Could use some guidance around upgrading my turntable set up

skhan007

Silver Supporting Member
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9,625
I love my vinyl and currently use my dad's old (circa mid-70's) Sanyo TP1005 with a new MM cartridge. I know this is not an audiophile grade turntable, but I dig it for now. I'm running into an old (circa 1990) Technics integrated receiver and old (circa 1980's) Cerwin Vega 12" speakers.

As long as I can remember, I've had a fascination with McIntosh. Mostly likely because a friend of the family, years ago, had/has the most incredible sounding McIntosh set up with glowing tubes and hypnotizing blue meters. It sounded so incredible and I'll never forget it. I would have no idea where to start with considering a set up and was hoping to find out where I can start reading up to educate myself on higher quality set ups. I love tubes, but I don't know that my next set up has to be tubes. I also don't know if integrated is the way to go (I suspect it's the easiest route) vs. phono preamp into the power amp components. Also, I would plan a lot of headphone use, so that would be a key feature.

Any thoughts on McIntosh or other brands would be most appreciated.
 

5881

Member
Messages
1,105
If you look at Stereophile or Absolute Sound reviews of recommended gear in any price range I doubt you'll find many if any McIntosh products. I'm sure they are really well made but I kind of think they are just resting on their laurels at this point. The target market would be older folks (like me) who remember "back in the day...". That said IMO go integrated; it's easy, cost effective and there is a ton to choose from. I sold hi-fi in the 70's and have somewhat stayed in the game over the years. I'm currently using, and very happy with, a Rogue Sphinx integrated amp; tube pre section and SS amp, has phono section built in, and made in the US. About 1800$; check out the Stereophile review. I bought v1 for about $700, which was a really good deal; I would definitely look for used. They are on v3 now.
 

skhan007

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,625
If you look at Stereophile or Absolute Sound reviews of recommended gear in any price range I doubt you'll find many if any McIntosh products. I'm sure they are really well made but I kind of think they are just resting on their laurels at this point. The target market would be older folks (like me) who remember "back in the day...". That said IMO go integrated; it's easy, cost effective and there is a ton to choose from. I sold hi-fi in the 70's and have somewhat stayed in the game over the years. I'm currently using, and very happy with, a Rogue Sphinx integrated amp; tube pre section and SS amp, has phono section built in, and made in the US. About 1800$; check out the Stereophile review. I bought v1 for about $700, which was a really good deal; I would definitely look for used. They are on v3 now.
Thanks- Very solid feedback. I too feel the allure of the "back in the day" thing, but perhaps I should be open to other brands, as there is so much (too much) out there. I'll check out the gear you've mentioned.
 

john weires

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
532
As a high end audio dealer for 45 years I can't go along with the assessment that because you don't see lots of McIntosh reviews in Stereophile or The Absolute Sound that somehow MAC is only for old folks and is resting on their laurels.

First, if you peruse both magazines review archives you will find a significant number of reviews on McIntosh products. Mostly the reviews are on their tube products because tube equipment interests their reader base and that is what MAC is often remembered for. And these very positive reviews also point out that their current models outperform earlier MAC tube equipment both objectively and subjectively.

Secondly the high performance audio world does not solely revolve around either Stereophile or TAS (which I both respect and read) or the very limited number of audiophiles they serve. They see their demographic reader as someone who is a purist and to some degree is also attracted to fringe boutique products rather than offerings from large established manufacturers. Their readers often find it fashionable to own a product no one else has heard of.

In addition many other respected audio publications, particularly online, offer competitive and often usefully alternative view points as to what constitutes high quality audio performance and so they review different products accordingly, many of which are McIntosh.

For example, there are far more premium music listeners that want full featured preamps with tone controls, a built in headphone amp and plenty of switching capability rather than customers for the "straight wire with gain preamp" sporting only a volume control and source selector switch. These same customers also value a product that is built to last because they don't plan to go down the audiophile rabbit hole of playing musical chairs with equipment. They want a reliable, serviceable and well engineered product that holds it's value.

From their beginnings, both Stereophile (in the 60's) and TAS (in the 70's) based their magazines premise on subjective reviews largely eschewing measured performance. In the late 60's McIntosh was one of the last stereo manufactures to switch from tubes to solid state. They did so partly because a reliable supply of tubes was drying up, and they also believed, as nearly every other manufacturer did at the time, that transistors would prove to offer superior performance and no one would continue to want vacuum tube equipment.

In the 70's through the 80's while McIntosh concentrated on measurable technical improvements to their solid state equipment they fell out of favor with these magazines even while still enjoying strong sales with their type of customer. The 1990's saw McIntosh reintroduce vacuum tube products (better late than never) and thus slowly started to become of interest again to Stereophile and TAS and their readers.

Working in the industry I was sometimes privy to private information about annual sales figures for various high end companies.
I can tell you from that information that today McIntosh dominates the high end electronics market. It is doubtful that their next half a dozen largest competitors added together equal their sales volume. They also make more products than ever before, over 70, not including cables.

No way this happens if you are resting on your laurels and your customer base is dying out.

So look for a new MAC integrated amp or preamp/power amp if you can afford it. If you can't, look for used MAC. You can own it for many years and probably resell it for about what you paid for it. MAC can literally be a generational purchase lasting so long it will outlive you.
 

amigo30

Member
Messages
7,589
I'll say that the products they are making now are the best they've ever built. They've invested heavily into developing absolutely stellar products the last few years, and have financial and talent resources that extremely few other manufacturers have at their disposal.

While I won't say they won't break - they are built to very high standards. Buy a good McIntosh system, and there's a good chance you'll play music through it for the rest of your life, and then some lucky recipient might get another decade or two out of it.

Read the recent review of the MAC7200 (solid state receiver) , or the MA352 (hybrid integrated). Both are great ways to get started. Or - an all-tube combination like the C2700 preamp and MA275 amp is pretty hard to beat.
 

Alan Dunn

Member
Messages
1,455
The only bad things I can think about with McIntosh is their prices outside of the USA, horrible speaker connectors on older mc275 model, and the mcd201 sacd player which had compatability and reliability issues.(I used it as a pre amp).

But overall their amps are workhorses which can drive most speakers with little to no effort.

I
 

ZENTISH

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
573
The only advice I can give regarding tube amps is, make sure that the speakers you buy are efficient so that you don't need a powerful amp. Tube watts are expensive!
 

john weires

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
532
The only bad things I can think about with McIntosh is their prices outside of the USA, horrible speaker connectors on older mc275 model, and the mcd201 sacd player which had compatability and reliability issues.(I used it as a pre amp).

But overall their amps are workhorses which can drive most speakers with little to no effort.

I

Not every product has been a winner, the MCD201 being the pretty rare dud. As I recall the problems were related to the transport which is one of few things that MAC does not make and has to source. Wadia, Krell and other high end companies have also had issues because of this.

It seems you are right on prices outside the US. I'm not sure whether MAC sets the retail pricing or whether it's their foreign distributor that do.
I could see them being 15-20% higher just due to the extra layer of distribution and warehousing plus the overseas shipping cost.
I'm not sure how much of a factor tariffs and exchange rates enter into the pricing. Each country could be different.
 
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Linus

Member
Messages
8
Without knowing your budget and size restrictions it’s hard to know how to advise you.
I love McIntosh gear. I have a C2600 preamp, Mc275 amp, and M74 tuner into B&W802 speakers.
The only “cheap” McIntosh gear you’ll find is the occasional really old piece in an estate sale, local classified ad. But that might be so out of spec that it won’t sound good.
In general expect to pay $2000-$4000 per piece. McIntosh holds its value used. But it sounds amazing and has a very distinctive look that people either LOVE or not.
Audio Classics is a GREAT source for used, well maintained Mc gear. Call them and explain what you want and your budget and ask what they recommend.
 

captwillard

Member
Messages
1,375
I'll say that the products they are making now are the best they've ever built. They've invested heavily into developing absolutely stellar products the last few years, and have financial and talent resources that extremely few other manufacturers have at their disposal.

While I won't say they won't break - they are built to very high standards. Buy a good McIntosh system, and there's a good chance you'll play music through it for the rest of your life, and then some lucky recipient might get another decade or two out of it.

Read the recent review of the MAC7200 (solid state receiver) , or the MA352 (hybrid integrated). Both are great ways to get started. Or - an all-tube combination like the C2700 preamp and MA275 amp is pretty hard to beat.
Mac stuff is great and isn't outrageously priced when compared to some of the ultra high-end stuff. It does have serious competition From Bryston, SimAudio, Parasound, Naim, Mark Levinson, and others.
 




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