over: with the other brands I heard the equipment, with the Mac, I heard the MUSIC.
I told the salesperson he needed to warn people before demoing the Mac, because they won't be satisfied with anything else. I can't plop down $5,000 for a new integrated at the moment so I have a nice vintage MAC 1900 on the way. I refuse to turn on my current system now because it "hurts" to listen to it. McIntosh = audio heroin(e).
A well done, thoughtful review; thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I am considering exactly the same pre-amp/power amp system you purchased (for the same reasons!), although I would use the C220 with my VTL ST-150 or CJ MF2250A amp first, and if happy, stop there and sell the 2nd place amp. McIntosh is an American treasure; they certainly know what they are doing. Check out the new McIntosh book, it is a large, color biography of the company and will be a collector's item. I looked at a copy at the local dealer last week, it is very intersting. Cost I think is $150. pricey, but you will want one. Enjoy the music!
Mac gear is a staitement!
I have a separate home threater set-up with Mac for electronics.
My separate serious 2 channel system I have the 501's, currently I'm using a Audio Research Ref 3 pre but I'm on the hunt for the Mac 1000 pre.
Upstairs system I'm currently using the Mac 300 server.
I am very happy with Mac product, the only area I believe they are really weak in is their cd players.
Enjoy I do!
Great review! I've had my eye on those two components for some time myself. I must agree with Narrod - don't be too quick to change the rest of the system. If you have something that is working well - and you obviously do - you can sometimes mess it up quickly with further "upgrades". In my experience this is especially true of speakers. One of the better pro reviewers recently said, wisely, that the trouble with our hobby is knowing when to stop. You may be there!
Coming up on a year anniversary of owning my first McIntosh unit. It is the MA 6600 integrated amp. Dreams do come true. It is awesome! It has made every source component sound better than ever. Old and new music has a new air and bloom. Between all the features and build quality, what once seemed high priced is really a wonderful value. I only wish I made the move sooner. Not cheap, but oh so worth it. McIntosh lets the music play.
I, too, owned a pair of 501 monoblocks driving a pair of 801Nautilus. While the midrange is really sweet and warm, the bottom end left a lot of room for improvement IMHO. They were replaced by a pair of Krell 650m and i couldn't be happier. My music taste ranges from Josh Groban, Diana Krall to Hans Zimmer.
one thing is certain: anyone who says the mac amps sound the best is wrong---they don't. but they make up for it in a number of ways...the 501s reflect a combo of qualities that are unique:
sound: warm, dynamic ease (can drive anything) without the last word in bass depth, impact or detail---but gets to a satisfying level for 90% of audiophiles. and they never sound aggressive, harsh, or give me a headache (the way class AB SS amps do)
resale: (if you ever sell)
reliability: neve hear about mac gear breaking
heat: this is the least talked about thing in audio (or maybe i'm sensitive as i have a small dedicated room in texas): they put out no heat, whereas any class A amp can function as a space heater, and even some class ABs put out an unacceptable amount....after all, you're not going to listen in a sweatbox. no worries with the mac's.
aesthetics: those blue meters are like a boob job on your stereo.
i can understand any audiophile who sells them, and i can understand any audiophile who thinks of them as a last purchase.
On the other hand, I now own Sacman's 501s and they sound anything but bass-shy with my Montana EPS2 speakers and Mac C2300 pre-amp. In fact, the bass is one of the things I like most about them, that and the natural midrange. So it's all a matter of system matching. I did think they sounded a little hard and thin in his system when I auditioned them but I'd call them just the opposite in mine.