What Do You Think Of McIntosh?

Curious what ya’ll think about McIntosh power and integrated amps? Which ones have you owned and how did they compare to other amp brands you’ve owned? And any other opinions regarding whether or not McIntosh lives up to its hype.

Are there less expensive brands that deliver McIntosh sound and high current?

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Years ago I got to experience a demo of what $50,000 dollars of McIntosh
gear in the mid 90’s sounded like…

I came away totally unimpressed…not totally the Mac’s fault
as much as the tiny and I mean tiny space used for the demo room.

As it was the Mac gear was very dull and lifeless. It was an all ss
equipment demo.

At the conclusion of the demo I got to meet Gordon Gow, and asked him
why didn’t he demo an Mc 275 with a C22 or other Mac tube gear. His
sad answer was they didn’t sell and thus did not make them any more
but had a storage room full of them…I told Gordon where have you all
been hiding ? As up to that point I really coveted Mac tube gear, the market wants
tube gear this ss stuff is lifeless and had I known from before I might
have taken a loan to make a purchase.

I do have a 60’s vintage MX110z all tube tuner preamp that can put on a show.
Alas now needs servicing and the one that did the best level of servicing has retired.

Mac gear is a great quality, beauty and holds it’s value very well.

Have not had opportunity to hear a demo of new Mac gear well set up
in good room.

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Years ago I had McIntosh MC501 Mono Amps with Mag 20.1. I loved it. I’m a Mac Fan.


Audio Excellence is a local dealer. They have a popular YouTube channel. I’ve been a friend and customer for a very long time. They’re a McIntosh dealer. A week ago I had the good fortune to do some auditioning before COVID-19 has shut us down as of Dec 26. One of the the set ups were the massive tube/SS Monoblocks the MC901’s. My overall impression was “Great Amp” but where’s the tubes? It was driving Wilson’s. The warmth I expected was missing. In it’s place was some the best music I’ve ever heard but it leaned to almost dry in presentation. It’s just McIntosh’s house sound nowadays. You need to audition it to make sure it’s what you’re looking for.

Small world! Though I I’ve in Hawaii, have been a subscriber to Audio Excellence’s YouTube for quite a while - they are my favorite. Their videos convinced me to sell off all my PS Audio gear and buy the Magnepan LRS and a Hegel integrated (H90). I’m using the Border Patrol SE-i DAC with that combo. It sounds glorious, the best I’ve ever had.

Thinking ahead, the LRS need lots of current, which boxes me in a bit on amp upgrading down the road. Moving up the Hegel line would be a safe route. Thomas & Stereo (another Toronto YouTube star) recently had a LRS review video in which he loved the McIntosh MAC6700 integrated paired with them. That got me exploring the pricey world of McIntosh.

I asked Adrian Low about the McIntosh MAC5300 integrated. It’s $5500 and Crutchfield sells it, which means free shipping to and from Hawaii with 60 day trial - shipping both ways could easily be $600 otherwise.

Adrian said the MAC5300 would drive the LRS well, but because it doesn’t have AutoForm, the sound will be a bit brighter/ dynamic than the the $7500 MAC7200. Both are solid state. Adrian seems to think AutoForm is key to the house sound. In comparison, if I’m patient I can get the Hegel H190 for about $2800.

So I’m like geez, to get the true McIntosh sound I need AutoForm which is minimum $5000 for the MC152 Power Amp, or $7500 for the MAC7200. And all that got me to wondering if McIntosh is worth all that money!?

I absolutely want a lush, warm sound. I’m less interested in audiophile accuracy, and more interested in emotion and huge soundstage. I appreciate your feedback, I certainly do not want lean and dry. I always assumed McIntosh was the opposite of dry and lean, but I’ve never heard them before.

Could have been the cables, as I’ve recently come to learn.

I have a pair of MC50’s (Transistor not Tube) monoblocks. They measure 70W clean and I’ve fully rebuilt them with 1% metal film Vishay Dale resistors, an Arizona Red Capacitor on the input, all over original voltage value new Electrolytics, and an IEC jack. They sound great.

I’ll sell them for $1000 for the pair including U.S. only shipping if anyone’s interested. I’m looking into some equivalent power A/B Tube Amps at the moment.

I’ll post a proper Ad elsewhere in the Forums.

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McIntosh are an inventive, legendary, American made brand. They have a following that is almost cult-like and there are retailers whose business model is solely to deal in used McIntosh.


I haven’t listened to McIntosh much lately but when I owned the 501 mono amps the sound was outstanding. The best way I could described them where they just sounded great. Almost tube like to me. They controlled my Mag 20.1 better than anything I had heard at that time. I had never heard of Mac being dry and lean but maybe things have changed over the years.

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LOL I know a few companies you can add to this list.


McIntosh = Meh. And seems awfully overpriced to boot.


McIntosh is absolutely amazing, but like most other companies, they have had several massive product failures.

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Have owned a number of Mac integrateds, preamps, power amps and still have a MA-6600 as my primary amp in the TT room. Love it -so much so that I haven’t come to feel that I need any tubes.

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If I were to upgrade I think it’d be for a pair of 501’s!

I have a boatload of McIntosh stuff. MC2500 x2, C39 , MC1000 x2, MC7106, C39, MX150, MAC-3, XR5, XR19, XRT20, XR290, HT3

I can’t say any of it will not impress, even the vintage DAC in the MAC-3 is great in second system. I have paired pieces with PS Audio Lyngdorf and yamaha with superb results. My favorites are the line arrays and big amps. The MC2500 is great bridged it’s autoformers are about volts not amp. the MC1000 is First quad balanced topology. Not that far apart in sound just lower noise floor and twice the current . Talk about effortless open and clear at any volume level. The comments on dryness or colored sound is unfounded. Those who say the sound is 2D and flat heard something not set up correctly or with poor sources. My next amps will be MC1.25KWs.

Listen to Audio Excellence MC1.25KW review vs DAGs. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=td54mT0bGo4

My friends love my music parties. Because my systems will handle any music type at any volume level and they love the open, clarity, and live music sound. As for holding value if you buy used it will usually hold or appreciate. My big speakers have all doubled in value since purchase as have the big amps.

Buying parts or obtaining service and support is top notch.

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If you had ANY maggies other than the LRS, and for ultimate warmth and sweetness, I would suggest looking at Conrad Johnson tube pre and power amps. I have both CJ and PS Audio gear and love both.

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What PS Audio gear did you have?

Not sure where “Dull and Lifeless, Dry, and Meh” come from, certainly not in my lexicon when I describe MAC sound. I have been through a lot of equipment the last few years and the McIntosh gear currently residing in my system is by far the best to my ears and emotions. To boil it down, two superlatives come to mind, natural and effortless, the polar opposite of dry, meh, dull and lifeless. To me MAC is superbly transparent and dynamic, with just the right touch of sweetness. For the first time ever I find myself falling into and enjoying the music rather than looking for the next tweak or upgrade. If and when I decide to move on to new gear, McIntosh will be my first stop. That said, I’m pretty sure my MC611’s and C2700 will be around for quite some time.


McIntosh is no different that any other company. Some of its gear sounds great and some not so great. I have had 2 integrated McIntosh amps and loved both of them. I had a MA6200 for about 10 years. I traded out of that one a few years ago for a MAC6700 that I currently use. Both had its advantages for different reasons. Purely on SQ I probably liked the MA6200 a tad better, but I have no regrets about buying the MAC6700.

The MA6200 was an older unit and I did not want to get into investing money in having it properly serviced. I bought it used and owned it for 10 years and sold it for what I paid for it. That is the great thing about McIntosh is it tends to hold its value on the used market.

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Any thoughts on the importance of AutoForm?

The $5500 MAC5300 doesn’t have it. The $7500 MAC7200 does. I’m not clear how important AutoForm is to the iconic McIntosh sound.