Friday, June 5, 2009

Power Amplifier and Preamplifier - McIntosh MC7270 and C31V

First off, I apologize for the stock photos, but mine look exactly like that - I swear! I'll replace these soon with a shot of the whole system after the tuner arrives next week.

This is a preliminary assessment of this 7270 power amplifier and the C31V preamplifier, as I've only listened to these for about two hours so far. I'm using the 7270 in place of my MC2100 which has served me well for about a year, powering my KEF 105.2. The other components in the lineup, the preamp, tuner, and CD player have been switched out several times over the last 12 months as I opted for more inputs, better CD sound, etc. (you know the drill). I am currently using a Conrad Johnson Sonographe CD player with these McIntosh components and it sounds fine.

Let me address the differences in sound between the MC2100 amp/Adcom GTP350 preamp combo that these new McIntosh units are replacing. There is very little "noticeable" difference. No, my hearing is fine - actually quite a bit above normal for my age according to my doctor. What's missing here? Why aren't I extolling the blatant superiority of the sound coming from this new gear over the old system? Because they both sound REALLY nice to me! And, the only way I'd be able to tell the difference between these two is if they had significantly different sonic characteristics, and quite frankly, those don't exist. Set up a blind listening test where you can instantly switch out the two sets of gear, and I could write volumes about the differences I hear. But - add setup time of 25 minutes between listening to the two systems, and my sonic memory fails me.

So, enough with comparing these two - how does the new McIntosh gear sound?!? It sounds wonderfully natural. The phono stage on the C31V has allowed me to rediscover vinyl, and I had a blast last Sunday morning listening to some of my favorite LPs, including "Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass - Whipped Cream and Other Favorites," and "Stan Getz - Getz/Gilbarto." Both of these were uncolored, very neutral. The percussion and horns of the Herb Alpert sounded spectacular - "live" but not forward. I was IN the studio with his band.

And hey, what's not to like about the looks of this gear? The C31V does not have a full glass face - only partial, with brushed aluminum along the bottom, but that's okay - it still has that futuristic retro-chic like it belongs on the set of Sin City. The Amp. . .masculine but pretty at the same time. Those huge, glowing watt/db meters. . .drool. Both of these units came to me by way of a Craigs List ad, and the seller may have more to unload some day. I'm keeping my fingers crossed! He kept these in immaculate condition, and we worked out a fair price which is always nice.

Still to come? For my second McIntosh system, I should have a McIntosh MX113 preamp/tuner on my doorstep when I get home this evening. This will go with the MC2100 amp. Then, next Wednesday, to replace the Pioneer tuner being used on the system described above, I've got an McIntosh MR7083 on its way. Yes, when I dive into something I go whole-hog. Speaking of hogs, I think it's time to replenish the old piggy bank!

Full system review coming soon after I get the new tuner installed.

Have any stories or photos of your McIntosh gear? Please leave a comment or send me an email.

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  1. Hello! So I stumbled on this web page and I now own a MC 7270 and am looking to buy a Mac preamp to go along with it--either the C31V or the C34V; possibly the C35 as well. They were all made during the same timeframe which is important to me as I want them matched. SO I wonder 3 years later are you still happy with the MC 7270 and C31V combination??
    Thanks, Pete

  2. Yes. Still very happy with both of these. Having no experience with the other two preamps you mentioned, I can't compare or comment other than I doubt you'd be disappointed. Best of luck to you, Tom



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