McIntosh MC6450 Amplifiers


Integrated Amplifier - 100w x2 Channels

User Reviews (1)

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Len   an Audio Enthusiast [Feb 27, 1999]

McIntosh products are not usually reviewed in the audio press. The image that McIntosh has is that of a stodgy company, with very good build quality, but hopelessly out of touch with "real audiophiles". I bought a Krell 300i to power my Sonus Faber Concerto speakers, largely on the basis of a Ken Kessler review in Stereophile, as well as many other reviews praising the 300i. In brief, I returned it within three days because of an overly harsh, bright sound. I've read Stereophile, Absolute Sound, Sensible Sound, and others for years, and I thought I'd be safe with an approved "audiophile" grade product like Krell. When that didn't work I tried the Sim Audio I-5 (well built, very pretty, but not enough power), the YBA Integre (very smooth, but with no low end punch at all), the BOW Wazoo (similar sound to Krell, also well built), and the Conrad Johnson Integrated tube amp (nice sound, no power, mushy bass). None of them had it all, so I turned to McIntosh as a "comic relief" project. Well, guess what, it's not perfect either, but it's the keeper in this group. To begin, it is spectacular to look at. The glass is etched with several different coatings. When the amp is off, the glass etch is gold leaf, when it is on, it turns a very pleasing green. There are two active power meters, in a very distinctive blue lighting, that provide instantaneous power reading for each channel (the MA 6450 puts out a conservative 100 watts/channel). There are 7 high level inputs and a full featured remote, that controls several McIntosh products. The "Power Guard" circuit prevents the amp from driving into clipping distortion, saving a blown woofer or worse. There is switching for 2 speaker pairs, external signal processors (for use in a multi-media system), 2 tape monitor/loop connections, bass and treble controls, and a "loudness" control. I know what you're thinking - "That junk doesn't belong on high end audio gear!" Why not? Because the audio press tells us so. We spend big money on interconnects, power cables, speaker cables, etc. Why? Because the sound is "too forward", "recessed", or lacking in some way. Why not turn the treble down slighltly if you have a 1980s CD that is very bright, or turn the bass down a shade if the audio engineer added too much boost. Isn't that far more reasonable than changing cables for every record, CD or FM broadcast that you hear? The loudness control follows proven theory to compensate for the lack of apparent bass when music is played at low volume. Doesn't that seem sensible, especially for those of us with monitor speakers, where the ability to add or subtract bass can be very useful? Better yet, McIntosh designs these controls to be totally out of the circuit unless they are moved from the "neutral" setting. So you have the benefit of using them if you want, without paying a sonic penalty if you don't. Add to all of this the sound quality. It is neutral, some may say rolled off at the high end. Tastes vary, but for me I'd rather lose the high end "bite" and enjoy the performance. The "detail" is fine for me and the overall balance is terrific. Now consider the build quality (hand made in the USA for over 50 years), and the unlimited free repairs provided through the McIntosh clinics, and I challenge you to find a better value in all of audio. Best of all, at $2,200 it is the low price leader of the entire group that I auditioned. Don't believe me; audition one.

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