Anyone compared these?: BHK Signature Monoblocs vs. McIntosh MC601


#1

OK so I’m considering a switch to solid state monobloc amplifiers. American made only. PS Audio and McIntosh seem like obvious good choices in the expensive but maybe-I-can-swing-it category. I want them to last the next 10 years of daily use without failing and without making me feel like I need to upgrade.

Anyone had a chance to compare these two sets of twin bruisers? Anyone care to speculate? I’m a Mac guy so far, so I may need some arm twisting and persuasion to make the switch. At the same time, I’ve got a number of PS Audio products in my current system: P10 and multiple Statement AC cords. In other words, I’m open minded to a point.

thanks!

PS: I also read the weird Fremer review of the BHK amps. Since when is salesmanship not integral to the audio business? We take all of it with a grain of salt.


#2

I have never been drawn to, or overly impressed with, McIntosh. Thus, my first impulse would be to look at PS Audio. But the MC601 is certainly a nice amp and possesses some interesting design approaches, such as quad-balanced and its use of autoformers.

A nice dilemma.


#3

For as much as I loved MacIntosh gear for it’s elegant beauty and classic designs, I’ve always found their equipment to have “a sound”. Call it the McIntosh sound. In recent years not as much as in the old days, but to my ears it’s still sort of there. It’s not bad by any means, but it means (to me) bringing something into the mix that may need to be balanced a bit differently with the rest of your system than if had a bit less character.


#4

This is my experience as well. For example, their amps typically do not exhibit fine detail. There is a certain smoothing of the sound.


#5

Thank you very much for the replies. There’s some consensus, so far, that Mac has the reputation of “smoothing” sound or having less “detail.” I’ve heard that before from other Mac listeners/reviewers, although as as a solid-state Mac user (down the food chain with an MC352 stereo amplifier right now), I don’t see this as an issue. Maybe this is something Mac tube amp users are hearing?

Also from what I’ve read the tubes in the new BHK monoblocs are there to “smooth” things out in this way. At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten so far.


#6

Hi

I think you might want to ask this same question on some Mac forums. I wonder what they they think ?

Fine Sounds owns Mac and Martin Logan and will display these two at their demos and dealers , I would seek them out and have a listen.

It would be fun to get the BHK and the Mac in the same room at the same time. Hard but not impossible.

Good luck, the hunt can be the fun part.


#7
goheelz said Thank you very much for the replies. . . . Maybe this is something Mac *tube amp* users are hearing?
Not in my experience. It is part of the McIntosh house sound. However, at least for me, this is not necessarily bad. It is not my preference but at this level of excellent amps these are the specifics which distinguish various components from each other. McIntosh owners often describe their amps as "analog like."

(Note, I do not find modern tube amps to soft, dark or forgiving as in many years past - and this perception may exist because SS amps at the time were often brittle. Tubes and SS now now both sound as good as the designer behind them.)

Now for the fun question: What is PS Audio’s house sound? I have an opinion, but I am more interested in what others think. Which of the house sounds appeals most should, in my mind, guide your decision. Both are silly powerful and will drive anything.


#8

Do not know what the ‘House sound’ for PS Audio would be described as with BHK’s, but when other gear is cleaned up by a P10 the soundstage is opened up and a definite blackness between tracks is apparent. The caveat being that there are many other variables that come into play here, (comparing or contrasting). Other than the perceived ‘smoothness’ of what Tube amplification produces in general, it is also interesting, when considering a choice between any gear the quality of a products longevity over time (McIntosh or PS Audio BHK). There are less expensive Amplifiers, (Stereo) not in the monoblock configuration that can last when taken care of (regular maintenance) and used constantly and consistently over time upwards of 20 years or more. I would think that the BHK Stereo or Monoblocks would last the test of time given the high level of quality PS Audio always strives for and often achieves.


#9

I’ve not heard the Macintosh and while I’ve always admired their cosmetic beauty have never delved too deeply into their gear. I’ve been a solid Krell fan for the better part of 30 years and am going on my 16th year with the iconic FPB300cx and have never had service, knock wood. :wink:

That said, I was lucky enough to actually hear the mono blocks when the PSA team came out to Northern California in October to demo the blocks at the home of a San Francisco Audiphile Society member. I was, to put it mildly, blown away - more than a little impressed. And the source material we listened to wasn’t particularly great either. There were a few good, high res files we listened to, and I was impressed enough that when the time comes, be it a month or a year - I wouldn’t even bother to listen to anything else. At this price I don’t think an audio enthusiast can do any better. I presently have the P10 and Direct Stream DAC and am sufficiently impressed with the performance and build quality of these two components I’d trust (and hope)that that the BHK build quality would be equal to the other gear I own form PSA. These mono blocks are the bomb, and while I love my Krell, my Dynaudio Confidence C2’s seem to be hungry for more power and these bad boys are clearly able to satisfy. Powerful, accurate, neutral but inherently musical; what more can an enthusiast ask for? Good luck!


#10

Mac amps have a close approximation to a tuby sound , warm a bit as well as slower meaning syripy if that’s a word . Almost all we use has a house sound although some have much less than others. Both Mac and pass labs have a higher dose of it . My aragons are warm of neutral but not as much and are really pretty clean And in keeping the chain alive with details . My hope is the BHK mono are not having a house sound while playing music not just sound. A really fast and hyper detailed amp seems to sometimes shout or not be as Muaical .

Good luck in your quest


#11

This is a comparison I am interested in as well. I have the MC601 amps and the C2300 preamp. I also own a number of PS Audio products to include a DSD, P5 and P10. Both are terrific companies, but I think the customer service at PS Audio is LIGHT YEARS ahead of McIntosh. Go to some of the other forums and you’ll note a number of complaints about Mac’s customer service, and a perception of “superiority” by the people at Mac. Thank goodness I have not had any problems with my gear.

I agree with a house sound to McIntosh, but the new amps such as the 601 certainly have a lot less of it. A slight bit on the warmer side, but I would much rather that than an irritating, bright sound. As the C2300 is a full tube preamp, some tube rolling can make it as warm, neutral or bright as one wishes.

With my great experiences with PS Audio, if I had to start all over again their preamp and monoblock amps would be at the top of my list for auditioning. A full PS Audio system with my Sonus fabers may be one SWEET sounding system.


#12

4n6 said
This is a comparison I am interested in as well. I have the MC601 amps and the C2300 preamp. I also own a number of PS Audio products to include a DSD, P5 and P10. Both are terrific companies, but I think the customer service at PS Audio is LIGHT YEARS ahead of McIntosh. Go to some of the other forums and you’ll note a number of complaints about Mac’s customer service, and a perception of “superiority” by the people at Mac. Thank goodness I have not had any problems with my gear.

I agree with a house sound to McIntosh, but the new amps such as the 601 certainly have a lot less of it. A slight bit on the warmer side, but I would much rather that than an irritating, bright sound. As the C2300 is a full tube preamp, some tube rolling can make it as warm, neutral or bright as one wishes.

With my great experiences with PS Audio, if I had to start all over again their preamp and monoblock amps would be at the top of my list for auditioning. A full PS Audio system with my Sonus fabers may be one SWEET sounding system.


Definitely agree that customer service is important and too often neglected these days, even by putatively “high-end” makers and retailers. Seems to be something of a lost art in certain quarters, for a lot of reasons I guess. My experience, reliability-wise, with PS Audio and McIntosh alike has been superb, so I’ve not had to delve into the world tech service much at all and can’t speak to that with any personal experience.

May I ask which Sonus Faber’s you use with the C2300/MC601 setup? What are your impressions? I heard some Sonus Fabers (not sure of the model) with the even-bigger McIntosh MC1.2KW (I think) at AXPONA this year, and it was very nice indeed.

By the way, I’ve upgraded the stock C2300 tubes to Gold Lions, and this was a step in the direction of a bit more mellow, euphonic sound, to my ears anyway.


#13
goheelz said

Definitely agree that customer service is important and too often neglected these days, even by putatively “high-end” makers and retailers. Seems to be something of a lost art in certain quarters, for a lot of reasons I guess. My experience, reliability-wise, with PS Audio and McIntosh alike has been superb, so I’ve not had to delve into the world tech service much at all and can’t speak to that with any personal experience.

May I ask which Sonus Faber’s you use with the C2300/MC601 setup? What are your impressions? I heard some Sonus Fabers (not sure of the model) with the even-bigger McIntosh MC1.2KW (I think) at AXPONA this year, and it was very nice indeed.

By the way, I’ve upgraded the stock C2300 tubes to Gold Lions, and this was a step in the direction of a bit more mellow, euphonic sound, to my ears anyway.


I am using the Elipsa Red’s (also called the Elipsa SE’s). Beautiful sounding speaker that is on the slightly warm and musical side of the coin. I was getting a bit too much of a good thing with the warmth, so I put in Mazda Chrome Plates in the C2300. Still smooth, but a little more air and extension in the treble region. Perfect.

I am THAT close with trying the new PS Audio preamp, however. The more I read about it the more it seems some really excellent engineering went into the design and build.


#14

4n6 - I have a full PS Audio system w/ Sonus Faber speakers and it sounds amazing. PSA P20, PSA BHK 250, PSA DAC / Bridge II, PSA DMP, Nordost: Tyr 2 speaker cables, Valhalla 2 HDMI, Valhalla 2 XLR, Sonus Farber Guareni Evolution speakers (graphite) w/ stands. ACS isothermal bass traps in front stage.


#15

That’s like asking the waiter what he likes best on the menu.
Both are top quality amps and will be an excellent foundation for building a system you love.
I’d go for the BHK because I absolutely trust these guys to care about my purchase now and down the road. And I also think the BHK is a brilliant design.


#16

Yeah I agree with @tony22 - Macintosh kind of changed their design or are using different components because it’s not what it use to be. Or maybe my ears are giving up on me :slight_smile: