Mcintosh C15 Preamplifier -----
This post is probably a bit late to do and maybe less relevant now, as I should have shared this many years ago when I experienced it and also the fact that the model in questions is pretty outdated. However, there may be people considering purchasing them in used market, and I feel it is important that I share the following, only to make them aware of certain truths so that they do not get misled the way I was and spend their money thinking that they are buying a true Mcintosh. Besides I was never a member of any forums until recently, so I never had a chance to express these.
The Mcintosh C15 is not really a true Mcintosh just like its matching MR7084 Tuner. I bought one from Audigon a few years ago (I believe in 2001) and after listening to the C15 I was very much disappointed. The sound lacked transparency, it was mushy with no definition or impact in the bass. It did not sound much better than using a Sony TV as a preamp. No kidding - I really did that comparison. Completely bewildered, I compared it with 2 other preamps that were retailed around $600 – Yamaha CX-2 and NAD-C160. Both outclassed the C15 in transparency and definition. I was at a total loss and out of curiosity I opened all the three chassis. What a shocking disbelief I was in for!!
C15 – Here is a preamp that retails for $1500 from a prestigious company known for making excellent high quality High End electronics and even known for over engineering. 80% of the chassis was empty. Other than the quality switching relays, the rest 20% was made up by really cheap integrated circuitry. I do not have anything against Op Amps or ICs, but I certainly did not expect this at this price point and worse it was really inferior circuitry, parts and OpAmps.
Now take the Yamaha / NAD – Both preamps retailing around $600-$700 and considered only Mid-Fi. The entire chassis filled with All Discrete high quality Class A circuitry, beefier power supply, advanced and superior Power section circuit.
I soon sold the C15 to Audio Classics in NY and surprisingly got a good price for it! I also lost respect for Mcintosh for betraying my trust.
Later from other sources I learnt that the C15 and the matching MR7084 Tuner, were products that were a result of corporate pressures from Clarion Merger to offer products at a certain lower price point with higher margins. This was a time before the big economy boom when high end sales were really struggling. So for the C15 and MR7084, Mcintosh was forced to use Clarion like cheap circuitry and stuff into Mcintosh Clothing.
Fancier knobs and heavy metal chassis cannot make up for inferior guts inside.