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The Official McIntosh Labs MX-151/150 Owners Thread


While there a few McIntosh threads here and there, there doesn't seem to be an official owners thread. I decided to start one and place it in this forum, since it's a processor that would typically be part of a $20k plus home theater setup.






From the McIntosh web site:

Description:


The very best in music and film presentation - that's what you get with the MX151. Featuring the latest in HDMI technology with full support of 3D video pass-through, you'll see everything current Blu-ray discs™ have to offer. And when you combine the built-in Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™ decoding with the RoomPerfect™ room correction technology, which adjusts the audio signal to the specific acoustics of your space, the result is an enveloping audio experience that puts you in the center of the action.


Dual Zone feature allows you to play different media simultaneously in two separate rooms with independent program selection and control. The vast array of digital and analog inputs can be custom labeled for simplified system operation and matched in volume level for a smooth transition between sources. Assignable balance input and outputs, an analog phono section, bass and treble controls and optional processing up to 7.1 multi-channel using Dolby Pro Logic® IIx or DTS Neo:6 all enhance the two channel audio experience of the MX151.


The MX151's unprecedented flexibility allows custom system design and function for every environment. Control options include traditional IR-remote, web based GUI, and interfacing with all third party control systems. Audio options for up to 12 channels, multiple subwoofers, or bi-amping of speaker systems are built in.


RoomPerfect is a registered trademark and the RoomPerfect logo is a trademark of Lyngdorf Audio A/S.


Specifications:


CONNECTIVITY

7.1 Outputs Balanced -1 (6th & 7th Channels Are SBL & SBR)

7.1 Inputs Unbalanced - 1

7.1 Outputs Unbalanced -1 (6th & 7th Channels Are SBL & SBR)

Stereo Inputs Balanced - 2

Stereo Outputs Balanced - 1

Stereo Inputs Unbalanced - 9 (Including Moving Magnet Phono)

Stereo Outputs Unbalanced - 2

Digital Coaxial Input - 4

Digital Optical Input - 4

Digital Optical Output - 0

AES/EBU Balanced Input -1

HDMI Input -5

Advanced HD Audio Processing, 3d Video Pass-Through, Arc

HDMI Output - 1 (Advanced HD Audio Processing, 3d Video Pass-Through, ARC)

Component Input - 5

Component Output - 2

Composite Input - 2

Composite Output - 2

S-Video Input - 2

S-Video Output - 2

Subwoofer 2 Output - 0

Max # Of Audio Channels In Zone A - 12

Additional Zone Outputs - Zone B: Analog Stereo Audio And Component Video

Advanced Connections - Ethernet Web Interface GUI, USB Firmware Update


PROCESSING

Ultra Low Distortion (DSO Bypass) - 0.005%

Dolby Processing - True HD/Digital, EX/Prologic Iix

DTS Processing - HD Master & High Res. Audio/ES/96/24, Discrete & Matrix 6.1, Neo:6

Pure Stereo DSP Bypass Mode - Yes

Video Scaling - None, Transcode Only To HDMI


CONTROL

Third Party Control - RS232, Web IP, IR Input

Tone Controls - Bass And Treble

OSD Overlay On HDMI Output - Yes

Input-Output Format Indicators - 9 In And 9 Out

Control Of McIntosh Sources - Yes, Wired With Data Cables


GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS

Channel Formats - Stereo, 5.1, 7.1, Stereo Subwoofers

DSP Room Correction - RoomPerfect, 1/12 Octave

Microphone And Stand Included - Yes

Network Features - Ethernet Control And Setup

Unique X-Over Frequency, Each Speaker - Yes

Special Features - Up To 121 Input Capability, Front Stereo Bi-Amp + LFE Sub


APPLE COMPATIBILITY

(Compatible With The Following Devices With The Latest Apple OS Installed)


Airplay Connection Or USB Connection - None

AirPlay Connection Only - None

USB Connection Only - None


WEIGHTS & DIMENSIONS

Dimensions (W X H X D) - 17-1/2" (44.45cm) X 7-5/8" (19.37cm) (Including Feet) X 19-1/2" (49.53cm) (Including Front Panel, Knobs, Rear Panel Connections And USB Drive)

Weight - 31 Lbs (14.06 Kg)

Shipping Weight - 55 Lbs (24.95 Kg)


Retail Price $12,500 (prior to July 1, 2013 price increase)


OFFICIAL PRODUCT PAGE:
including product overview, Owners Manual, Connection Diagrams, User and Installer Menu Overviews and more:

http://www.mcintoshlabs.com/us/Products/pages/ProductDetails.aspx?CatId=hometheaterprocessors&ProductId=MX151


FIRMWARE


Current:

System: 2.0_RC_1

SVN revision: 1:2460

SVN build time: 30/03/12 15:42

Front MCU : 0x2105

RP module 1 :8.20.a

RP module 2 :8.20.a

RP module 3 :8.20.a

RP module 4 :8.20.a

Coldfire MCU: 1.10.a

RP Sharc DSP: 1.0.c


New firmware version is in development, no feature/fix list or release date (as of 7/1/13)


FRONT/REAR PANEL SCHEMATICS


 

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Known Issues & Tips

Known Issues:


- Some broadcast 5.1 (DirecTV) audio, when expanded to 7.1, drop side channel audio. Currently, McIntosh claims this is because of the way the source is encoded.

- Some 5.1 broadcasts drop center channel and redirect audio to left/right. Again, McIntosh claims this is because of the way the source is encoded

- Cannot expand multichannel 5.1 PCM to 7.1 - signal steering goes wonky



System Control Tips:

Forget the OSD: Once you've configured the MX with an IP address, it is far simpler to configure and control the MX via with web interface, (which works perfectly on the iPad as well), for everything including Room Perfect calibration.


To use it, first configure valid IP settings on the 150/151 via the OSD (I prefer a static address, not surprisingly ending in .151), along the the appropriate subnet, gateway, and DNS settings for your network. Once saved, simply point any web browser to the MX's IP address, and you'll see the welcome screen:















Room Perfect Tips:


1) Do not measure the front third of the room


2) Except for Focus Position measurements (which are pointed horizontally toward the front soundstage at each listening position), do NOT point the mic at any speaker during room measurements


3) Try to keep the mic at least three or four feet away from any speaker when measuring


4) Keep the mic at least two feet away from any surface.


5) Vary your measurements - walls (upper/lower), ceiling, floor, large furniture


6) When initially calibrating, stop when you reach the minimum Room Knowledge required (90%) Save the measurements, and check the LEVEL OFFSETS/Bypass Position:




If any gains or cuts are more the +/-12 db, you will need to change get your system in balance and run again. Generally, this means the starting point for your subwoofer is too high or low. High minus values on speakers means the sub trim is too low (the MX is trying to cut the volume of the main/surround speakers to match the low level of the sub). Increase the sub's trim enough (2 - 4 - 6 db depending upon how low your worst reading was), and run Room Perfect again. Conversely, high plus gains (over +12), means the sub is too hot and the MX is trying to raise the mains/surrounds to keep up) Cut the sub's trim and run RP again.


If all the main/surround values were less than+/- 12 db, you are good to go. You can go back to Room Perfect to add additional room measurements positions to increase room knowledge, and additional focus positions without having to start from scratch.


7) Technically, while running RP again, all values are wiped, I like to manually clear out and save the LEVEL OFFSETS/Bypass Position values to 0.


8) Any speaker configuration changes, including crossover changes, will requires a new Room Perfect Calibration.


Here's a document from Ron Cornelius of McIntosh that talks about measurement techniques - it's written for both the 150 and their two channel Room Perfect device, the MEN220.
Room Perfect Microphone Measurement Techniques.pdf 67k .pdf file


Here's a more technical white paper from Lyngdorf about the science behind Room Perfect (thanks to sdurani for posting)
Lyngdorf_RoomPerfect-1.pdf 221k .pdf file


And here's a video of Ron explaining much of the same: (thanks to addino for the link)



Subwoofer and LFE Options:


The 151/150 have a single subwoofer output, so multiple subs will need to be connected with a splitter, or master/slave config if your subs support this. However, the processors also have AUX outputs which allow you to configure stereo subs and optionally continue to use the sub out for LFE only (AUX 1/2 are XLR connections, and AUX 3/4 are unbalanced connections). In essences, you are creating a monster speaker between your main and associated subwoofer (McIntosh labels this as bi-amping)


The use of stereo subs requires them to be co-located near the left and right mains respectively (AUX 1 is left, AUX 2 is right):




There are a few speaker config settings that must be performed to get this to work correctly depending upon your setup:

A) Stereo subs only, no separate LFE sub


In this scenario, the stereo subs play all crossed bass energy from all speakers plus LFE signal. This is how my room is setup, and here are the relevant screen shots:


Note the mains are set to XXL - besides this being my occasional shirt size, this also tells the MX that all bass energy including LFE is directed toward your L/R mains.




Initially, this feels wrong, as who wants their main speakers playing LFE? But note the Aux 1/2 settings are set to Custom (details below)




This tells the MX to cross the mains to the AUX subs at whatever crossover point you set (in this example, 63 hz). Also note that SUB has a dash ( - ) next to it, meaning it is not in use - there is nothing connected to the dedicated sub output in this scenario.


Your center and surrounds have their own crossovers as well, so in this configuration, all crossed low bass energy and LFE is directed to the Mains, but the AUX crossover settings re-direct the low bass energy/LFE from the mains to the aux subs at whatever crossover you've set.


Frankly, its more complicated than it needs to be, and I've never gotten a thorough explanation why it is done this way, vs independent sub outputs, but that's what it is.

B) Stereo subs + LFE sub


In this config, you would follow the config above, except for the following:
1) MAINS set to XL not XXL

2) Sub set to SUB 80 (or whatever you wish, Sub 100, Sub 120 or a custom setting)


In this config, all speaker bass energy (except LFE) is sent to the mains, and the bass energy is re-directed to the aux subs based on aux crossover settings. LFE is sent to the subwoofer output directly.


The note to set the Sub to Sub 80 is just a suggestion - while some LFE energy goes higher than 80, some, including Roger Dressler, set the LFE cutoff to 80 in other processors (generally known as the "LPF of LFE") The discussion of the reasoning is not for this thread.

What about AUX 3/4? From the best I can ascertain, you would use these instead of the AUX 1/2 if your subs didn't have XLR inputs, or, you wish to co-locate two subs (stacked I presume) at each left/right position. My understanding is the setting needs to be identical, or you may run into errors (seeking clarification on this point)



Voicing Options:


McIntosh provides several Room Perfect Voicing options (target curves) for different types of content - movies, music, action films, etc. Most of the provided presets are shown below:




What is nice is that with a piece of software from McIntosh, the MX150 Voicing Tool app, you can import, modify, and save new curves that could be uploaded into the 150/151. The app also includes several other voicing options with different target curves.


Below is the link for the 64-bit version of the app that will run under Windows 7:
MX150VoicingTool_64.zip 3295k .zip file


Below is the link for the 32-bit version for Windows XP:
MX150VoicingTool.zip 2456k .zip file


Below is the default set of voicings for the MX in case you massively screw something up:
default_voicings.voicings.xml 31k .xml file


There are no specific instructions included, but it's easy enough to load the various presents, and save out a new voicing file on your computer. You then load this voicing file into the 151 vide the web interface (Installer Menu > Audio Processing > Voicing Setup). This replaces the default voicings,( though the defaults are part of the app options, so you can always easily reload) You can have a max of 6 voicings (plus Neutral) loaded at any one time.


To create your own voicing targets, load the "custom" voicing profile into one of the six slots, select Edit, and then save the entire voicing file. You can also save an individual voicing preset to your hard drive sing the "save" button in the specific voicing slot, and reload it into a voicing slot to edit and rename (this is a convoluted way of "saving as..." so you can start with a target curve you like and tweak it, without screwing up the default curve).

Here are some curves created by fellow AVS members:

Roger Dressler's Movie Curve:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
McIntosh Factory Tour


In August 2013, I was fortunate to tour the McIntosh factory in Binghamton NY, and below are some photos from the day (sorry some are a bit blurry as spaces were pretty tight, and we had to move through lots of different areas without a lot of lingering)


The people at McIntosh are supremely smart, thoughtful, and hospitable, starting with their CEO, Charlie Randall, who led the tour of more than an hour.




The main building (somewhat reminiscent of the classic black faceplate and metal trim)




Spools of components feeding into an automated insertion machine




Sub-assembly board being built




A number of surface mount components require manual installation






Heavier components are installed later in the process to minimize the weight hoisted about...here either a 452 or 601 amp is being assembled




Mr Randall shows off a meter sub-assembly prior to installation




One of several testing stations; this one is also used for calibrating the blue meters. RGB LEDS are used, and the mix of colors is tweaked with a spectrophotometer to assure each unit has the same exact color (A single blue LED, would, because of supplier tolerance variations, not appear precisely the same from unit to unit)




XR50 Cabinets




XRT1K speakers nearing boxing stage




Complex transformer wiring done by hand




Waterjet for glass faceplate cutouts




Racks of unfinished faceplates




Stacks of silkscreens for each model faceplate. The process, done by hand, consists of eight or nine layers of screening, all on the back to assure no wear and tear even after decades of use




Pretty sure this is one of our beloved 151 silkscreen templates




Ready for cleaning




Time consuming hand labor to clean and assure not a spec of dust between the glass and backlit meters and controls




Most rear panel labeling is hand silkscreened as well




CNC metal stamping




The McIntosh Demo Theater




Drooling permitted here - this is in the back of the theater




The XRT2K and three-peice MC2KW amp
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Reserved
 

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This is great! Glad to see something dedicated for this highly under rated processor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
added current known issues and tips at top of thread...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrang  /t/1479699/the-official-mcintosh-labs-mx-151-mx150-owners-thread#post_23484550


- Some broadcast 5.1 (DirecTV) audio, when expanded to 7.1, drop side channel audio. Currently, McIntosh claims this is because of the way the source is encoded.
Well, there is a way to encode 5.1 that can cause this result: If the Ls/Rs channels are mono, PLIIx Movie, Neo:6 Cinema, and Dolby EX will all steer the sound only to the rear speakers. If you use PLIIx Music mode, some will remain in the Ls/Rs.


I have not noticed any significant amount of 5.1 content mixed like this, from anywhere, including DirecTV. Is there a particular recurring program or channel where you see this happening? If so, does the Mac display report it has an EX flag?
Quote:
- Some 5.1 broadcasts drop center channel and redirect audio to left/right. Again, McIntosh claims this is because of the way the source is encoded
There are 5.1 programs that simply do not use the center channel. Not common, but less rare than the mono surrounds case above.


Are you feeling that the Mac is giving different results for the above than you had from other processors?
Quote:
- Cannot expand multichannel 5.1 PCM to 7.1 - signal steering goes wonky
Now that sounds like a bug! Presumably, an easy one to fix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Dressler  /t/1479699/the-official-mcintosh-labs-mx-151-mx150-owners-thread#post_23485337


Well, there is a way to encode 5.1 that can cause this result: If the Ls/Rs channels are mono, PLIIx Movie, Neo:6 Cinema, and Dolby EX will all steer the sound only to the rear speakers. If you use PLIIx Music mode, some will remain in the Ls/Rs.


I have not noticed any significant amount of 5.1 content mixed like this, from anywhere, including DirecTV. Is there a particular recurring program or channel where you see this happening? If so, does the Mac display report it has an EX flag?

There are 5.1 programs that simply do not use the center channel. Not common, but less rare than the mono surrounds case above.


Are you feeling that the Mac is giving different results for the above than you had from other processors?

Now that sounds like a bug! Presumably, an easy one to fix.

Hi Roger - thanks for the input - I will look again with your comments in mind...


I notice issues with NBC and NBC Sports among others - I watch a lot of hockey and golf, and if I expand the signal to 7.1, I lose sides during the broadcast - however, when certain commercials come on, there is side and rear surround as expected.


I will check with PLIIx Music and see if the behavior matches your comments.


On CBS golf broadcasts, there is rarely a discrete center channel signal.


In all cases, the encoding is 5.1 on the input side of the of the 151 - I have not noticed if there is an EX flag on the display...



I don't have my 8801 anymore, but I don't recall these steering anomalies with it for broadcast, though running in 11.2 at the time, maybe I didn't notice it. Fortunately, I've not seen the 5.1 to 7.1 remap issue with any Blu Ray content or ATV movie streams.
 

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I would be curious if Chuck or anyone at McIntosh has a list of fixes for the next planned firmware update. Must be out there somewhere. Who can we terrorize at McIntosh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
When I asked Chuck, he said he did not know...maybe Ron C.? But I think they are not likely to talk about it in advance of the release.
 

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G-Rex - Did you create multiple focus positions or a single for your room?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrang  /t/1479699/the-official-mcintosh-labs-mx-151-mx150-owners-thread#post_23484550


Forget the OSD: Once you've configured the MX with an IP address, it is far simpler to configure and control the MX via with web interface, (which works perfectly on the iPad as well), for everything including Room Perfect calibration

Great idea to start this thread! On my Ipad 3 the source screen shifts the info on the right of the screen to over the the source description on the left of the screen making adjustments impossible. Anyone having the same issue?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by adidino  /t/1479699/the-official-mcintosh-labs-mx-151-mx150-owners-thread#post_23492872


G-Rex - Did you create multiple focus positions or a single for your room?

I have 4 chairs in 1 row. I did multiple positions, which were the two inner chairs. I set it at global to average the two sweet spot chairs.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by netroamer  /t/1479699/the-official-mcintosh-labs-mx-151-mx150-owners-thread#post_23493029


Great idea to start this thread! On my Ipad 3 the source screen shifts the info on the right of the screen to over the the source description on the left of the screen making adjustments impossible. Anyone having the same issue?

What are you using as a browser? Safari?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by netroamer  /t/1479699/the-official-mcintosh-labs-mx-151-mx150-owners-thread#post_23493029


Great idea to start this thread! On my Ipad 3 the source screen shifts the info on the right of the screen to over the the source description on the left of the screen making adjustments impossible. Anyone having the same issue?

Yes, in IOS Safari and Chrome, that screen doesn't display correctl. It's fine on the desktop, and I've found that once my sources were set up I don't need to revisit that screen much at all...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Dressler  /t/1479699/the-official-mcintosh-labs-mx-151-mx150-owners-thread#post_23485337


Well, there is a way to encode 5.1 that can cause this result: If the Ls/Rs channels are mono, PLIIx Movie, Neo:6 Cinema, and Dolby EX will all steer the sound only to the rear speakers. If you use PLIIx Music mode, some will remain in the Ls/Rs.


I have not noticed any significant amount of 5.1 content mixed like this, from anywhere, including DirecTV. Is there a particular recurring program or channel where you see this happening? If so, does the Mac display report it has an EX flag?

There are 5.1 programs that simply do not use the center channel. Not common, but less rare than the mono surrounds case above.


Are you feeling that the Mac is giving different results for the above than you had from other processors?

Now that sounds like a bug! Presumably, an easy one to fix.

Roger


You are correct, that using PLIIx Music does retain some side channel information, but Movie does not for sources it seems are surround mono...


I was not aware of this behavior...thanks
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrang  /t/1479699/the-official-mcintosh-labs-mx-151-mx150-owners-thread#post_23493906


Roger


You are correct, that using PLIIx Music does retain some side channel information, but Movie does not for sources it seems are surround mono...


I was not aware of this behavior...thanks
That confirms that the surrounds are mono. Now comes the question, why? I suspect these sports programs are originated as stereo, then some sort of upmixer creates the 5.1. Maybe there's very little difference between the Ls/Rs in that case.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Dressler  /t/1479699/the-official-mcintosh-labs-mx-151-mx150-owners-thread#post_23494797


That confirms that the surrounds are mono. Now comes the question, why? I suspect these sports programs are originated as stereo, then some sort of upmixer creates the 5.1. Maybe there's very little difference between the Ls/Rs in that case.

So Roger - does this confirm a bug that McIntosh needs to work through?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by adidino  /t/1479699/the-official-mcintosh-labs-mx-151-mx150-owners-thread#post_23495012


So Roger - does this confirm a bug that McIntosh needs to work through?

It sounds like expected behavior for mono mixed surround channels...
 
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