Advice: McIntosh MA6300, MA6600, or more for Sonus Faber Liuto Towers? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 01-06-2013, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

I own a pair of Liuto Tower's now, and love them. However, I am currently driving them with a Primare I21 integrated amp, which is nice, but probably not what these speakers deserve. I can get a deal on any/all McIntosh gear, to the point it really, REALLY makes it worth my while to get something (and for this conversation, JUST talking about McIntosh).

Current system is doing 2-channel duty (turntable, radio for NPR, and audio from disc or digital), but also serves as my 2-channel HT system (70" Sharp with BD, Roku, etc.). Down the road, I will eventually have a house where I can have a 2-channel system + a dedicated theater.

Here is what I am thinking:

MA6300 - great price, would be a fairly mindless purchase. Buy, connect, and I'm in business. Minimal financial impact and I'd be on my merry way. I could always sell it in a few years and not lose anything.
MA6600 - same discount, but this piece is 50% more expensive, but from the looks of it, it is a much more serious piece of hardware (the 'real' amp design vs. the MA6300). Lot of money, but I could do it.

Building from the above:

C48 + MC302 - this would be nice, but the price starts going up very, very fast.
Marantz AV8801 + MC302 - would this be a good enough pre-amp for the amp/speakers? The nice thing here is I could manage my 4-5 components well.

Any thoughts? Think the MA6300 would be a big enough difference to warrant the upgrade, or should I go MA6600 (or separates) or forget it?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 13 Old 01-07-2013, 05:10 AM
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I own an MA6600 and love it. My reasons for choosing it over the MA6300:

- Because of it's autoformers, the wattage meters on the MA6600 are accurate regardless of speaker impedance. With the MA6300, the meters are calibrated for 4ohm speakers only.

- MA6600 has bass/treble controls. Though used only occassionally I find them indispensable for older, poorly recorded music. The argument that tone controls somehow hurt the signal, even when not in use, is silly IMHO.

- I can trim input volumes on the MA6600 to eliminate big volume swings when switching from, say, CD to Music Server, or Turntable. This is an immensely useful feature.

- I can one day add a digital HD tuner to the MA6600, essentially turning it into a modern day receiver.

- I can dim/turn-off illumination of the meters on MA6600 which is important as unit is situated under wall-mounted TV. ..Visually less distracting for movies.

All are reasons that matter to me but may matter little to most. ..Either way I'm sure you'll be happy with your Mac integrated. They're beautifully built, look great and hold their value like little else.
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post #3 of 13 Old 01-07-2013, 05:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! Great info.

The more I think, the more I talk myself into the 6600, simply because it is more 'real' (autoformer), because it really would be in the right power class for my speakers, if I spun into a separate 2-channel/HT system I could use it forever in the 2-channel without regret, etc.
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post #4 of 13 Old 01-07-2013, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenratboy View Post

Hi,

I own a pair of Liuto Tower's now, and love them. However, I am currently driving them with a Primare I21 integrated amp, which is nice, but probably not what these speakers deserve. I can get a deal on any/all McIntosh gear, to the point it really, REALLY makes it worth my while to get something (and for this conversation, JUST talking about McIntosh).

Current system is doing 2-channel duty (turntable, radio for NPR, and audio from disc or digital), but also serves as my 2-channel HT system (70" Sharp with BD, Roku, etc.). Down the road, I will eventually have a house where I can have a 2-channel system + a dedicated theater.

You certainly don't want to hear this but I want to give you some real good help despite yourself. Continue reading only if sound quality means something to you. I'm deadly serious about this.

What you really want is a good 5.1 AVR. I know it lacks the panache of MacIntosh but I'm betting there is still one bone in your body that favors sound quality over audio jewelry and boutique brands. This will give you the best SQ

Most AVRs lack phono preamps but you can get fine outboard phono preamps made by any number of really good manufacturers like Parasound, B&K etc.

And while we're at it, I bet you utterly despise Sound and Vision, but this article actually makes a lot of sense:

http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/article/test-report-sonus-faber-liuto-speakers-and-rel-r-528-subwoofer

Especially the part about adding subwoofer.
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post #5 of 13 Old 01-07-2013, 07:33 AM
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Arnyk,

Like you, I believe that present day amps that are engineered to be linear and low distortion will sound pretty much the same. ..So it is true that the Mac Integrated is not going to sound any better than a typical AVR. I never suggest that people consider McIntosh on such grounds. ..But that doesn't mean there aren't other purchase considerations that make the Mac MA6600 more desirable than a good 5.1 AVR. ..Among them: Tactile build quality, a beautiful simple aesthetic (very subjective I grant you), very elegant easy to use interface (much much easier than most AVR's in my experience), and the wattage meters and Power Guard circuitry to help safeguard against over-driving speakers, etc.. If one insists on having room correction and EQ curves, then McIntosh also offers AVR pre-amps for those seeking such features. ..But I passed on them for the very same reasons. ..For me, and for others it seems, integrated amplifiers strike the perfect balance b/w simplicity and flexibility. Is Mac gear expensive? Of course. ..Does one need to spend that much for sound quality alone? ..Of course not, not by a long shot. But people who buy Mac gear generally love it and keep it for a very very long time.

I know you detest McIntosh because it's expensive and offers little more, technically, then the Behringer or Crown, etc.. stuff that you endorse, but not everyone wants some of that stuff you suggest front and center in their living rooms. ..While it may function well, much of it looks awful. ..Is it such a bad thing that these considerations matter to people?

Does your antipathy toward luxury brands extend to things like watches and cars too?
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post #6 of 13 Old 01-07-2013, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syd123 View Post


I know you detest McIntosh because it's expensive and offers little more, technically, then the Behringer or Crown, etc.. stuff that you endorse, but not everyone wants some of that stuff you suggest front and center in their living rooms. ..While it may function well, much of it looks awful. ..Is it such a bad thing that these considerations matter to people?

Does your antipathy toward luxury brands extend to things like watches and cars too?

I don't detest Mac or expensive equipment that gives actual value for the big bucks even if that value is mostly reputation or appearance. I just believe in getting the best possible performance and calling a spade a spade.

As the saying goes some of my best friends have MacIntosh, vinyl and tubes. ;-)

I have vinyl, tubes and Conrad Johnson. I just don't push it as being the best general solution for everybody.

Look where I live! ;-)

I have friends who are millionaires and deca-millionaires and maybe even one or two centa-millionares. If you obtained it morally (even inheritance) and got the bucks and a social conscience, who am I to complain?
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post #7 of 13 Old 01-07-2013, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I have vinyl, tubes and Conrad Johnson. I just don't push it as being the best general solution for everybody.

Well I certainly don't push Mac in this way either. ..I am very quick to tell people who see my amp and admire it that I don't believe for a second that it sounds any better than gear costing 1/10th the price. The OP was asking for input on choosing b/w two different Mac Integrateds. ..I simply gave him my reasons for choosing the MA6600.

As for value. ..Well, if functionality is the only consideration, Mac gear is quite honestly a terrible value when compared to the likes of onkyo, marantz, sony, etc.. Much the same way that someone who wants a watch for time-keeping will find a Vacheron Constantin to be a terrible value compared to a timex. ..But if build-quality, aesthetics, ease of use, feature set AND pride-of-ownership matter along w/ performance, then Mac gear becomes more sensibly priced, and indeed competitive when compared w/ Audio Research, Musical Fidelity, Mark Levinson, Krell, etc...

And though I'm no "made in china" basher, I kinda like the fact that it's largely hand built in a small NY mill-town just three hours from where I live. ..Quite a few people in Binghamtom are proudly employed by McIntosh.
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post #8 of 13 Old 01-07-2013, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm confused. You posted the link, but it talks about how much they like the speakers. OK. The only equipment he talks about is the Carver A-400x, which is a beefy, no-bull 200 watt stereo amp.

You then suggest a high-end AVR, but leave it there.

Sorry if I missed something, but were you going somewhere with the post? I value your thoughts, but I would like to hear them. If a stout amp is going to give me more dynamic range, better control over the drivers, and a better experience overall, that is what I am looking for.
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post #9 of 13 Old 01-08-2013, 04:56 AM
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Since Arny hasn't answered your question, I'll take a stab at interpreting his cryptic response (as they often are).

The article extolls the virtues of matching your speakers with a subwoofer which means the front-end you choose should have bass management capabilities - such as those found in an AVR receiver. ..Neither Mac has this. Of course, this doesn't mean you can't use a subwoofer with them, only that they lack a low frequency output jack to simplify this.

Now if you don't intend to use your SF's w/ a subwoofer, this doesn't matter.

Also, Arnyk believes, and I agree, that modern day amplifiers which are operating w/in their design limits will sound pretty much the same. ..So he is always quick to point out that one can save beaucoup bucks, and often gain greater implementation flexibility, by buying a cheap AVR rather than a pricey integrated amplifier. Indeed, he derides people for buying brands like McIntosh, etc..

What I attempted to do in my 2nd reply is explain that there may be other, equally valid reasons for choosing an integrated over an AVR.
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post #10 of 13 Old 01-08-2013, 06:07 AM
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And having some sort of room correction is another benefit found in most AVR's, subwoofer or not.
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post #11 of 13 Old 01-08-2013, 06:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Gotcha, thanks.

I am not interested in a subwoofer at this point, and one reason I did chose these speakers be I can send loud, bass-heavy music to them without issue (I actually used a MC252 when auditioning the speakers, and they drank up everything that amp could deliver). Same amp, same music on some Vienna's in the same price-range, were not at all happy.

As for the quality of the power (power = power), my ears tell me otherwise. Going from a $500 receiver to a $2,500 receiver to a $25,000 amp/preamp setup do sound different to me (of course, there are $500 amps I think are awesome, and expensive gear I dislike).
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post #12 of 13 Old 01-08-2013, 06:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenratboy View Post

I'm confused. You posted the link, but it talks about how much they like the speakers. OK. The only equipment he talks about is the Carver A-400x, which is a beefy, no-bull 200 watt stereo amp.

As I said before one point being that the Liuto's are greatly enhanced by adding a subwoofer. As the frequency response curve shows, the Liuto towers naturally roll off pretty rapidly below 80 Hz, which all by themselves is not what I would call any kind of a high end listening experience. However, they dovetail well into a good subwoofer,

The keys to integration of the towers and the subwoofer is some kind of bass management system, which is one of the strengths of most modern multichannel AVRs and a weakness of most modern 2 channel preamps, power amps, integrated amps and even most 2 channel receivers. Using a 5.1 reciever as the center of what is ostensibly a 2 channel system sounds odd, but due to their inherent flexiblity, it is easy and economical to configure them down to 3, 2, 3.1, and 2.1 systems. Since virtually every modern 5.1 AVR also includes some kind of automated system tuning facility (YPAO, MCACC, Audyssey) putting all the pieces together and getting them to sound right is facilitated for the general audiophile who is probably not an electrical engineer specializing in complex speaker systems.


Quote:
You then suggest a high-end AVR, but leave it there.

I didn't really expect too much interest.
Quote:
Sorry if I missed something, but were you going somewhere with the post? I value your thoughts, but I would like to hear them. If a stout amp is going to give me more dynamic range, better control over the drivers, and a better experience overall, that is what I am looking for.

One of the tools I have for showing the problems of simple 2-way systems is a model that I borrowed from Sigfried Linkwitz' web site that estimates the maximum clean SPL that can be optimistically expected from a given speaker system. For the Liuto's with 9" woofer:

Freq,Hz Max SPL, DB

10 76
20 88
30 95
40 100
50 104
60 108
70 110
80 113
90 115
100 116
110 118
120 120
130 121
140 122
150 123
160 125
170 126

You can see that the maximum SPL from just the Liuto's falls short of truly high end performance below 60 Hz. Other calculations show that the Liutos can't possibly respond cleanly to more than 100 watts below about 75 Hz so beefier power amplifiers than the usual ca. 100 wpc AVR rating can't help. I'm trying to point you towards good dynamic range from the over-all system.

On balance I'm a lot more impressed with the basic design of the Liuto Towers than most of the towers that I see kicking around.
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post #13 of 13 Old 01-08-2013, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply, I was not trying to blow off your answer, just understand where you were coming from.

In the perfect world, I would get a high-end HT pre-amp, and then whatever amp I want for the speakers (MX151 + MC303 + the matching Sonus Faber center would be nice!). However, I see my future as this system being a 2-channel system in my living/family room, and a dedicated, techie HT system (acoustic treatment, noise control, light control, etc.) somewhere else.
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