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What are your feelings about McIntosh?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Lebowski, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Thread Starter

    Greater Boston
    I’ve been trying out some new integrated amps lately. The dealer had an old McIntosh MA6100 in with the used gear for not too much money so I thought it would be fun to try. I had no idea what to expect from it, but I actually really liked it quite a bit (unfortunately it’s in need of some work).

    As I think about whether or not to pick it up (or something similar) I’ve been reading lots of stuff about the brand. On some forums it seems to have (or maybe had) a reputation as a sort of Bose for those with deep pockets.

    I’m not saying that necessarily influences my decision, but it does surprise me. I’ve been on this forum for several years and never noticed much Mac bashing. (plenty of Bose bashing though!)

    On a somewhat related note, one thing that did surprise me a couple of years ago was going into a Best Buy and seeing that they had started selling McIntosh.

    Anyhow, I really did like the 6100 and am now kind of intrigued by the brand. I don’t have deep pockets, so I can't look at the big tube amps with the nice blue meters, but there seems to be some interesting stuff available at somewhat more reasonable prices.

    So how do you feel about McIntosh gear? Yay or nay?
    McLover likes this.
  2. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    Are you really asking about the feelings (subjective), or first hand impressions (still subjective, but leaning towards objective)?

    Here are my feelings:

    I haven't heard any modern Mac gear, but, the way it's being marketed, and being a part of Italian-owned "luxury" group, the brand is not for me. I feel it has lost its footing in the audio realm as a venerable American hi-fi brand, and has instead become a "luxury eye candy", a coveted brand akin to "Maserati" or "Gucci". It may coincidentally sound good, but, the way I see it, it no longer is the primary consideration for most buyers of the brand.

    I might be wrong, but that's my "feelings".
  3. ayrehead

    ayrehead It was like that when I found it...

    Mid South
    crooner, ls35a and Lucca90 like this.
  4. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Thread Starter

    Greater Boston
    Either way. You’ve either had first hand experiwnce with it and like it or don’t like it. Or as an audio enthusiast you have an opinion about the brand.

    The question is open to interpretation.
  5. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    Not a lot of experience with Mac gear, but my impression is that they have made a lot of things over the years. Some of it is great, some probably just average. So it almost depends on the exact piece. I think the vast majority is built like a tank. I sure wouldn't hesitate to buy a Mac piece assuming I loved its sound.
  6. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Only on The Hoffman Forums where naysayers come out to bash McIntosh! Have fun as you guys haven't got a frickin' clue!
  7. captouch

    captouch Forum Resident

    Bay Area, CA
    I've owned 4 McIntosh pieces, all from the '70's and '80's, so nothing made in the last 30 years. So some comments:

    1) Mac 1900 receiver: Unrestored, it was a very pleasant and musical piece, but I could tell it was a little rolled off (though it has tone controls) in the flat position and a little less detailed than other vintage receivers I had compared it to. Since then, I did replace the electrolytic caps, but haven't compared it since. But I'm planning on keeping it.

    2) MC 2120 amp: I bought this amp in original/unrestored condition and compared it to a recapped Forte Model 3 amp. What I really liked about the 2120 is it added some warmth and fullness to the music, without sounding rolled off or veiled. It just fit my room (HW floors, fairly spartan) and preferred sound (not too bright). I did end up restoring that one as well, but sold it shortly after, so never really got to tell if it changed the sound much.

    3) C35 preamp: Bought this already recapped. I compared it to a Bryston 1B (original), Modwright SWL 9.0SE Signature, and a Forte Model 2 (recapped). They really all sounded great and there wasn't a big obvious difference where I could say one was superior to the others. And it's not that I think all preamps sound the same. I compared the set above to a rebuilt Eico HF-85, Aragon Soundstage, a SRPP tube design, etc, and the first set (Bryston, MW, Forte, Mac) I thought were noticeably better.

    The reason why I kept the C35 over the others is flexibility. 3 pre-amp outs (2 which are switchable on/off), 5-band EQ, remote control, and one of the biggest features I like: Variable Loudness, which can do a lot (IMO) to make a mediocre recording sound quite a bit better. None of the other nice sounding preamps had any tone controls, loudness, etc.

    4) MC 2255 amp: Since I liked the 2120 so much, I wanted to go up in power, get slightly newer age-wise, and get blue meters since I expected whatever I got to be my long-term amp. A 2255 that needed some work (broken glass face, broken meter, burned out lights, etc) came along and I bought it and replaced the face, lights, and recapped it, though I still haven't found a replacement meter. To my ears, the 2255 was a little more modern sounding, not quite as warm/full, but still warmer/fuller than a lot of other amps. Still very musical, maybe a bit more detailed than the 2120. I'm still very happy with it and no plans to change.

    Because I can do some work on my gear and I'm always looking for good bang-for-buck, I don't think I personally could spend the kind of $ that newer Mac gear commands. They no doubt have better specs and are probably more neutral and accurate. But my rooms are never acoustically ideal and I don't have a dedicated listening room, so whatever advantages they have by being newer and somewhat offset by the limitations in my room.

    So I do like the brand a lot, but my only experience is with their older gear.
  8. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    It sounds good but not the best bang-for-the-buck. If you can get a pre-owned piece at a good price and you like the sound over your HK, then I say go for it.
    Dave Mac, sunspot42, Frost and 5 others like this.
  9. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    McIntosh (that grand classic) is still my favourite, but gosh darn the Honeycrisp (the new kid on the block) is mighty fine as well!

  10. misterdecibel

    misterdecibel Bulbous Also Tapered

    That's pretty much what many of us thought in the early 1970s.

    I have a McIntosh tuner, but it's mostly for the looks.
  11. SquishySounds

    SquishySounds Yo mama so fat Thanos had to snap twice.

    New York
    If ‘resale value’ is important to you, it’s probably the first and only name on your list of premium stereo amp brands.
  12. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Drum machines are not inherently evil.

    I think relatively few of their tube amps have big blue VU meters. Are you talking about their monster solid state amps?
    VinylSoul likes this.
  13. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    I say Aye! :)

    Most of my experience is with vintage amps but I have heard a full blown McIntosh system once, I recall that the speakers were over 100,000.00 (they had many tweeters) driven by multiple amps, etc. Way, way too much money for me unless I won really big in the lotto but the sound was very, very good!

    They make great equipment.
  14. lonelysea

    lonelysea Drunk Posting Never

    Twin Peaks, WA
    My wife’s parents had a vintage Mac tube setup in the 80’s and I remember being amazed by how great it sounded - I had no experience with high end audio at that point and was smitten. More recently I’ve auditioned modern McIntosh gear and was basically underwhelmed.
  15. David Johnson

    David Johnson Forum Resident

    Atlanta Georgia
    Couldn’t tell you much about the MA6100 other than it was sold or made back in the seventies. A quick search says it’s 70 watts a Chanel.
    Back then I was into Yamaha equipment which was way excellent.
    I own newer McIntosh equipment today and wouldn’t consider any other product other than Audio Research. Each to their own, but they make excellent products!
    Lebowski likes this.
  16. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Best Coast USA
    Good stuff that’s overpriced.
  17. TubeMon

    TubeMon Well-Known Member

    Monterey, CA
    Not a fan of their SS gear...
  18. MattHooper

    MattHooper Forum Resident

    Since you asked:

    Good with amps.

    TERRIBLE with speakers. (Those models with the multiple midrange drivers sound awful).
  19. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    A few years ago a local audio expo had a McIntosh room that was supposed to show the best equipment the company had to offer and how well everything tied in together. The room's curtains were drawn and the light's fixtures dimmed to let us experience the sound but I had to get out after less than a minute without forming any opinion on the sound quality. The problem were the lights. It's nice when you have some discrete dial illumination but for me too much and too bright is a recipe for a migraine. I hope the illumination and brightness can be customized or dialed down even-though it's kind of their trademark because for me it was a head splitting painful experience.
    Lebowski likes this.
  20. Morbius

    Morbius Forum Resident

    Brookline, MA
    Pound for pound the best value for its class. In equipment tests they always meet or exceed their published specks and have the highest signal to noise ratios and lowest distortion of any brand on the market and many argue the best sound. McIntosh are the masters of engineering and design!
    Razakoz and 62caddy like this.
  21. motorstereo

    motorstereo Forum Resident

    A matter of preference as some people like Mcintosh and some don't. In my case I prefer to own used Mac gear rather than new gear from any another manufacturer.
    62caddy likes this.
  22. Daedalus

    Daedalus I haven't heard it all.....

    I had vintage McIntosh-MC240, C22, MR67, etc.- very high quality pieces with good sound. You will not lose money on them if you decide to sell at some point. With the new gear you get the same great build quality without a need to have them checked/serviced due to age issues and you will get your money back upon sale. I do not think they are the most colorful sounding amps out there in the marketplace( I prefer the sound of my Quicksilver tube amp and Yamaha transistor amp) but they are seriously well built solid choices.
    Panama Hotel likes this.
  23. Claus

    Claus Senior Member

    Overpriced and ugly design!
  24. Daedalus

    Daedalus I haven't heard it all.....

    How much? Ugly-perhaps but also a quirky fun design. I would like to hear it.
    L.P. likes this.
  25. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    Yay! Musical, reliable, built to last generations. Used McIntosh your best buy in refurbished condition. MA 5100 and MA 6100 integrated amplifiers with reasonably efficient speakers, and 8 ohm loads a great first McIntosh.
    rebellovw, 62caddy and Lebowski like this.

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