Original vs. imitation ; MC275 vs. Cayin A88T
First off, I can see how this might cause some controversy, and that is not my intention. I wish to learn, separate fact from fiction, and hopefully gain some objective insights. To a fault, I'm a natural skeptic, I test everything. Almost exhaustively. Frankly I find myself having to verify too much, so this is my first post in hoping knowledgeable posters might shed some light. Ok here goes. Please no flames.
I have been very happy with the Cayin integrated, (as a pure amp) it is wonderful. It is detailed, tuby, and airy. Cymbals resonate like they should, no glare, highs aren't rolled off, and bass is respectable. Drums have authority. The imaging and soundstage are very believable. On good material, I am transported into the front row. Simply magical. However after going to some live events, I noticed live music, at least the amplified kind, was more of a wall of sound ( Jazz, orchestra, soft rock) rather than the distinct detailed space we audiophiles crave and adore. That didn't bother me much since I was not comparing a live presentation to it's recording and thereafter recreation. I was comparing apples to oranges, but nevertheless, it got me thinking... did the real Mac sound more life like? I wanted a little more power too, for when the mood stuck me. The Cayin at 45w/ch was loud enough for normal listening, but I wanted a little more emotion for those special times. As happy as I was, I wanted the real McCoy and see what I was missing. The reissue MC275 was said to push closer to 90w/ch. The amp is a legendary, and not is a small way. It stood the test of time for 45yrs, and still going strong. I had to try it for myself. I ended up purchasing a "mint" used MAC. My first.
My MC275 series V, is beautiful, and arrived without a scratch, 10/10. The very reputable dealer said it was retubed from the factory and factory sealed. It was. I prepared myself for a treat :) Initially, my first impression was that the Mac had a more expansive feel...a wider stage, but at a cost of some smearing. What was that? Smearing? Could it be? Yes... OMG, it is! Not by much, but some. I lost that lovely detail! The air between instruments and vocals was not readily discernable as it had been with the Cayin. Could this be?! I interchanged the power tubes. Same thing. Blasphemy!! No way! Maybe the Mac needs Burning in, that must be it. After 15 hrs, I did not notice ANY change from my initial finding, I audition each repeatedly, interchanging amps, carefully double checking connections, tubes, etc... Indeed, I much preferred the sound of the Cayin! Although the Mac could play slightly louder (guessing 15-20 % louder?), it was marginal. Could that also account for the wider soundstage? I am astonished! I am hoping that the Mac will burn in and sound sweeter. But even if it did, I can't imagine it SURPASSING the Cayin. Or could it?
Does anyone know if rolling the non output tubes will give me back the detailed holographic feel? At this point, I am a little doubtful the Mac can close the gap. Right now the margin is distinct. Is it going to make a world of difference?