McIntosh C42 Preamplifiers

4.67/5 (3 Reviews)

Product Description

- Seperate Listen and Record Selectors.
- Listen and Record Processor Loops.
- 8-Band Program Equalizer.
- 9 source selections including MM Phono.
- Compandor to Expand or Compress Dynamic Range.

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Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Escaladeur a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: July 27, 2006

Bottom Line:   
This is an excellent preamp. It has a terrific amount of transparency and allows the sound signature of any source come through very clearly. My C712 I had before didn't have nearly this level of transparency - and thus less detail and dynamic capability. The C42 has fantastic dynamics if your amp doesn't limit it. It isn't very sensitive to cable selection and the sound has a very organized and coherent flow with a terrific amount of body to it - much more so than my BAT Vk-3i had. It is also fairly sweet but maybe not as much as the Classe CP50 or Cary SLP98 I had in my system but trades off by having excellent definition that betters the CP50 at least.

The EQ is an excellent feature since so many recordings are not very good these days. I can take music that I didn't listen to because of brightness or tubby bass and I can correct them and improve them by a surprisingly huge amount. Also the volume control is the silkiest and most luxurious I have ever had - it makes the BAT's volume control seems crude and coarse in direct comparison.

I haven't found any weaknesses yet to the C42. At first I thought it was soft but then I found out that it was my amp I was hearing. My current amps are Kora Aries monoblocks and they sound AMAZING with this preamp. Very very highly recommended from someone who has owned multiple nice preamps.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $2100.00

Purchased At:   internet

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

Date Reviewed: May 21, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Is it me or is this sleeping wonder not getting its due?

The 8 band EQ was a big plus for me going after the C42. Nearly all audiophile manufacturers seem to avoid inroads here.

But let me say I do not have a typical Audiophile music collection. Sure I'll audition a great recording if it has appeal. But my tastes are very eclectic. I'm my own music lover first -so mostly I buy music of the styles that appeal most. Many of which are obscure imports, horrible recordings from the 80s (the dark ages of recorded digital), low budget, hard to find/low distribution labels and so on.
The 'live event' for most of the music I enjoy is whatever the sound engineer can pull together a given venue. But I love it all (approaching 800 CDS).

Recordings. Well some are simply much better than others. Room correction is one thing but some of my favorite music is badly recorded and I'm the first to admit that. I would always be thinking
"I love this song-if only i could here more of this and less of that..."

I've done the no tone control thing and have been quite happy. But still there were some recordings rarely played -because I knew how lack-luster they would sound compared to the very best.

Ok yes I like my bass-my speakers are flat to 30hz and down just -3 dB at 25. With the C42 I can now juice the 20hz by 10 dB (in theory-I only have a couple of musical -Organ- recordings that can go here. Haven't tried 'em yet).

Smart EQ-as best I can tell the design is simply a volume control for each band which lets you increase/decrease each band by 10 or so dB.
No grain or mud layers induced.

So how does the C42 sound?
Rich and fatique free. Even flat (no EQ) its seems to go deeper than any pre-amp I've had in my system. I've found the soundstage to have expanded-especialy in depth. Its warmed/fleshed my system which is already extremly refined yet maybe a bit too crystaline. Its a nice mix musically-even if visually the C42 is much more 'retro' than the other units.

Rest of the system:
SimAudio Eclipse (CD)
SimAudio W5 (Amp)
Dunlavy Aletha
Dunlavy, Cardas and Siltech

Can I do what I want with my worst recording? Really yes. No i can't make it perfect-but can I tweak it to a state with the C42 that makes many times more enjoyable? You bet. Long live tone controls!

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $5500.00

Purchased At:   AudioShop

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Allan Lee a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: November 23, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I had my HT setup previously and was looking for a good 2 channel pre-amp to mate with my Bryston 14B ST. I borrowed a 2 channel pre-amp from a local dealer (Mcintosh c15 preamp) to see what I had been missing all along. With the C15, I immediately notice an improve in sound staging, fairly lush presentation and deep bass. I had no complaint about the C15, except that the highs in the C15 was slightly rolled off, and less clear than my Denon AVR 5700, but beat my Denon musically speaking in every departments, esp. when used in conjunction with the loudness switch. I ended up returning the C15 to the dealer because I couldn't get a good price but felt a sense of loss.

After I returned the C15, I went to a different dealer in town to look for other pre-amp for audition. When I walked in Bay Bloor Radio, I was shocked to see the McIntosh C42 "demo" pre-amp in mint condition selling for $100 ($cdn) more than the dealer cost. This pre-amp looked much bigger than the C15. So I immediate asked the sales rep to set it up for a listen. The session immediately drew crowds from everywhere. What I heard was smooth, lush soundstage with very good frequency responds top to bottom. Very impressive sound indeed.

I'm now living with the C42 and never regret the purchase. I used to loath the idea of an equilizer because true audiophile don't use one right? well, unfortunately I'm not a rich guy and I live in an imperfect world with imperfect recordings and an imperfect room. I now find very good uses of the equilizer. For example, when I listen to Jazz combo sessions with a female vocalist, guitar, piano, drum and bass, I can use the equilizer to bring the vocal up front by giving it a slight boost at 150 hz or 200 hz and leave everything un-change. If I want to hear more of a flute solo, I can give it a slight boost around 1.2 K and so on.

The phono section is the only weak link in this unit; however, with a good external phono stage such as the Monolithic PS1 will solve this problem.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $2200.00

Purchased At:   Bay & Bloor

Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

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