Spectral vs. McIntosh


I was wondering whether there are people who have changed from Spectral to McIntosh preamps/amps, or the other way round, an d how they describe the difference in sound. Thanks.
hassel
What mac are you trying to compare to spectral. And which spectral ?
I am not sure it makes any difference because the two products
are so different. I will say that the spectral owner is not likley to sell and buy mac. Just my opinion.
two of my all time favorite brands...the spectral is more analytical....the mac more warm and tubelike.
I do not try to compare models, but just to get an impression of what the difference in sound is. I myself have a McIntosh C200/MC402 combo, which offers excellent mids, deep, life-like bass (very important to me!), natural highs, but not the last degree in resolution. I just wonder about Spectral, which I have never listened too, but which is supposed to sound excellent as well. I am just out for impressions and descriptions of people who have done so.
This strikes me as a variation on the old "tubes vs solid state" debate. Both brands are fine examples of those, with Spectral being near the top in terms of most ss fans views of various ss gear.
If you tend to prefer most tube gear over most ss, then I'd bet you will prefer your McI. to the Spectral. The Spectral will certainly provide thunderous bass with the right speakers, and tons of detail(some might argue more than in real life). OTOH, as a tube guy, my personal taste is such that for my ears few-to-none of the ss amps I've heard provide natural highs.
You really should try to hear any high $ ss gear before making a jump from tubes that mostly make you happy. The overall change will likely be large, whether to Spectral or most other ss gear. Cheers,
Spencer
Spencer,
the McIntosh-gear I use is all solid state, I was just wondering about hearing from people who have heard, or owned, both McIntosh and Spectral.
VERY different house sounds with quite a bit of differences in how each "camp" views things. A Spectral based system has to be VERY carefully matched whereas the Mac will be more forgiving. Chances are, if you REALLY like one of these brands / house sound's a lot, you probably won't really care for the other.

If you were used to the sound of one of these and then listened to the other, you might really like some aspects of the new one due to changes in presentation. Whether or not you could live with those changes long term is another story.

This is where many people fall prey to hi-fi demo's and salesmen as they get sucked into the initial differences in presentation. That is, the presentations ARE different but not necessarily a step forward from what one already has. Whether or not one would consider any component / brand change to be "better" boils down to personal taste / system synergy and one's hearing acuity. Sean
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PS... Ever listen to someone else's system and a familiar disc and say "wow, i've never heard that before"? Then you go home and listen to your system with the same disc and that same passage is as plain as day? I know i have, so don't be fooled by initial impressions. This is why most stress "long term" listening as the only way to really get to know how something sounds / works in your system. Yes, initial impressions do count, but "different" isn't necessarily "better" and short-term auditions can be misleading. You're right in wanting to know the opinions of those that have used both brands under similar circumstances.
Sean,
You just described my Spectral ownership experience, and that was w/the whole shebang: RadianHCs, DMA180, DMC120II, MIT all-around! Wow in the store, then I sobered up at home. After 30 minutes of music, I was always bored. When I went back to a tube system, I listened for hours at a time w/o fatigue.
Guess that's why they say, "Different strokes...". Cheers,
Spencer
Exactly Sbank! Every time I go into my favorite salon they do the same thing to me. I was there recently and bought an analog front end from them and I thought an entry level sumiko with tube preamp...can't remember the amp with midline audio physics sounded more like real music than the big system you mention in the big room. Sure the Spectral, Avalons, MIT MA's sounded great, imaged like crazy, pinpoint....all the other audiophile traits we dig but ultimately, I get bored. The other system, 10% of the cost, just sounded like the truth....music to my ears.
Sbank and Sean, instead of repeating that Spectral sounds very different, could you please elaborate on HOW it sounds different from Mac?
Taking the original context of this thread into perspective, a Mac user checking out Spectral would probably be initially quite impressed by the attack, detail, imaging, powerful yet tight bottom end, separation of notes, etc... That is, as compared to the "house sound" of the Mac, which is more euphonic.

Spectral is very good at what one might term a "hi-fi" type of presentation i.e. the type of sound that sounds very impressive doing "aural tricks" that impress audiophiles with fancy vocabularies. Having said that, many find Spectral to sound thin and lifeless i.e. "sterile" once the impressiveness of the "aural tricks" wear off. This "camp" feels that recordings that have been "Spectralized" are no longer an entire group presenting cohesive works of emotion and art, but highly processed and mechanized reproduction of individualized notes. That is, the "life" has been sucked out the recording and you are left with some type of facsimile or clone of the original music.

On the other hand, those that are fans of Spectral ( and other similar designs ) tend to think that Mac ( and other similar designs ) are sluggishly inarticulate, bloatedly congested sounding and completely lacking in "transparency". To them, the end result is a highly coloured blur, albeit somewhat pleasant sonically due to being "warm, round & fuzzy" i.e. my comments about being more forgiving.

As such, you can see how / why some people could cling to one type of presentation over the other. That is, you've got the old "audiophile vs music lover" type of situation going on here. Much like the "analogue vs digital" camps, you'll rarely find someone that is equally devoted to both sides of the street and / or willing to admit that both camps have something valuable to offer.

Personally, i think that both sides of the street meet in the middle. A good system should provide great detail and control without sacrificing musicality. I've made mention of this many years ago using the term "accurate musicality". Then again, that's just my opinion and portrayal of how i see / want to hear things. Obviously, others might see / think / hear things differently, hence my recommendation to check things out for yourself and be patient in doing so. Sean
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Thanks, Sean, that was really illuminating
completely afree with Sean on Spectral though i would not stereotype as SS. Its Spectral itself. I audtioned them vw/ Wilson Watt Puppy 7s and Magico Minis and in both cases I came away with impressions of being accurate but dry, a bit thread bare and lacking soul. Also I do not think you have to go to the completely opposite direction towards warmish tubes: there are plenty of alternatives in the middle both SS and tubes.
This is to shawn or those who feel the same as that the best amps are the ones that meet in the middle of the street. Not too sterile but not too musiccal such as the Spectral vs Mac. What do you reccomend that would meet in the middle with balance? Im actually looking for product under 5-6k. And i like levinson gear however i don't want to step that high for it.
Chaz801
After owning or hearing to 2 brands in this concept of musical vs. accurate, I do sway toward mcintosh sound when splitting hairs.. You want what is balanced to both?.. and for cheaper money, with just as high quality sound and build? The closest I can recommend after many years of the mcintosh, Threshold, Coda, Bryston, classe' and Tube amps, is to go look at and possibly audition Odyssey extreme amplification, many many reviews, and about 99% positive ones at that.. and they are around 3000.00 brand new and you will get the above explained:

"Personally, i think that both sides of the street meet in the middle. A good system should provide great detail and control without sacrificing musicality. I've made mention of this many years ago using the term "accurate musicality". Then again, that's just my opinion and portrayal of how i see / want to hear things. Obviously, others might see / think / hear things differently, hence my recommendation to check things out for yourself and be patient in doing so. Sean"