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Cornwall IV - Which Mc?


Metallo
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Hi all,

 

I am new to this forum, and I am excited to be part of this community. :)

 

I am currently evaluating the purchase of a pair of Cornwalls IV and my wish is to power them with a McIntosh pre-power + power amp.

 

First some background:

  • My source is mainly vinyl and I listen to mostly progressive, hard-rock and heavy metal, but I also enjoy blues, jazz and Gershwin!
  • My room is: 28' x 14' x 7.2'

 

For me it is a total change in the listening experience, as I have been using British equipment for 30 years, which basically means a totally different approach to music listening.

 

I have been lucky enough in my life to be able to attend dozens of wonderful live concerts, and I want to get as closest as possible to that sound in my little room.

 

I have no doubt that the components I want to buy, will satisfy my needs, however I would like to read your experience when it comes to the McIntosh pre-power+amp combo.

 

Ideally, I would love to have tubes on both pre and power amp.

However aesthetics is also important to me, as many other people, I love the blue meters and I know that I do not need 300W to drive the Cornwalls IV.

So what are my options?

 

Here is what I was thinking:

 

  • C2700 + MC152
  • C2700 + MC275

 

I read everywhere that C22+MC275 is excellent, but I am not a fun of the C22 retro look, so I was wondering how would those two power amps play with a C2700.

How different do they sound? I have no dealers close to where I live, so before driving 500 miles away, I want to be sure to make the right selection to be auditioned.

I could not find any review of the above combo, therefore I was hoping to read the experience of someone in this forum, who perhaps has a similar gear, maybe a C2600 rather than a C2700.

 

Anyways, I hope I did not forget anything, the table is open for discussion!

 

Thank you all,

Alex

 

 

 

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I have no comment on McIntosh gear because I don’t have a lot of experience with it.

 

That said, if you are going to drive 500 miles the dealer should at least have CW IVs to demo with. Even then, just the other associated equipment  and room will be different enough to make things difficult. If it was a one hour drive, maybe? But you are talking about driving a total of 1000 miles to audition an amp that will sound very different when you get it home.

 

My suggestion is to find a dealer that will allow in home auditions. You pay shipping both ways if need be. This will be less than the cost of gas, food, a hotel stay, and your time.

 

You are right to solicit user opinions on gear before you buy. But listening to it in your own room should be the deciding factor.

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Matallo

I run a Mc 152/ C 48 system with my Chorus II's..... Which I occasionally switch out to Forte. Great sounding system with both sets of speakers. To be honest.... While I'll probably keep the Mac's.... A tube set is probably in my future. A good friend has a great tube system to drive his Chorus II's. He runs a Pima Luna  with a Vincent preamp..... Great sounding...... Very detailed... 

 

Just my thoughts.... 

George 

 

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@Metallo

Recently I purchased an MC275 and a vintage MX110Z to drive my Cornwalls. The result was magical! My Cornwalls never sounded so good. 

I have a friend with an MC240 and a C22, also a spectacular pairing. 

Speak withe the guys at AudioClassics.com. They can give you the advice you seek.

Good Luck,

Jerry

 

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Personally, I see no need to insist on demoing the McIntosh w/ your speakers.  The CW IVs are breeze to drive so there's no reason to think they could be a poor match.  Buy whichever Macs best suit your aesthetic and features requirements and you'll be golden.  

 

I have a McIntosh MA6600 driving my CWs.  Sounds great 

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Also...  Get tubes if you prefer their look, the retro aspect, etc...  But I think you'll find that if you did a blinded comparison of McIntosh's current Tube gear w/ their current S/S gear, you will find they sound pretty much the same.  Indeed, a poster on another forum who worked at McIntosh said that it was a not so carefully guarded secret that NO ONE in the company - inc. engineers, service techs, designers, etc. - could tell any of their amps apart when blinded.  Nowadays, amps that measure alike sound alike - regardless of whether they are tube or not.  And ALL of McIntosh's amp have exemplary measured performance.  All of their gear have F/R, THD, S/N, Crosstalk, etc.. that vastly exceed the sensitivity of our hearing.  Still, they continue to make tube gear b/c there will always be those who romanticize tubes.   That said, get whichever and you'll be very happy.  IMHO, the C-22 tubed preamp is one of the best looking pieces of audio gear ever made.   I would LOVE to have one :)

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I have yet to hear a better match in any audio system I've owned in over 50 years of doing this stuff then my current main system of MC30's/C11 pre/La Scala's from 1977. In my room, to my ears, glorious.

 

My second system with '77 Cornwalls and MC240 ain't so bad neither.

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18 hours ago, Metallo said:

I read everywhere that C22+MC275 is excellent, but I am not a fun of the C22 retro look

 

Then get the C70, which appears to be the very same preamp as the C 22 but with the more modern Mac cosmetics.  My gripe re: the C2700 is that it utilizes a not-so-robust-feeling push and scroll knob to wend through digital menus. It is much more satisfying, IMHO, to use a face plate mounted tone control knob and mono switch than to find those features via a menu. McIntosh's newest gear utilizes fewer and fewer knobs, and more menus which is disappointing because those knurled knobs are a big part their iconic look and why so many people love their gear.

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On 2/16/2022 at 4:15 PM, Metallo said:

Hi all,

 

I am new to this forum, and I am excited to be part of this community. :)

 

I am currently evaluating the purchase of a pair of Cornwalls IV and my wish is to power them with a McIntosh pre-power + power amp.

 

First some background:

  • My source is mainly vinyl and I listen to mostly progressive, hard-rock and heavy metal, but I also enjoy blues, jazz and Gershwin!
  • My room is: 28' x 14' x 7.2'

 

For me it is a total change in the listening experience, as I have been using British equipment for 30 years, which basically means a totally different approach to music listening.

 

I have been lucky enough in my life to be able to attend dozens of wonderful live concerts, and I want to get as closest as possible to that sound in my little room.

 

I have no doubt that the components I want to buy, will satisfy my needs, however I would like to read your experience when it comes to the McIntosh pre-power+amp combo.

 

Ideally, I would love to have tubes on both pre and power amp.

However aesthetics is also important to me, as many other people, I love the blue meters and I know that I do not need 300W to drive the Cornwalls IV.

So what are my options?

 

Here is what I was thinking:

 

  • C2700 + MC152
  • C2700 + MC275

 

I read everywhere that C22+MC275 is excellent, but I am not a fun of the C22 retro look, so I was wondering how would those two power amps play with a C2700.

How different do they sound? I have no dealers close to where I live, so before driving 500 miles away, I want to be sure to make the right selection to be auditioned.

I could not find any review of the above combo, therefore I was hoping to read the experience of someone in this forum, who perhaps has a similar gear, maybe a C2600 rather than a C2700.

 

Anyways, I hope I did not forget anything, the table is open for discussion!

 

Thank you all,

Alex

 

 

 

 

Alex,

McIntosh makes really nice gear. Can't imagine you'd be disappointed with your choices already. You don't need really refined amps for rocking out IMO. I'm more about smooth and sweet sounding because I like easy listening jazz. For that I use my Decware. For rocking out, I use my Dynaco ST120 and ST70, more power, more punch but not as sweet and refined compared to my little Zen amp. I've been messing with the First Watt F3 amp and that's the first solid state amp that truly sounds like a tube amp even though it's solid state, but for rocking out, refinement isn't worth worrying about. I'm not necessarily saying rocking out is all you're doing but you really should have a couple of different types of amps because one just doesn't do it for all music, if you are doing it right. Good luck.

 

 

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On 2/17/2022 at 1:15 AM, Metallo said:

Hi all,

 

I am new to this forum, and I am excited to be part of this community. :)

 

I am currently evaluating the purchase of a pair of Cornwalls IV and my wish is to power them with a McIntosh pre-power + power amp.

 

First some background:

  • My source is mainly vinyl and I listen to mostly progressive, hard-rock and heavy metal, but I also enjoy blues, jazz and Gershwin!
  • My room is: 28' x 14' x 7.2'

 

For me it is a total change in the listening experience, as I have been using British equipment for 30 years, which basically means a totally different approach to music listening.

 

I have been lucky enough in my life to be able to attend dozens of wonderful live concerts, and I want to get as closest as possible to that sound in my little room.

 

I have no doubt that the components I want to buy, will satisfy my needs, however I would like to read your experience when it comes to the McIntosh pre-power+amp combo.

 

Ideally, I would love to have tubes on both pre and power amp.

However aesthetics is also important to me, as many other people, I love the blue meters and I know that I do not need 300W to drive the Cornwalls IV.

So what are my options?

 

Here is what I was thinking:

 

  • C2700 + MC152
  • C2700 + MC275

 

I read everywhere that C22+MC275 is excellent, but I am not a fun of the C22 retro look, so I was wondering how would those two power amps play with a C2700.

How different do they sound? I have no dealers close to where I live, so before driving 500 miles away, I want to be sure to make the right selection to be auditioned.

I could not find any review of the above combo, therefore I was hoping to read the experience of someone in this forum, who perhaps has a similar gear, maybe a C2600 rather than a C2700.

 

Anyways, I hope I did not forget anything, the table is open for discussion!

 

Thank you all,

Alex

 

 

 

I use the last 18 years the combination C22CE with MC275. For me an absolute all-rounder, there are no desires open, very subtle at low volumes as Klipsch speaker they need, my Lascala, and at the same time powerful and authoritative on various speakers, even those around 86 dB sensitivity when the impedance is light.
So I can recommend Mcintosh. But now comes the second part of this post. Because I reactivate my jubilees I wanted to have two equal amplifiers and I remembered an amp that I already had 34 years ago. A Quad 306. so i first bought only one amp on ebay. What can I say, I am absolutely thrilled. The secret of the Quad is the current dumping principle. Even at very low volumes, the power amp sounds as good as a tube, even the comparison with the MC275 is not completely exaggerated, on the one hand British and discreet, on the other powerful and very amazing spatial. At a used price of 330€ including shipping within the EU. The Queens Award-winning principle (the highest award in the UK for technical innovation, and the only one ever given to an audio device) is based on the fact that a very small but very high quality Class A amplifier determines the sound, without crossover distortion, and the power transistors function only as current „dumpers“. Quasi a powerful Class A power amplifier with the use and the longevity and the low and volume adapted power consumption of Class B. Very good also just on horn speakers. Quad was very often combined with Tannoy in the UK. And for those who don't know the brand, Quad amps played in every BBC studio.

 

So I also bought a Quad 34 pre amp for the fun of it, and I could discover two impressions. First, I never heard in the past the power amp with something else than the 34 pre amp. That was a mistake. The 306 on its own combined with a high resolution pre amp is awesome plus it is one of the most noise free sand amps I know about which is very important when you drive such high sensitive speakers like a Cornwall.

 

A warning note, the Quad 306 has a "modern" low input impedance, as does my second Mcintosh amp, an MC2102, namely only 20 kohms. That is why I can not run the Quad with my C22CE pre, the bass would be too thin. But with my E.A.R. 864 pre, which has output transformers! as impedance converter it goes very well.

The impression of the Quad 34 pre for the first time after 30 years: Not so tangy, not the most transparent pre, but one of the most musical I have ever known. And the best...simply a completely fatigue-free long-term fascination. I have become older wiser and more mature, I no longer run after the last ounce of resolution, I like fatigue-free pleasant music.

One word if the Quad 306 power amp would be a serious alternative, you can internally adjust the input sensitivity very easily by swapping R1,R2 and C1....from 0.35 V now to 1.25 V for example.
Anyone who has heard this small Quad 306 with 50 watts at 8 ohm will be amazed, no exaggeration! And a real all-rounder. Another benefit: there are no trimpotis or other adjustment needs, you do not have to match power transistors, it only needs four new PSU electrolytic capacitors after 35 years.

 

This units are really small and neat looking in my view.

 

 

 


 

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I don't have experience with Klipsch Cornwall's and McIntosh, but I do have experience with Forte IIIs and McIntosh. Initially, I ran my Forte's with an MC240 and MX110. I switched out the MX110 for C41 (more modern solid state pre-amp) and eventually replaced the MC240 with an MC152. 

 

First, you really can't make a bad choice. Tubes vs solid state will likely sound different and so will modern vs vintage. You should listen to all the different combinations your are considering if you can. I choose the modern route for ease of use and reliability. I do trade-off the tube magic, but in exchange, I get a more clean and detailed sound (the modern gear has significantly lower distortion and higher SND and I believe this makes a difference with the highly efficient Forte IIIs). I also find more watts for the Fortes controls the bass/woofers better -- which I prefer over the tube amp. Tube amps typically have lower dampening factor than a solid state amp and that could matter to you (depending on your sound reproduction preferences for bass). This maybe less of a factor for you than it was for me, as the MC275 likely produces close to 100 watts, which is significantly more powerful than the 55 watts the MC240 bench tested at but still far less than the 250+ watts the MC152 can produce. The difference in damping factors between a modern MC275 and MC152 still remains, however. 

 

I did feel the tube setup tamed the Forte's at high volumes (>85db) better than the solid state. But from what I read in the differences between the IIIs and IVs this issue might already be solved with the improved crossover network and less of a concern. 

 

A lot of folks are happy going with a tube pre and a solid state amp, so that is also always a consideration if you like a little bit of both the tube and solid state flavor (which sounds like you are considering).

 

Both the MC152 and MC275 (modern versions) and are designed competently and distortion will not be audible. The MC152 is closer to the state of the art of modern amplification if that matters to you. 

 

Lastly, tube amps cost more to operate, generate more heat, and require replacing tubes. With my MC240, I replaced output tubes about once a year which cost about $200. I bet output tubes last longer in an MC275, but cost of operations (both in the amount of heat it produces, electricity it draws, and the need to replace tubes) exceeds the cost of operating the MC152. 

 

I can also vouch for the guys at Audio Classics. Always first class service from them. They restored my MC240 and MX110 and set me up with my C41. They also recommended the MC152 with my Fortes when I wanted to make the jump from tube to modern solid state. 

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Hi All,

 

I just wanted to thank you for sharing your experience and advice.

 

It is really important to me to read any opinion, but eventually, I know it will be up to my ears to decide :)

I will definitely try to get demos, not easy in my case given the distance.

I know I will have to spend time and money for this, but I think it is well spent when you are trying to put together, what I would define 'a dream' for me.

 

Many of you seem to agree that the guys at Audio Classics are great. They are about 700 miles away from me, but I am used to travel, especially driving.

Reading in this forum as well as in others, about their level of expertise and general approach to help their clients and/or prospects, it is something that encourages me to go and see them.

Also, they are authorized dealers for both brands, so there shouldn't be any issue to arrange the demos I need, and anything else they would recommend.

I see they also have a trade-in program, which does help too.

 

To me, interpersonal relationships are very important, I want to meet people in person and build a long term communication that goes beyond the single transaction.

It sounds that the guys at Audio Classics are very good at this, so I have high expectations.

 

My journey is about to start, it may take months to complete this process, like many of us, I will have to find the right balance between family, time and work.

The motivation is strong, and I am not alone, my wife has always been supporting my passion for music and sound reproduction. 🥰  Our kids enjoy music, and the good news is... not only on their phone... ☺️

 

As I move forward, I will post on this forum my next steps, and share my experience.

 

Thank you!

 

Best,

Alex

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FWIW the McIntosh tube power amp topology is not a common one and should really be heard. I won't get too technical but they run very cold class B mode and get away with it by feedback the way they split load both plate and cathode of the power tubes. That's why they need so much front end gain because the output stage is near unity, typically gain of 1.2 is what I measure and also the amount of feedback they use. They just sound different compared to the majority of tube amplifier designs.

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, captainbeefheart said:

FWIW the McIntosh tube power amp topology is not a common one and should really be heard. I won't get too technical but they run very cold class B mode and get away with it by feedback the way they split load both plate and cathode of the power tubes. That's why they need so much front end gain because the output stage is near unity, typically gain of 1.2 is what I measure and also the amount of feedback they use. They just sound different compared to the majority of tube amplifier designs.

 

I don't know many tube amps, what I have and know almost quite well for about 28 years are 2 Leak Stereo 20, 4 Quad II Monos, one Audion Silvernight 300 B, a Mcintosh MC 2102 and a MC 275 MK4.
Maybe the Mcintosh sounds "less" like a tube. But this amps are exactly what I like. Mcintosh amps at least since they use silicon rectifiers sound neutral and not so rose tinted like some other tube amps. The MC275MK4, for example, sounds very good to my ears, I don't even ask whether it's a tube or a transistor.

 

One more point for the thread opener:
Of my Mcintosh units, the first one I bought was my MC 2102. It was paired with an EAR Yoshino 864 pre amp. This pre amp uses output transformers to lower the impedance (and provide balanced outputs).
So in this example you have to know that the MC 2102 power amp (with 8 KT88) has a more "modern" value of input impedance - only 20 Kohm. This is important when combining with a preamp. No matter how good a C22CE sounds to my ears, it won't work with a low Kohm input of a MC2102 because the C22CE output impedance seems to be too high for this combination. It sounds thin and anaemic without powerful bass at all.


Unfortunately, I can't find any information about the output impedance of the C22CE or the old C22 in the whole world wide web. But it could be quite high.
The MC275 MK4 is basically more old school in its circuitry and therefore it matches the C22 (original) and the C22CE (retro in the late 1990s). They were made for it as the MC275 MK4 (and all older versions) has an input impedance of 100 Kohm. This is an excellent match.

I don't know what the impedance values are for the very latest todays new incarnations of the C22 and the MC275 (MK6), but it should be published on the Mcintosh homepage. At least, if they made changes then in a way that this new products pre and power amp will match very good altogether because they are also marketed together.

I say all this so that you don't make any mistakes when combining pre and power amps.... even if they are of the same brand.

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15 minutes ago, KT88 said:

Maybe the Mcintosh sounds "less" like a tube

 

It sounds like a nice clean amp. I have heard other tube amps as clean using a different topology, but still cleaner than many. Overall it's a good design, it's not dependent on tubes to sound good, you can literally pop in cheap power tubes vs the best ever and there is no audible difference and they last a very long time to boot.

 

15 minutes ago, KT88 said:

Unfortunately, I can't find any information about the output impedance of the C22CE or the old C22 in the whole world wide web.

 

I'll take a look at the service manual later and give a more accurate value but the output is a 12AX7 triode wired as a follower, best your going to get is around 625 ohms output impedance. Following the 10x mismatch rule you will be fine with an amp input impedance >6k, on average amps are 10k-100k input impedance. Only issue I can see is if you run very long interconnects and the parasitic capacitance loads it down and diminishes the treble response.

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3 hours ago, captainbeefheart said:

 

It sounds like a nice clean amp. I have heard other tube amps as clean using a different topology, but still cleaner than many. Overall it's a good design, it's not dependent on tubes to sound good, you can literally pop in cheap power tubes vs the best ever and there is no audible difference and they last a very long time to boot.

 

 

I'll take a look at the service manual later and give a more accurate value but the output is a 12AX7 triode wired as a follower, best your going to get is around 625 ohms output impedance. Following the 10x mismatch rule you will be fine with an amp input impedance >6k, on average amps are 10k-100k input impedance. Only issue I can see is if you run very long interconnects and the parasitic capacitance loads it down and diminishes the treble response.

625 Ohms sounds to be very good, then it must have another reason that the MC 2102 sounds not so good with the C22 CE. BTW CBH, if you have an experts look at the circuit could you please also see which difference the output makes, if any, re the impedance when you compare the RCA output with the XLR output of the 1990is model C22 CE? When I am right, there are two additional 12AT7, one per channel, to „balance“ the signal?

 

I agree that the sound of the MC275 is more dependent on a good „small“ 12AX7 tube than on the KT88. I run the „unsophisticated“ Slovakian JJ KT88 tubes with great success, costing around 27€ each. I like them even much more than those Russian „New Sensor“ fake Gold Lions which do sound in the MC275 somehow with „artificial“ treble and bass but not so natural. The JJ are the only new production tubes which are not from one only factory in Russia or one or two? only factories in China, both with thousand brands to make the consumer think we would have a diversity. JJ goes back to Tesla and Tesla for some tubes got the tools from Telefunken, so not too bad.

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8 hours ago, captainbeefheart said:

It sounds like a nice clean amp. I have heard other tube amps as clean using a different topology, but still cleaner than many. Overall it's a good design, it's not dependent on tubes to sound good, you can literally pop in cheap power tubes vs the best ever and there is no audible difference and they last a very long time to boot.

McIntosh engineers ALL their amps to behave linearly when driving nearly any speaker load.  Hence, their tube amps sound pretty much like their S/S amps. 

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