Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?
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  1. #1
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    Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    I've only auditioned one McIntosh integrated amp about a year ago so I'm a long way from being knowledgeable about their amps. My aural memory of the amp is very faded. I would think with as many models that McIntosh produces they would mostly not have a particular sonic personality, but a large variety of sonic personalities. So, is their a characteristic McIntosh sound?

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    Re: Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrassphile View Post
    I've only auditioned one McIntosh integrated amp about a year ago so I'm a long way from being knowledgeable about their amps. My aural memory of the amp is very faded. I would think with as many models that McIntosh produces they would mostly not have a particular sonic personality, but a large variety of sonic personalities. So, is their a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    Warm, and rolled off highs. Don't worry they don't have the resolution and clarity of your INT-250.

    But, its a big bold sound; which many like.

    I've heard their the latest (611 Monos +C53+) Diamond D3 ; Granted it was at Magnolia.

    But, for that price; those speakers are capable of so much more.

    IMHO; Mcintosh has their fans but, IMHO its more of a lifestyle brand now then a high end performance brand.

    Audio Research is the High End brand of that group. Granted they are using tubes but, still what Mcintosh is charging.

    I remember getting into the hobby a few years and wanting Mcintosh electronics. Heard them at Magnolia with at that time latest; previous gen Diamonds (Yellow Tweeter); 601 mono and C52 pre amp plus their CD cd player.

    Wow; I was blown away.

    Later in the day; Heard Kef Blades with Parasound front end; not even the monos.

    Very different and drastic IMHO. Less expensive Electronics; KEF+Parasound had resolution, imaging, realism to the sound.

    Mcintosh was muffled compared to them.

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  4. #3
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    Re: Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    I owned several Mc pieces back in the day and managed a store that was a dealer. I also grew up in the shadow of the factory. In my view McIntosh has always been very good equipment that is quite over priced. They have a huge fan base and one of the best resale value of any gear out there.

    Back then I like McIntosh but always felt there was other gear that sounded better for less money. I feel they definitely have a sound, the McIntosh sound. Warm, sort of laid back, rich and inviting. I also always felt they were not as dynamic and detailed. But McIntosh has a lot going for it.

    Being a Binghamton boy I many times get Mc on the brain. Every time I start to seriously consider do I really want to switch to their gear I start considering that what I currently own will probably sound some what better, to me. Lately I have been thinking about possibly moving into one of their integrated amps, simplifying my system. Selling off some pieces to add toward the McIntosh cost. I know I would love having another Mc in the rack to go along with my tuner, but I also do not believe they offer a pre-amp either separate or in an integrated that sounds as good as my somewhat ugly Stage 2 . I also know they do not offer a DAC that comes close to my T+A for my use in my view.

    Being that I always have Mc on the brain I may eventual go in that direction anyways .
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    Re: Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    In my humble opinion, absolutely they do. But so do many other brands, Pass or ARC for example. Even my Levinson for the most part.

    That's why I like same brand pre & power, for synergy.

    I've not owned Mac, my taste goes a different direction but I have always enjoyed it when I've listened to it. Some of the tube preamps I have found to be some rolled off but not all and their newer preamp I heard a couple years ago at Axpona was quite good. Their kilowatt monoblocks drove the flagship Nautilus like I've never heard before.

    Mac is just easy, like Sunday morning. Like your favorite jeans, not best for all occasions but feel good when you wear them.

    As far as I know they are very reliable and most well built products do cost.
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    Re: Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    In my humble opinion, absolutely they do. But so do many other brands, Pass or ARC for example. Even my Levinson for the most part.

    That's why I like same brand pre & power, for synergy.

    I've not owned Mac, my taste goes a different direction but I have always enjoyed it when I've listened to it. Some of the tube preamps I have found to be some rolled off but not all and their newer preamp I heard a couple years ago at Axpona was quite good. Their kilowatt monoblocks drove the flagship Nautilus like I've never heard before.

    Mac is just easy, like Sunday morning. Like your favorite jeans, not best for all occasions but feel good when you wear them.

    As far as I know they are very reliable and most well built products do cost.
    Summed up nicely


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  9. #6
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    Re: Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    To properly qualify the answer to this question, it’s very important to determine whether we are talking about the pre-2018 McIntosh sound or post 2018 McIntosh sound. They are so fundamentally different that old Mc fans may enter a state of shock and old Mc haters may become fans.

    The point here is that the Mc house sound has changed quite dramatically.


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    Re: Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    To properly qualify the answer to this question, it’s very important to determine whether we are talking about the pre-2018 McIntosh sound or post 2018 McIntosh sound. They are so fundamentally different that old Mc fans may enter a state of shock and old Mc haters may become fans.

    The point here is that the Mc house sound has changed quite dramatically.


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    Would you say that the post 2018 sound is higher resolving? Aka more detail etc..

    I did hear the new C53, 611 monos and with the latest Diamonds..

    BUT.... they were streaming via Bluesound into the USB In on the Pre -amps built in Dac.

    Sound was very hard sound; smooth but, no treble resolution; no mids.

    As they say if its not captured at the source..

  12. #8
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    Re: Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    How has the sound changed after 2018? All McIntosh I have listened to were prior to 2018.
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    Re: Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Myers View Post
    How has the sound changed after 2018? All McIntosh I have listened to were prior to 2018.
    Ask Joe.


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  14. #10
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    Re: Is there a characteristic McIntosh sound?

    Hehe, I did . He didn't specifically say the "new" sound versus the "old" sound. He said he has tried a few different Mc's and liked the certain models, sometimes lower models, better. He also said that there is a very good chance that my Stage 2 and T+A are better sounding (again in a much more diplomatic way). He always has a way of getting my head out of the cloud when my Binghamton Boy McIntosh on the brain starts taking over .... He is very good at getting me thinking clear again.

    Thank you Mr. Joe!
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