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Thread: McIntosh 275 Tubed Mono Blocks...

  1. #1
    Senior Member Robin's Avatar
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    Thumbs up McIntosh 275 Tubed Mono Blocks...

    Well, I drove to my favorite Audio Store. Not the Magnolia Hi-Fi, I usually visit, but the "Audio Video Showroom", in Santa Rosa, California. Anyway, I was their to talk with them about the Anthem D1 and D2, which I did (Thank you Joe...) Well, to make a long story short, I asked them if they had any tubed mono-block amplifiers. They had a pair of Stereo / Mono McIntosh 275's (set-up in mono-block mode), they in turn were hooked-up to a McIntosh MCD201 SACD/CD Player, with leveler, no pre-amp. this player sent the signal directly to a pair of B&W 800D speakers. The manager put on a SACD of Cris Thile - "All Who Wander Are Not Lost" (track #7)... All I could say was "Oh my God!" What beautiful, rich, warm tones and clarity of sound image. It was so tight and crystal clear. Each high note and each bass note had depth and a smoothness, so mellow and alive with fullness. The Mandolin was vividly pure as was the horn notes. It was like these instruments were being played in a jazz club on Lincoln Blvd. in Calistoga. I was sooooo blown-away...

    I was so moved, I actually started to tear up a bit. No, I'm not a drama queen... I was just trying to imagine what these beautiful sounds would sound like on my Ascent i's at home. This tube sound was so moving and as close to live music as I have ever heard. The sad thing is this store doesn't even carry Martin Logan speakers anymore. I guess they used to a year ago. The Manager got my attention, after I dried my eyes. He told me these mono-blocks did sound even better on ML's. I guess, he had heard this set-up with Ascent i's they used to carry in the store.

    The McIntosh 275's cost $3,900.00 (USD) new from the store. The good thing is, I could use one McIntosh 275 in stereo mode, then later (when I had more funds), acquire another McIntosh 275 and use both as mono-blocks.

    The McIntosh MCD201 left a wonderful musical impression on me as well. Being able to be played SACD / CD's without a pre-amp employing built-in leveler, as a more direct signal path really sounded fabulous. I think he said it was $3,400.00 (USD) new in the store. I kept thinking, I got to get me one of these.
    Last edited by Robin; 05-28-2006 at 01:23 PM.

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    Forum Administrator twich54's Avatar
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    Good morning Robin, yes the 275 is a classic piece for sure. Generally speaking I'm not a huge "Mac" fan but that particular unit does something for me as well. My Dealer (Overture Audio) is a Mac dealer and back late last fall when I was vasilating between the summitt's , vantage's and B&W 803D's I listened to it driving all three, it proved itself worthy on all of them !!! If memory serves me I believe it still had the "old fashioned" speaker terminal connections, not easily compatible with modern bannas or spades ???
    Dave

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Robin's Avatar
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    Default MC275 an up-dated classic...

    Quote Originally Posted by twich54
    Good morning Robin, yes the 275 is a classic piece for sure. Generally speaking I'm not a huge "Mac" fan but that particular unit does something for me as well. My Dealer (Overture Audio) is a Mac dealer and back late last fall when I was vasilating between the summitt's , vantage's and B&W 803D's I listened to it driving all three, it proved itself worthy on all of them !!! If memory serves me I believe it still had the "old fashioned" speaker terminal connections, not easily compatible with modern bannas or spades ???
    Good morning Dave, yes the newest updated design enhances the performance of the classic MC 275. This newest version of the MC 275 is called the "Series IV" and employing the very latest modern design technology. The Old-fashioned point-to-point wiring has been replaced with glass-epoxy printed circuit board, which I was told, ensures the lowest noise and the highest operational consistency. I don't know what the older version sounded like but this newest Series IV, sounded incredible... Additional circuit refinements to the Series IV enable use of the widest variety of output tubes without sacrificing performance. You are correct about the old fashioned speaker terminal connections, no banana connections here as they kept the old classic connections from the classic 1961 original design.

    The interesting aspect of this tubed amp., for me is I would be able to use it with my Ascent i's immediately, in stereo mode as the power output in stereo with both channels operating at: 75 watts into 4, 8 or 16 ohm load. Then, when I can afford it later on, I can purchase / add another MC 275 amp and use them in mono-block mode with the power output in mono (parallel), which is: 150 watts into 2, 4, or 8-ohm load.

    It is exiting to me, because given the incredible sound I heard from the MC 275, I would be able to finally add tubes to the path. Especially to my Ascent i's electrostatic panels, which I believe would really make them sing even more than they currently do... I just know my Ascent i's are capable of so much more given the beauty of beautiful the proper tubed power amplifier.

    I'm torn though, I want so many things form my system right now... An Anthem D1 (D2), a Blue-Ray player, a new source - SACD / CD player (like the MCD201) or Tubed mono-blocks.... It's hard to decide what I to save-up and actually purchase first, second, third etc. Can you or anyone out there, give me counsel in this area?

    Sleepless in Calistoga...

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    Default Now you've done it...

    Congratulations! You've just gotten yourself on a slippery slope once you're exposed to "lighted glass" Looks like you're serious about tube amplification so you should take your time and audition a wide variety of amplifiers. The Mac 275 is a classic design (albeit modern implementation) and it's very good, but there are other units you should listen to find out which one(s) fit your preference. You should try BAT, Cary, Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, Manley Labs, etc... to get a feel for how the various designs & implementations match with your system. Furthermore, you should consider having your P5 powering the bass and the tubes focusing on the panels only. The rationale being that you don't need a whole lot of power for the panels, minimum of 30wpc, and the sweet spot is 50-75wpc. Keeping the part counts down to the minimum in a simpler design will go a long way in getting that pure signal to come out on the Logans.
    Given that there are too many things on your list, go slow and plan out your system. Your P5 amplifier is a good piece already and the Blu-Ray is...delayed a bit, so you should consider a good tubed pre-amp as a starting point. Once you have a good pre-amp in place, it's much easier to build your system around it.

    Good Luck
    Spike

  5. #5
    Senior Member Robin's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Excellent Advice...

    Sike,

    You are quite correct, I've been bitten by the Wonderful Glowing Glass - Magic... I hope never to recover either... Thank you for your wonderful encouragement and advice. I will take it too. I plan to audition and listen to more tube amplifiers. I had a glorious experience that's for sure and I plan to keep that tubed sound, I heard from the McIntosh MC275, in my soul as I look at all that is available to me. It may take me a while, but I'll get there someday... It all a part of the fun, the audio quest and search.

    I love this strange and wonderful hobby we all share.

    Thanks again Spike.

  6. #6

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    Sam T. of Steroiphile had those same Mac's powering some Aerius speakers for years - was his standard.

    I read elsewhere that they match up well with Martin Logans.

    Tubes are great but they might roast you in that little room.
    George; Architect
    Aerius 1992 vintage
    Tube powered at last!
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    I've heard good things about AES Six Pacs. They run around $2400 for a pair of 'blocks. Might be worth trying to track down those for an audition. That's what I plan to shoot for as my first major upgrade, once I get my system up and running. I'll audition first before I make that decision for sure, though

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    Default 'Bout 'em SixPacs

    Quote Originally Posted by IWalker
    I've heard good things about AES Six Pacs.
    Me too! That's why they're sitting on my rack!

    Might be worth trying to track down those for an audition. That's what I plan to shoot for as my first major upgrade, once I get my system up and running. I'll audition first before I make that decision for sure, though
    You won't be able to audition the SixPacs in your home for they are made on order from AES. But, you could audition the Cary V12R
    and get an approximation of how the SixPacs will perform in your system. Dennis said that the V12R is more "refined" than the SixPacs and I believe him, but I was not able to directly compare them in my system. There were a 2 month gap between my audition of the V12R and the SixPacs, and I was not able to discern any differences between these 2 amplifiers from (old, fading) memory. To me, that means the differences are quite subtle and requiring head-to-head comparison in order to uncover them. And that is an indication of how good the SixPacs are, especially at the $2500 price point! I've also found that a good pre-amp is required to realize the full-potential of the SixPacs through the Logans. Good Luck.

    Spike
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    Last edited by Spike; 05-08-2006 at 09:05 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Robin's Avatar
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    Talking Roasted Robin...

    Quote Originally Posted by kach22i
    Sam T. of Steroiphile had those same Mac's powering some Aerius speakers for years - was his standard.

    I read elsewhere that they match up well with Martin Logans.

    Tubes are great but they might roast you in that little room.
    kach22i,

    That is just what the manager said, "the McIntosh 275, sounds great with ML's".
    Well one thing is for sure, if I ever acquire tubed mono-blocks, I'm going to invest in a much larger window air conditioner. 9,000 BTU's is barely enough with my current system in my little room. I was thinking about a 18 - 20,000 BTU, with dedicated special ducting for my equipment amplifiers. I may have to add some more 20 amp circuits to my HT as well. I would all be worth it for the tubed sound I heard...

    "Roasted Robin" though a refinded delicacy to some, however would not necessarally be a good thing for me.

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    Senior Member jjqiv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IWalker
    I've heard good things about AES Six Pacs. They run around $2400 for a pair of 'blocks. Might be worth trying to track down those for an audition. That's what I plan to shoot for as my first major upgrade, once I get my system up and running. I'll audition first before I make that decision for sure, though
    I hear good things from Six Pacs!
    View My System:

    http://www.martinloganowners.com/~tdacquis/forum/showthread.php?t=213

  11. #11
    Senior Member Robin's Avatar
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    Lightbulb AES Sixpacs...

    Quote Originally Posted by Spike
    Me too! That's why they're sitting on my rack!


    You won't be able to audition the SixPacs in your home for they are made on order from AES. But, you could audition the Cary V12R
    and get an approximation of how the SixPacs will perform in your system. Dennis said that the V12R is more "refined" than the SixPacs and I believe him, but I was not able to directly compare them in my system. There were a 2 month gap between my audition of the V12R and the SixPacs, and I was not able to discern any differences between these 2 amplifiers from (old, fading) memory. To me, that means the differences are quite subtle and requiring head-to-head comparison in order to uncover them. And that is an indication of how good the SixPacs are, especially at the $2500 price point! I've also found that a good pre-amp is required to realize the full-potential of the SixPacs through the Logans. Good Luck.

    Spike
    Spike,

    Great photo of your SixPacs. I will difinately have to audition the Cary tubed amps. I loved the (SS) Cary - Cinema X. I'll bet the tubed Cary's are just as good or better in their own tube sounding kinda way.

    What comes to mind, as I look at your photo of those glowing SixPac tubes is, "Come On Baby Light My Fire"...
    I really can hardly wait till I can afford a tubed amp. I am looking at a "Source" SACD/CD player which does not need a pre-amp. A 'Source' player that I can just plug into the tubed mono-blocks directly, like the McIntosh MCD201... Like I heard auditioned this last Friday (5/5/06).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin
    I am looking at a "Source" SACD/CD player which does not need a pre-amp. A 'Source' player that I can just plug into the tubed mono-blocks directly, like the McIntosh MCD201... Like I heard auditioned this last Friday (5/5/06).
    Is this new SACD/CD player going into a dedicated 2-channel set-up or a combined audio/HT setup? I'm sure the McIntosh is quite capable of driving the amplifiers directly with its analogue volume control, but how are you gonna fit it into an HT set-up involving the Anthem processor? What about 2 sets of output connections from the SACD/CD player to accomodate for...bi-amping should this becomes an options later? This is where the pre-amplifier with HT bypass and 2 sets out output connections fits nicely. I'm just pointing out a few items to consider while you're in the planning phase.

    Spike

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    Senior Member Robin's Avatar
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    Thumbs up "Y" balanced adapter interconnects...

    Quote Originally Posted by Spike
    Is this new SACD/CD player going into a dedicated 2-channel set-up or a combined audio/HT setup? I'm sure the McIntosh is quite capable of driving the amplifiers directly with its analogue volume control, but how are you gonna fit it into an HT set-up involving the Anthem processor? What about 2 sets of output connections from the SACD/CD player to accomodate for...bi-amping should this becomes an options later? This is where the pre-amplifier with HT bypass and 2 sets out output connections fits nicely. I'm just pointing out a few items to consider while you're in the planning phase.

    Spike
    Spike,

    I was planning to use "Y" balanced adapter interconnects, into the tubed amplifier(s). One would go to the McIntosh MCD201 and the other to the Anthem D2 or (D1 refurbished to D2) processor. That way my Ascent i's would always be tube powered during Stereo (or two channel) listening as well as during HT 7.1 surround audio. I know I could do as you suggest with a tubed pre-amp, but my music listening goal to have as unfetter a signal path from source to tubed amp.(s). I was even thinking about shorter runs 1.5 meters or less for music listening only.

    What do you think?

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    Forum Moderator MiTT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike
    Me too! That's why they're sitting on my rack!


    You won't be able to audition the SixPacs in your home for they are made on order from AES. But, you could audition the Cary V12R
    and get an approximation of how the SixPacs will perform in your system. Dennis said that the V12R is more "refined" than the SixPacs and I believe him, but I was not able to directly compare them in my system. There were a 2 month gap between my audition of the V12R and the SixPacs, and I was not able to discern any differences between these 2 amplifiers from (old, fading) memory. To me, that means the differences are quite subtle and requiring head-to-head comparison in order to uncover them. And that is an indication of how good the SixPacs are, especially at the $2500 price point! I've also found that a good pre-amp is required to realize the full-potential of the SixPacs through the Logans. Good Luck.

    Spike
    Man, is there anything as pretty as the warm glow of tubes? Great Picture Spike!

    I miss the extra measure of "presence" that a good set of tubed mono's bring to my system. My own move to a solid state amp was brought about by the fact that I was moving into a smaller room for at least a few years. I knew that the heat generated by the tubes would keep me from my music in the middle of the summer (somthing you should consider Robin given the size of your room). Someday, when I have my new dedicated room built in the cool confines of my basement, I will likely return to some tubed mono's again. The last ones I had were Rogue Audio 120's, the next ones will hopefully be BAT VK-150 SE's.
    MiTT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin
    Spike,

    I was planning to use "Y" balanced adapter interconnects, into the tubed amplifier(s). One would go to the McIntosh MCD201 and the other to the Anthem D2 or (D1 refurbished to D2) processor. That way my Ascent i's would always be tube powered during Stereo (or two channel) listening as well as during HT 7.1 surround audio. I know I could do as you suggest with a tubed pre-amp, but my music listening goal to have as unfetter a signal path from source to tubed amp.(s). I was even thinking about shorter runs 1.5 meters or less for music listening only.

    What do you think?
    In the past, I was only running Y-adapter from a source (output) to multiple amplifiers, never 2 sources feeding 1 amplifier. I cringe at the thought of accidentally having both the McIntosh CD player AND the Anthem Pre/Pro on at the same time feeding the amplifier. I haven't the slightest idea how the amplifier will behave. But still, that only addresses 1/2 of the issues. What about the option of bi-amping with tubes on the panels and solid-state on the bass?

    Spike

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