|McIntosh MC207 Multi-channel Power Amplifier|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Multi-Channel Amplifiers|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2008|
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There are some products and/or brands that seemingly need no introduction. McIntosh is at the top of the list. Throughout the 1970s, McIntosh was the iconic symbol of all things good and high-end when it came to two-channel music. Today, little has changed with the brand and their loyal customers. Well, at least on the surface, as no other brand has deviated less from its original appearance than McIntosh, with their signature watt meters glowing pale blue, and large, almost aircraft-style control knobs. It’s enough to make a man want to don a smoking jacket and pipe, yet even in today’s iPod world, McIntosh is supremely retro-cool. While McIntosh is still dedicated to the two-channel enthusiast, they have ventured into the multi-channel audio and home theater markets as well, hence my interest in the MC207 seven-channel amplifier reviewed here.
Clad in a polished stainless steel chassis, the MC207 has the famous McIntosh traditional glass-covered black façade. Throw in not one but three analog watt meters and two large and rather chunky power and control knobs and there’s no mistaking the MC207 for anything other than a McIntosh product. In fact, the only “modern” things you’ll find on the face of the MC207 are four small LEDs that glow red when the MC207’s internal power guard protection circuits are activated. The left control knob turns the MC207’s watt meter lights on and off, while the right knob simply turns the MC207 itself on and off. Another giveaway sign that the MC207 is classic McIntosh is its size, measuring in at almost 10 inches tall by 17-and-a-half inches wide and 18-and-three-quarters inches deep. The MC207 tips the scales at a hefty 83 pounds and retails for a surprising $6,000. I say “surprising,” because if there is one thing that McIntosh hasn’t been shy about, it’s price. While $6,000 is a fair amount of money, I honestly was expecting the MC207 to cost much more.
As I turned my attention to the rear of the MC207, I noticed that, looking at the unit from the back of the faceplate, it appears as if the outside casing has been removed. Where most amps clad their innards in a bland box of sorts, McIntosh essentially lets it all hang out, neatly packaging the large transformers in individual battery-like housing, trailed by some pretty substantial heat sinks. On the rear of the MC207, there are seven pairs of five-way binding posts, three pairs on either side, with a single pair for the center channel speaker resting in the center. Below, along the stainless steel edge, are matching analog audio inputs in both composite and balanced varieties. Also on the back of the MC207 is an impedance switch, which can be set to either four or eight ohms, as well as a detachable power cord and remote power trigger. Lastly, there is a multi-channel input, which is a 25-conductor DB25 computer-style cable input that you can use when connecting the MC207 to a McIntosh pre-amp or processor.
Behind the scenes, the MC207 boasts 200 watts into either a four- or eight-ohm load across all seven channels, with a rated power band of 20Hz to 20kHz. The MC207 is the first McIntosh product to utilize McIntosh’s own Dynamic Power Manager circuit, which ensures that the full power needed to drive your speakers is always optimized, regardless of the impedance curves that might occur at the speakers. Also, the MC207 features Power Guard technology, which prevents the amp from clipping by turning the volume down before an overload can happen, but don’t worry – the MC207 will return the volume to normal once out of danger, and it will do all of this in as little as one one-thousandth of a second, so you’re not really going to notice should catastrophe strike.
I unboxed the MC207 and placed it in my Middle Atlantic rack, where my Mark Levinson No. 433 and Outlaw Audio 7200 amps once sat. I connected it to my Meridian G Series processor for a spell, as well as the recently reviewed Onkyo 805 receiver via its preamp outputs through a combination of Ultralink and XLO Reference interconnects and speaker cable. I went ahead and let the MC207 power both my Meridian in-wall speakers and my Paradigm Signature S8s for two-channel listening, since I had seven channels to play with. For two-channel listening, I simply set the Paradigms up in a second zone configuration and let the processors tell the MC207 what was what. I left all the units alone to get to know one another for a few days before beginning my evaluation.