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Newport 2016: McIntosh creates blue heaven

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Newport250x2501“Dad, I want to hear some rock,” a young boy sitting behind me complained in the McIntosh Laboratory Inc. room at T.H.E. Show in Newport.

Gathered in the dark and bathed in the mesmerizing blue glow of the equipment’s displays and power meters, we had been listening to a variety of the usual hi-fi spectacular — but primarily acoustic — demo tracks. Hearing this request, though, a McIntosh rep nodded and grabbed his streamer’s interface.

Suddenly a familiar cockney howl blasted from the system. “Weeeell, I followed her to the staaaaation, with a suitcase in my haaaaand,” Sir Mick Jagger intoned, kicking off the Rolling Stones’ Love in Vain.

I glanced back at the boy, who now had his head thrown back, eyes squeezed shut and a huge grin. After the track faded out, the distinctive chords from Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love began to shake the walls. I checked again, and the boy remained in classic-rock heaven.

McIntosh was using its own XR100 loudspeakers ($10,000 a pair), driven by its MC301 solid-state, quad-balanced monoblocks (300 watts per channel, $5,000 each), C52 preamp ($7,000) and MEN 220 equalizer running Room Perfect software ($5,000). That gear was plugged into an MPC 1500 power conditioner ($5,000).

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Also on hand was the company’s MC75 tube monoblocks ($3,750), MCT 450 transport ($4,500) and MT5 turntable ($6,500). That last item, especially, was responsible for a good deal of the illumination in the room, with its thick platter radiating McIntosh’s trademark hue.

The sound — on both the polite instrumental tracks and the raucous blues — was deep, wide and detailed. The XR100 floorstanders, which each contain four woofers, along with a whopping 10 midrange drivers and a titanium-dome tweeter, had a slightly forward presentation that served male voices well.

Overall, it was a winning combination of 47-year-old rock and new gear from a U.S. manufacturer that’s been around two decades longer than that. This geezer was impressed, and as I glanced back at the youngster as I left, his smile still was shining as bright as the company’s rig.

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About John Stancavage (185 Articles)

Contributing Editor for Part-Time Audiophile