Is McIntosh still a good choice?

When I was a teenager I was really into stereo equipment. I eventually bought a complete system and thus moved on to other interests in life. At the time McIntosh was highly respected. My grandfather owned several McIntosh pieces and I revered them with their blue glow. Now it's time for me to become an audiophile again and I'm upgrading my system. I still have reverence for Mac equipment and love it's industrial design. Is McIntosh still highly respected, or have they become passe? Should I still consider a Mac integrated amp? I'm also exploring an Arcam A85 integrated. I'll be driving a pair of Paradigm Studio/20s. Thanks!
Here is my .02 cents and let me note that I own no Mac gear.

I was looking into some Mac gear not long ago and what I found, right or wrong, was that Mac made some great gear in the 60's and 70's, then the gear seemed to be so-so for many years and it appears their current line is again gaining respect.

One thing seems to ring true when I read comments and/or reviews on Mac gear, it may not have the last bit of detail as some, but the reviewers always claim the product to very musical!

My suggestion would be to look at their amps and preamps, I have read nothing of their CD players (or whatever source), you *may* want to look elsewhere for that.

If you have the ability to bring the units home, you love the sound and the looks, you will enjoy the pieces for many years like many, many happy Mac owners.

If an intergrated amp interests you, consider their MA6900, this looks very promising. There was a write up on it in the February issue of Stereophile.
I am in the same catagory as you as I am an old Mc lover. I have always felt,heard and understood them to be the best in audio as quality,durability and value retention. I have come to the conclusion as an owner of a MX132 control pre-amp and two amps a MC352 and a MC7205 5 channel amp. They do hold up their reputation. I would say the MC7205 isn't the build or sonic quality I expected but is still a very good peice and I would trade it for a Byrston,McCormack or Linn but I am hooked on the blue meters. Although I do believe that the 7205 does offer good resilience in dynamic range in that it answers the call when power is demanded.
The MC352 is...well another level entirely. The McIntosh Autoformers add so much to this amp. The MC352 is quieter,cleaner and much more accurate than the 7205. I amd driving old Infinity Kappa Seven's and they have always
left me disatisfied in the mid-range and bass depth. The 352
brought the speakers back to life. The MX132 is a wonderful
pre-amp and fantastic processor. I just traded a McIntosh C39 control pre-amp and a MSD4 processor in they were good but the pure stereo pass on this MX132 is sooo much cleaner.Not to mention the home theatre benifits are outstanding. So to answer your question YES buy McIntosh amplifiers especially with the Autoformers. Their pre-amps are very clean I really think they are most dependable, mostly credited to the elctro-magnetic switching. Best of all I have found that the McIntosh people are so willing to help you with questions and service. I would however stay away form source components such as dvd, cd players etc. Their tuners are awsome though.
I have owned an amp of MacIntosh MC2102, which is a terrific piece and great great sounding with very low distortion and neutral. That is for my stereo system and I also want to get a solid state MC602, which has hight rating in some audio magazines (sorry i do not remember the names) for my Hometheater system. I suggest that you should follow your grandfather's opinion but I warn you MacIntosh products are not affordable at all. Even though you can afford them you also can afford a better pair of speakers, which are driven by MacIntosh amp, probably for a good match.
not really

overpriced and not as up there sonically

check out sonic frontiers, audio research or bat
No one has addressed your question about the Arcam A85 integrated. First, I would note that at $1500 (new list, available new for less, as memory serves) for an integrated, this is in a different price league than Mcintosh (a lot cheaper)! If you really have a Mcintosh budget and are interested in other brands of integrateds, you should probably be comparing to higher-level integrateds than the Arcam.

Higher-end integrateds that fare well in reviews here include Plinius, Bryston, and Classe. While more than the Arcam, I think these can be had less expensively than the McIntosh gear (I'm not up on Mac pricing). The NAD silver series includes a high-current integrated also. Although people say the Bryston (with 60WPC) sounds bigger than it's rated, I would look for a high-current integrated that offers at least 100WPC; this gives you some flexibility in speaker and room choices.

My own budget is more in the Arcam range! I had an Arcam A85 at home for several days, and compared it head-to-head with several sets of separates. I found it rather "thin". Too bad, I really wanted to like it. It has every feature you could want in an integrated (including available phono board, and full featured -- but confusing -- remote). It's nice-looking and compact. With efficient speakers in a small room (how I demoed it at the dealer), I think it would sound good. For less efficient speakers and/or larger room, I would look to a more powerful integrated, or to separates.

If cost isn't too much of a problem, and if you demo and really like the sound, you may want to go with the McIntosh just for emotional value. There's something to be said for equipment (as well as music) that brings back a warm feeling. That's probably the main reason I still listen to LPs. What the heck!

All the best,

I highly recommend the McIntosh amps, pre-amps and processors. I have been a mac owner for over 15 years and have upgraded when new designe are introduced. The MC 202 and MC 602 amps with autoformers are "tube like" without the heat and stable into almost any speaker. The 132 processor is being replaced by a newer 134 that has some excellent pre-intro press. The 6900 integrated did get excellent comments in Stereophile. Importantly, their service is EXCELLENT. They are always ready to help with problems and repairs, if ever required, are performed in a timely manner. If summary, I echo the comments of some of prior comments - AMPS, preamps and processors are still excellent and the support is outstanding. Finally, the best packaging for shipment in the industry.
I own the MC-300 and would take it over some of the reviewer's hype ss amps. I did prefer it to the Bel Canto Evo (sotr of on the cool side of neutral, weak bass) and CJ MF-2500 (simlar to the Mac in the midrange and treble but with less kick on the bottom and much smaller soundstage). All the newer ss Macs sound very smooth with nice, tube-like midrange and powerful bass.
There is a I believe new in the box Mcintosh 6900 integrated in an Ebay auction so go for it and you will not have to look back. Arcam - maybe decent - but not as musically satisfying and when your grandchild looks at your Mac years fron now he will think you really liked music enough to get the best and he will push to get it in the will. I own the 352, 2102, 7008, 77, 101, C42 , 6100, 80 , 6850 -- if you ever decide to part with it - it will bring in more than the Arcam in a dollar to dollar ratio for years to come!
I own the Mcintosh MA6450. I had "many" other amps over the years, many of which were & are fine pieces. However the Mac is my favorite.

The sound is great! I love the control features, the meters, the build quality, and the factory support.

You will pay more for the Mac, but it is worth every penny!

Happy Listening!
Personally, i might look at Mac for tubed gear but definitely not SS power amps. I do not agree with their design philosophy of using output transformers for SS amps. There are as many or more technical reasons for NOT doing that as there are for doing it. My main consideration though is that i do not like the sound that they produce. Once again, that is a personal preference.

I think that Bob Bundus mentioned having some of the BIG Mac SS amps and not being too overwhelmed with them either. Let's see if he chimes in. Sean
Until you own a Mac SS and listen to it over a period of time particularly with the latest designs you may have a thing about the transformers - but one thing I have realized from many many years of owning them and Krell. Levinson, Electrocompaniet and others is the Mac brings music in better with a more natural presence and fatigue free over longer listening periods than many of these. Many amps claim a tube sound with their SS designs but Mac uses what it takes in SS to actually do so. Their tube amps have been what others have been trying to copy for years. Buy that 6900 or go even further with the 2102 and C42 combo and then just enjoy the music!
I've certainly been happy with the Mac equipment that I've purchased or heard over the years. A couple of the earlier messages in this thread mentioned reservations about Mac CD and DVD players. I'd like to hear more about that. Its not been my experience - although admittedly I did recently pair an MVP841 CD/DVD unit with an outboard DAC and found enough of an improvement to warrant keeping it.

hi! mac was good ,still good and in future for shure good as the best!tubes or solid state,they make music!
keep your mac and be happy with!all best from germany
and enjoy!ciao luciano
Thanks for all the great responses! The McIntosh is very expensive, but I always look at the long-term value of things and include the less tangible emotional value of such investments. I'm convinced that McIntosh is worth every penny and will be a pleasure to own for many years to come, and most importantly, after side-by-side listening tests of various Mc models, my ears are very, very happy with the sound of the 6900. I'm afraid the tube amp is simply too expensive an option right now because of its higher price and the fact that a preamp would have to be purchased as well. Anyway, I need to allow for something to look forward to in the future in the way of upgrades : ) Good listening space fans! AT
I agree with Ljgj. I have a modest MA6450 integrated and love the sound. I saw a MA6850 on ebay recently which went begging at $2200 (what I paid for my MA6450 new), so you can get some great deals. MAC gives a nice full sound and maybe some bloom which I enjoy. And those big blue meters at night will really relax you. Classic looks, classic sound.

I had a McIntosh 2102 in my system for about 2 weeks while I was awaiting LAMM M1.1 monoblocks. McIntosh is frequently knocked by so many "audiophiles" - those who turn their noses up and look away, in favor of more esoteric brands. I found the McIntosh 2102 tube amp to be HIGHLY enjoyable and quite frankly I am tossing around the idea of getting rid of the LAMM's in favor of a pair of MC2102's (bridged). While the LAMM is truly a spectacular amplifier - it's not that much better than the Mac 2102 - and that really says something for the current generation of Mac tube products.

I think a pair of 2102's in bridged mode, producing 200 watts per channel would give ANY amp a run for the money. Not just in listenability, musicality and resale value but nearly all the qualities we seek in music reproduction.

Plus - they look gorgeous!

While I am personally not fond of McIntosh digital or preamplifiers (in any way), I do think their amps (even the newer solid state designs - which MUST be tweaked with the right interconnect for optimal performance) sound quite good and can easily compete with the best, most esoteric brands out there.

I honestly don't know how you could go wrong with any of their products. I have been into high end audio for years and have owned several great sounding systems, my last being Krell FPB series. I then ventured into MAC equipment and bought a MC2000 amp along with C100 pre and their two piece CD play back units. How's it sound? Well let me tell you in my humble opinion, this may very well be the last equipment I need to buy...then again. Anyway, MAC still lives up to it's name and let's face it, those who don't like MAC gear are those who probably can't afford it !
I don't have a lot of experience with Mac equipment but did have an opportunity to audition the MC602 with my Thiel CS7.2s over a long weekend. Compared to the ML336, Krell FPB300, and Classe CAM350 the MC602 was easily the most powerful, relaxed, and warm sounding amp. On large scale classical works string sections were never steely or hard edged sounding, and horns had a nice colorful burnished tone. If it was my wife's decision the MC602 would be in my system today. She loved it. Perhaps its just my bias, but on more upbeat music; rock, R&B, etc., the Mac didn't get my foot tapping. YMMV.
Well, I did it and purchased a 6500 integrated amp. It sounds beautiful, crisp, and soooo quiet. Even my old Boston Acoustics sound good (I'm receiving some Tannoys next week). Ah, the beauty of a true cultural icon. I love it. You can have your techno amp; I'll take my McIntosh.
I honestly don't know yet! I've owned just about every midfi amp and integrated amp out there. I was over at a friends house who I haven't seen for years when I went into his music room and saw 2 blue meters glowing. It was a Ma6850 and just sounded fantastic matched up with a pair of Thiel 3.6s. I was in the market for an amp and was just about to buy a Rotel 1090 knowing I'd have to buy a Preamp. I was now turned in another direction so off I went to my local Mcintosh Dealer. What a bad experience. The local dealer had one but wouldn't set it up unless I ordered the current MA6900 or agreed to buy his Ma6800 before he would hook it up. What an ***hole. I called Mcintosh who apoligized and gave me the next local. This dealer is 168 miles away. He was great. Told me to come up and he'd set it up for me. I did and was truly impressed. I ordered a MA6900 instead of buying his MA6850. He called on the 12th and said he was coming my way and would be glad to drop off the my unit. I agreed and low and behold the day he delivers it I come to the door with a 102 degree tempature and the Flu!!! I just don't have the energy to set it up yet but I have to tell you the funny part. The local **hole dealer calls and wants to apoligize and asks if he can order the amp for me. I let him know I had gone elsewhere. It's know skin off his back believe me but it tells me that Mcintosh must have callled him. That's the only reason I can believe the local dealer would have followed up. Sorry to waste your time, no review. I have just got out of bed for the 1st time in 3 days and I'll let you all know how it sounds after I hooked it up. Thanks!
Audiobeer, over the years I have also had some real jerk off dealers, who if they had just tried a little could have made some serious cash off me. For my Mac stuff, instead of dealing local, I travel 3 hours. Get feeling better and let us know how it sounds. Budrew, enjoy and ain't it so...MAC RULES!
Here's a little follow-up to the McIntosh purchase. I am in the market for speakers and that was part of the plan. But when I hooked up the MA6900 it sounded just great....but certainly not enough to justify the cost difference between the reciever I had and the MA6800. As I turned it up the volume the Lower end on the the Powered towers started to really sound muddy, sloppy, ect. The Mids and highs were greatly improved. But my God those speakers really were revolting. The soft clipping lights came on at 1/2 power and I thought I might have wired them out of phase. I new my problem had to be speakers so I then decided to drag my speakers from my neighbors over after pleading my case. He has a pair of older vintage JBL 100s. We hooked them up and it was like night and day from what we had heard moments before! It sounded really nice until his left speaker started gasping. Yep, that's my luck! Now we have a recone project. So what the hell was up with that. I had a lightweight 65watt Yamaha DD reciever hooked up to the Newton T300 powered towers and it sounds great! Especialy for Home theater stuff. Hook the McIntosh up and it all sounds great until you go above normal listening levels. So after buying the Integrated Amp and the Rega I have just enough left for Paradigm Reference 100s, Dynaudio 82s, PSB Goldi, or a used pair of series 3 B&Ws. Even was looking for a used pair of Kef 104/2. Looks as though thet 2nd weekend of March the road trips & listening will be completed. And I'll make a purchase, but one last thing? Does anybody have an explaination of why the Towers peter out above listening levels? Is it because of the built in amps? Thanks!
My apoligies to all. I'm just glad I was able to post before others respond. In fact maybe the wisest thing to do was just to keep my mouth shut about what I found. The fact is The Newtons were hooked up incorrectly and out of phase. When my neighbor left I just had to try it again with my speakers before going to bed. It's 11 pm here and I can hit the sack a happy man. I apparently had hooked the speakers out of phase because they sound completely different.....unless of course it takes 15 minutes to break in an amp....Just Kidding. The difference is like night and day. I can't really check it out since it's late but I'll be running home from work tomorrow to check it out. I apoligize!
The Mcintosh works without any strain it seems. I'm not going to pretend to be some articulate reviewer but It's the best I've experienced im my own home. With the speakers wired right (Should have kept my mouth shut) They sound better than I imagined they would. So much so that I took the things off the market for now. I have time to make a good decision. The only hurdle I have now is keeping my kids away from it when thier home from school! I guess the best thing I can say obout the McIntosh is that after the purchase looking back at the other amps I auditioned I have no regrets.