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Thread: McIntosh Speakers

  1. #1
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    McIntosh Speakers

    Hey guys, just loving life! No teenager, wifey at her folks, even took the dog. Looks like rain, don't want to ride. Oh what to do? Guinness and my new [to me] 4343's. The bi-amp project not yet finished, sold the 2255 Mc, now powered by the just the moded Crown SP-2 I got from a member. Santana, Savoy Brown, sax guy Plas Johnson [The Blues-Concord Jazz label-if you don't have it, get it, thank me later]. Put on Blood Sweat an T's first album. Heard this about, oh 100 times. But now w/ 4343's! Hear new stuff! After a while turned on the PC to check eBay for fun. See some McIntosh speakers 5' tall for $12,000! Another pair w/ a pair of 8's for $3200! Are we missing something by not having 10 or 12 stacked mids/tweeters? Or what must be REALLY good 8" woofers? Personally I have come to love the McIntosh amp sound. Have had a few, and will have more. But the speakers-Anybody ever listen to them?

  2. #2
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Yes I Have

    Don

    I was in Del Mar California earlier this year and sold some product to a guy who owns a home theater store there. He invited me in to see these Mac's he just got in that retail for some 25k. He was very dissapointed when I told him they did not sound very good. In fact, he was shocked. They sounded downright crappy..

    Ken

  3. #3
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    I also see a lot of very nice [cabinet wise] looking Mc ML-1's and the like from the 70's. They sell for the same as our BELOVED Century's and 11, 12's, etc. Anyone listen to any of the old [under $1000] small Mc's?

  4. #4
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Triumph Don
    Anyone listen to any of the old [under $1000] small Mc's?
    Sure, back in the 70's. They used pretty run of the mill Phillips drivers in pretty basic boxes with fancy woodwork. There is a reason Mac is famous for amps and not speakers.

    Widget

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    Imho, I found their late 70's-80's XR and XRT series better than the older MCL1's. I listened to the XR-7 and 14 and they were better than many speakers, but definitely not in the JBL league.
    McIntosh made great amps, but that did not extend to their speaker line. Although, their cabinetry was excellent and very good furniture quality.

    Some of their later models feature arrays of 22 tweeters per speaker and I have never heard them. $$ Pricey too. Up in the $5K-$12K range each.

    I think the MCL1 and XR (Isoplanar) series required a little Mcintosh equalizer too.

    You can get more info, albeit biased, at: www.roger-russell.com

  6. #6
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    McIntosh speakers

    I was working for a Macintosh retailer in Syracuse, NY when Macintosh went into the speaker business. Since Syracuse is only an hour or so from Binghamton (if it isn't snowing) I had numerous opportunities to visit the factory and talk to the people involved with their loudspeakers.

    First, if you like Macintosh electronics, don't confuse them with their speakers. Macintosh used third-party run-of-the-mill drivers, and the overall sound was heavy, muddy, and closed-down. Most of the Macintosh speakers I sold were to non-audiophiles who wanted all of their logos to match.

    At any rate, I don't recall anyone at Macintosh every having a real vision for their loudspeaker products. Speakers are a higher profit product than electronics, and Gordon Gow wanted to cash in just like electronics companies like Crown (which marketed hybrid electrstatics) and Harmon Kardon (remember the Citation loudspeaker?).

  7. #7
    Senior Member GordonW's Avatar
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    Actually, I've had RECENT experience with McIntosh ML-series speakers, having among other things, restored a pair of ML2-Cs for a customer.

    I don't know where anyone would get off calling them "all off-the-shelf drivers"... the midranges in those were custom designed by United Audio for McIntosh, the woofers were either built by CTS or by McIntosh themselves (fairly quickly went to in-house manufacture). The cone tweeters were Peerless units... but in that day, the Peerless TO225 cone tweeter was one of the VERY BEST behaving tweeters at any price. Flatter than a 2405, in fact, and went higher to boot.

    My experience with listening to the freshened-up ML2Cs, was that as far as bass clarity and extension, there are VERY FEW speakers of any price or age (new or old) that could give the sort of lowest-octave pitch definition that the 12" woofers in the ML2s could do readily and consistently. One of those systems set up right with the ML101 Environmental EQ can do AWESOME things...

    Now, the later stuff (1978 and later) is quite a bit more "generic... but the early gear is VERY CAREFULLY engineered. Roger Russell, the first chief loudspeaker engineer for Mc, has a very informative website, listing the chronology of the Mc speakers. Check it out:

    http://www.roger-russell.com/aboutmc.htm

    Regards,
    Gordon.
    This Is Gordon's Page: www.geocities.com/gordonwaters

  8. #8
    john s
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    Find a pair of XR-7s (vintage approx. 1977-79). And get the accompanying MQ107 Custom Environment Equalizer (a must). Or, just get the XR-5s with the MQ104 Custom Environmental Equalizer. Simply recone the unbelievably powerful woofers if necessary (may be necessary due to age). Then sit back and appreciate the genious of Roger Russell. You can compare these to any pair of loudspeakers today that are sold under $6000/pair (and many much higher priced than that -- I have...). I know you'll that the Mac's combined system of loudspeakers and equalizer will soundly outsound them. I'll bet on it. The research and engineering that went into designing these Isoplaner loudspeakers is incredibly impressive even by today's standards.

    I have a pair of XR-7s, one pair of XR-5s, and one pair of JBL L-65s. I have had most of these since 1978 and consider the XRs (especially) as reference in my mainly analog system. I have had other speakers come and go and have altered this system numerous time over the years. The Macs I will keep. I appreciate the sound quality of my analog system quite a bit more than I do my digital setup.

    When I really want to jamb I need to push-button the L-65s out of the soundstage since they are quite down on the performance pole compared to the XRs. The XRs love wattage. I often run them at a steady 250 to 300 watt capacity. And I have done this for years without negative consequence. (They also sound terrific on low volume if you've got the right amp/preamp for it. With the volume low, late at night you'd sometimes swear that the music is being played somewhere nearby in the same room. The base beats the chest, the midrange makes vocals sound like someone is in the room with you. And the high end sounds clean and natural.)

    Earlier on in this thread someone made a few rather generalized statements about the lack of quality of Mac speakers of the earlier generations. As a former musician I may have lost some hearing but I know from very direct experience that the XR-7s and XR-5s combined with their accompanying Mac equalizers are still difficult to improve upon today.

    If you can find a good pair on Audiogon or even Ebay you would do your ears a real favor by grabbing them. The XR-7s should go for about $1000-$1200 a pair plus another $250-$350 for the MQ107 Custom Environmental Equalizer.

    These are classics that just keep on giving.

  9. #9
    Dis Member mikebake's Avatar
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    Normally I would say but this is one of those cases where I have to think it may be so, as you have always appeared to be rather objective and thoughtful in your posts. BTW, I wonder if any here have seen the story on audiokarma of the restoration you did for that doctor. That was cool.
    Quote Originally Posted by GordonW
    Actually, I've had RECENT experience with McIntosh ML-series speakers, having among other things, restored a pair of ML2-Cs for a customer.

    I don't know where anyone would get off calling them "all off-the-shelf drivers"... the midranges in those were custom designed by United Audio for McIntosh, the woofers were either built by CTS or by McIntosh themselves (fairly quickly went to in-house manufacture). The cone tweeters were Peerless units... but in that day, the Peerless TO225 cone tweeter was one of the VERY BEST behaving tweeters at any price. Flatter than a 2405, in fact, and went higher to boot.

    My experience with listening to the freshened-up ML2Cs, was that as far as bass clarity and extension, there are VERY FEW speakers of any price or age (new or old) that could give the sort of lowest-octave pitch definition that the 12" woofers in the ML2s could do readily and consistently. One of those systems set up right with the ML101 Environmental EQ can do AWESOME things...

    Now, the later stuff (1978 and later) is quite a bit more "generic... but the early gear is VERY CAREFULLY engineered. Roger Russell, the first chief loudspeaker engineer for Mc, has a very informative website, listing the chronology of the Mc speakers. Check it out:

    http://www.roger-russell.com/aboutmc.htm

    Regards,
    Gordon.

  10. #10
    Dis Member mikebake's Avatar
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    I notice this is your first post. Welcome. Where did you drift in from/how did you find the site?
    Quote Originally Posted by john s
    Find a pair of XR-7s (vintage approx. 1977-79). And get the accompanying MQ107 Custom Environment Equalizer (a must). Or, just get the XR-5s with the MQ104 Custom Environmental Equalizer. Simply recone the unbelievably powerful woofers if necessary (may be necessary due to age). Then sit back and appreciate the genious of Roger Russell. You can compare these to any pair of loudspeakers today that are sold under $6000/pair (and many much higher priced than that -- I have...). I know you'll that the Mac's combined system of loudspeakers and equalizer will soundly outsound them. I'll bet on it. The research and engineering that went into designing these Isoplaner loudspeakers is incredibly impressive even by today's standards.

    I have a pair of XR-7s, one pair of XR-5s, and one pair of JBL L-65s. I have had most of these since 1978 and consider the XRs (especially) as reference in my mainly analog system. I have had other speakers come and go and have altered this system numerous time over the years. The Macs I will keep. I appreciate the sound quality of my analog system quite a bit more than I do my digital setup.

    When I really want to jamb I need to push-button the L-65s out of the soundstage since they are quite down on the performance pole compared to the XRs. The XRs love wattage. I often run them at a steady 250 to 300 watt capacity. And I have done this for years without negative consequence. (They also sound terrific on low volume if you've got the right amp/preamp for it. With the volume low, late at night you'd sometimes swear that the music is being played somewhere nearby in the same room. The base beats the chest, the midrange makes vocals sound like someone is in the room with you. And the high end sounds clean and natural.)

    Earlier on in this thread someone made a few rather generalized statements about the lack of quality of Mac speakers of the earlier generations. As a former musician I may have lost some hearing but I know from very direct experience that the XR-7s and XR-5s combined with their accompanying Mac equalizers are still difficult to improve upon today.

    If you can find a good pair on Audiogon or even Ebay you would do your ears a real favor by grabbing them. The XR-7s should go for about $1000-$1200 a pair plus another $250-$350 for the MQ107 Custom Environmental Equalizer.

    These are classics that just keep on giving.

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