Why do some audiophiles beat up McIntosh?

I've been around audio my entire life. I'm 45 and I bought a decent Technics system when I was 12 with my paper route money. Genesis speakers built in New England which were actually pretty darned good. I would spin vinyl every single day to the point it drive my parents crazy. My buddies father had a McIntosh system that I was in love with and he was allowed to play it. It was haunting for me to hear his fathers system.

Fast forward 28 years later and I'm perplexed at the hatred I see posted online about McIntosh. Is it really that bad or is everyone upset that McIntosh is so successful? It doesn't make sense to me that the resale value is the best in the business yet audiophiles bash them. I personally have always loved their gear and sound. I don't own any, and probably never will. Still, I just don't get it. I've always admired McIntosh. Looks aside, I always enjoyed the music. Can someone tell me that they're junk or do you just not like the presentation?
Donjr - I also like McIntosh gear. Though the years of being on the merry-go-round of equipment by various manufacturers, I regret the Mc gear I sold. In my experience it is well-made, robust both mechanically and electrically, nice to look at, sounds good, and maintains it's value. Let the people who beat it up say what they want, but it always has a following of people who like it (me included).
Why do people trash Harley-Davidson, or Cadillac, or Coka-Cola (well, that one just isn't the same since they took out the cocaine, but two out of three)?

When you're big, and flashy, you're a target.

If you like the stuff, why not buy it and enjoy it? Nice used examples of the older solid state stuff are not too pricey. And the build quality is rarely criticized, most of the chipping centers on value for money and sound quality.
People mostly trash Harleys because they are (way) over-priced, under-performing driveway candy. Nowadays, Cadillacs are very nicely built and perform quite well. And McIntosh has always been very well-built gear that holds its value.

And it's not "Coka-Cola", it's "Coca-Cola", because of the "cocaine" connection...

IMHO - McIntosh is merely a highly recognized brand due to branding & not sound - Same as Rolex is in watches.
People recognize a Rolex - but certainly not in the top ten of watchmaking.
I have been into audio for more than 50 years & have never had a single piece of Mac equipment in any of my systems.
As a watch dealer - I do on occasion deal with Rolex as you have to give the people what they want.
I honestly believe that both McIntosh & Rolex are overpriced for what you are getting, but they both hold their value on the pre-owned market.
Cadillacs and pain in behind are synonyms.
Coca Cola is good to get rid of corrosion, but not digestion.
Most Harleys are way overpriced and poor performers indeed.

These items as well as Mcintosh are more of a culture thing than quality.

Mcintosh still have a great quality components that are somewhat overpriced.
As a multiple Harley owner, I'll join in on the bashing ...obscenely overpriced and they take a lot of work and $ to maintain, but in all fairness, the quality has improved with each generation introduced.

"When you're big, and flashy, you're a target."
I think Viridian is dead on. I don't own Mcintosh gear, but I like that they have stayed committed to their original design principles. (And I do like the sound of a Mcintosh system).
It really makes me laugh when people say that McIntosh is overpriced. Overpriced in comparison to what? Other competing brands can be outlandishly expensive, and although I'm not saying that Mac is on top of the heap sonically, it's best offerings are very good, and far less expensive than the very top players.
As far as them being "junk" sonically or otherwise, I think that professional and consumer response has finally clarified that issue. As usual, they are one of the available flavors. Some will love them, some will not.
One thing that is getting really tiresome though is the comparison to Harley Davidson. They aren't noisy or unreliable.
Oh, McIntosh this, McIntosh that,...meh. Now Harleys, that's a different question.

BTW, they are not underperformers. They do exactly what they're supposed to do.
Nothing against McIntosh here. Had a MD7007 CD player that sounded pretty darn good, and I have an MR 78 tuner that sounds exceptional.

Harley's underperform? I think not. What are you comparing them to, crotch rockets? I don't think Harley owners give a hoot about going any faster. Had a '92 Low Rider, more fun going 40 mph on that bike then any of my crotch rockets I had at 80 mph
Because they can!
"I have been into audio for more than 50 years & have never had a single piece of Mac equipment in any of my systems."

Since you admit that you have never owned a piece, how would you be qualified to make a blanket judgement on their equipment?
I sell Rolex every day, as well as Audemars Piguet and Breguet. As far as exclusivity and design value is concerned, the latter two beat Rolex hands down, but in the end, they all tell time, and as we also know, a Seiko quartz is more accurate than any of them.
1. I have owned 4 different pieces of Mcintosh equipment (MR67, MR80, C28,7083). The problem with Mcintosh is their inconsistant sonic performance from unit to unit.
Mcintosh makes some electronics that sound superb (MC275/MA275/MC2301) and some pieces that sound like sonic turds (Mcintosh 1700/1900/4280 receivers, MCD7000 CD player, MC2KW Amplifier. The company needs to listen and benchmark its equipment before releasing it to the public. If the product isn't the best that can be made at a specific price point then Mcintosh should not put their name on the product.

2. By the way, Mcintosh equipment is not overpriced (in today's marketplace) and in some cases their products are underpriced. You just have to listen closely before you buy a piece of Mcintosh gear.
To expound on the matter, I was once told by a jeweler that there are only two manufacturers of digital quartz movements. You can pay 800.00 if you choose, or you can pay 2.00. Either way you get the same movement. SOTA tech is just that, no less.

However, Rolex has it's place and it is in fact on top with the best. Just take a look at any movement. You don't have to be an expert to tell. They're beautiful.

I've owned an MX113 tuner/pre in good shape and was not impressed though.
Was in the biz back in the day, sold SME, Ariston, Dynavector, Accustat, H-K, Hafler, Crown, Rogers & more. Had a ton of it all in my home, and auditioned Threshold, Krell, Levinson, Logan, Snell, Magnepan, Grace, AKG, Empire, Conrad Johnson, Koetsu, Revox, B&O... List is endless. Boils down to perceived value and what your ears like.

Today, almost all my stuff is McIntosh with a few leftovers that can't readily be replaced for less than what I consider to be stupid money. From my perspective, you can spend a lot more money, but you can't get significantly better than Mc. It does what it does, well and without hassle. Are compromises made? Sure, but then everything in life is a compromise and the ones McIntosh makes work for me.
Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow both died around 1990 and '91
and were partner's since their first amp they designed together in 1949, the 50W-1. Since their death the company has been bought and sold several time's. Their peak glory day's were during the 1950's and 60's. One example why their quality is not up to the very best is their standard copper glass circuit board's in all their component's. You won't find exotic, very expensive, fluorocarbon resin or teflon or polysulfon circuit board's which have much greater and lower noise level's, as well as the very best caps, transistor's, and resistor's on the market typically found in products such as FM Acoustics, Accuphase, Luxman,
and the absolutely spectacular components from Tidal Audio and what is critically considered the world's finest solid state preamp from Robert Koda, the K-10. A masterpiece. McIntosh make's a good product but it is not the ultimate high end since they have alway's provided a product that appeal's to upper middle class income's.
Because most MAC is sold to rich docs and dentists who use it to play Frank Sinatra which makes us poorer audiopiles both jealous and disgusted. A perfect storm of righteous indignation.
Schubert, your statement was hilarious....
I had never own MC, I don't think I will ever will, I don't like show off gear, I rather like companies that spend their money into parts not on statement look, ironically most of non audiophiles I know when someone refer you as an audio guy everyone said oh you must have Mcintosh oh you have to go to their factory with all the bikers on summer tour.
Not for me, I will pass on that one.....but I will respect MC owners is all subjective I guess.
Schubert, your answer is priceless and I'd imagine quite accurate. I never questioned why my local Mac dealer is a half mike from the hospital.
I've done (insert various high-end watches and motorcycles here). Currently have a good watch for a beach environment, after others leaked or took 12+ months for regular service. A Harley (second one) again mostly due to lousy service on BMW, Aprilia, Ducati, Triumph and others. (Don't flame me just yet, I'll give you more reasons)

Don't see any manufacturer as being "everybody's everything". I've had 3 pieces in 40 years come into my system only to be pulled within days: A Mac AV processor, an Onyx 300b and a Supratek Cabernet. The Onyx sounded like it had a sock stuffed in it. Mick never could get QC together and I've heard good Supratek: I got a lousy one. The Mac was one of the grainiest pre-amps I've heard.

On the other hand, I heard their KT-88 integrated and thought it sounded fantastic on K horns...not my cup of tea, but fun. I hear the MAC stuff almost every week-end at local dealer and most of it sounds really good. My system is low powered, SE-OTL and philosophically different from Mac's concepts, though.

My opinion: (you know what they say about that...) most companies make good or better components. Get rid of the ones that sound bad or you otherwise don't want. I even got rid of a couple because I no longer wanted a piece in my system from a company or person I had an issue with (I know, resentment sometimes makes me do less than rational things).

On the other hand "Are are motorcycles, watches over $10 or high end audio rational?" is another question...one my wife often asks...

You want to spend a ton of hard-earned-bucks on gear only to be dissed by the folks who took your money, try Levinson or EAR: I've never had manufacturers of ANY product cop an attitude like Levinson (black hole service dept from hell) or EAR's Paravincini (who personally emailed and berated me) when I was trying to get a broken proprietary piece replaced at my expense on one of his power amps. When these items were finally fixed, I sold them (never to return) and purchased other gear from manufacturers who I felt deserved my money/loyalty.

MAC is stand-up, classic, non-fussy gear with good service and flashes of (high-priced) brilliance that chooses to market to the carriage trade, not the state of the art or the bleeding edge of unreliability.

Jeez, with prices like they are in the high-end, MAC looks pretty reasonable in comparison, esp (1) if you want it and (2) it sounds good to you. You know it may not be the latest and greatest, but it'll last and have back-up long after a lot of the other guys are gone or in the shop (again). I guess that's my point. Others may have other priorities.

Now there, aren't you glad you waited? Flame away...
MAC's lower priced intergrateds 6300/6600 are poor sounding when considering cost. My Valve Audio Predator destroys both models. I bet a properly working NAD S300(<$1K used) would crush these as well! Reliabilty of their cd players/transports has also been an issue. Another factor is the smug brainwashed loyalty of many owners.
Sadly the Macs have sunk to new lows--the Vintage ones 60s/70/s were deservedly Classics-the latest offerings are

bloated muddy and bland.

Great pity for one of the truly great names of Audio.

I'd but elsewhere.

They are owned by some Italian hedge fund outfit together with ARC and Sonus

faber--the latter has models made in China

How the mighty have fallen

For once, I almost agree with you. Yes, they don't use boutique parts and the priciest casework, but then they are only a fraction of the price of the brands that you mention. I recently updated my old Mac 2105 amp with new speaker terminals, input jacks and IEC input. The old stuff was dated and pathetic by today's standards. That said, even in it's older condition, it sounded far more like real music than the Pass Labs X250.5 that I thought I had to have. I couldn't get rid of it fast enough. So in the end, talk is talk, and as it is with most controversial topics, there will always be someone like Paladin giving an opinion that is based on an opinion.
To each his own, and let's remember that it's about music, not brand names.
I can't speak for McIntosh as I've only heard a couple of their amps and it wasn't under the best of conditions.

Rolex needs to take a chance and try some innovation and daring in their designs. How many times can you do the same take on a watch?

As for Harleys, anything good enough for Fred Flintstone should be in a museum, but I guess people like the look and the cachet. :-)

All the best,
It's about vibe and feel...some Harleys are retro-beautiful but I don't like the riding style (tailbone sitting) personally, but so what? I'm sure people think my Bonneville is lame...but I love it. McIntosh has had GREAT reviews of some tube amps recently and although I prefer my Jolida (only because I own it, it sounds good, and the vibe...the vibe...) I think their designs look great, although I bet they don't care what I think. I have over 60 watches of many types and they're all fun...Rolex is an amazing brand in spite of my not having one (an old "red letter" Submariner in on my "want list") and mechanical watches are just a cool vibe if, like me, you give a damn about 'em. Somebody could argue that a Valjoux 7750 watch movement exploded and removed all their wrist hair and I'd still enjoy mine...although most people really don't care about my little hobbies...*sigh*...
Donjr, as always, there is seldom if ever a consensus on McIntosh or any other audiophile discussion. My feeling is that if McIntosh changed their business model, the perception of audiophiles would change. However, it would no longer be McIntosh. But that is what it would take to garner more respect in the audiophile community (ie. an upgrade to higher end parts quality and a change in some of their design approach) This would also mean price increases. I have owned one McIntosh piece.
because they have tone controls
I have owned MA7000, MC452, MC601's, C50, C2300, and C500. Although when I had it, it was a pleasure listening to them and they look good. I recently had a friend loaned me a stereo 300w Bryston 4B SST2 to try out, and to my experience it worked out better than the C500 & MC601's. To me the Bryston has a better control on the bottom vs the Mc, and also I get better bloom on the mid compared to Mc. My final assessment is, Mc sound is little mushy. I was really blowned away that I would preferred the little stereo Bryston 4B SST2 over my Mc601's. My best advice to all is to audition different gear in your home before purchase, and don't let looks clouds your judgement.. Just my 2c

Sorry, English is my 2nd language..
McIntosh is probably the most iconic and sought after brand in high end audio.

Success breeds contempt.
Yep..about as iconic as Bose. Back in 1970 those Doctor's and Dentist's loved putting together their MAC gear with Blose speaker's. Yuk! Put my finger down my throat!
Love the way so many harsh McIntosh critics don't list their own systems for discussion.
...many of the responses here seem to come from audio snobs that are still concerned that their audio peers will question their "audio stature" if they dare buy such "pedestrian" gear...insecure and sad.

Touché Goheelz.
Don't get me wrong..I wash trashing Bose, not McIntosh. The first time I heard McIntosh was in 1970. Went to a Christmas dinner on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The host had a MAC tube receiver in his living room hooked up to a pair of floor speaker's. Sound was excellent. The one company that gave MAC a run for their money was Fisher. Their tube receiver's from the 60's were outstanding. I trash Bose and will always remember when Amar Bose sued High Fidelity Magazine in Superior Court in New York in 1968 for a very negative review of his 901 speakers that just came out. He lost.
Part of the reason McIntosh resale is above average and people are still talking about them (good or bad) is that they are still in business, ownership regardless. In the last 5 decades of their existence much of high end audio has come and gone with the wind, and I dare say that will eventually include some of today's most buzz worthy companies. McIntosh may not be the last word in sonics, and they have have diluted their brand with too many products, but they have a strong and steady heartbeat. Same could be said of ARC and Magnepan.
typo..I "was" not "I wash"...jeez!
Well there's certainly a lot of people who have never owned Mac gear that hold a rather strong opinion of them. There's also effischer who's been a dealer for some of the most sought after gear in the industry back in the day and he's running all McIntosh gear. Are we so sure (those who claim McIntosh parts quality is poor) that McIntosh is still using poor quality parts?
I recently watched an interview on one of the morning shows with the CEO who claimed every bit of a McIntosh is made in the U.S. and that will never change under his watch. I mean honestly, these engineers weren't slackers and all they cared about was the music. I've never read a single word about an engineer who didn't love working for McIntosh. They dragged engineers in from all over the world. They were single handedly responsible for taking the Beatles from a PA system to serious hifi. Their history is by far more storied than any other hifi manufacturer on the planet.

McIntosh is a serious competitor to Luxman and Accuphase. Most of the McIntosh gear is exported to Japan. I'd dare say Japan might be a larger market for any hifi company than the U.S. I haven't heard a good argument against McIntosh thus far. No more so than any other manufacturer. Is a Pass Labs Int 150 any better than a MA6600? I've read plenty of bad reviews of the Pass. Of course the answer will always be whatever you like. The deal is that if you like the Pass Labs you're okay but if you like the McIntosh MA6600 you wasted your money on a pretty glass faceplate you lousy stinkin' lawyer or doctor. Meanwhile there's a lot more people unhappy with the Pass.
I'd like to also mention that yes, although the sound/synergy and function is most important I can't get over the fact that for me looks do play a role. The same goes for homes and cars. It's natural that you would spend your money on something you enjoy the looks of. I could give you a good comparison of looks over function but I'd be kicked off the forum.
The blue VU meters...what about that? Nobody does meters like those guys.

Who are these people that are unhappy with Pass? I've never seen a negative comment about Pass.
Here is why many don't like MAC. Newer Audiophile's during the past twenty year's have no interest in the "Classic" sound character of how electronic's sounded back in the 60's and 70's. Back then amps sounded more relaxed, warm,
recessed, very smooth, and a slightly colored midrange bloom. MAC has kept in place that "Classic" sound quality that still sounds like their gear from forty year's ago. With today's
Audiophile's its all about neutrality, extreme detail, and transparency, with a very wide and deep soundstage. Completely the opposite of the classic analog sound from year's ago. You have to rembember that people back in the
60's lived in smaller home's and smaller apartment's. Back
then most Audiophiles were using KLH bookshelf speaker's with small MAC amps or receiver's, or gear from Dynaco or Fisher and their Garrard turntable's. The rise of the digital age changed all that and the sonic character that's preferred nowaday's is a more forward open neutral quality without grain or harshness. The generation your from determine's if you like the more classic style or the type of sound born from the digital age.
What other people think.....why does that make any difference to you? Read long enough and you will find "haters" of any product.

I'd be more interested in what causes someone to be a hater to begin with. Seems like a crappy way to go thru life but it's their life and they can spend it any way they like and they WILL let me spend mine the way I like.

As to, "Meanwhile there's a lot more people unhappy with the Pass." More? Not what I have read but if that's what you found "in the places you looked", fine. I've owned Mac for 30 years and loved it. I now own Pass and love it. Whether someone else hates it or loves it doesn't make any difference to my enjoyment.
Mcintosh brand is a national treasure IMHO. Stop beating it up, even if its not your cup of tea! SAme true of OHM Acoustics. :^)

I think you nailed it!
Taters asked:

Who are these people that are unhappy with Pass? I've never seen a negative comment about Pass.

I am one. In my system, using 4 different speakers, the X250.5 sounded thin and electronic. I bought it because I never read a negative comment either. Sent it to Pass for a check up, and it was all good. Ironically, I bought it used here on Audiogon, and the guy who sold it to me told me (after the sale) that he had replaced it with Mac 501 monos and liked them much better.
Donjr, you may be my brother from another monther, I too bought my first system at 12 yrs old with paper route money! Sadly, nowdays, it's adults delivering the paper
Don Jr.

I have been in the pro music space for 30 years. I work with the best of best in terms of bands. These people have discerning ears. I frequently see McIntosh equipment at their homes.

My father was a noted music cat and he owned both a McIntosh 275 and a JBL Paragon. Both provided him four decades of pleasure.

Most audiophile gear maintains less than 50% of its purchase price. Few are classics. I can tell you that there is a cadre of fans who look for classic pieces, such as the 1950/60s Thorens, 1970s Marantz receivers, JBL and Yamaha pro gear, mostly in Europe and Japan, where these products did not have distribution. The only label that actually sells near retail is McIntosh. Not Conrad-J, not Pass, not AR.

I listen to professional grade rigs all the time. I find it funny that many consumer grade products exclaim that they are "reference."

I hope that you someday can afford McIntosh. Musical to degree that few consumer brands are. Nice selection of entry points. Well thought out electronics that will power most speakers.
I went into a local dealer and he had the McIntosh turntable. It was sitting in what looked like the frame of an amp, with two big blue dials on the front for turntable speed (!). Utterly ridiculous.Anything to put those blue dials on the product, but the TT looked absurd. Maybe that mentality is why McIntosh gets bashed.
"I have been in the pro music space for 30 years."

Nice to hear from that side of the aisle. I worked in the studios (NYC) and often wondered if the band was playing or if it was tape playback when I entered a control room. (the analogue days).

And appreciate some real-world comments, Bongofury.
Taters, I've read hear on Agon about some people that were unhappy with the Pass Int-150. I've never heard it but I am a integrated guy and would like to.

Bongofury, I've noticed exactly what you said. Musicians tend to gravitate towards the Mac gear. This has been happening for a very long time.
I agree with Audiozen in that Macs have that "classic" sound quality that is often scoffed at due to its coloration of sound. Personally, I like the "colored" sound of my Sunfire Sigs more than any Krell I've heard. And I like the sound of all of the Macs that I heard at my local shop, which sells their amps exclusively. However, I also agree that they may be a tad overpriced; a B&K with that similar "classic" quality can be had for half the price, for example.

I would like to offer one other possibility as to all of the Mac hating: a loss of exclusivity. McIntosh over time became a sort of symbol of the Audiophile, while brands such as Pass and Bryston will elicit a "who?" from the common folk. I have been a Martin Logan fan for my entire life. One day I walked into a Best Buy and almost shit a gold brick when I saw a pair of Logans there (along with some B&Ws and Marantz pres). I was a bit perturbed for a while that my beloved electrostatics would not be an alien concept to people anymore due to their availability at a commoner store, but in the end, they still sound like Logans (minus the Motion series).