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For some, McIntosh is magic and there is no comparison. But I'd like to hear from anyone with a more objective account of experiences with these two and whether the price of the Mac is justified.
I have a McIntosh 240 purchased (not by me) over 41 years ago. It's superb - people find it jaw-dropping (when played through Maggie 1.5 speakers).
However, if you go the vintage route, recommend strongly that you have the unit brought back to spec with good capacitors. There are several people who can do a good job. Several on this forum and on vintage could probably advise you.
By the way, the McIntosh is impressive visually. Our unit has KT66 tubes from Groove Tubes - and it gets attention.
One word on the Mac gear, re-sale. They are not classics for no reason. That said, the new 275 is superior to the vintage in the sonics department. This is the opinion of Terry De Wicke who repairs old Macs. But if you want a 225 you will have to go vintage. Go to www.audiokama.com and check out the Mac forum.
The Chinese stuff is cheaper, so are the parts used, think transformers. Especially in the SET's. There are few of these amps that do not need tweaking before they see service. It is just economics. Labor is cheaper there and they are killing themselves with pollution because of no environmental controls. Unbridled Capitalism. We did the same thing here 100 years ago.
Most vintage amps have simple signal paths which also
allow space for upgrading to current available production
parts like power supply capacitors and signal path caps
(which by the way should always be replaced in 30+ year old
gear). Look inside a Pilot 232 for example- the shoebox design
allows for point to point wiring which is always good, there's
plenty of space for potentially larger new parts, the transformers
for power and output were made in the heyday which would cost
significantly more to produce today- all good starting points.
A dynaco ST-70 doesn't have much space, but there's many aftermarket
kits readily available. And it will outperform most modern
economy amps without breathing hard. When you bring up old Macs,
the parts quality alone will push it way past the Jolida league.
No offense meant, just plain economics- even at the large prices
of anything older today, with proper upgrading they just plain sound
good and will be dependable. There are many forums for those with no experience to learn which parts to change and what to look out for. A leak Stereo 20 will not likely be a good cantidate in these examples, because it will require far more baby-sitting because of some weird design choices causing it to be more techie and less
Now, modern bleeding edge gear will likely be more linear and
clearer, but for the dollar, even a $1500 HK Citation II will
be a damn fine sounding amp by anyones measure. I've even heard
that Bob Carver uses (6) Citation II's personally (and he made
the venerable Silver 7's). I suppose that could be heresay.
In any case, comparing Jolida, as good as they are for an entry level product, will be outclassed by most Mac gear.
If the old stuff sells for $500 and you can have it serviced for another $300 - it sounds better and is cheaper than buying a $1200 Jolida. Why would people buy the new stuff then? Aesthetics?
Compared to them, many of the Macs & Citations are a bit dowdy looking & don't have the remote that so many Americans demand.
I choose not to. I'd rather support current manufacturers
from the States or somewhere less insidious like England or some
of the beautiful products coming out of Italy.
Citations for example are how privateers like Jim McShane
can make a living or support a hobby. Micheal Elliot of Alta Vista
is another person who's chosen to deal with equipment not made anymore.
I'd rather rebuild or buy parts from someone like
those fellows and support folks in the hobby on a less international level.
I think while us Americans worry about remotes, we not only miss
the target on sound quality, I think we miss the boat on wisdom as well.
I love beautiful casework as much as anyone, I'd just rather
Bob from around the corner gets the profits.
Other than my Sony SCD-777es, my main system has a preamp made in California (VTL Ultimate), an amp made made in California (Innersound/Coda), and speakers made in Utah (Soundlab Pristine IIs) or in Maryland (Apogee Stage). Will admit my Gallo Nuc Ref 3s were built in China...but for an American company.
We live in the good ole US Of A and it should just floor people that buy asian cars and asian electronics,how much asians are willing to pay for our 100% american made audio gear or amateur radio receivers like collins or hallicrafters.
I think they laugh at many of our buying choices all the way to the bank and think what dummies we are to have such nice well mastered equipment like macs or citations or marantzs and then sucuum to buying the crap many of us do.Give me vintage any ole time.
I almost asked the webmaster to pull that post, thinking
it wasn't in the spirit of the topic.
One of the reasons I love the High End, even the Bleeding edge
is that I can still buy American gear. I still adore lust after and
appreciate gear from everywhere (how could you not appreciate an
Ongaku for example). However, I like that one of my pairs of speakers (Magnepans)are made 45 minutes away. One of my preamps
is made 10 minutes from my house at ARC. One of my sets of OTL amps-
30 minutes away. They, like the very best companies audio has to offer, will talk to you on the phone or let you stop by and say "hi".
That means a lot to me.
I really don't mean to belittle or offend, it's just my personal choice. My wife found some fleece pullovers to buy me for Christmas
that were made in the US. Not a big deal, but it sure meant a lot to
me that at least she thought about it when shopping. Along that vein, my rather opulent choice of owning Hi End helped pay my own state taxes- Bob from down the road may have machined that fancy remote. Let's see, some of my cables may have helped pay for George Cardas' new boat!
The music is what really matters, if a Jolida is your cup of tea,
ENJOY! Maybe you can buy some tubes from McShane...
I guess we can thank the chinese and russians tho for resurrecting our vintage tube audio hobby.Think about what we would have to pay if it werent for the chinese building a nice kt88 and a 6L6gc and many of the nice gold connector jacks and tube sockets we use to rebuild our amps with..I would hate to think how much everyone would be fighting on ebay to get that last pair of used up mullard el34s with burnt flashing for 300 dollars lol.Thank god for our friends in the orient and in the former baltic states and ussr.
If the Soviets and Chinese hadn't spooled up production for
vacuum stste devices, we wouldn't likely be having this discussion
because the vintage stuff would be prohibitively expensive to
repair and maintain. High voltage caps would have ceased production
almost altogether and the old gear would be akin to restoring Victrolas (although those too are cool).
I suppose we could thank guitar players and companies like ARC/CJ
as well for not letting the flame burn out and providing fiscal reasons for the new tube manufacturers to spool up new production.
Because most Americans want to buy new products and assume they are better than old gear without ever doing any research. Too many people are "scared" of vintage gear.
Its like anything..Many people want the security of buying new becuase it would have a warranty and its plug and play and many of these people dont have clue how much better vintage gear sounds until they hear it.Im sure asethetics play a role in the decision also.
If you look at the high end audio market of people that buy new,most tube audiophiles dont service or upgrade their own gear.To an individual lacking in technical prowess,the assembled new units look very attractive to them being they are plug and play.
IMHO and I know many will agree with this there is nothing better than vintage amps and preamps for sound when upgraded with better caps and more and better filtering and matched resistors.
Jolidas are a good starter amp and I did have a 502 with some hefty transformers but going up against a sherwood s5000 int amp,it was such an embarassment to the jolida that its no wonder vintage gear fetches such exhorbatant prices as they do.
Your asking will a jolida sound like a mac? Being the 502 couldnt touch the sherwood,I think that would be a very tall order for most jolida integrateds.The biggest problem is the preamp section of the integrated amps like the 502 and the anemic power supply of the power amps.They can be made to perform much better but you are so limited with circuit board amps when having to make changes that I would go with a nice vintage amp of any kind..It doesnt have to be a mac or citation to perform well although they do perform best in my estimation but just get some mainstream vintage amp that you can upgrade and get assitance on if you need it or have someone mod it for you.
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