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McIntosh MC501 Monoblock Power Amplifier   Print E-mail
Home Theater Power Amplifiers Mono Amplifiers
Written by Robert Mead   
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
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McIntosh MC501 Monoblock Power Amplifier  
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The sound effects emanating from the sound system really brought me headlong into the violence that was happening on screen. The sound of the glass shattering definitely sounded as natural as any sound effect I’ve ever heard, no matter the environment I was hearing it in. The chair I was in actually vibrated with the low-end bass that was being pushed out through the sub-woofer, and I was wondering if the MC501’s were going to be able to continually push the entire system to its limits without any distortion whatsoever. As the sequence ended, I had my doubts assuaged.

Another true test of a power amplifier is to see how a completely divergent soundstage plays out using that same power amp. To this extent, I listened to the digitally-remastered CD of Pink Floyd’s classic, “The Wall”, using the same Marantz BD8002 DVD/SACD player and running it to the McIntosh MX-136 A/V processor, but this time using the Aerial Acoustics series of floor-standing speakers instead of the B&W’s.  I used the same audio rack with the three MC501’s, but I went with the Aerial Acoustics to make sure that the MC501’s could capture “The Wall’s” quiet acoustic passages along with guitarist’s David Gilmour’s careening, sharp notes and his predilection for using echo effects to ensure the eeriness of his guitar’s overall tone during the album’s songs such as “Another Brick in the Wall” and the heart-achingly melancholy “Mother.”

I started my demo of “The Wall” with the aforementioned “Mother”.  The acoustic guitar strum at the beginning of that song shimmered with a brilliant lightness.  When Roger Waters’ vocals finally cut in, the showroom was filled with a vocal tone that just floated out to me as if by magic. “The Wall” is an extremely well engineered album, and the MC501’s powered the subtleties of this album by giving full power to the mid-range of the sound system that drives the vocals and keyboard sequences. The next song I listened to was the beautiful “Goodbye Blue Sky.” The beauty of this song is direct contrast to the Roger Waters almost suicidal lyrical content. This song also includes subtle sound effects that would be practically invisible to me had I not heard the song with the exact configuration highlighted in the Premiere Home Entertainment showroom.

The Downside

Although the MC501’s look extremely nice and pack a very powerful but clean punch to any home theater system, the power amp’s price of over $4100 for just one unit cannot be justified unless you absolutely need 500 watts of power distributed to your entire sound system.  Many consumers that are just looking to add more power to their audio systems don’t have a space in their homes so large that they need a 91 pound behemoth power amp to deliver the proper amount of clean wattage to their loudspeaker systems.  The bulk of the MC501 power amp also means that it’s not easily mounted on a simple audio rack and likely requires a rack capable of the weight.    

Conclusion

McIntosh has proven repeatedly that they are always on the cutting edge when it comes to designing and developing immaculate but powerful amplifiers, whether they are mono, 3-channel or integrated amplifiers. The sophisticated design of the MC501 delivers an aesthetic look that is second to none, while the clean power of the unit delivers a substantial thrust to every home theater system it is connected to. The fact that McIntosh audio equipment has a much longer life span than most other manufacturers speaks volumes about their reliability.  When it comes to the MC501 Monoblock Power Amplifier, the MC501 is a safe investment.

 

Special thanks goes to Premiere Home Entertainment, a Las Vegas based home entertainment company specializing in the design and installation of home theater, home automation, and home integration systems.  They are located at 2300 N. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 119 in Las Vegas. 






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