Soundstage drastically worsened when I replaced a solid state AV amp with tubes.


Hello. I am streaming music with Qobuz and Apple Music through a McIntosh MX123 A/V processor, into a McIntosh MC8207 7-channel solid state amplifier (200 watts x 7 channels), into Klipsch La Scala speakers (105 dB sensitivity). (I also have an SVS 2000 sub-woofer.) (The components are behind the wall in the photo.) With that setup, I had a 180 degree soundstage, extending laterally well beyond my speakers and from ceiling to floor in height. I wanted to see if tubes would improve the system for music listening, so I added a McIntosh MC275 amp to power the front L and R LaScalas. Now the MC8207 is used only to power the surround speakers. The MC275 improved the warmth of the music and greatly increased the bass. However, the lateral soundstage is gone. I now have a deeper soundstage focused perfectly between the speakers, but the lateral and height extensions are gone. It is as though I am back in the 1950s listening to a single mono speaker directly in front of my listening position. The music is beautiful, but I miss the soundstage. Other than replacing the amp for the LaScalas, everything else is the same. I did have to temporarily add an extension chord to the McIntosh power cord until I can get one of the proper length, so that could be the culprit. Otherwise, does anyone have any ideas regarding why the soundstage so drastically changed? I expected the soundstage to improve with the tubes, but it worsened. Thanks for your thoughts!


@therandyman yep, if its a radically different cable design it can surely make a difference, for starters. If they show up, ignore the coat-hanger cable trolls here. Maybe get some loaners from the TheCableCo to try before deciding. Best of luck.

Any chance that your connecting cables aren't a great match for the new amp?  Easy enough to experiment a bit.

negative feedback causes micro transients to be subtly altered and smeared. this can give false cues as to soundstage and detail information. like the exaggerated beauty of breast implants collagen lips and oversized butts. that ain't beauty, it's exaggeration for those with blunt senses. (this is why the best in mediocre audio gear is confused by the audiophile masses as being 'the best', when it is clearly not and those middle quality 'imagined as the best'  brands make all the money, like the fake beauty with the breast implants. the best will ALWAYS be in the places you currently don't understand. until the day you die, and afterward - this will remain true)

after a while (high negative feedback amplifiers) it becomes aurally tiring and painful, even. It takes time and is also tied to human intelligence and cognition speed, over time. hearing is the same, in that way.

some get it, some never will. Heresy’s don’t really deliver a deep wide sound stage and never will. You were more listening to false edgy cues.

what the tube amp did, to some degree, is illustrate that, clearly. the trick is working one’s way through the inordinately complex logic and data and understanding about ears and gear, in order to ’see it’.

All tubes do is add harmonic distortion (the so called warm sound), so I'm not surprised it doesn't sound as good.

All tubes do is add harmonic distortion (the so called warm sound), so I'm not surprised it doesn't sound as good.

@pedroeb  , I've never heard that tube amps have a reputation for shrinking the sound stage.