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Article: McIntosh MC1502 Vacuum Tube Amplifier and C22 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier Mk V

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Very excited to hear how the MC1502 will compare to the MC275.  The MC2152 was gorgeous but it's footprint (28" deep!) a nonstarter.  This is much more doable at a slim 21" 😊

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1 hour ago, bluesman said:

Great to see this! Mac tube preamps have always been among the most natural I've heard.  The first truly high end piece I bought new was an MX110 tuner/preamp in 1969.  Driving the Dyna Mk III power amps I built and modified to about halfway between stock and an early Audio Research product, the sound was so wonderful that I often had trouble studying (I was a med student at the time).


What I never understood was how the early audiophile press could slam McIntosh so hard and so often.  If I didn't know better, I'd have assumed there was some reason other than sound quality, build quality, or aesthetics :) 

I have an MC275 Mk V and I'll never sell it. I love the sound and the look. 


Audiophile press can be strange. When things look good they are often placed in the "it can't sound good" camp, as if the two things are mutually exclusive. 

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We have been hunting for a new amp the past year. It started with the purchase of new speakers. We heard our new speakers with our amp (a Primare), and were quite happy with the results. As time went by, and we got accustomed with the speakers, we noticed distortion, especially in the high and with bad recordings (Doors, Riders on the Storm was the trigger).

A dealer invited us for a Mac demo (the new MA352, the Anniversary Set, and those 2Kw-behemoths were on the menu (coupled with Sonus Faber speakers). The MA352 did not impress us, the Anniversary Set is simply gorgeous (the best amp I have heard), but too expensive for us (let's skip the 2Kw's). 


So we looked around. Heard the MA352 again (but in not very favorable conditions). Liked Esoteric, was lukewarm to Moon, did not like Anthem, and so on...


Out dealer said "you should give the MA352 another listen with the speakers you have". Why not, we thought. We fed the parking-meter for an hour. As the demo began we were - again - not impressed. "You should listen to the same tracks again after an hour", said the dealer.  As time passed, the amp started to sing, I had to make a run to the parking-meter..


We have listened to other amps (including Mac solid state), but none of them was (for us) a match for the MA352. As you can guess, we ended up buying the MA352. It's a lot of money, but we think it's money well spent. The after sales, the build quality, it's al top notch. Perhaps I am a bit off topic..


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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/7/2020 at 12:40 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

I seriously thought about it!

I have owned Mac gear off and on. I grew up not far from the factory, so I am glad Mac is still making an impact. I think most audiophile press disdain is from the '80s into the '90s when there was much more exciting and exotic looking gear. Mac never really veered from their house look, or sound. Which was essentially exceptional performance with pragmatic bulletproof build. As often happens, we're in a cyclic nostalgic retro trend (see the new LEAK gear, or the Technics/Yamaha silverface revival, or vinyl in general), so Mac is relevant again. I would argue that for quite some time the high end has been the electronic equivalent of luxury watches with the press more interested in audio jewelry. This is not to say I don't enjoy seeing those things, or they are not important. At working man spending levels though, you can do extremely well if not better with gear from the past. I think where there have been huge gains is at the very bottom, but no one is really interested in a 100+ roundup review of $10 earphones. But we're here talking about Mac, and I too love the look and like the fact that my gear in all likelihood won't break before I do. I'm not especially keen on the green LEDs as they seem to detract from tube glow, but they can be turned off(?). Ultimately, the proof is in the listening. I think the rock solid sound that doesn't add or subtract to the source is what keeps audio lovers buying Mac.

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