What 2 channel should I get? And is McIntosh overated? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 303 Old 02-13-2013, 03:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok forever now I have wanted McIntosh amplifier. But after reading on here a lot of people say their integrated amps sound no different than any one else. I have seen some of their amps go used for around 2k but I am curious as to if there is something better brand wise?
2k would be my budget and I am looking for a 2 channel at least 75wpc. Speakers are not yet decided on. Would be better to go with a preamplifier and a non integrated amp?
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post #2 of 303 Old 02-13-2013, 03:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Also this setup will be used strictly for music. No movies/games.
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post #3 of 303 Old 02-13-2013, 03:26 PM
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Before you start shopping for a pre/power or an integrated amp, decide what speakers you want. You really need to have the right speakers for your musical taste, room size, listening habits etc. That in return will also limit your selection of suitable amps, brands, etc.

Personally, I think McIntosh sounds great. You are paying a premium for the brand, so if value for the $ is your primary criteria, you might be able to do better, but if you look at quality, aesthetics (as long as they appeal to you), etc., then McIntosh is a great choice.

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post #4 of 303 Old 02-13-2013, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiojan View Post

You are paying a premium for the brand, so if value for the $ is your primary criteria, you might be able to do better, but if you look at quality, aesthetics (as long as they appeal to you), etc., then McIntosh is a great choice.

x2.

I have a 40 y.o. Mc amp I won't willingly give up. If I *had* to replace it I would prolly go pro. Life is too short not to have what you want within your budget.
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post #5 of 303 Old 02-13-2013, 07:50 PM
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Is McIntosh over-rated? Yes and no. Yes if you buy it believing it will sound better than other modern-day gear. ..And no in terms of build quality. The stuff is beautiful. ..Both inside and out.

I have a one year old McIntosh MA6600 Integrated amp and I absolutely love it. ..And I would buy it again in a heartbeat. But do I think it sounds better than the NAD Integrated or the Bryston amp/pre-amp combo that preceded it, or any other modern day receiver for that matter?? ..Nope, not for a second. But I still think there are other valid reasons for buying McIntosh.

I belong to that rare group of audiophiles who love audio gear but do not believe that amps sound different from one another. ..To better understand my reasons for buying an MA6600, take a look at a review that I posted in another forum (under a different name):

http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/vt.mpl?f=amp&m=180899
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post #6 of 303 Old 02-14-2013, 06:30 AM - Thread Starter
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I really enjoyed reating that review. I am curious though. If they are over priced based on SQ . What could I get for around 1k that would sound as good? I really don't want a reciever for this setup. I prefer either integrated amp or amp/pre amp.
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post #7 of 303 Old 02-14-2013, 07:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyg83 View Post

I really enjoyed reating that review. I am curious though. If they are over priced based on SQ . What could I get for around 1k that would sound as good? I really don't want a reciever for this setup. I prefer either integrated amp or amp/pre amp.

IMHO, how your system ultimately sounds will have little to nothing to do with your choice in amplifier. ..Separates, AVR's (without room correction), integrateds, am/fm receivers (still a few being made) will ALL sound the same provided they are not being over-driven into distortion. ..This will come sooner for lower powered units than higher ones, but unless you buy some horrifically inefficient speakers, even a 50 watt amp is likely to be more than enough. ..The quality of your system has much more to do with your choice in speakers AND (even more importantly) your listening environment, and how you integrate the two. There are lots of articles on the web about getting the most out of your speakers. ..CD players, DAC's, Satellite tuners, etc.. at least to this audiophile all sound pretty much the same these days.

If you prefer the ergonomics of an integrated amplifier (selector switches and dials on faceplate, etc) to the drap look of an A/V Receiver, the you'll probably end up paying more. ..Good reasonably affordable choices include Onkyo, NAD, Rotel, etc.. ..If you only looking to maximize SQ at minimal cost, then go with an inexpensive A/V Receiver.
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post #8 of 303 Old 02-14-2013, 07:44 AM - Thread Starter
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My current AVR is a Harman Kardon 340.
Are you saying there will be no real difference between that and you McIntosh?
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post #9 of 303 Old 02-14-2013, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
My current AVR is a Harman Kardon 340.
Are you saying there will be no real difference between that and you McIntosh?
Basically. The best evidence we have is that all decent solid state amplifiers will sound the same in a fair test (that means level-matched and blind, btw), assuming they have enough juice to drive your particular speakers.

Now that doesn't mean you shouldn't buy a Mac, or anything else you have your heart set on. There's a case to be made that a modern AVR is the best choice to drive even a 2-channel system. But there's also a case to be made that you should do whatever you want.
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post #10 of 303 Old 02-14-2013, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyg83 View Post

Ok forever now I have wanted McIntosh amplifier. But after reading on here a lot of people say their integrated amps sound no different than any one else. I have seen some of their amps go used for around 2k but I am curious as to if there is something better brand wise?
2k would be my budget and I am looking for a 2 channel at least 75wpc. Speakers are not yet decided on. Would be better to go with a preamplifier and a non integrated amp?
Yamaha A-S2000 for approximately $1,600 is a top notch performer and a beautiful unit to boot. Plus it has moving magnet AND moving coil phono!
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Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #11 of 303 Old 02-14-2013, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimpleTheater View Post

Yamaha A-S2000 for approximately $1,600 is a top notch performer and a beautiful unit to boot. Plus it has moving magnet AND moving coil phono!

That is a beautiful integrated... But does it sound better than a typical AVR when playing w/in it's power envelope? ..No, I don't think so. ..But, I do like the way it looks. ..Far far better than any AVR I've seen.
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post #12 of 303 Old 02-14-2013, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syd123 View Post

That is a beautiful integrated... But does it sound better than a typical AVR when playing w/in it's power envelope? ..No, I don't think so. ..But, I do like the way it looks. ..Far far better than any AVR I've seen.
To me the value is in the quality of the build (it's a tank), the looks, simplicity of design, the MM/MC phono preamp (even bargain MC preamps run around $500) and a 5 year warranty.

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #13 of 303 Old 02-14-2013, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimpleTheater View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyg83 View Post

Ok forever now I have wanted McIntosh amplifier. But after reading on here a lot of people say their integrated amps sound no different than any one else. I have seen some of their amps go used for around 2k but I am curious as to if there is something better brand wise?
2k would be my budget and I am looking for a 2 channel at least 75wpc. Speakers are not yet decided on. Would be better to go with a preamplifier and a non integrated amp?
Yamaha A-S2000 for approximately $1,600 is a top notch performer and a beautiful unit to boot. Plus it has moving magnet AND moving coil phono!
I love that retro style look. Yamaha makes some great gear. So does Harman Kardon - if you overlook the cheesy ipod/ipad crap they are cranking out and focus on the good stuff. I've got a HK 990 that does it all - integrated amp with DACs and HT bypass - all for $999. Got it refurbished but thats how you cut off half the price. Its well within the range of the OPs budget. I replaced a preamp - DAC and pair of mono-block amps with this one box. It also has MM and MC phono.
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post #14 of 303 Old 02-14-2013, 07:43 PM
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I have owned many premium brands of equipment and I have to agree that they do not seem to "sound" different from each other (within specifications). The Krell KAV 400xi could play very loudly effortlessly, while the NAD C320BEE struggled. At lower volumes, however, they sounded nearly the same. I think that you are more likely to hear a difference in integrated amps than in pure amplifiers. This may be due to differences in built in preamp quality.

For me, I enjoyed owning great sounding and finely made equipment. If you can afford McIntosh just go ahead and buy it, if you don't you will second guess your decision. I buy Leica cameras because they are as much art as they are instruments to take fine photographs. I could buy a Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, etc...I buy Leica, it is what I WANT!

Purchase what you want and enjoy it!
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post #15 of 303 Old 02-14-2013, 11:27 PM
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I've been trying out a lot of gear in my room and I keep falling back to a Marantz NR1402 as a DAC/preamp and an amp that meets my power requirements. Using an AVR as a DAC/preamp is pretty fantastic because you can configure it be anything between an old school preamp (Pure Direct mode) to a smörgåsbord of digital craziness like Audyssey, Dynamic EQ, etc. You really get a lot of options as to what "preamp" means to you. Pair that to an amp that meets the requirements of your room and speakers and you've got a pretty fantastic system.
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post #16 of 303 Old 02-15-2013, 02:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmsdms View Post

I've been trying out a lot of gear in my room and I keep falling back to a Marantz NR1402 as a DAC/preamp and an amp that meets my power requirements. Using an AVR as a DAC/preamp is pretty fantastic because you can configure it be anything between an old school preamp (Pure Direct mode) to a smörgåsbord of digital craziness like Audyssey, Dynamic EQ, etc. You really get a lot of options as to what "preamp" means to you. Pair that to an amp that meets the requirements of your room and speakers and you've got a pretty fantastic system.

This is why I use the Arcam AVR600 - it runs Class A / pure direct or very good processing. Plus, I would not want to test it's power, it's a beast.
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post #17 of 303 Old 02-15-2013, 08:36 AM
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Shorty, what have you decided, still on the fence?
I agree with others above... you need to audition speakers and buy those first.

I have a set of B&W speakers that are very demanding, 84 db sensitivity (lower the number = more power required), I'm also in the hunt for a 2 channel, but my requirements are a little different than yours.

I want:
2.1 not 2.0 - 2.1 gives me the ability to add a sub down the line.
digital input
ipod input of some sort
100wpc
good power supply


My list was originally:
ONKYO A-9050 $
HK 3490 $
OUTLAW RR-2150 $$
I'm not afraid to spend money, but the outlaw doesn't have a digital input.

And if the music hall a15.2's replacement info could come out, the a15.3 comes out soon..... that would be great. I hear it's (a15.2) the most musical integrated south of a grand.
But no digital input. maybe the new model will have one!

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post #18 of 303 Old 02-15-2013, 09:37 AM
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On the Outlaw, you do have a very good USB dac. You can play music right off you computer. If you need TOSLINK, SPDIF you can convert it or use the analog outs from your digital source. The Outlaw rocks. Even though I have the Arcam, I would not part with my RR2150. In fact, I just gave my brother one for his 50th bday.
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post #19 of 303 Old 02-15-2013, 09:39 AM
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I would not part with my RR2150. In fact, I just gave my brother one for his 50th bday.

I read that you did that, you're a very cool brother. If you're family is adopting, I'm in!

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post #20 of 303 Old 03-08-2013, 08:37 PM
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I was looking into getting a mac also, But I picked up an old AKAI AM 2800 for 5$ at a garage sale, And I was curious the quality differences with the 2 amps. ?
Also I havent yet heard a more clear sounding system than the akai am 2800, im yet to hear that day.

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post #21 of 303 Old 03-09-2013, 05:16 AM
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I was looking into getting a mac also, But I picked up an old AKAI AM 2800 for 5$ at a garage sale, And I was curious the quality differences with the 2 amps. ?
I'm sorry, but can you add the "zero's" that you obviously forgot after number 5. smile.gif

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #22 of 303 Old 03-09-2013, 01:33 PM
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I'm sorry, but can you add the "zero's" that you obviously forgot after number 5. smile.gif

Ill spell it, I got this sterio for "Five Dollars Canadian" at a yardsale.
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post #23 of 303 Old 03-09-2013, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimpleTheater View Post

Yamaha A-S2000 for approximately $1,600 is a top notch performer and a beautiful unit to boot. Plus it has moving magnet AND moving coil phono!

I have an A-S1000, very similar to A-S2000, it's built like a tank(weighs 48 lbs.)

BD-A1010/CD-S1000/PF60
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post #24 of 303 Old 03-09-2013, 05:18 PM
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I have an A-S1000, very similar to A-S2000, it's built like a tank(weighs 48 lbs.)

Man, that's a nice looking piece of kit-very retro.

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post #25 of 303 Old 03-17-2013, 09:17 PM
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On the Outlaw, you do have a very good USB dac. You can play music right off you computer. If you need TOSLINK, SPDIF you can convert it or use the analog outs from your digital source. The Outlaw rocks. Even though I have the Arcam, I would not part with my RR2150. In fact, I just gave my brother one for his 50th bday.

I feel silly now, but I did not know there was a way to convert the USB input to an optical. Awesome!

I've finished my first iteration of a 2-channel setup:

GoldenEar SuperSat 3's (2)
Mirage MM8 Subwoofer
Emotiva UMC-1
Onkyo M-232 Amp (100w per channel)

I like how it sounds, but I have had that upgrade itch lately, so I'm wondering if I go with a used McIntosh like an MX134 since I could get it with a tuner (I'm still one of the crazies who listens to radio) and it has plenty of digital inputs so I could forgo a separate DAC. I love the vintage look of McIntosh, and I'm really curious as to how different it would sounds compared with the Emotiva.

But now I'm thinking....is something like the Emotiva XSP-1 the best way to go if I want a 2-channel pre/pro?

Or should I just simplify, and go with the Outlaw RR2150 and convert the USP input to an optical via adapter?

I apologize if it looks as if I'm hijacking the thread a bit...

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post #26 of 303 Old 03-19-2013, 04:43 AM
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Shorty, all amps with inaudible distortion sound the same as long as they have ability to drive the speakers in question without "stressing." There are amps with audible distortion and they do sound different from others but the ones being discussed here do not exhibit audible distortion. The differences in the sound of audio systems result from speakers and room acoustics. The other stuff is relatively unimportant as long as it can handle the speakers without distorting. You should choose it based on what you like. Appearance would be a far better reason for choosing it than sonics. Worry about the room and the speakers.
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post #27 of 303 Old 03-19-2013, 08:48 AM
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There are TOSLINK to USB adapters available. Ultimately, if you buy from Outlaw / Emotiva etc, you will have a great experience. I love the Outlaw because it does many things very well.
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post #28 of 303 Old 03-19-2013, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyg83 View Post

Ok forever now I have wanted McIntosh amplifier.

I've gone through a a lot of gear, wasted a lot of money, saved a lot of money, found some great gems, and have ended up with a killer system. There's one overarching lesson I've learned through all of this. Trust your gut, not your head. Follow your passion, and use the advice of others as a reality check rather than gospel. You know exactly what you want. Let yourself have it. You deserve it. Buy the piece you know in your heart that you want to be part of your life.
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post #29 of 303 Old 03-19-2013, 02:25 PM
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I've gone through a a lot of gear, wasted a lot of money, saved a lot of money, found some great gems, and have ended up with a killer system. There's one overarching lesson I've learned through all of this. Trust your gut, not your head. Follow your passion, and use the advice of others as a reality check rather than gospel. You know exactly what you want. Let yourself have it. You deserve it. Buy the piece you know in your heart that you want to be part of your life.

..I would add to your statement that you should also not allow yourself to be overly influenced by professional reviews or web forum endorsements. ..For if you buy because of these, you're bound to later doubt your decision when you come across equally negative endorsements. ..And trust me, it's inevitable that will come across those who dislike whatever brands you may be considering.

As for McIntosh... I personally think you can buy with confidence. It's great stuff. ..It's beautifully constructed, and it has a great feature set: bass/treble controls, balance control, mono switch, meters, etc.. can have a huge positive impact on your music enjoyment yet are very hard to find elsewhere. ..And it has an operational feel few other pieces can match. ..Just don't buy it thinking it's going to sound way better than what you have, or are considering buying, because it probably won't. ..Differences between amps these days - provided they're used as intended - are quite possibly impossible to discern. Unless they're driven into distortion, they sound very much alike. ..Speakers and room acoustics have a far greater impact.
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post #30 of 303 Old 03-20-2013, 12:19 AM
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I too had lusted after mcintosh gear for atleast the last 10 years and finally 6 months ago bought my first mac amp, an mc452.

there are many reasons i bought it over other amps:
1) power-I never wanted to run out of power. ever. this amp gave me that. the amp can go up to 1800wpc at 2 ohms. I do see the watt meters going up to ~50-60watts when i 'rock out' so its probably overkill--but I only know that because of the meters. i have heard my speakers (B&W 802Diamonds) are faily efficient (compared to past versions) as well as that they are very inefficient compared to other speakers. the manufacturer recommended 500wpc amps so I wanted to get as close to that as my budget allowed. my last amp (90wpc) would get very hot at extended playing at loud levels and would shut down. i never ever wanted that. the mc452 barely gets warm smile.gif
2) meters-because of my constant worry about above I wanted amps that gave an indication of load. very few amps did this. pass labs was one of them however the amp from pass labs that was off a similar price (x150.5) and in my budget was too big for my rack. didn't want to buy a new rack--i like my rack smile.gif . even though pass labs had a power meter, the mcintosh meters are way better looking. call me shallow but looks do matter to me.
3) looks--i cared about the build quality and fit and finish--and nothing came close to the jewerly like looks and dreadnaught like quality of the mac. every thing from the heatsinks along the side to the speaker terminals at the back was just on a different league then anything else in my budget.
4) value--yes i could buy an 8k amp use it for a year or two and sell for 80pc of the price. i could use for 5 years and still get probably 60pc of the price. i could use for 10 years and probably still get 40pc of the price. to me that is real value i.e. you need to factor in depreciation no other brand of amps hold value like mcintosh gear. the above depreciation is the worst case scenario--i take great care of my toys and i would probably get way more then that. if you don't belive me, look at 5-10 or even 20 yrs old mcintosh amps in audigon and compare to their list price. if you buy used, then the equation is even better--you can buy and use for a few years and probably only use 10pc of purchase price!
5) good ole made in USA--i would pay a bit more to get something not made by exploited employees in china. this is a broad generalization but i know it costs more to make something in USA and to me that matters.
6) all amps over 1k sound good and it goes without saying this amp sounds great. does it sound a lot better than a 1k amp? who knows i never did comparisons at home using same speakers/cables/preamp/source. I did compare the mc302 with mc452 and even though i was all set on buying the mc302 ended up getting the mc452 as it seemed to sound a bit better. however, this was the least of my priorities as both amps sounded 'good enough'.

i also knew that if i bought something else i would keep thinking about the mcintosh amp that didn't get. i just had to own one alteast for a while till i tired of it. n
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