McIntosh C15 Preamplifiers

C15

Two-channel stereo preamplifier

User Reviews (14)

Showing 1-10 of 14  
Gary   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 21, 2003]
Strength:

Simplicity, elegance and great sound.

Weakness:

No switched outlets on back to turn on/off power amp automatically with preamp.

You just have to love the teal-colored backlit nomenclature that makes operating this fantastic sounding preamp in the dark a pleasure. Warm and detailed without a hint of harshness place this high end preamp in the true bargain category for the $1K to $2K range. Highly recommended, especially if you have an affinity for Mac to begin with.

Similar Products Used: Tandberg 3016A power amp, McIntosh MCD831 CD/DVD player, Nakamichi MR1 cassette deck, Snell EII speakers.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
James   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 27, 2002]
Strength:

Build quality, dynamic and neutral sound.

Weakness:

noneb

Well, before buying this preamp my setup consisted of Paradigm Active/20 speakers, and a Sony ES CD player with variable volume output for the signal. Having added a Pioneer DV-09, I needed a preamp. I was wondering how an extra piece of gear in the line-up would affect the pure sound, and was surprised that it sounded better! More dynamic and powerful, and maintaining the neutrality. Buying a piece of McIntosh gear is like an investment, since it will probably last a very long time, and the simple design, neautrality of sound, and build quality will hold up through the years of the latest and greatest products to come and go.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Chad   AudioPhile [May 18, 2002]
Strength:

Low frequecy control, liquid midrange, and great looks/build quality.......

Weakness:

none

Absolutely beautiful piece of equipment. Before changing to the Mac I was using an Adcom GTP-600. The first thing I noticed when I changed to the Mcintosh was a more pronounced and tighter low frequency. Midrange is warm with great depth and space. Quiet background and just the features I needed for my two-channel system. Remote and Phono are a big plus. The remote isn''t the best but as long as it turns up the volume thats all I care about. The build quality is excellent and overall I would say this is the best preamp I''ve heard in this price range.

Similar Products Used: Adcom/Carver/Audio Research
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Michael   Casual Listener [Feb 01, 2002]
Strength:

Looks, Sounds, and price

Weakness:

higher grade isolators (feets)

This unit is currently discontinued by McIntosh. At the price I paid, it''s a great performer. If you can find one, BUY it! It sounds better then a lot of high price pre-amps. My System: C15 (pre-amp) Mc352 (power amp) Scdc333ES (SACD/CD Player) Electra 915 (main speakers) MIT Terminator 2 Bi-wire (wires) MIT T2 (interconnects)

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
sk   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 27, 2000]
Strength:

great sound; simple, elegant design

Weakness:

remote control

This is a great pre-amp! I agree completely with the previous review in that the sound is clean and well-articulated without sounding sterile or cold. Music is detailed and full. The styling and workmanship are excellent - classic McIntosh.

I primarily listen to CDs, but also use the built-in phono stage of the C15. Both sources sound great through this preamp.

The one area where this unit is lacking is the remote control. It has a bunch of densely-packed, homogenous buttons - I never use it. I bought this unit for the quality of its construction and sound, not for lots of bells and whistles.

I would give 5 stars if the remote were better...

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Mike   a Casual Listener [Aug 30, 1999]

The C-15 is certainly adaquate if you are a casual audio enthusiast. However why Mac designed a cheezy 1/8" headphone jack and left out an additional tape audio RCA"s is beyond me..

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
Peter   Audiophile [Nov 17, 1999]

I've been using the C 15 for a little over 1 month paired with the MC 122 power amplifier. I find the combination extremely musical: very clear high definition sound, yet with great lushness and warmth. The highs are airy, the mids smooth and warm, the bass tight and deep. The imaging is incredible. In terms of ease of use, layout, functionality, and overall construction I find it to be a wonderful preamp. The rest of my system consists of B&W Nautilus 804 speakers, Linn Sondek turntable, EAD T-1000 CD transport, and EAD DSP-7000 Series III D/A converter. The C 15/MC 122 combination particularly works well with the 804's, maximizing the warmth and bass of the speakers while allowing their stellar clarity and definition to really shine.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Timothy   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 02, 2000]
Strength:

Drive, clarity and definition.

Weakness:

None

I just incorporated the C-15 into my system. Having only recently gotten into separates, I sold my Acurus pre and got the Mac. I belief the preamp is the piece that makes or breaks a system and determines its personality. I'm thrilled with this unit. I considered tubes but decided I wanted the
extension, low distortion and transparency of solid state.
I also did not want to deal with tube idiosyncracies. I use Fender tube amps exclusively for my Jazz guitar playing, so
I am certainlt not condemning tubes entirely. But distortion
in live music is rendered more agreeably than in the reproduced musical form.

What I hear is better, clearer and tighter bass, and an overall DRIVE to the music that wasn't there before. The instuments have a more tactile, live sound that also lowers listening fatigue. The sound is also more extended regardless of listening level. This unit is still breaking in and I am therefore expecting even more improvements to develop. The music just seems to emerge stronger and very naturally. I'm also impressed with the built in phono stage.

Regarding the discouraged Review from "Mike", the tape medium is the least relevant in terms of sound replication compared to CD's and LP's, so one set of inputs/outputs for tape is perfectly adequate. With regard to the 1/8" headphone jack issue, live music presentation and that of headphones are are quite different. So if you are serious about the "live event", headphones are not a big priority...
except for perhaps music recording and mixing.

Overall, a solid, well made, dynamic unit for a reasonable price that makes a strong impression. A good combination of price, features, flexibility, sound quality and physical appearance.

Acurus A-200 amp
NAD 515 CD changer
Philips 212 turntable
Monster 2.4 bi wires
MIT & DH Labs interconnects


Similar Products Used: Acurus
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
joe gorman   Audiophile [Dec 30, 1999]
Strength:

Typical Mc build quality, excellent remote, beautiful piece, sounds great

This is my first experience with McIntosh. After getting sick of "knowledgeable" audiophiles slam Mac I decided to audition it just to see what it was like. I quickly realized I enjoyed evey aspect of the Mac sound and "aura." I brought a C-15 and a MC162 home and gave the Audio Illuminati the rasberry.
The build quality is on par with my ARC and that's saying something. Parts quality on the C-15 seems good though it's not the glamour affair that the ARC flaunts. Having said that, the Mac offers far more conveniences, an awesome remote and the unquantifiable blue lighting scheme with a glass front panel. (Which is very, very cool)
In a direct comparison to the ARC LS-7, I'd say the ARC offers more 3D imaging and (obviously) tube liquidity. The Mac offers more precision in left to right imaging, more solidity in the low end and of course, a phono stage.
Let me also add that I am using this preamp and the Mac MC162 with Klipschorns. This is the first solid state rig that I can, not only tolerate with the Klipsch, but actually prefer, in some ways, to running tubes! I've heard really good tube systems (probably the best I've heard is the unassuming Wright Sound Company) and I like them. I've heard a really good solid state system (McIntosh) and I like it too. I don't know which one is right, but they sure sound different.
This C-15 is a solid performer at its price point. It is a safe choice to recommend it. And like all Mac stuff it has class. It even comes with a set of duracells to stick into the remote!
The phono stage works well. As different as night and day from the Wright (the Wright uses no feedback, the Mac uses it by the tablespoon) yet I still enjoy it. It's definately a low noise, low distortion phono. I must give the nod to the the Wright phono stage but that beauty is $700 all by itself!

Similar Products Used: ARC LS7, Wright Sound Co WPL10
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Zack   an Audiophile [Sep 30, 1999]

This is a great preamp for much more than simply "casual listening." Granted, not all will or can appreciate McIntosh's classic tone color, which has returned to the line after a period of lackluster performance. Those that are Mac followers buy for more than just the excellent sound quality. I refer to these units' impeccable construction, timeless styling and character, as well as the satisfaction in becoming a member of the McIntosh family of owners.
As for this particular unit, it is intended to fit a particular need, and to a lesser extent, price catogory. I can only say that it excels in each of these. I personally use only a CD player with this unit, so the fact that it has one tape input is of no consequence. Moreover, being unable to stand the sound quality of any casette tape, I can't understand why anyone would spend the money on this unit only to supply it with such awful input. Its 1/8" headphone jack is actually quite thoughtful for those of us that own Sennheiser headphones, which come with 1/8" plugs, and supply an extra adapter to convert to 1/4". I don't imagine that Sennheiser headphone owners are any small group, and the need for one less connection is a definite plus. The sound quality is classic McIntosh; smooth, clear, and detailed, to which one could listen for hours. Bass and Treble controls are not particularly useful; however, since McIntosh circuitry is electrically neutral, they don't detract from sound quality.

All in all, this is a completely characteristic McIntosh piece, at a rather uncharacteristic price. Another in the long line of quality components from one of the all time great manufacturers. Well done McIntosh.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 14  

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