The Big McIntosh Room | RMAF 2019

If you’ve attended a high-end audio show, you’ve probably seen the Big McIntosh Room. McIntosh Labs always goes all out for these events, usually occupying one of the big ballrooms downstairs and filling it up with as much equipment as possible. It’s a sea of blue meters, glowing tubes and green-lit McIntosh logos. At the 2019 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I was eager to visit the Big McIntosh Room because this legendary American audio manufacturer has had a year of interesting product introductions, something I hinted at when I covered the Binghamton NY-based manufacturer in Munich earlier this year.

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Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019 coverage sponsored by Core Power Technologies A/V

As I write about the Big McIntosh Room at RMAF, I’ve just unpacked the new 125 lb. MC2152 power amplifier ($15,000) and have set it up in my listening room. This 150wpc all-tube behemoth is noteworthy for some new and innovative technology, but it also sports a new, sleeker look with side panels made from carbon fiber. When I posted a photo on social media, many people had no idea it was a Mac–at least until I fired it up and everyone saw the lit logo and the cool green and blue lighting for the tubes. The other noteworthy introduction, one that has me very intrigued, is the gorgeous new hybrid integrated MA352 ($6500) which provides 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms, and 320 into 4 ohms.

Finally, the new C2700 preamp ($8000) is the latest in a series of feature-packed Mac preamps–my first experience with McIntosh Labs goes back a dozen years when I evaluated the C2300. McIntosh’s Ron Cornelius, who served as my intrepid guide in the Big McIntosh Room, gave me a quick run through of the 2700’s amazing list of features, including the DA2 digital module, the new HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) and much more. The 2700 features 16 inputs–nine analog and seven digital. Sixteen.

Another interesting revelation in the Big McIntosh Room was those huge, multi-driver speakers and how I feel that they’ve become more musical over the years, at least to my ears. Ron gave me the low-down on some of the improvements McIntosh Labs has made, which includes drivers and crossovers that focus on even dispersion throughout the frequency range. These new speakers are still huge, with dozens of drivers in each enclosure, but the sound is surprisingly focused and realistic in its size.

Now it’s time to go back into the Little McIntosh Room, in my house, and spend time with the MC2152.


  1. Yes I agree totally Marc. That was my point. Does it require 81 drivers to make great sound ? ( or maybe not so great) Is there really a science to all this? I don’t have the answer but it raises doubts.

    • The quality of the sound isn’t dependent upon the number of drivers, it’s dependent on an overall design where every parameter is taken into consideration. There is a science to it, and there are many approaches to achieving that goal. I don’t believe there is one kind of great sound, since it’s all preference. That’s why you have ESLs, ribbons, single-driver designs, multi-driver arrays, sealed enclosures, open baffles, horns, etc.

  2. Us the buying public pay full retail for new McIntosh.

    That said we are exempt from any local noise ordinances.

    Play as loud as we want 24/7.

    Or is worth one’s dollars.

  3. The Macs speakers have 20-25 drivers, the Wharfedales reported in another post today make do with 2 or 3. Personally I prefer the latter. But I find the different approaches perplexing and rather hard to rationalize. I guess different strokes and all that.

    • The top of the line McIntosh loudspeaker has 81 drivers, the next one down has 70. While I’m drawn to 2-way speakers and their coherent sound, the sheer number of drivers has nothing to do with the overall sound when it’s being applied to an overall design, crossover type and much more. It’s like saying that the bigger the speaker is, the better the sound, and we all know that’s not true.

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