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RE: Classic Mac Sound


I guess I own "classic Macs" sort of. My amps are 2 1960s Mc 275s bridged for mono. I drive my nominally 8-ohm speakers as if they were 4-ohm because their impedance drops to 6.3 ohms and they are said to present a reactive load. The Mc 275s have been great amplifiers in my experience: quiet, neutral, long-lived, easy to maintain. Mine have been modestly modified -- extra capacitance, and a bit of feedback around the output transformers. I can't say those changed their sound much -- though I have owned and used other amps over the decades, the 275s have been true "set-and-forget"; their long-term sound causes me to forget to "upgrade" (assuming that's possible).

The "classic" 1960s C22 is another matter. Again, it is quiet and well built. But as sold it had a wider RIAA tolerance than we'd accept today; the phono stage in mine as it is today is far more accurate. Even more importantly, at least to my ears, the original C22 seems to have had its front face designed first, before consideration of internal lay-out, with the internals made to fit between that and the back panel. The result is a woeful lack of stereo separation, generated by capacitive coupling between channels. Through its phono inputs, mine measured as low as 6 dB (!) at some settings of the volume control when I acquired it. (Was that "normal-average" when the C22 was designed?) Fixing that was a lengthy matter of soldering in shielding in many places inside the chassis. I found the sonic improvement from that fix much greater than that from "flattening" the RIAA curve. Don't misunderstand -- the original had the virtues of tubes -- no stridency, no flatness or hardness. But it can be greatly improved.

So, ref. the Absolute Sound quotation, "much lower noise and distortion"? -- I doubt it. But "greater transparency"? -- quite possibly. That's what serious modifications conferred on my original if transparency = a huge opening up. On the other hand, McIntosh seems to have remained fastidious, even obsessive about their external appearances, and who knows whether some of the same sins are still being committed. Measurements would show, but they're increasingly rare. And my current tech says, FWIW, that the old Macs were much better built than the new ones. Of course, that could be merely that he has a fetish for point-to-point wiring.


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