I have a $190,000.00 playback system in my listening room (the gear is not mine, just a loan) and I've been listening a lot these past few days to all types of music. Today, since the kids were home from school and running around downstairs like little wild native Americans (still politically incorrect to say that, I guess), I took my 1966 McIntosh MX-110 Z out of the cabinet in my vintage system downstairs and lugged it upstairs for a little test. Now, the unit is stock, with all the original Mac tubes it came with. The gentleman I bought it from for a grand last year is a fussy old-time audiophile with the good habit of saving all the receipts, tubes, etc. from all of his gear so I know the history of this machine. His Marantz 7C preamp got the big use at his house and his McIntosh MX-110 really didn't get much, hence the original good testing tubes in it. Before he shipped it to me he kindly replaced the bridge rectifier, aligned front end, IF strip and the MPX section and replaced one faulty cap so the thing tests like new. The dude paid for the fix-up himself even though I offered to reimburse him. Nice guy, from the midwest. At any rate, the thing is minty. I hate that word but it's not new because it's 46 years old but it is flawless, both inside and out. You know it's low mileage when the fragile paint is still on all of the tubes even the Telefunkens. At any rate, in my system upstairs I am using the giant Venture Audio Grand Excellence III speakers, the amazing Tenor 350M monoblock OTL amps, the Concert Fidelity CF-080 linestage, the Modwright Sony 9100ES tubed Platinum Signature Truth digital player and the McIntosh MCD500 player, Kubala-Sosna bi-wire and FMS interconnects. Now, I've been playing a few things over and over today, a CD-R of my (I guess unissued) Beach Boys "Brian Wilson Productions" comp of the mono 1964-66 Beach Boys stuff, some Nat King Cole SACDs I worked on, Art Pepper + 11 and a few other things. Trust me, I know all of this stuff quite well. So, all I did was set the McIntosh MX-110, Panloc wood case and all on the top of my rack and carefully switched out the Concert Fidelity linestage and hooked the amps up to the MX-110 along with my Modwright disk player. I made no other changes to the system, just one preamp substituted for another preamp. I let the McIntosh warm up for an hour or so and left the room, playing my usual break in disk "Romantic French Fantasies", John Longhurst at the organ console of the Mormon Tabernacle at Salt Lake City on Klavier KCD 11069. It's wicked good for tube warm up break in with some really head banging organ stuff.. At any rate the disk ended, I came back in the nice warm room and put on the same stuff I was playing earlier in the day. Sat in the same spot, let it rip after adjusting the volume. Let me just say that the unit is as quiet as a mouse. Didn't hear anything, no buzzing, hum or anything to tell me that it was on. Very quiet. First I played NAT KING COLE "Just One Of Those Things" album, the second song "A Cottage for Sale" in stereo. Has nice dynamics, tonality, life like sound, etc. Holy cow, it sounded WONDERFUL on the MX-110. I mean spooky real. I was astounded at how good it sounded. The McIntosh was really holding it's own in the system. Now, of course, the bass suffered from a bit of slow down. The macro and micro dynamics were also missing a bit and this is where the Concert Fidelity linestage excels (and for $20,000.00 it ought to) but the McIntosh reproduced the sound with authority and a really spooky 3-D sound that is not like real life, but larger than life. Interestingly, the TONALITY, the crucial thing, stayed pretty much the same in the system which was really interesting to me. Usually these old tube pieces are quite colored. Not this gem. I played the Beach Boys and Ella Fitzgerald "Clap Hands" and some Ray Charles Atlantic stuff, the Beatles, the Art Pepper, a Deep Purple cut, the usual mismosh. Everything sounded so interesting with this MX-110. Not totally accurate but a sort of enhanced reality brought on by this liquid, expressive midband that just took my breath away. Of course, it's fun for only so long in this system and then I need to go back to reality. It's like eating the hot fudge out of the jar. You really like it but you couldn't do it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, dig? But I can tell you that the old time engineers really knew what they were doing and this preamp/tuner from 1966 really held up under the strain of being the key component in a majorly expensive and wonderful sounding system. My point? I dropped this antique thing into the heart of a world class stereo system and the sound didn't go to hell, it stayed right up there in Groovyland. It will do the same for you if you have a modest system or a fancy shmancy system. YOU CAN BUY ONE OF THESE, YOU CAN AFFORD ONE OF THESE. Get one and it will sound just as good for you as it does for me. Buy a stock unit on eBay or something and have Terry DeWick restore it for you and you'll have spent $1,500 or even less on a component that has truly stood the test of time. Get the "Z" version, the last before the unit went out of print. I believe it sounds the best of all of them. Your MX-110 will improve the sound of a "first time" system and it will hold its own as your system improves, a key point, IMO. I see them all the time on the Bay and if you buy from a good seller you can have a gem, the centerpiece of your stereo for years to come or your entire life without having to take out a second mortgage.. Trust Steve on this. This is good stuff. I like it better than my Marantz 7C for tonality and liquid magic. You can also flavor the sound a bit by tube rolling in the V15, V16 and V17 spots to adjust the sound to your liking (brighter, more moody, etc.) as touched upon in this thread: McIntosh MC-30's, MX110 tube discussion. Perfect 6U8, 12AX7, tube? See post #43 for Steve's input. UPDATE 6/18/12: POST 61: Review FOLLOW-UP. I wanted to try something, basically unscientific but what the hell. Something in the design of the MX-110 makes music sound more lifelike. What? The tubes and the miles of wiring? I doubt that but about the TAPE OUT function? What if I used the TAPE OUTS and went into my regular CONCERT FIDELITY linestage? I would be bypassing most of the wiring and tubes. Would it still sound wonderful? Well, I just tried it. Like this: My Modwright Sony 9100ES tubed Platinum Signature Truth digital player has TWO sets of outs. I took the second set (same interconnect as first) and went into AUX of the MX-110. Then, out of the MX-110 TAPE OUTS and into my Concert Fidelity CF-080 LS hybrid. So, I could play a CD or SACD and essentially be able to switch back and forth from the "pure" signal into the CF or the signal THROUGH the MX-110 which is fed into the CF. With me so far? I took a vocal CD that I love dearly (along with a few other rabid fans) the DCC "Let's Dance! Chris Montez All-Time Greatest Hits" DZS-056. Now, before I go on, yes, I realize that the MX-110 signal is also being hit with the CF Amperex Bugle Boy stage on the way to the Tenor amps. Sort of a double whammy. So, I played the A&M songs on the disk. Adjusted the level so Chris' voice sounds like he is standing right in the room. Switched back and forth and WOW. The MX-110 treated version was more 3-D sounding, even with most of the thing out of the loop. The straight CF sound was noticeably more 2-D sounding (and it's one of the best holographic linestages I know of, that's why I use it). The MX-110 even in this reduced capacity has the ability to turn a recording of a voice to more of a real life voice (especially when helped by the CF). The tonality pretty much stayed the same but the holographic quality of the music was enhanced and not to be denied. I gave my wife the old BLIND test and she immed. picked the MX-110 version as the most REALISTIC of the two. This is always a good thing in my book. Fascinating stuff... So it can be used as a $1,000.00 "sound enhancer". Pretty neat.