|McIntosh MC602 Stereo Power Amplifier|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Stereo Amplifiers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Monday, 01 October 2001|
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I also auditioned the MC602s in my theater system. I used three MC602s to drive the five main channels. The remainder of the system includes the following components: B&K Reference 30 processor, M&K MX-350 subwoofer, Martin Logan Ascents, Theaters and Scenarios, Sony DVP-CX850D DVD player, Pioneer Elite DV-38A DVD-Audio player, Pioneer CLD-704 Laserdisc player, Barco BarcoGraphics 808s, Silicon Graphics iScan Pro, Monster Cable power conditioning, video and line level cables and Audioquest speaker cables.
The MC602s drove my Martin Logans through every explosion, crash and other crescendo at volumes well beyond reasonable without any hint of strain or compression. Unlike my experience with my two-channel listening sessions, I did not notice any loss of soundstage depth in my theater system with the McIntosh amplifiers.
While watching Gladiator (DVD, DTS ES, Dreamworks), I was impressed by the seamless integration among the speakers. I especially noticed this with the cranking of the catapults in the opening battle scene. I must note that I used one amplifier for the main right and left speakers and one channel of another for the center channel, with the remaining channel left unused. Throughout my listening, all three channels performed consistently, demonstrating the successful separation and impendence between the channels within the amplifier itself.
I then moved on to the next movie, U-571 (Universal). I paid especially close attention to the depth charge scene. The detail of the underwater sounds placed me and my viewing friends in an underwater world that soon blasted us out with explosions that, according to my neighbors, were very realistic.
I then moved on to some more challenging multi-channel integration with some DTS compact discs, The Eagles' When Hell Freezes Over (DTS / Geffen), Lyle Lovett’s Joshua Judges Ruth (DTS), and then a couple of DTS DVD-Audio discs for good measure, Toy Matinee’s self titled DVD (DTS) and David Alan’s self-titled album (DTS).
The McIntosh amplifiers, driving the Martin Logan speakers, provided an incredibly detailed and spacious soundstage that completely surrounded me. The McIntosh amplifiers had plenty of power to drive the sometimes power-hungry Martin Logans through everything. The amplifiers were also detailed enough to take advantage of the detail available in an electrostatic speaker. The McIntosh also was carefully balanced. While providing a great amount of detail and finesse, it did not become bright, harsh or analytical, and in fact remained warm and smooth, perhaps with a slight loss of extreme detail.
I can not afford them and I want them. Sonically, the McIntosh is a stellar performer. My only criticism is the lack of soundstage depth that I recently experienced with the Krell 300iL. This may be a case of system interaction and should definitely not prevent anyone from auditioning the MC602.
The MC602 also produced a slight humming sound that could not be completely eliminated, but this was audible only between tracks and wasn’t noticeable during any actual listening. I later found that it was a grounding issue and not a fault of the amp.
The only real issue I have with the MC602 is with the speaker binding posts. They look nice but do not provide adequate room for thicker spades and therefore force you to change or modify your speaker cables.
These amplifiers are an investment. They are well built and should provide many years, if not a lifetime, of great sound. Visually, they make a strong impression. Visitors constantly made positive comments about the retro-looking McIntosh amplifiers flanking my center speaker stand with their blue, backlit meters. It is true that the speaker binding posts are somewhat of a nuisance and the hum is noticeable when there is no signal, but when the music flows, this is quickly forgotten.
The McIntoshes' neutral if slightly warm character and large amount of power ensure their compatibility with a wide array of systems. Sonically, the McIntosh MC602s provide the warm liquid midrange of a tube amplifier and the speed and power of a good solid state design. These new amplifiers from McIntosh signify great things ahead for this company by demonstrating what can happen when an Old World audio company takes advantage of 21st-century technology.