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Article: McIntosh Labs C53 Preamplifier Review


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14 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

I have been listening to the DA1 module in my MAC7200 for a while now, and have a DA2 on the way. I am curious to hear what, if any, the differences may be between the two.

That would be interesting to hear... 

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3 hours ago, kirkmc said:

I thought that audiophiles didn't like equalizers. I had been wondering recently why the equalizer, which was part of the standard audiophile setup some decades ago, had disappeared.

Equalizers introduce phase shifting which leads to a loss of clarity.  We also have this with the low pass filter used in A/D conversion for 44.1k and 48k digital.

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Thanks for the great review, I look forward to the C2700 comparison.

 

I'm disappointed that McIntosh seems to be insisting on the purchase of their DAC module with just about any of their preamps--as you point out, it's not quite as good as current separates.  A few years ago it was easy to choose--the C22 was essentially a C2600 without a DAC for about $2,000 less.

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3 hours ago, PeterG said:

Thanks for the great review, I look forward to the C2700 comparison.

 

I'm disappointed that McIntosh seems to be insisting on the purchase of their DAC module with just about any of their preamps--as you point out, it's not quite as good as current separates.  A few years ago it was easy to choose--the C22 was essentially a C2600 without a DAC for about $2,000 less.

Agreed Peter!

 

My ideal McIntosh preamp would I fact be the C2700 with phono input, equalizer and no digital section... go figure! ūüėäūüĎĽūü§£

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We auditioned a Mac (MA 352) this morning (we are looking for a new amp). The tone controles were quite useful in a few cases (to my own surprise, we haven't owned an amp with tone controles for decades).

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Thanks for the fine work and write-up!  I've been sorely tempted to check out some new McIntosh, and you may have pushed me over the line.

 

I'm old enough to remember when the audiophile world and press shunned McIntosh. This was a critical part of my formative years, as I loved everything about Macs from their sound to their looks to their build quality and couldn't understand the flames from non-Mac dealers and the press.  Thanks to McIntosh, I learned to trust my ears and judgment far more than reviews and opinions that differed too strongly from mine to be objective.  I've owned at least a dozen of their products since buying a new MX110 and a pair of used MC40s in 1969, and I only sold my last pieces (a pair of MC75s) when we downsized from a house to an apartment four years ago.

 

1 hour ago, Danny Kaey said:

There's reality and there's theory... the two don't always necessarily intersect, no matter what the data says.

That applies in spades to the original audiophile¬†objections to early Mac tube amps because they operated in class B.¬† Everybody knows that class B sounds dull and lifeless¬†ūüėĀ

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/18/2020 at 5:13 AM, Funkadelico said:

Hi Danny,

 

I have a Macintosh C52, basically I agree with everything in your review regarding C53, I think the only difference between models 52 and 53 is the DAC section. It was for me a big delusion to understand that the DAC of 52 do not works properly with Ronn, although is "Roon Tested". All the songs are reproduced with short a silence in the beginning, a problem for all users of the C52 (please check in Roon Community) and it is impossible to fix it. The sound is very good but this problem is so frustrating, especially for the price of this premplifier (in Italy 11.500 Euros).

I am considering to sell my C52 and buy the new C53... but the new DAC works rightly in your experience with Roon or Audirvana? Are you sure that is free of c52 DAC problem's? 

I thank you in advance for your kind attention.

Marco

(PS: Sorry for wrinting mistakes)

Hi Marco, sorry, I didn't see this reply until just now... Sorry to hear you are having issues with your 52... I can verify that I had no issues whatsoever with the 53 and Roon, it works without any issues! 

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  • 1 month later...

Hello, I enjoyed your editorial, very well written and informative. I am curious as to how this would compare against a Chord CPA5000 pre amplifier. I recently bought a McIntosh MC462 for my studio paired up with Tannoy Prestige Canterbury speakers with a Chord M Scaler/TT 2 DAC as one input with a McIntosh MCD600 as the other. All using XLR cables. I also recently adopted a SVS SB4000 sealed subwoofer from the MC462 over XLR - tuned via my mobile phone over bluetooth so it blends in well with the Tannoy Gold Reference.

 

Interested to hear your opinions or take on whether it would be worth swapping out the CPA5000 for the C53 - as I am pretty sure the C53 would be quite a 'tuned' pairing with the MC462. I agree with your equaliser commentary - worth avoiding when possible but perhaps a benefit for some recordings with a little 'tweak' here and there.


Thanks for your time,

Allan

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  • 5 months later...

I for one would have possibly gone with the 2700 had it come with the 8 band EQ...  for small speakers and in a smallish room, I chose the C53 mainly due to this feature...  The idea that EQ isn't useful or cool to have assumes way to much about the subjective nature of how we all listen to music..  And as with a volume knob, or input gain, you can mess the sound up easily with an EQ as well.. it's a tweak, not a cure for a bad setup. 

 

As for the ESS 9018 based DA-2 DAC... it will see action when I play SACD as the requirement of the DIN cable will limit me to this (since I use the MCT500 SACD Transport)... but the rest of my DAC processing, including playing normal CD will be via Coax into my dedicated dCS DAC... which leaps and bounds ahead of the DA-2 (to my ears).

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