And maybe some of us don’t listen for that soundstage thing. I don’t hear it in the concert hall, so I certainly don’t want it in my listening room. That’s my bias.
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Maybe they are just not very good. Or maybe the industrial design just looks dated. Or maybe folks want to talk about the flavor of the month.
And maybe some of us don’t listen for that soundstage thing. I don’t hear it in the concert hall, so I certainly don’t want it in my listening room. That’s my bias.
McIntosh still makes fine audio products, but the landscape for its competition has changed dramatically. There are now a buzzillion new brand options every bit the formidable contenders (and no pretenders) that can equal or better the audio performance of McIntosh depending on the bespoke audio system and system synergy therein,
As with everything else in this hobby, they have their bespoke sonic signature that may or may not stir the senses of the listener.
Best amp they made in 1961 the MC275, then they lost the plot and started putting transformers on the output of solid state amps amps.
And then there’s the speaker they tried on the hi-end that got panned
Just totally https://youtu.be/YTY26k0CA0I?t=5
If reliability and security are most important then Mac is an easy recommendation. Sonically it’s not bad stuff it is just not the absolute sound. It gets dissed a lot by people who can’t afford it. It is true that their speakers are generally a nightmare. Great Tuners, a very nice universal disc player. Ok tube stuff, not ARC.
I have a McIntosh C2500 tube preamp and MC452 solid state power amp, driving a pair of Focal Sopra No2's. In my search for a new pair of speakers, I found the MC452 was the best match for the Sopra's, brought out the best soundstage, smooth but defined high end, and really well defined midrange. All the more "modern" amps I've heard driving the Sopra's made them sound "thin" and "lifeless".
My system has all "digital" sources. I've found that, of all things which are improving the most lately, it's the DAC technology, so I don't use the DAC built into my preamp. Instead I have a PS Audio DirectStream DAC and transport and their P15 Power Plant, to deliver clean AC power to all my components.
I have a number of audio buddies who poo-poo McIntosh. Hey, if you like something else, go for it!
When I attended an information session at the Capital Audiofest, one of the presenters said he thought that most of the audio brands of today would go out of business 10 years later. I suspect that McIntosh will not be in that group.
Fwiw - I bought a pair of MC601 monos and directly compared to my Krell 350MCX mono's to decide which ones I would keep. after A/B testing at length i heard a very very slightly sweeter sound from the Mac otw sonically no difference. I sold the Krells. I needed big power for the Maggie 20.7 which both have.
The stereophile review of the MC501 was very good especially the measurements.
With that said....and the 20.7 have been replaced with Gryphon Trident II. (which are still in crates awaiting a dedicated room build). I will then be auditioning other amps such as Gryphon, Dag, and CH. They will be compared directly to the Macs. I am skeptical that I will hear much difference much like the Krell test, but we will see.
MC2600 owner here. Their tube gear is excellent. Not the last word in resolution but if you are seeking some tube warmth while preserving bass slam then a McIntosh tube preamp is hard to beat sonically. Goldilocks coloration when rolled with the right tubes of your taste.
Are they expensive for what what they do? Yes!
Do guests think you have a great stereo when they see ARC - no ( unless they are audiophiles themselves).
Do guests drool over a McIntosh meters and blue & green lights? Yes!
Mcintosh are kind of the Harley Davidson or Rolex of Audio. Not technically superior machines to everything else but highly desirable - well made with great looks and great McIntosh vintage sound! Folks will crowd round and look at McIntosh gear just as they do a nice Harley.
Eye Candy? Overpriced? Absolutely. Good quality machines? Yes, they are!
Macs enjoyed a much better level of ranking in how good they are in the old days. I had Citation equipment then..went to a roving Mac Lab testing facility. They were there to test everyone's equipment and show their numbers to the Mac. My HK Citation stuff tested way better than the Mac - even then.
McIntosh has an unbeatable distribution and dealership network. Service long after the sale is wonderful, maybe even unmatched. Parts access and resale benefit as a result.
It must be comforting that when someone's McIntosh ceases sounding merely okay, that the factory can solve virtually any issue and return it to its factory specifications, allowing your McGear to resume reproducing music that sounds...merely ok! Especially if its one of their digital products, especially if it has a usb input...unless they've stopped servicing those.
Mcintosh are kind of the Harley Davidson of Audio
A very good analogy especially the last three, Harley’s don’t handle, don’t stop, and don’t go, are technically inferior", they’re just for posing, and are relatively bullet proof.(because of the autoformer)"
They are out performed in every area by any decent road bike.
you can get better sounding gear for less, however, they have unmatchable aesthetics and resale value and i regard ’em as a good investmentHuh!! are you listening to music or buying property?
McIntosh is similar to scotch as it is an acquired taste. I have 3.6 Maggie’s driven by MC501 mono blocks. I bought my amps 9 years ago and if I chose to sell them, I would get ALL my money back.
How many pieces of gear can you say that about. I ran through a bunch of amps before getting my 501s and it set me free. I quit chasing amps and sound as I was so happy.
I also use a C220 tube pre amp that is a terrific pairing with my speakers and amp. When I listen to Brubeck’s Take Five, it is like they are in the room.
Others may denigrate the brand, but everyone who visits and listens is enthralled with the sound.
I know it is not for everyone, but don’t call me misinformed, rich and stupid as I am none of those.
Accept that each Mfg has fans for a reason, BTW, McIntosh has been in business since the late 40s, thY must know something about audio.
I went from the very well-regarded Conrad-Johnson PV-11 to the McIntosh C220 preamp. My reason was mostly for functionality. I wanted a remote, tone controls, and a balance control with more range. I do not feel that this was a step down in terms of sonic quality at all. On the contrary, the C220 sounds wonderful. Smooth, but detailed, with a very large sound stage, and excellent timbre. I know it is not a full tube preamp like the C-J, but I am extremely happy with it. There are other forums with bigger McIntosh threads from fanboys. Yes, some of that might be due to the very macho, somewhat retro appearance, but consider that McIntosh products do sound pretty good. Of course, no one line of gear is for everyone.
I went from the very well-regarded Conrad-Johnson PV-11 to the McIntosh C220 preamp. My reason was mostly for functionality. I wanted a remote, tone controls, and a balance control with more range. I do not feel that this was a step down in terms of sonic quality at all. On the contrary, the C220 sounds wonderful. Smooth, but detailed, with a very large sound stage, and excellent timbre. I know it is not a full tube preamp like the C-J, but I am extremely happy with it.It’s not their preamps that are being scrutinized here, they are the norm.
It’s more their solid state amps with transformer coupled output stages, that are very questionable to many.
I'm partial to the older Mac tube gear. A properly serviced C22 preamp is one of the best preamps money can buy. They also hold their value and even appreciate in value over time.
A buddy of mine used to be the Mac repair tech at San Francisco's House of Music. The stories he told about the current line of Mac gear suggest that their reputation for build quality and reliability are based upon the older classic gear, like the C22, and not the current line.
The 275 tube power amp is also a classic, and like the C22, holds its value and appreciates over time.
There are other tube products, such as those from tubes4hifi.com, which are MUCH less costly and every bit as good, but they don't have the cache that the classic Mac gear does. But they are highly affordable.
Firstly McIntosh is no longer owned by D & M there was a McIntosh management buyout a few years back and ownership is now McIntosh Group. They have subsequently purchased Audio Research, Wadia & Sonus Faber so now own quite a few top end brands.
I own a Mac MA8000 integrated amp (300w) and absolutely love it. I wanted to down size from my mono blocks, a separate pre amp and headphone amp. I now have everything in one box which better fits my smallish room. Also have a Mac MCD1100 CD player which has a great 8 channel DAC.
I love the sound, it’s very rich yet detailed and transparent. I adore looking the large blue VU meters dancing away and the green lettering especially at night.......with a large scotch ...ha ha. It’s beautiful eye candy.
Partners well with my Monitor Audio PL200 Mk11 speakers. (Interconnect and speaker cables are Atlas Asimi and mains conditioning is Audioquest Niagara 1000 with Audioquest NRG-10 power cables on amp and all sources).
The Mac gear suits me as I’m not into constantly trying out new stuff and constantly comparing this with that. Nothing wrong with that of course, just not me.
I did hear some amazing ARC amps a few years back but for me I’m not into all the sourcing/matching of “valves” (sorry I’m English ....ha ha ha) high maintenance and running costs.
So for me I just like to switch my gear on knowing it’s very reliable and sit back and listen to the lovely Mac sound.
(And the built in headphone amp is very good indeed not just an after thought).
The MC501 (Stereophile review), MC452 (Enjoy the Music), MC462 (Stereophile) were all highly praised and highly recommended by seasoned audio critics.
(I own a MC452, driven by a ARC Reference 3 linestage powering some Yamaha NS-1000Ms') And the Yamaha's big beryllium midrange is unstoppable. Jazz, rock or classical; they do it all well. I bought the NS-1000's new in about 1985. The only speaker I thought that came close to their sound in it's ability to satisfy was the B&W 802 and 803 diamond series. .....Yet I digress.....
The McIntosh sound is exceptional. I don't need the cosmetics or big blue meters, or the shiny handles; I'm not impressed by its' 105 pound weight or that Mac's hold their resale value fairly well; I bought and loved the MC452 for it's glorious mid-range, it's sonic detail and it's ability to reproduce every type of music with speed, delicacy and slam when needed. ...And McIntosh equipment is very well-built. Look inside them: they're very well thought-out.
Output transformers: I listened to many combinations, whether they had output transformers or not. I can't detect any sonic signature with output transformers. Some readers may think I just don't know what I'm hearing. I have been critical listening since I was teenager, and I'm 59 now. Of course it's true all our thoughts and musical emotions are filtered through our own personal psyche and subject to opinion. Many things can't really be proven or disproven (i.e, is this mains cable improving or detracting from its' musicality...?)
I've heard some audiophiles even question Ohm's Law. By the way: you can't.....
I find the ARC Ref 3/ McIntosh 452/ Yamaha NS-1000M combination so satisfying that for the last few years I've had no desire to "upgrade." Everytime I listen, I just feel, "I can't believe this sounds so good"
@stringreen has it right. Mc is BEAUTIFUL and pretty much always has been (very old Mc stuff is ugly, but so was everything back then--Marantz, etc.)
BUT, as I have posted before, it simply did not SOUND very good on revealing speakers like Maggies. I LOVE their Sequerra-like display on the thing they made that showed performance--forgot its name as that was 45 years ago--and clearly they are built like battleships. So was/is(?) Mark Levinson.
Both these companies products did not hold up when SOUND was compared. Well built, yes. Broke like other brands, yes. Good service, yes. Expensive/showy, yes.
Now, today, they have different products, so you have to judge for yourself if their new stuff is better SOUNDING than their old stuff.
You become a McFan along the way. Looking around the room I love the mix of McIntosh products. I appreciate both tube and tradtional units. Sitting side by side, a Mc 2102 and a CJ Premier 140. Both fresh factory complete upgrades. Each amp presents a uniqueness...probally why I switch between...
I am a McFan and enjoy my McIntosh products.
This sure is a love hate topic.
I’ve heard several high end amps and feel at a certain price point no one amp sounds
bad. The differences are so subtle that aesthetics and flexibility and trade in value
play a huge roll for me and I’m sure many.
Five years ago I picked up a 30 year old
Mcintosh MA6200 for a $1000. My buddy
who has had nothing but high end Bryston
Amps could not believe how this old Mcintosh smoked his $5k amp in every way. ‘ We both run Harbeth 30.1 so it’s not the speakers ‘
I recently upgraded to the Mcintosh MA 6600 and sold the 6200 for $1,400, $400
more than I paid. I bought the 6600 used
and couldn’t be happier, this is certainly the last amp I’ll ever own. 😎
I don't understand the McIntosh bashing on this post. McIntosh is of the highest quality and has the highest resale by far of any high end equipment bar none. That is why they have been in business since 1948 and will continue in spite of the changing and often fickle taste of the high end consumer. Many subscribe to the flavor of the month club after reading some review of how great this or that amp or pre sounds but most often go back to Mac. The build quality is second to none, the parts are of the highest quality (epoxy circuit boards, Mot or OnSemi transistors, computer grade caps/resistors and iron core transformers) and they are so well over engineered that most are still working today. They could withstand an atomic blast. They use eight output transistors per channel where others only use four. I have been repairing hi fi equipment for many years and rarely had to repair Mac equipment. They greatly out perform their specifications. The factory is most accommodating in answering questions and with parts unlike most other manufacturers. Recently I was able to purchase an NOS in the box 45 year old "tuning meter" for the repair of a 1700 receiver. This would never happen with Krell, Conrad Johnson, Mark Levinson or others. Sound wise I think they sound very neutral and correct over the audio spectrum and are the audio standard that others should follow. If you don't like the sound then get an equalizer. No, I do not work for McIntosh but wish I did.
If you attended the McIntosh 70th Anniversary celebration at Overture A/V in Wilmington Delaware at the beginning of June, you would now understand that while they have their naysayers and detractors, McIntosh is a company that quietly keeps producing very high quality and durable audio products. Now that Sonus Faber is involved in building Mac speakers, there is a world of difference. They demo'd a pair of XR 100's with an MA8900 integrated and their MEN220 Room correction system and I was blown away with what I heard. The Mac rep was using a Bryston digital player connected to the DAC in the MA8900. I was not expecting anything close to what was coming from those speakers.
In another room they showed off the 70th anniversary combo 150 watt tube amp and pre-amp driving a pair of Sonus Faber Il Cremonse speakers. Source was a Mac turntable playing some Reference Recording classical pressings. Again, talk about "being there".
In wine, everyone tastes something different from the same bottle. Audio is, IMHO, a very personal thing and everyone will hear slightly different sound coming from the same system. If it sounds good to you, then it sounds good.
I recently upgraded to an MA8900, B&W 804D3, VPI Prime Scout with Soundsmith Carmen II, Aurender N100C and I am very pleased with the results.
Most of those who criticize this fabled, storied, and respected brand lack first hand experience with these products there is no question that McIntosh produces some of the finest Music Reproduction System components and many of those who don't think so can not afford the product so they insult it as a way to feel superior about themselves this is so obvious!
No one is saying McIntosh is bad. Each time I have owned a Mac, it has been a reasonably pleasant experience (except for their digital gear or with the materially underperforming USB implementations they keep repeating). The 2275 tube integrated was an underperformer, the 6900 was as well. The preamplifiers and amplifiers, for the money, when compared retail against retail aren't bad. The 275 is eye candy and when compared with other tube amps of similar price isn't a terrible value, especially when you consider resale.
HOWEVER, set down $20k of Mac gear next to $20k of Dartzeel or Nagra or Pass Labs on the solid state side of things or next to Audio Research or Shindo or Leben tube gear (pick your flavor) and you may have a different opinion...or not. That's what's cool about this hobby, we each get to pick.
Lots of happy B&W and Wilson and Maggie owners with Mac gear. Congrats. Much like classic cars, classic Mac was amazing when compared to many other offerings back in the day when they were developing their brand. There is so much great equipment being made today and contrary to the obits, high performance audio is doing pretty well. There is enough room for all manufacturers and consumers to find happiness.
Thank you for your wise and even-handed comments. When the lights are out, and the music is playing, each amp will have its own sound, and given modern distortion figures are reasonable, they will all be acceptable although different, just like flavors of ice cream. However, over the years, a lot of nose-in-the-air audiophiles and pseudo engineers have enjoyed making McIntosh a target of their derision.
They love to point to the "outdated " autoformers, the supposed pedestrian quality of their internal components etc., and then call them overpriced even though they cost a fraction of what the most elite high end brands cost. Then they try to shame owners by saying that they are only attracted by the blue meters and glitzy looks, which are in fact far less attractive (to me anyway) than many other more and less costly brands. There are certainly reasonable listeners who have given Mac a fair listen and found that their gear is simply not their taste sonically, but there are many others who bash them as a pastime and really aren't familiar with any of their gear.
Comparing them to Harley Davidson motorcycles and saying that they are outdated status symbols for doctors and lawyers are just stale and meaningless labels.
You are apparently an electronics technician who spends your time repairing amplifiers, and you may not be familiar with the boutique snobbery surrounding certain brands of capacitors and resistors. In the audiophile world, if you're not using these parts, you can't be a member of the club. You look at it more rationally, as a tech who knows when something is built to do its job and does that job reliably.
Good for you Steve. You have my respect.
Please don't use the old argument that "it must be financial envy why others don't choose to worship what you worship" line of dialogue. Many on this site can afford whatever they want to afford and they vote with their checkbooks. While I don't presently own any Mac gear, I might again in the future, who knows. I love the look, even though unlike many on Audiogon, my gear is tucked away out of sight so I guess I don't subscribe to building audio shrines. I buy for sound and right now, McIntosh sound doesn't align with my tastes but I'm only one person.
I also don't own any Bryston but its cool that McIntosh/Overture used some of their equipment. And yes, the Sonus Faber and Audio Research influence should really help McIntosh R&D going forward. I have high hopes. Listen, everybody has this beautiful freedom to like what they like and buy what they want to buy.
You see recommendation from users. McIntosh users don't have time to tell people how good the gears they own are. More importantly, McIntosh gears are expensive that keep 99% of people away. I listen Cassette tapes, Cds and other digital sources from Nakamichi Dragon, Oppo UDP205, Mac MX160, Mac MC452 and a pair of Focal Electra 1038 Be. The quality of sound is warm, crystal clear and near flawless. There are better gears on the market, but I don't need them. If you want to know about McInotsh, go to a local dealer and experience it yourself. To know the quality of sound, you need to listen to it.
Jeez, McIntosh is fine equipment. So is Bryston, Simaudio, Pass Labs, T+A, CH Precision, Dartzeel, Nagra, Naim, ASR, Sugden, Luxman, Levinson, Burmester, Chord, etc, etc. on the solid state side of things.
If you love what you have and it happens to be McIntosh, that's cool. Many might argue that McIntosh doesn't even make the best amps within its own corporate family (Audio Research?). It doesn't really matter though does it? If you are happy then that's all that matters. But there seems to be a pervasive trend where when someone else objectively doesn't love what you love then it must be because they: can't hear, can't afford it, have poor taste, etc. That's a little narrow but many own what they own for a variety of reasons.
The dealers do a fine job of representing McIntosh. It sells and it does happen to fill a need of providing alot of decent watts for the money.
I do have one complaint about McIntosh equipment and I hope someone at McIntosh is monitoring this post. Please get rid of the glass front panels and replace with Lexan (plastic). The black plastic laminate in front panels de-laminate over time especially around the head phone jack and near the corners/edges and any repair is impossible and futile without costly replacement of the panel. I know that lexan is a good alternative. I bought a C24 pre with a glass panel that was destroyed in shipping. Since this is one of the few parts from Mac or Audio Classics that is N/A, I took the trouble and found a manufacturer in Hong Kong that made other lexan repro panels for Mac (not a licensee), sent him the broken pieces and they were able to make a perfect reproduction in lexan with all of the correct graphics and colors. It is so perfect it would defy anyone at Mac to tell the difference from their factory panel.
I’ve had numerous Pass Labs, ARC, and many others. Listened to Krell, Levinson, PSA, etc while working for a major dealer in the Midwest for a few years. McIntosh is just as good sound wise as any, it’s just a matter of opinion which you prefer. Reliability wise, it’s been better than most in my opinion.
ARC sounds good, but in my experience it’s exploding crap. Maybe I’ll start an ARC bashing thread