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  1. #1
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    I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    Short Version: I have a new set of Focal Diablo Utopia Colour Evo's coming and I need to replace preamp and possibly amp I was going to pair with them. I have a McIntosh C2700 an MC452 that I was going to use, but I didn't like the 2700, so I just sold it. I am leaning towards integrated for them and wanted to get some thoughts on it. I have a good bit of dealer credit and here are some of the integrateds that caught my eye.

    Mark Levinson No 5805
    Ayre EX-8
    Pass Labs INT-150
    Jeff Rowland Continumum 500
    HiFi Rose RA180
    Rotel Diamond Series RA-6000
    Linn Selekt DSM
    Michi X-3
    NAD Masters M33
    Naim Supernait 3
    Musical Fidelity M8XI
    Musical Fidelity M6SI500

    At the beginning of this summer, I had an ephinay and or the beginning of a audiophile midlife crisis....I despised my B&W 802 D3 speakers and as much as their looks still stir something inside of me, most modern McIntosh equipment is overpriced and meh. Mind you, I am sitting in our home theater/media room staring at this0998F96E-025C-47D2-8343-4EA3373E3253.jpeg and these 802.jpg

    McIntosh stuff is easy to sell and not lose your shirt, the 802's I found out were not exactly wanted. I finally found a dealer who would give me nearly twice what others were offering AND he had the speaker that had heard and wanted, the Focal Utopia Diablo Colour Evo. We make the trade, and it's just 600 out of pocket for me. Fedex only took 3 damn weeks to pick up the speakers from the crate company who removed them, so my Focal's should be here next week. I sold almost everything in that rack with the first piece to go was the MX122 processor and replaced it with new Anthem AVM 70 and MADE nearly 2k on the deal, and just have the McIntosh C2700 Preamp, MCT500 transport, and MC452. I felt like i was going to be all set....pair the 3 Mac pieces with the Focals and just have to seperate systems. Then all hell broke loose.

    I used to travel a lot before Covid, so I was really into cans too. I wanted a cheap now, but expensive at the time, headphone amp/dac and I had been looking for a Meridian Prime at a good for years. I used to have Meridian processors and loved them. My wife forced me to go to a divorce party thing for one of her friends and this woman was complaining how her ex loved music and his speakers more than her (and I sure as hell didn't blame him after being around this woman for 20 min} and she couldn't wait for the trash to come tomorrow to get some of his junk. So, slyly made my way to this box she was tossing out and under a bunch of junk was two white boxes I knew well...the Meridian Prime ane Prime Supply. I offered her 100 bucks for them and she took it.

    I get home excited to play with my toys and then remember my speakers were gone. I wanted to hear it badly, so I drove to my office and loaded my Focal Aria 936's and brought them home. I plopped them down, set up the Prime, by running it straight into the MC452 and Tidal onb my Macbook Pro. I put on several Tidal Master songs and watched the MQA lights come on. It ws the Meridian sound that I remembered loving so much in the 2000's. THen I got a litte sick to my stomach....is it possible this DAC was that much better than my 6 week old 8k C2700? I spent the night comparing the two and yes, the the C2700's DAC is meh. I decided to sell it and 12 hours later, it sold.

    So, now I need either an integrated amp OR a preamp to pair with the MC452. I am also in the market for streamer and SACD player.

  2. #2
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    You seem to be "down-boxing"! No bad thing in my view particularly as many components (DAC, streamer, etc) are now on small board that can easily be housed in a single case, thus keeping costs down and eliminating those horrid and often over-priced things - cables!

    I'm familiar with some of your short list items, but I'm currently preparing my own as I'm somewhat reluctantly considering a change myself.

    Three years ago, when I decided to move away from tube SETs, I bought or borrowed a dozen SS amps of various flavours including the Mark Levinson 5805 and the NAD M33. Others (excluding the low-powered ones that wouldn't suit your new speakers) included Lyngdorf TDAI 3400, Benchmark AHB2, GamuT D200 Mk III, Micromega M100, and Sanders Magtech.

    Of these, I most liked the GamuT D200, ML 5805, Micromega M100 and NAD M33. The least good from a sound point of view was the AHB2. The Sanders was bought for a Martin Logan Expression 13A that I bought but quickly resold.

    Had I wanted just an amp, I'd probably have chosen the GamuT, but that company has withdrawn from electronics and are offering speakers only at present.

    The ML 5805 had a few peculiarities but offered a very smooth and civilised sound. I could describe in more detail, but it's still on my future list - well the 5802 is as I use no analogue.

    The Micromega is one you should consider as it comes from the same stable as Focal and can be had in identical colours and many more - mine was red - see photo. The M150 has a built in MARS room correction as standard, whereas it was an extra with my M100. For a compact Class AB amp with DAC and possibly streamer, it offers very good value

    In the end I chose the NAD M33 - in fact I chose the earlier M32 but upgraded to the even better M33. Again this offers an all-in-one solution and comes with the truly excellent BluOS control app for streaming. In my view, this is a great box of tricks and worthy of its 3 Stereophile annual "Best of" awards.

    If I replace the M33 it will only be because it is feeding speakers that cost 8 times the M33's price so perhaps there's an upgrade potential within a 10K budget, though I've yet to be convinced. I will be posting a thread here to ask opinions on my short list.

    Some of your other amps I've quickly looked at but not included in my list for one reason or another, but that’s because I'll be looking for an integrated with built-in (or addable) DAC. I don't need analogue, would prefer AES/EBU digital in and trigger, although neither adsolutely essential. My list includes amps from Copland, ML, Hegel, Cambridge, Perreaux, Accuphase, the Ayre EX-8 and a couple of low wattage ones that would suit my speakers but not yours.

    In my earlier 12 amp test, I was surprised at the variety of sound from these amps in the £3-8K range. Half were bought used or new and the others borrowed from dealers. Having them in my own room for at least a week and powering my own speakers was very valuable is assessing their merits.

    We find that US-built products seem to have excessive mark-ups in the UK, so I have a preference for UK or EU brands as they should offer best value here. However as you see, I have amps from the US and even NZ in my list. Happy hunting and please keep us advised on your findings if you get the chance to audition them at home. Peter

    Colours.jpg
    Sources - NAD M50.2 (streamer, CD player, CD ripper, hard drive music store)
    Amplification - NAD M33 all-in-one, NAD M12 preamp
    Speakers - Avantgarde Duo XD, Avantgarde Duo (2006) - both aesthetically modified

  3. #3

    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    Tube gear will be excellence. Have had prior results with Devialet Expert Pro


    Gesendet von iPad mit Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    Stick with the previous gen Mcintosh you have, it will tame the focal tweeter best.


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  5. #5
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    I like the 5805, somewhat neutral without being analytical, the highs are there without being harsh, nice and smooth. Never heard one with Focal, seems to have good synergy with Audio Physics. The 5805 has a good transient response for a lively sound. I actually enjoy this amp more than it's big brother 585. You might also look at the 5101 for a SACD/streamer

    If your taste leans to the warm you might consider a Pass preamp and a DAC/streamer from Aurender. Thinking the Pass would be a nice upgrade in preamp yet still work with your amp.

    You have a long list. Of course, Naim and Focal are matched together a lot, maybe more to being under same umbrella than synergy. The duo sounds pretty good together, my best auditions with Naim was Totem or Dynaudio.

    In a one box the Devialet was a good suggestion, I like the sound of their integrateds.

    Some on your list I either don't know or not enough to comment.

    Welcome to AS
    Aurender ACS10 w/Audioquest Diamond USB,
    Mark Levinson #526, 532h, JBL 4367's
    Clearaudio Performance DC w/Maestro cart
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    Parasound P6, Coda CSX, Artisan speakers

  6. #6
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    Welcome!!!

    Sorry - IMO - I don't think you can possibly hear the various components' capability with that current System/Room set-up. Especially in the areas of Dynamics, Presence & Tone, which help to deliver a far higher level of Musical Engagement.

    Initially working with your system-to-room alignment will ALWAYS unlock vastly more Musical Engagement than purchasing top-level components in a system that is working against the room.

    I am absolutely not against higher performance components, but to do so and having them work against your room, is a waste of your money, IMO.

    FWIW - Our Mike Bovaird of Suncoast Audio is that rarest of dealers, a man you can trust.

    Despite my straight-to-the-matter post, wishing you the best of luck in your project!
    DPT4ME - Dynamics, Presence & Tone for Musical Engagement; MBP (3) - stripped down for music only; Shunyata Omega & Sigma USBs; ISO REGEN w/short Curious USB links; Berkeley Alpha USB; Aqua La Scala II Optologic DAC; Schiit Yggdrasil - fully updated; Ayre Codex dac - updated; Pass Labs INT-60 integrated amp; Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE-2 preamp, Quicksilver Mono 120 amps w/Tung-Sol KT150s; Quicksilver Mid Mono amps w/Gold Lion KT77s; Fyne Audio 703s; Symposium Svelte Plus & Ultra Platforms; REL S-812 subwoofers; Duelund DCA12GA speaker cables; AV Room Service EVPs, Stein Music Harmonizers, Duelund DCA16GA & 20GA ICs; Shunyata Denali 6000S/V2; Tripp Lite PCs; Wyred 4 Sound power cords; AudioDharma cable cooker; dedicated custom room; various GIK & ASC room treatments; etc.

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  7. #7
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Smith View Post
    Welcome!!!

    Sorry - IMO - I don't think you can possibly hear the various components' capability with that current System/Room set-up. Especially in the areas of Dynamics, Presence & Tone, which help to deliver a far higher level of Musical Engagement.

    Initially working with your system-to-room alignment will ALWAYS unlock vastly more Musical Engagement than purchasing top-level components in a system that is working against the room.

    I am absolutely not against higher performance components, but to do so and having them work against your room, is a waste of your money, IMO.

    FWIW - Our Mike Bovaird of Suncoast Audio is that rarest of dealers, a man you can trust.

    Despite my straight-to-the-matter post, wishing you the best of luck in your project!
    For once Jim, I'm sorry to say I'm not sure I follow your reply unless there's lots more you know about the OP's system and room than is described in his post.

    You seem to suggest that his plan to replace some of his kit with one of the units listed implies that they may work against his room. How can this be if we don't know anything about his room, apart from his existing speakers?

    I think he's simply asking opinions on the short-listed items and how they may work with his new Focal speakers. Since I'm not familiar with any of his old kit or several of his short-list items, I've commented only on the ones I am familiar with, but not from experience of his particular speakers. My guess is that you are far more likely to be able to comment more constructively than I can on the suitability (or otherwise) of those amps with his new speakers. How they work in his room is another matter, but I would hope that he's worked on that side of things with the kit he already has.

    But maybe I've misinterpreted your reply. Apologies if so. Best wishes Peter
    Sources - NAD M50.2 (streamer, CD player, CD ripper, hard drive music store)
    Amplification - NAD M33 all-in-one, NAD M12 preamp
    Speakers - Avantgarde Duo XD, Avantgarde Duo (2006) - both aesthetically modified

  8. #8
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    well...the speakers are sticking close to the wall and playing against the sofa right in front of it. impressive!

  9. #9
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    Quote Originally Posted by u-sound View Post
    well...the speakers are sticking close to the wall and playing against the sofa right in front of it. impressive!
    Are those the rear speakers, maybe?

  10. #10
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    lol yes, now i see

  11. #11
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    Quote Originally Posted by Hear Here View Post
    For once Jim, I'm sorry to say I'm not sure I follow your reply unless there's lots more you know about the OP's system and room than is described in his post.

    You seem to suggest that his plan to replace some of his kit with one of the units listed implies that they may work against his room. How can this be if we don't know anything about his room, apart from his existing speakers?

    I think he's simply asking opinions on the short-listed items and how they may work with his new Focal speakers. Since I'm not familiar with any of his old kit or several of his short-list items, I've commented only on the ones I am familiar with, but not from experience of his particular speakers. My guess is that you are far more likely to be able to comment more constructively than I can on the suitability (or otherwise) of those amps with his new speakers. How they work in his room is another matter, but I would hope that he's worked on that side of things with the kit he already has.

    But maybe I've misinterpreted your reply. Apologies if so. Best wishes Peter
    I just couldn’t imagine how that setup as shown could produce any sounds that would unlock any music. Maybe I should have waited until I saw more images.

    If so, I apologize for being so direct.
    DPT4ME - Dynamics, Presence & Tone for Musical Engagement; MBP (3) - stripped down for music only; Shunyata Omega & Sigma USBs; ISO REGEN w/short Curious USB links; Berkeley Alpha USB; Aqua La Scala II Optologic DAC; Schiit Yggdrasil - fully updated; Ayre Codex dac - updated; Pass Labs INT-60 integrated amp; Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE-2 preamp, Quicksilver Mono 120 amps w/Tung-Sol KT150s; Quicksilver Mid Mono amps w/Gold Lion KT77s; Fyne Audio 703s; Symposium Svelte Plus & Ultra Platforms; REL S-812 subwoofers; Duelund DCA12GA speaker cables; AV Room Service EVPs, Stein Music Harmonizers, Duelund DCA16GA & 20GA ICs; Shunyata Denali 6000S/V2; Tripp Lite PCs; Wyred 4 Sound power cords; AudioDharma cable cooker; dedicated custom room; various GIK & ASC room treatments; etc.

    www.getbettersound.com

  12. #12
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Stick with the previous gen Mcintosh you have, it will tame the focal tweeter best.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    I agree with Mike and Jim's later posts here. I would personally work setting up your room first prior to replacing the components, unless of course, you simply want new gear. Then again I am a McIntosh fan boy so take anything I say with a grain of salt .
    McIntosh C49, MR85, MC7100W, R778 | T+A DAC 8 DSD | KEF LS50 Meta w/S2, KC62 (x2) | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | Audio Technica VM740ML | Hexmat Eclipse, Yellow Bird, Molekula, Molekula Mini | Pro-Ject VC-E | Falcon NW PC Server (Roon Core & HQPlayer) | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Roon Controller) | Abyss Diana Phi | Astell&Kern SE200 | Oppo BDP105

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  13. #13
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    Re: I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

    Got my MC60s working again. Sweet tone compared to my DIY amps.

    Everyone has the sound that means the most to them. Please find what you like, and listen to it!
    Amp : McIntosh MC60 mono block amps
    Digital : Bricasti M12, Oppo 203
    Analog : Technics SL1200G, Boulder 508
    Speakers : Daedalus Audio Muse Studio
    Headphone : BHSE + Voce

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I left B&W & McIntosh and need help with pairings

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