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McIntosh MC257 will it provide the audio pleasure I am looking for?

2849 Views 2 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  Karb218
Hi everyone, I am at a point of needing guidance on the next upgrade to my audio system and thought I would query this group to hear your thoughts. I am currently running a Paradigm Prestige speaker system with their 95F’s for fronts, a 55C center channel, 25’s for rears, their 1000SW for a sub, and surround 3’s as front presence speakers.

Powering this speaker setup is a Yamaha Aventage RX-3050 integrated amplifier and a McIntosh MC2002 providing amplification to the 95f’s.

My interest is primarily listening to music both in two channel, and formated as Blue ray concerts. Occasionally I listen to movies and enjoy the 5.1.2 format.

So where my head is at at this moment is I am happy with my speaker selection (for the time being) but I want to start looking at separates; ie McIntoshes MC257 and Anthems AVM 70 as a processor. This to me would be best of breed combining McIntosh ( 7 channel amplification) & Anthem with its association with Paradigm.

The result I am looking for is (I am going to try to explain this in common terms that come to my head :) ) when watching a blue ray concert or listening to two channel stereo and a musician hits a note or strikes a chord on their instrument I want to hear that clearly at a low volume as well as hear definition and be able to delineate one instrument from another.

At this point my mind is with separates as I think that is where I want to go but that comes with a price. But at the end of the day this is my passion and I would like to hear others opinions who are equally passionate about audio equipment.

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Answer to your question....No

You already have an amp driving your speakers and you desire more clarity at lower volumes. That is not what an amp does, you are good there so go to all the other factors. The biggest problem is room acoustics, if you don't get the clarity you desire then look at the room as sound reflects off things, you get standing waves, windows, hard floors and the like cause blurring of the sound, comb filtering and all sorts of acoustic chaos.

Yep, I'm the messenger and you are now in the situtation all people into sound stumble across. The room! Look up first reflections, how to find them (a mirror works) treatments, setup and so on to mitigate those reflections. You might be suffering from floor bounce/ceiling bounce and very much so if you have hard floors, low ceilings or....a table in front of you that reflects sound before it arrives at your ears.

Now things become more fun, more educational or a bigger hassle depending how you look at it. You can measure what the room is doing to your speakers--the way it works. Get a decent $100 microphone, download Room EQ Wizard (REW) and find how to use it with youtube videos or searches on this forum. Optimise what you have FIRST...it don't matter what gear you use if the setup is poor so get that the best you can in your room and your natural limits involving acoustics. You don't need to be in a highly treated sound studio to get decent sound.

Look up bass management, this way you can optimise your subwoofer placement, get the phase correct, EQ out the naturally occuring peaks in your room and then get a second (or third) subwoofer to smooth out the bass response. Check the results with REW as a guide and that will get the sub integration smooth.

Parametric EQ can be used to dampen peaks in response at your listening position. PEQ is not the sole property of pro sound, studios and car audio--use those tools to get a more accurate response where you listen.

Sorry to tell you it is not fun, no cool equipment in the stack but more akin to tuning a car engine after the rebuild upgrades are complete. Audio is a system, it must be calibrated to work properly in your room, your acoustic problems and to your taste. 2 channel back in the day was rather simple, 2 speakers set at a specific angle to the seated position but once you go mutli-channel, the system complexity has skyrocketed so time to learn how to get it all working right before spending money on things that won't improve your sound quality.

Sound waves don't care if they are generated by pro sound equipment in an arena, sound generated inside a car, played in mono from a tube amp or multiple channels with an entire array of speakers. As with most things, the more stuff you have in a system it becomes more complex and a properly setup surround sound system with well integrated subwoofers and bass management is not easy. As with car engines, a person would test and measure what is going on to improve performance as it is much more complex than a lawn mower. I can tune a lawn mower by ear and feel but a twin turbo V6 I'm connecting the laptop, running software and checking all the sensor readings!

I really wish adding an amp or a more powerful amp would actually do something at low volumes--I really wish it did! It won't, it can't and never will because it is a piece of the puzzle. Amps are easy, they make small waves larger and very simple to measure--Audio Science Review provides those measurements and training to what those measurements mean. They also provide measurements with speakers, their handy dandy Klippel robotic device takes thousands of measurements to provide that data. The speakers have a far, far greater effect on sound quality than properly designed amplifiers will and worse--the ROOM makes a big mess of things which need to be dealt with if you are installing car audio gear, properly doing a massive multi-channel system in an arena so a multi-channel in a small room. There is no magic to it, the same issues people have had since Western Electric built the first speakers/amps to make "talkies" in 1926 and worse... 3 channel came out in 1934 which fixed issues but created new ones.

Now if you want to buy new gear for "audio pleasure" in that you like the look of it, the feel of turning knobs or it makes you feel good owning it, by all means go for it. Just don't expect audio quality to improve, that takes actual effort, education and practice to get it right. You can give me the finest ingredients to make a feast but I'm not a chef, even with the ultimate ingredients my efforts would be less than tasty. Eventually, you have to move beyond the parts and build up a skill set to make a world class meal...sound is the same way.

In short, now is the time to learn how acoustics work, how speakers operate, subwoofer issues in rooms, bass management, parametric EQ, phase controls, delays and all that techno-wizard stuff. At least have a working knowledge of it, the pros don't use it because they enjoy screwing around with expensive toys before world tours and the movie theaters don't like blowing a lot of money to get THX/IMAX or 64 channel Dolby Digital certification. Those calibrations are done with measurements and adjustments so steal that information from the professionals for your own use.

Some people keep throwing money at a problem, works for the government but eventually you have to know how to use the tools and quite buying more cool tools. I get it, really wish I could fix acoustic problems with amps, wires, cables or other things that are easy to install. Multi-channel rocks and properly done bass management can be thrilling but that requires measurements, knowing what the measurements mean, the ability to properly diagnose acoustic problems and fix them to get it right. Sometimes it is very easy to fix acoustic problems, a simple measurement shows the offender and it might take a minute or two to eliminate the problem.

Once you learn how to do that, then it becomes much faster in the future as your room changes, your house changes, the gear changes or some new tech changes everything yet again. Go for accuracy initially to solve the problems then you can screw up the accuracy to taste if you like.

To get more information about proper setup etc., you can go to Audio Science Review to gain knowledge about all sorts of testing--they even have training videos. Audioholics has some information and videos about proper setup and data-bass.com has a ton of testing of subwoofers, proper bass management and they debunk the magic and mysticism of subwoofers to clear your head.

For me, I tend towards putting money into a system that solves a problem and improves the performance. I'd look at additional subs and bass management to improve you bass quality and smooth it out across the most seats and look to measurements to find any room issues that need to be addressed first. A new more powerful amp at low volume won't do it but additional subwoofers, measurements, testing and calibration will improve sound quality.

Hope that helps, it's like a car... eventually you'll need to take the engine apart to improve performance beyond an air cleaner or muffler....just the way it is. Enjoy the read, good luck with your room acoustics and this is supposed to be fun! :D The labor of love.... yeah...
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Hi 18hurts, I am sorry for the delayed response as I was away on vacation and hadn’t been engaged with the AVS forum much as I needed some downtime :cool:. I truly want to thank you for your insight and suggestions in what it is I am trying to achieve in trying to reproduce the most detailed sound that I can from my system within the boundaries of my listening area.

The thought of room acoustics never entered my mind with the exception of relocating all my gear out of a (larger) listening space that had hardwood floors to a slightly smaller room which was similar in layout but carpeted. This was one of those you give a mouse a cookie and they ask for a glass of milk scenario’s.

A buddy of mine has a similar system and has it dialed in nicely in a carpeted room (similar to what I moved my system into) and it sounds amazing. So this began my journey; room prep (painting), mounting my tv to the wall, and fishing cable in the walls down to the basement and up the other side (a labor of love). Once that was done rearranging furniture and then moving the equipment from one space to the other.

Now that everything is in place and I am somewhat comfortable with the layout of the room I brought out the tools (Yamaha’s YPAO, and Paradigms PBK aka: Anthems ARC Genesis) that I have available to perform any room correction and distance and level adjustments. Upon completing these measurements I will say that I have noted an improvement from what it sounded like in the other listening space, “but“ you ask yourself can it be better.

As I make no claim to being a sound engineer and admittedly I really don’t understand how this program (ARC Genesis) works other than it runs a minimum of 5 tests at different locations around your listening area and calculates the results and presents a graph that shows; what it thinks the outcome should be, what it measured, and what it looks like after it makes the necessary corrections and displays them to you in the form of a graph.

So without having the graph in front of me and I am going strictly from memory now the results are pretty much aligned throughout the test until they come downward and begin to trail off and what is read and what is corrected is slightly different from what it thinks it should be. :( That’s about all I have at the moment and I am not sure what you do really to align those measurements so that at the end they trail off like the what it thinks it should be on the graph. (positioning a almost 100 lb subwoofer around in a room with limited locations isn’t appealing to me🏋️‍♂️).

At the end of the day you have given me a lot to digest and I am grateful for that and I think my next steps will be to; replace the carpet and pad in that room first as after all that needs to be done anyway, read up on some of the reference material and you spoke about in your reply and visit YouTube university on room acoustics and learn ways to correct them.

Once the new carpet is installed rerun the tests with the test equipment I have at hand and then reevaluate and consider acoustic panels or other room sound enhancement products. In the meantime enjoy what I have.

Well thanks again18hurts, it wasn’t necessarily the answer I was looking for but it certainly gave me something more to consider in terms of sound reproduction.

With that being said do you have any opinions on integrated receivers versus separates? That is another thing I am trying to get my arms around. Thanks again.
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