Interesting you seem to speak well of McIntosh. Are you aware Roger Russell, an AES life member since 1960 and a former Director of Acoustic Research at McIntosh Laboratory, Inc. for 25 years [including the originator of McIntosh Loudspeakers] has this to say about "good" amps often sounding the same?
"I have personally completed several blind A-B listening tests over the years between good amplifiers, tube or transistor. Although I thought I could hear a difference each time, my choice was only correct about 50% of the time. I have also conducted blind listening tests for other people. I have learned how important it is to set the amplifier gains to be exactly equal and that the amplifiers should not be seen or identified for the listener. The slightly louder amplifier often is preferred."
He goes on to say that when there are differences it is often due to a problematic pairing of the internal impedance of the amp and the particular impedance curve of the speaker selected, causing a slight frequency response change, and nothing that a good equalizer couldn't instantly fix to make them sound identical again.
He also explains there are still many good reasons to buy a McIntosh amp, even if a $220 Pioneer receiver will sound identical in most circumstances if kept within its operational range, as has been shown in carefully controlled tests he cites:
"Did you catch the words at the beginning? Good amplifiers can SOUND the same. There's more to an amplifier than how it sounds. The lowest priced "good amplifier" is not always the best value. Added value comes with the manufacturer's reputation and the reliability of the product. If you're using a McIntosh amplifier with Power Guard, special circuitry in the amplifier prevents clipping. This avoids damage to the amplifier and/or speakers and maintains pleasant listening at high power with low distortion. In addition, there's the visual aspect of pleasing appearance that goes along with pride of ownership and prestige..."
And of course an amp that clips or distorts on peaks can't be fairly compared to a much more powerful one that doesn't. In a fair comparison both amps need to be kept within the operational limits of the weaker one.
His web presence , since 1995, is one of the few websites where people can learn the truth, instead of the lies of the audio propaganda and mythology machine created by most of the current audio press, due to the advertising dollars of the high-end brands which fund them to perpetuate these lies:
Edited by m. zillch - 2/25/14 at 8:22am