McIntosh C38 Preamplifiers

C38

User Reviews (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5  
jbatlanta   AudioPhile [Feb 20, 2003]
Strength:

Build quality. Sound. Perfect match-up for a McIntosh MC-300 amp

Weakness:

Glass front can be easily cracked, and costly to repair.

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.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
marian   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 25, 2002]
Strength:

For this money-everything,can''t complain.

Weakness:

Nothing.

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.

Similar Products Used: Onkio Integra P-304,Rotel RB-995,Parasound PLD-2000,ARC-LS9 Mcintosh c-33,C-712.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Doug   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 14, 1999]
Strength:

Has everything feature-wise, plus a warm sound.

Weakness:

Sound may not be "airy" enough for some. Also, no longer in production. Must be carefully matched to amp.

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).

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Glenn D.   Audiophile [Nov 20, 2001]
Strength:

Great to look at. Regardless of the what some "purists" may say, having tone controls is a nice feacture. Also, the remote was simple to use and very flexible. And McIntosh knows how to package their equipment for shipment.

Weakness:

Poor sound. Also, the relays and/or transformers in two different units I had hummed. But the real problem was the poor sound. I thought the unit was good to start with, but as time went on and the unit got some hours on it I found it to sound slow. And the built-in phono stage is even worse. And I could never get my Threshold FET ten/pc phono stage to work correctly through the various inputs on the C-38. Always sounded strange. Think there must have been some impendance mismatch. Enough so that I after almost a year of trying I sold it and got a Bryston BP-25. The Bryston is a wonderfully clean, crisp and very fast preamp. Clearly superior to the C-38.

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.

Similar Products Used: Aurum, Classe, Mod Squad Line Drive (as good as the Bryston), Bryston, Conrad Johnson.
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Jerry O.   Audiophile [Mar 19, 2001]
Strength:

Balanced, dimensional sound, great control flexibility

Weakness:

The treble is a bit strained at high listening levels

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.

Similar Products Used: ARC SP9MkIII, MAC C-22, CJ PV10
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-5 of 5  

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