Processor question


Hello all,
    I am considering either a McIntosh MX 123 or an Audio Control Maestro X9. Has anyone heard these processors? Also, do you have a preference of one or the other in a system used for both music and movies?
     Thanks,
           Steven
moag
I'd suggest doing a bit of research on each of the companies respective websites. If the product description isn't enough, the owners manual may have some other important details. 
My experience after trying a whole slew of these things is there is no way to add a processor without your stereo taking a hit. And not some minor hit like you can fix with a better power cord or shelf or whatever either. Like fatal. Like for every dollar you spend on a processor, the more you spend the more you have to spend just trying to make up for it.

Don’t take my word for it. Bring some of these marvels home. Hook em up. Hear for yourself.

This is why my dual use system is stereo. Because it is just a whole lot easier to enjoy a movie in freaking insanely good soundstage stereo than it is to enjoy music with an irrecoverably wrecked sound due to the whole HT thing. A situation made worse by not having video to distract you from the bad sound. 

Do it this way and the one compromise you make for stereo is not being able to treat the front wall. Even that can be done, you would just need a retractable screen. For movies the only compromise is not having surround. But in return you get much more captivating stereo sound. So it is a wash.

What we are left with then is no earthly reason to go multi-channel, other than marketing having programmed people to lurch HT as a reflex, without ever thinking things through. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367
to mastering92...I have read everything I can find about the two processors. I am hoping someone who has heard them can offer an opinion, but thanks for the response.
to millercarbon... Thanks for responding, and I appreciate your perspective, but I will be getting one of these marvels and am hoping to hear from a member that has listened to one or both.
I agree, you take a huge hit on your audio system by trying to do both. I stopped trying 20 years ago. So I have my audio system downstairs (in the largest room in the house), and my partner has her Home Theater upstairs in the living room. It is no slouch either 5 B&W 805’s, 2 800 series subwoofers. Meridian surround processor. It was very worth slowly building both.

Personally I find notice sound nuances in the home theater as my minds eye is so distracted by the video. It is the stereo audio that takes the big hit... not the home theater part.
ghdprentice...I appreciate your post, but I have one room which is being used for both. I'd guess processors have gotten a smidge better in the 20 years since you stopped. I am a bit curious as to why I've had two responses to my OP, that advocate only two channel. I get it....but why post that here as it is non responsive to my question. 
  I do thank you both for sharing your agenda with me though.
     Steven
I have not heard either, but I have done a lot of reading on them.  Based on what I've gathered, I think the Maestro X9 might be suited a little bit better for HT/movies.  The consensus is that it sounds very good, but the flexiblity on configuration is not the best.  For example, you can only set on bass cutoff frequency for all "SMALL" speakers instead of assigned a different cutoff for each set such as left/right, center, surround.  If this doesn't bother you, I might tilt a little more towards the Maestro.

The McIntosh looks awsome, but I think it might be a just a little bit warmer sounding and more forgiving of bad electronics / source content.  I can't say for sure, but that's what I gleam.  The McIntosh might be just a bit better for music, depending on what your tastes are in type of sound.
For speaker’s calibration,
Audio Control Maestro X9  has Dirac Live  
McIntosh MX 123  has Audyssey MultEQ® XT32

I have read that Dirac is hard to beat.
i have a mcintosh mx132 and mcintosh mc602 as a stereo setup! i have it mated to 4 bose 901 seies 2 speakers. when i watch a movie and turn up the volume it sounds great to me!!!
I think folks like me look  to help with the situations greatest opportunity. Our experience immediately identifies the pitfalls of stereo audio in a home theater situation. So we try and be helpful. If separate systems cannot be done, then I can’t help with the question.
ghdprentice.... I asked for input on two processors, not on whether I should have separate rooms for stereo and home theater. My experience immediately identifies the pitfalls of answering a question that was not asked. Thank you for trying to be helpful though. I do appreciate it.
    Steven
If you choose McIntosh MX 123  processor,
maybe you should also choose ´´ lively speakers ´´ like Monitor Audio 
Silver serie.
As @auxinput mentionned ,´´ it might be a just a little bit warmer sounding  ´´ .
The speakers selection may be important 
Moag,

Let me a little more clear on why I commented on separating systems instead of your component choice. You seem annoyed. I do not have an agenda. Seeing someone ask a question that would have a relative minor influence on their desired outcome and realizing another variable would have much much larger impact, making the comment seems the right thing to do. I read posts to see if there is somewhere I can add value. Not annoy people. I personally would rather create my audio system in a large walk in closet rather than combine them. I have learned so much about acoustics over the years. It can be done well, but requires incredible skill and dedication.
ghdprentice....I am not annoyed. Its just interesting that in the "Home Theater" section of the forums, I ask a home theater processor question and I get a few answers that denigrate home theater. That is what I meant by having an agenda. While I appreciate the time you took to respond, it reads as if you think I just fell off the tube truck and am unaware of other options. I have been doing this since 1975 and was looking for answers or responses to my actual question, and not responses from folks that seem to think I need to be educated on the benefits of two channel. This makes my head itch.I do however appreciate your posts. I apologize if I came off as snarky....not my intent.
   Steven
@moag - yes, it is unfortunate that this is the case.  millercarbon pretty much just copies and pastes the same dang paragraph on every new HT thread topic.  Others also have the same kind of opinions.  Some of these comments do have an element of truth - a dedicated high end 2-channel system can generally indeed have a better result than a multi-channel home theater.  However, that's not the same thing as saying that a multi-chanell HT system will never sound good for music.  I own and also have heard some pretty damn amazing HT systems for music (but also have heard crap).  It all depends on what equipment you buy and attention to things such as power cords / fuses. 

I don't think the MX123 or Maestro would be bad choices at all.  I think they might have a slightly different sonic signature.  The Maestro comes in at 29 lbs, so it's definitely not a light weight device (indicates a good linear power supply and transformer, etc.).  the MX123 is 9 lbs heavier, but you also have that heavy glass front as part of the weight.  That being said, McIntosh MX123 also has excellent power supplies.

If I remember correctly, the MX123 uses the Marantz digital/DSP processing section, but uses McIntosh power supplies and analog output stages.  There's nothing bad about the Marantz digital/DSP section.  Generally, that's not the most important part.

I don't know what your budget is.  If you are looking at purchasing these two options as "new", another option to look at is to find a good used MX160.  The MX160 uses the Lyngdorf digital/DSP section instead and has better results and better configurability.  I think the power supplies and analog stages are also better than MX123.  HT Processors tend to drop in value really fast, so you should be able to find a used MX160 in the $8-10k area (there's one on audiogon now for $9995).  They won't be more than a few years old.
Also, do you have a preference of one or the other in a system used for both music and movies?
Rather than ask what someone else prefers, which may or may not have anything to do with what you like, why not share what sonic characteristics you’re looking for and what’s most important to YOU?  Also would be helpful to know the other equipment in your system.  Is 2-channel music important to you or is this strictly a multichannel setup?  The more info you provide, the more targeted, insightful, and helpful the replies here will be. 

soix...Thanks for responding. Your last question was pre answered. In the OP I stated the processor would be used in a movies and music system. If my question was inarticulate I apologize. Having not heard either piece, I was asking those who may have had experience with one or both to share their opinions. If ancillary equipment was uber important in choosing gear, no one would buy anything, as stores do not have the same equipment as the buyer does. Are you suggesting that people with say Focal Sopra 2's would be better with the McIntosh, but if they have Bowers & Wilkins 803D's the Audio Control would be the best choice? What is most important to ME is having people who have heard or own either of the pieces share their experiences, rather than people telling me only 2 channel is important or even worse, telling me how to ask a question, and what to ask. If my post is too vague for you....please feel free to ignore it.
auxinput....Thank you for responding. The info and opinions expressed were and are helpful! I appreciate the time & effort.
   Steven
There is a fine solution , buying used MX160.(@auxinput)

If you buy new; a nearby dealer should be taken into account .
You may need help with Dirac or Audyssey . Even with the owner manual. It is not convenient to try to make adjustments for these , using the phone or a tablet  with a remote  dealer .
maxwave....thank you and auxinput. I will consider the suggestion.
    Steven
Your last question was pre answered.
No, it wasn’t. I specifically asked if 2-channel music was important, and especially because as this is the HT forum it’s possible you listen to music in multichannel. My suggestion was for someone who values stereo as much or more than HT or multichannel music, which is why I asked.

If ancillary equipment was uber important in choosing gear, no one would buy anything, as stores do not have the same equipment as the buyer does.
But it’s just your system we’re concerned with here.

Are you suggesting that people with say Focal Sopra 2’s would be better with the McIntosh, but if they have Bowers & Wilkins 803D’s the Audio Control would be the best choice?
Well, since you seem unwilling to share (or maybe don’t know) what sound characteristics you’re looking for it’s really impossible to say one way or the other. But yeah, people who try to make thoughtful recommendations here generally prefer to know what else is in a system as well.

If my post is too vague for you....please feel free to ignore it.
Yeah, if you can’t share what sonic characteristics you’re looking for that’s what I’ll have to do.


I play a lot of chess online. I see a lot of people saying things like "I prefer to play with my rooks" which is a bit goofy. One plays with all their pieces, and moves the one that will improve the position best at the time. In music reproduction, those that ask what sound characteristics others look for are just as misguided. What are you asking....am I searching for a bump in the upper midrange? Am I looking for rolled off frequencies in the treble? If I was I would invest in a graphic equalizer. Here is what I am looking for.....a good sounding (at all audible frequencies) home theater processor that I can use with both music , multi channel, as well as two channel, and movies This is not as complicated as you pseudo experts make it seem..And yes, your question was answered despite your protestations. I will now ask politely....please stop being concerned with my system, that is something I've done for 46 years now. You may continue to parse music into "sound characteristics" and take that idea which is common in these forums to others, but it doesn't hunt with me. And my guess is, unless you work for, or were a part of the design team of either of these processors, you would not have an accurate answer anyway. Your "sound characteristics" question was just designed to make you seem like you have knowledge others do not have. My response to your last sentence is an invitation for you to do as you have written. And as an aside....a" thoughtful recommendation" between the two would need to be based on personal experience with one or both (which you have not claimed), or a general explanation of some possible differences, which a few members here have done and I have acknowledged and thanked them for.
   Steven
moag, if you’re happy with you current stereo preamp does it have a by-pass mode? In my setup analog goes directly from an Ayre DX-5 DSD to KX-5 Twenty preamp for stereo. For surround, HDMI goes to a Bryston SP3 processor that returns analog stereo (the front LR) to a by-pass input of the preamp.
@dbphd - have you ever tried using your SP3 as the preamp?  I would say that the analog input/output sections on the SP3 are at the same level as a high end 2-channel preamp.  I would give it a try.  At that point, the KX-5 would only be used if you prefer the "sound" of the KX-5.
dbphd.....Thanks for the suggestion. If I am unhappy with the musical performance of the processor, I will connect it through the home theater bypass of my Wavelet preamplifier to see if there is improvement.
    I appreciate the response.
         Steven
Here is what I am looking for.....a good sounding (at all audible frequencies) home theater processor
Ah, that narrows it down. I’ve heard both at different dealerships but with the same stereo and HT demo tracks and they’re both good sounding at all frequencies so you can just take your pick, and I’ll avoid over complicating it by going into sound characteristics. Hope this helps, and enjoy whichever you end up choosing.

I haven’t heard either processor, but I sympathize with the OP when the usual suspects jump in to tell him that HT systems are terrible for music, he needs a different room, speakers,etc...
  Regarding the original question, is it possible for the OP to do a demonstration with either in his own system?  I am also curious as to why he is not considering a processor by Anthem.
@mahler123

It is the jungle out there : HT Processors
McIntosh
Audio Control
Acurus
Focal Astral
Storm Audio- Bryston
Anthem
NAD
Yamaha
Marantz
Monolith
Emotiva
I have read , Classé Audio  may enter the dance in a near futur.

In a dance party , you can’t dance with all the girls.








Hello Moag. I was considering the Mx 123 as well but went with the Marantz 8805 as it reviewed very well and was half the cost. I have mc8207 amp to go with it. My speakers are focal kanta 3 towers with the kanta center and kanta 1 for surrounds. I also have 4 Rel S510 subs. Movies are fantastic! It is our music system as well and sounds very good but I’m hoping to be able to get some dedicated 2 channel equipment in the future. Separates or a good integrated with home theatre bypass. Good luck and let’s us know how it turned out. 
mahler123....Originally Anthem was on my list, but I've read numerous posts and a few reviews that claim its room correction is very buggy and Anthem plans to update it soon. I did not want to get involved in having to upgrade software in a brand new processor.
´´... a good integrated with home theatre bypass. ´´
I have Acurus ACT4    20 channels
As @ronboco I have Mc8207 for bed speakers paired with 6 Monitor  Audio Silver 300 (surrounds and rears) and Focal cc800 vw for center.
I have an integrated amp with Home Theater Bypass for music playback : Soulution INT 330  paired with Audiovector R6 Arreté ( front speakers )
ATI amp. class D  for 6 height speakers and 5 subwoofers

You can always improve your HT systeme along the way.
For me , that’s enought ( I said that before ...)
ronboco...As stated earlier in this thread, the McIntosh probably uses the Marantz processing system, so I appreciate you stating it sounds great with movies.You have a nice setup....I have not heard the Kanta speakers, but love the Sopra line. When I pull the trigger on a processor I will post my choice. Thanks
maxwave....The Acurus ACT4 was the first processor I thought of. I have the Aries in my bedroom and think it sounds great. I just couldn't find one new and did not want to pay what they cost used. Also, I am interested in Audiovector R3 Arrete's in one of my smaller systems. Are you happy with your R6's?
    Steven
Post removed 
maxwave....Thanks for the info. I just spoke with hifihandyman, who has an ACT4 demo. I am considering that piece now as well. 
    Steven
Post removed 
maxwave....If I may ask, what subwoofers do you have?
   Steven
I have 2 Anthem AVRs and I have not found the ARC to be buggy at all.  I also use Dirac in my 2 channel system and that had a few more obstacles to implement, but has been stable sine implementation.  As you can see I am a believer in Room Correction and urge you to get a Processor with this capability.  If you don’t like it, just deactivate.

  So you can’t ask all the girls out ( actually in my dating days I would ask dozens to go out, hoping to snag 1), you can ask the prettiest ones, and for me that would be ones with room correction
+1 @mahler123

ONES with Room correction ( little vicious . lol )There is a difference between asking dozens and dancing with dozens in the same evening.



@moag
I have a melting pot of subs ( not recommended )
1 center front Kef KC62
2 sides PSB subseries 125
2 rears Klipsh C 310ASWi and Monitor Audio Silver W12

the kef KC62 , is my best sub.

I use all the 20 channels in my setup
I am waiting for ASPEQT .
Monitor Audio Silver 300 ( wides-surrounds-rears) pairs well with the
MC8207.

auxinput, I have used the Bryston SP3 as a stereo preamp and it is very good, but I prefer the sound with the Ayre KX-5 Twenty.  That preference is compounded with the KX-5 being used with a DX-5 DSD disc player and QX-5 Twenty Roon endpoint as sources and a VX-5 Twenty amp, all balanced of course in the Ayre fashion.

db 
I just had the McIntosh MC257 delivered today and the MX123 is on order. At the moment I run B&W 702 S2 with matching center and  B&W DB4S subwoofer using a older MC7270 thru a Marantz A/V receiver and it sounds really nice. The new set up should be 100% improvement.
But getting to the point. I have researched A/V preamps going on 2 years and decided on the MX123 because of sound, build quality almost future proof and its a Mac. Lets face it, nothing is future proof but this will be my last system excluding speakers.
I’ve heard this system and I think I made a good choice.
Bottomline, let your ears do the spending and not someone else’s.
@millercarbon

  My experience after trying a whole slew of these things is there is no way to add a processor without your stereo taking a hit.

Actually, I found a great way.

My power amp has both SE and Balanced inputs that are active at the same time.  I run the front channel pre out from my AVR to the RCA jacks on the power amp, and I run balanced from my stereo preamp to the amp.  When the stereo is active, the HT system is off, which results in no adverse affects to the 2 channel system.  When the HT system is active, the 2 channel preamp is off.

Great stereo, surprisingly good 5.1.2  HT (this is not the main HT system).  This works great without sacrificing any sound quality on the 2 channel system.
I run the front channel pre out from my AVR to the RCA jacks on the power amp, and I run balanced from my stereo preamp to the amp. When the stereo is active, the HT system is off, which results in no adverse affects to the 2 channel system. When the HT system is active, the 2 channel preamp is off.
I would be extremely careful if you do this.  If the amp has switch that allow you to select between RCA and XLR inputs, then great!

If the amp does not have a switch, it is likely that the RCA input is wired directly to the XLR "positive polarity" pin.  You could potentially cause damage on the unused preamp because the voltage is feeding back into the analog output stage of the preamp/processor that is turned off.
Thanks for that.  It's easy enough to test.