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McIntosh MX-121 - any thoughts? - Page 7

post #181 of 614
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancoh View Post

Elambo you seem like a sensible guy, but it bothers me that you say that first it sounded bland and then you changed to XLR and all of a sudden the sound was that much better. Can I trust your senses? It shouldn't make that much difference.
I am saying this mostly because I have expensive (RCA) cables and was not planing on having to change them for XLR.
Also did you change all channels to XLR? As the surrounds could not possibly earn anything from using XLRs.
I want my MX121 NOW. So I can give my judgement on it.

The question isn't whether or not you can trust my senses, it's whether or not you can trust yours. Not everyone cares about these things. To some, like me, it's crucial.

My RCAs were a few hundred bucks, and I wasn't crazy about having to pull them either (though these can easily be re-purposed elsewhere).

If you read my post again you'll notice that I was considering returning the preamp, and after the switch I was in a state of bliss. I also pointed out that it shouldn't have made such a difference, and going balanced was an afterthought at the end of the game, so I'm certainly not overselling balanced vs. unbalanced. But this is how it is, in MY case, with my amp, speakers, cables, etc. Truly, if the sound didn't improve (though I suspect Audyssey will help) I'd have returned it within a week. Now, there's no chance I'll be sending it back.
post #182 of 614
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dteam702 View Post

Hi All,

Got my MX121 today to replace my AV7005 (of course running it with XLR cables) omg what a difference!!!! I was first very skeptical if I can hear a difference, since looking at the remote and UI it's identical to the AV7005. I can now say I'm complete.... One thing is, I could not for the life of me find how I can add Rhapsody.. Pls help...

I haven't put much time into Rhapsody, but I saw the Welcome screen under the Net/USB input, which is where Last.fm and Flicker, etc. are found.
post #183 of 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancoh View Post


Elambo you seem like a sensible guy, but it bothers me that you say that first it sounded bland and then you changed to XLR and all of a sudden the sound was that much better. Can I trust your senses? It shouldn't make that much difference.
I am saying this mostly because I have expensive (RCA) cables and was not planing on having to change them for XLR.
Also did you change all channels to XLR? As the surrounds could not possibly earn anything from using XLRs.
I want my MX121 NOW. So I can give my judgement on it.

It's probably not that "it's much better"....but that it sounds better to him. The balanced outs have a lot higher voltage than the unbalanced RCA ones, and I'm of the opinion your amp also plays a part...so between amp and balanced vs unbalanced, I can see different combinations sounding slightly different. I'll be setting mine up with XLRs....should have mine tomorrow. My MC205 won't be here for a couple weeks though...
post #184 of 614
The point is that I doubt if the MX121 is a true balanced unit, besides the existence of XLR connectors. Therefore, and perhaps, the difference that Elambo heard was more related with the quality of the cables than with their type.
post #185 of 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post

I haven't put much time into Rhapsody, but I saw the Welcome screen under the Net/USB input, which is where Last.fm and Flicker, etc. are found.

I'm trying to figure out how to add Rhapsody, but if you happen to figure it out before i do please do share..
post #186 of 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post

The question isn't whether or not you can trust my senses, it's whether or not you can trust yours. Not everyone cares about these things. To some, like me, it's crucial.

My RCAs were a few hundred bucks, and I wasn't crazy about having to pull them either (though these can easily be re-purposed elsewhere).

If you read my post again you'll notice that I was considering returning the preamp, and after the switch I was in a state of bliss. I also pointed out that it shouldn't have made such a difference, and going balanced was an afterthought at the end of the game, so I'm certainly not overselling balanced vs. unbalanced. But this is how it is, in MY case, with my amp, speakers, cables, etc. Truly, if the sound didn't improve (though I suspect Audyssey will help) I'd have returned it within a week. Now, there's no chance I'll be sending it back.

You must have a generous Mac dealer that allows returns. Usually they do trade ups but returns?
post #187 of 614
Is there a Mac dealer in the US that gives good value on trade ups? I'm in Texas, but would be willing to make a road trip
post #188 of 614
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dteam702 View Post

I'm trying to figure out how to add Rhapsody, but if you happen to figure it out before i do please do share..

It's not a feature I'm hurrying to use so it may be a while, but the manual explains it clearly.
post #189 of 614
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scanido View Post

You must have a generous Mac dealer that allows returns. Usually they do trade ups but returns?

I do need a processor of some sort, so that return might have ended up being a trade. I didn't actually get into the details. Didn't have to, thankfully.
post #190 of 614
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mookie b View Post

It's probably not that "it's much better"....but that it sounds better to him. The balanced outs have a lot higher voltage than the unbalanced RCA ones, and I'm of the opinion your amp also plays a part...so between amp and balanced vs unbalanced, I can see different combinations sounding slightly different. I'll be setting mine up with XLRs....should have mine tomorrow. My MC205 won't be here for a couple weeks though...

At this level, all sonic variances are generally subtle, but since we're looking at improvements through magnifying glasses, yes, I agree, it's tough to know how closely I'm looking and how closely others might. Still, I'd be absolutely amazed if hi-fi shoppers with a discerning ear couldn't clearly detect these differences. They go far beyond any improvements I've gained from cable swapping. They go beyond any improvements I've gained from migrating to balanced from unbalanced.

I don't know if it's a balanced unit. Based on what I've heard, and what the manual lists, I suspect that it is. I'm certain that the amp will respond differently to the higher voltage.

The difference in cable quality is certainly part of the equation, though the unbalanced cables were also quite good, and using them I got an amazing sound from the Krell which was no less (potentially better) than what I'm getting with the Transparent Audio cables.

I'll know the answer to that when I install new AudioQuest XLRs over the weekend. They won't sounds as good as the Transparents, but how much will I lose??? I have no idea.
post #191 of 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post

At this level, all sonic variances are generally subtle, but since we're looking at improvements through magnifying glasses, yes, I agree, it's tough to know how closely I'm looking and how closely others might. Still, I'd be absolutely amazed if hi-fi shoppers with a discerning ear couldn't clearly detect these differences. They go far beyond any improvements I've gained from cable swapping. They go beyond any improvements I've gained from migrating to balanced from unbalanced.

I don't know if it's a balanced unit. Based on what I've heard, and what the manual lists, I suspect that it is. I'm certain that the amp will respond differently to the higher voltage.

The difference in cable quality is certainly part of the equation, though the unbalanced cables were also quite good, and using them I got an amazing sound from the Krell which was no less (potentially better) than what I'm getting with the Transparent Audio cables.

I'll know the answer to that when I install new AudioQuest XLRs over the weekend. They won't sounds as good as the Transparents, but how much will I lose??? I have no idea.

Trying out the XLRs of the same cables will indeed be very interesting. Looking forward to a report.
But why not use the Transparents if they sound good?
post #192 of 614
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancoh View Post

Trying out the XLRs of the same cables will indeed be very interesting. Looking forward to a report.
But why not use the Transparents if they sound good?

That's a fair question. I want those cables in the Accuphase system, which is the "music" room with all the A-Game stuff, where I go for critical listening. The McIntosh is in the kitchen, though that shouldn't discount its importance.

I have a pair of AudioQuest XLRs running with the 121 at the moment and they sound good. Much better than the Silver Streak RCAs, though not as articulate as the Transparents. They'll do better when they break in.
post #193 of 614
I had my MX121 & MC205 installed yesterday and it replaced a Denon AVR 5700 really sound very good. I am very pleased. I am using pandora under the net/usb and it really works well. sign up for $30.00 a year and they send out their highest quality sound.
post #194 of 614
Thread Starter 
Pandora's Normal sound is quite bad. They're highest quality is better, but still only 192K. Have you checked into Spotify?

But wait... you replaced a Denon with a 121 and 205. Why are we talking about Pandora??? Let's hear about the Macs!

post #195 of 614
I just slid the new Marantz sr6006 in where the Mac MX-132 has been for many years and it definitely has a thinner sound, much like elambo was describing the 121. The $800 Marantz still sounds pretty darn good but far from what I am used to...my dog can even tell the difference. I was hoping to avoid the high dollar pre/pro that is obsolete within a year, but looks like I must go with the 121. I like the video from directv running through the Marantz, not really using the network stuff though.
post #196 of 614
because some one asked about Rhapsody! If we are just working around the house Pandora is great. I hear artist I would not normally listen to and learn some new or Artist to download Hi 24/192 files or buy CD's or SACD's

The MAC's are fine. enjoying them. still learning. never had MAC's before. we can sure hear the difference. but again I have all new system B&W 805's & HTM4 plus the new MAC's so for that kind of money I had better hear some difference.

I have played some CD's and high 24/192 files through the system in 2 channel and it sounds great. my regular 2 channel is VTL tube amp with Klipsch forte II speakers lso very good.

The surround sound on streamed content is good. Netflix & amazon instant. Do not have any blu ray disc to test but my guess is it would be good.

NO HDMI hooked up yet because of older CRT HD TV (new VT50 ordered).When that comes should hear better quality on the surround
post #197 of 614
I've been testing out the new mx121 for a few days. The sound is good and I like the audyssey room correction. I feel like it has made the dialogue clearer on movies and TV. However I feel like the video processor is degrading image contract somewhat. I've done some A/B comparison going from the source device straight to the display (which is calibrated) and ones in which the mx121 is in the chain. I feel like the images are less bright and there is some loss of detail in the images. I've even turned the video conversion features off and it still looks like I am having the same problems. Has anyone else out there noticed this as well or is it possible my eyes are just playing tricks on me?
post #198 of 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by benmoree View Post

I've been testing out the new mx121 for a few days. The sound is good and I like the audyssey room correction. I feel like it has made the dialogue clearer on movies and TV. However I feel like the video processor is degrading image contract somewhat. I've done some A/B comparison going from the source device straight to the display (which is calibrated) and ones in which the mx121 is in the chain. I feel like the images are less bright and there is some loss of detail in the images. I've even turned the video conversion features off and it still looks like I am having the same problems. Has anyone else out there noticed this as well or is it possible my eyes are just playing tricks on me? Thanks for help.

Can't you setup the source for straight pass through on the 121? I'll have mine on Monday, but McIntosh support told me you can...

Specifically, they said: "The video will always pass through the video engine as it is an active HDMI switch. As far as processing that is up to you and the way you set the MX121 up. 3D Pass-Through is supported so yes it will pass an HD signal without modification. If you have a non HD video source that one source can be set to be scaled in the set up menu."

For me personally, this was a reason I decided on the unit as I don't want any processing before the display.
post #199 of 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by mookie b View Post


Can't you setup the source for straight pass through on the 121? I'll have mine on Monday, but McIntosh support told me you can...

Specifically, they said: "The video will always pass through the video engine as it is an active HDMI switch. As far as processing that is up to you and the way you set the MX121 up. 3D Pass-Through is supported so yes it will pass an HD signal without modification. If you have a non HD video source that one source can be set to be scaled in the set up menu."

For me personally, this was a reason I decided on the unit as I don't want any processing before the display.

I have tried it with the video convert function both on and off. The image through the mx121 appears to look less bright regardless of whether the conversion is happening than when going from the source straight to the display. It is as if the mx121 is altering the signal in same way regardless of the whether the video conversion features are engaged.
post #200 of 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by benmoree View Post

I have tried it with the video convert function both on and off. The image through the mx121 appears to look less bright regardless of whether the conversion is happening than when going from the source straight to the display. It is as if the mx121 is altering the signal in same way regardless of the whether the video conversion features are engaged.

Interesting. I'll try it out on Monday when I get mine.
post #201 of 614
Thread Starter 
That's odd. My girlfriend and I both immediately noticed how much better HDMI signals look now with the 121 in the chain. Previously, I was going direct from each source to a Pioneer Elite screen, and now the 121 is acting as a hub so the TV uses only one input. I wonder if your TV needs to be readjusted to work better with the 121? i.e. perhaps the brightness on the TV was previously better at a lower level because something about the source was brighter, and now you no longer need that brightness boost. Tough to say -- there are so many places where a video signal can be processed that it's tough to find the best scenario.

I did have to play with the TV, just a touch, and it now looks better than ever.

My settings for each input:

Video Mode: Auto
Video Convert: ON
i/p Scaler: Analog and HDMI
Resolution HDMI: Auto
Progressive Mode: Auto
Aspect: Full

Input Mode: HDMI
Decode Mode: Auto
post #202 of 614
Hey guys, anyone know how to program the remote for he mx121? It appears to be a programmable one, but there's only hints of that in the manual and accompanying pages. Anyone set this up to operate their other components connected to the 121?

Thanks!
post #203 of 614
Never mind, figured it out.
post #204 of 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post

That's odd. My girlfriend and I both immediately noticed how much better HDMI signals look now with the 121 in the chain. Previously, I was going direct from each source to a Pioneer Elite screen, and now the 121 is acting as a hub so the TV uses only one input. I wonder if your TV needs to be readjusted to work better with the 121? i.e. perhaps the brightness on the TV was previously better at a lower level because something about the source was brighter, and now you no longer need that brightness boost. Tough to say -- there are so many places where a video signal can be processed that it's tough to find the best scenario.

I did have to play with the TV, just a touch, and it now looks better than ever.

My concern is that the mx121 might not be mapping the color space 1:1 when output through hdmi. I know the oppo bdp93 that I use maps all of the color information precisely as in the disc based on some published benchmark testing. Based on that same testing it was shown that some players produce errors when mapping that color space back out through their hdmi chipsets. These differences that I am seeing are subtle but I am wondering if they are due to inaccuracies in color space mapping.
post #205 of 614
Thread Starter 
True, regardless of what looks best in the end, it would be good to know if the 121 is operating at 1:1 as claimed, which was your original point.

That's not something I could test easily. Maybe you, or others, could.
post #206 of 614
Anyone know if the 121 is in the Harmony Remote database yet?
post #207 of 614
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mookie b View Post

Anyone know if the 121 is in the Harmony Remote database yet?

It's not in the URC database. I tried other Mac processors and none worked. It seems that this one's a different animal.
post #208 of 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post

It's not in the URC database. I tried other Mac processors and none worked. It seems that this one's a different animal.

How do we get that changed???

Set mine up today...super easy. Haven't ran room correction but the 121 is fantastic. Power up times with hdmi lock are excellent, which was actually a big reason for me changing out my anthem for this.

Sounds great out of the box. Remember to turn off the video processing if you want to watch 3d.
post #209 of 614
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mookie b View Post

How do we get that changed???

We send the request to each company. Universal Remote has been good about incorporating new remotes, but I suspect it will take some time. I've not owned a Harmony so I don't know how responsive they are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mookie b View Post

Set mine up today...super easy.

Congratulations!
post #210 of 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post

It's not in the URC database. I tried other Mac processors and none worked. It seems that this one's a different animal.

Why not just do it manually? It only takes a few minutes...

B.
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