McIntosh C38 Preamplifiers

4.4/5 (5 Reviews) MSRP : $2500.00


Product Description



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Reviews 1 - 5 (5 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by jbatlanta a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 20, 2003

Bottom Line:   
The sound of this pre-amp is very good. I don't know what could have been going on with the other reviewer's system to cause him to 'dis' this amp. (Perhaps his speakers were out of phase or something)
Coupled with the McIntosh MC-300 amplifier, this is a wonderful warm sound. I'll let you read the other reviews for the details on it. Just wanted to say you won't be disappointed.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1996

Price Paid:    $1400.00

Purchased At:   Audio Classics



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by marian a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: March 25, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Completely disagree with previous owner.Extremely good preamp,quiet,airy,huge soundstage,balanced outputs,nice remote,enough inputs,looks cool.Probably Glenn bought unperfect unit-what you can expect from Audio Classics market site.Best way to fix it-send to Mcintosh.I bought my unit new,can't complain about sound or noise.Plus,I put 3-proung power line receptacle,connect separate ground wire inside,and connect audiophile grade power cord-huge sound improvement.My gear:Legacy sigIII speakers,MC-352 power amp,STEALTH Premier speaker cables, Stealth all silver iterconnects,Stealth power cords,PS audio ultimate outlet.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1997

Price Paid:    $2500.00

Purchased At:   local store



Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Glenn D. a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: November 20, 2001

Bottom Line:   
Not a very good preamp. Especially for the money. I could forgive the humming relays/transformer, but not the poor sound. You can find many better sounding (cleaner and faster) preamps for the money. Especially the poor sounding phono stage. But none have the magical look of the McIntosh. Too bad it doesn't sound anywhere as good as it looks.

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $1800.00

Purchased At:   Audio Classics



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Jerry O. a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: March 19, 2001

Bottom Line:   
This unit has the dimensional sound I always associated with tube preamps. It's natural, a bit smooth and warm, and nicely balanced. Also, it has incredible control flexibility and convenience. I've had tube preamps for over 10 years and I'm amazed that this ss unit hold up so competitively with tubed units. As an added benefit, MAC gear seems to hold its value very well on the used market. I picked up this 3 year old unit in mint cond (box, manual, remote) for $1200 (retail $2500). I feel I got a reasonable deal.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1997

Price Paid:    $1250.00



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Doug a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: November 14, 1999

Bottom Line:   
It's unfortunate that this pre-amp is no longer in production. It's a very good pre which had a positive impact on the sound of my system.

Let's hit one of the weaknesses first; if the gain in your power amp is too high, this pre can sound somewhat shrill. I found it best matched with a McIntosh power amp (but of course).

I bought it as discontinued stock at a local hi-fi store. There were two left, I liked it, I grabbed it. Besides the sound, there were a few other factors. First, it has separate listen/record selectors. If you like to make tapes of one source while you're listening to another, this is a great feature. Also, it has a headphone jack built in; the C-38 is one of the few very high quality preamps I've seen to have this feature. Lastly, but _very_ importantly, it has a phono stage (MM only). It's a very very good phono stage on top of it. I was using a Rotel phono stage, which is pretty good, but this was quite a bit better.

The last factor that made me buy this was the apparent longevity of McIntosh components. Most of the McIntosh stuff I see for sale is 10 to 15 years old. I won't mind if this preamp is still around in 15 years.

I should say something about the sound. The preamp I replaced was a Rotel (the model right under their top-of-the-line model). Compared to the Rotel, the McIntosh has a warm, rich sound. I'm very fond of this sound, but some people consider it "veiled" or "not having enough air". It's also been reviled by some audiophiles for having tone controls (they can be cut out of the circuit) and a loudness control (also defeatable). The loudness control is good for quiet listening, though; it boosts the mids and highs as much as it does the bass.

So this is definitely not a preamp for everyone. However, for a high quality preamp that doesn't skimp on features, it's one of the best I've heard. So...five stars from me overall, but four stars for value, since this pre is pretty expensive. (You can find one between $1400 and $1800 currently; sold for $2500 originally).

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1996




Reviews 1 - 5 (5 Reviews Total)

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