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McIntosh MC462 Stereo Amplifier Review (by ErinsAudioCorner.com)

sweetchaos

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Erin (from ErinsAudioCorner) has posted his 2nd electronics review, conducted using Audio Precision APx555B.

InkedDSC03825.jpg


Erin's conclusion:
A couple notes:

  • This amp is a powerhouse. I won’t get into my subjective thoughts here but I will simply say that I ran a few different speakers (Wharfedale Linton, Monitor Audio Silver 7g and SVS Ultra Prime) just to see how well this amp reacted to the different loads and they rocked the house. At levels that the speakers simply weren’t meant to play. Ultimately, what this means to you is that you not only have plenty of power available for low sensitivity speakers but you also have a lot of dynamic headroom for transient peaks (up to ~850wpc). I can’t imagine the need for more power - at least not in typical domestic living spaces.
  • I had the MC462 powered for hours at a time and while it did get quite warm to the touch it never suffered any faults such as thermal shutdown.
  • The Power Guard feature works as advertised and you can see this clearly in the Wattage vs THD+N graphs where additional input past ~4.4 Vrms resulted in no additional output (but, most importantly, no distorted output). From the data, it appears Power Guard limits the amplifier from exceeding levels where THD+N is greater than 1%. The Input Gain graphic also provides additional evidence for this where at approximately 4.4 Vrms the output power is capped at about 500w (at 4-ohms).
  • McIntosh rates this amplifier at 450wpc at 2/4/8-ohm loads with their specification page citing “0.005%” THD. My tests show this to be a tad conservative where this distortion level was closer to 500wpc at this value for all loads. Again, that’s 500 watts per channel at a distortion value of less than 0.005%.
  • So, here is the part where I take a bit of a detour. McIntosh’s “Dynamic Headroom” is rated at 3.0dB. If one were using my data then we see at 4-ohms the continuous power vs max peak (headroom/dynamic range) at 1% THD+N 546 watts and 823 watts, respectively (left channel). For a true 3dB of ‘headroom’ - which is doubling of power - the max peak power would have to be closer to 1092 (546w*2) or the max continuous would need to be 411.5 watts (823w/2). But the truth here is I do not know how McIntosh is rating their Dynamic Headroom spec. I do not know where their reference is; if it’s 1.0% THD+N or 0.01% THD+N or 0.005% THD (no “+N”). Therefore, depending on what they are referencing this 3dB Dynamic Range value may very well be legitimate. And given the overall performance of this amplifier, I have no reason to believe McIntosh is fudging specs. My guess is their reference is simply different from mine.

The MC462 delivers power like nothing I’ve ever used before. Go back and look at the table I provided. At least 500wpc into any load with more to spare in dynamic power. You won’t be wanting for power unless you have an extremely attypical speaker setup. Nevermind the legitimately great performance, I like the meters. I’m a sucker for meters. There, I said it. I’ve been eyeing this amplifier for a few years now and was always a bit curious how it would really fare in a battery of tests. Well, now I know… and I want one more than before.

Link to his site, for full review and graphs:

Discuss!
 
The performance is definitely there and the aesthetics are strong for those who like the look. 500 wpc with healthy headroom is hard to find on any reasonable budget, so I wouldn't say people are totally insane for buying this, if they did. I *think* you also get pretty strong reliability and service with this. You can always get pretty high power from a hypex or purifi module, but I don't think their graphs look quite this clean...?

Is this amp worth it, then? Not to me, but if you're the kind of person who can drop $10K on an amp without causing a divorce or bankruptcy and it makes you happy, I wouldn't say it's a complete waste of money.
 
How does its Sinad compare to Amir's ranking chart? I need to find the formula and figure out how to calculate it from Erin's data.
 
How does its Sinad compare to Amir's ranking chart? I need to find the formula and figure out how to calculate it from Erin's data.
 
5W/1kHz/4R SINAD about 98dB.
How does its Sinad compare to Amir's ranking chart? I need to find the formula and figure out how to calculate it from Erin's data.
Overall results excellent. This would be a real “benchmark” not a toybench.
 
The people buying $10k amplifiers have more money than sense.
These amplifiers scream “status” and that’s precisely who their target audience is.
Agreed, this is for the person that gets a Porsche / lambo instead of a Volvo or even a Tesla or whatever. But those guys need amps too. :p At least this one has respectable performance rather than just looking the part and taking up space in your media cabinet.
 
Amp looks like it provides the goods. I had a small 75 wpc McIntosh amp with the Power Guard circuit years ago. It is a pretty nifty thing to have. Amp won't be allowed to distort and sound nasty. It just compresses gently until there is no where left to go, but clipping etc. is not allowed to occur. Not that you'd clip an amp like this I don't think. So actually more useful with smaller amps. I would not call this a snake oil product. It is an expensive luxury amp, but not snake oil. Too me it is like buying an expensive luxury automobile. I wouldn't do it, or most people cannot do it, but you are getting something for the money.
 
I‘m also confused why this brand still exist in some low income countries in Asia. It’s been more than 30 years still retailers can sell it.
Stereo amplifier‘s cost for more than 10k is not normal.
 
Yep,that looks like a good one,buy once and forget.
Decent power and measurements and I believe after sales support is top notch.
Love the watt meters,hate the overall looks,green is not my thing but an iconic design nevertheless.
 
Without having seen one of their amps in person, I think I'd find those meters too distracting. Do they move all the time, can you dim them out? Someone around here is sounding like the fox about the grapes, but I really can't decide if I like the look or not, they are like the Harley-Davidson's of amps for some reason to me, and I''m not fond of them.

It's nice they deliver though, for those that have got them, one more reason to feel good about their system.
 
Glad to see Erin back in service ! Also, pretty good performance for some traditional A/B design.:cool: Expensive, sure, but not High End snake oil. I would have expected the power to double, down to 4 then 2Ω, tho.

Hypex and Purifi amps are the sensible options, for normal people.
Nope, I would say these are for Audio nerds like we are. ;)

"Normal people" buy soundbars or WiFi smart speakers nowadays.

How does its Sinad compare to Amir's ranking chart?
SINAD chart is unimportant in that case. For amps, THD+N (SINAD) VS Power is much more informative:
Comparison of THD+N Ratio vs Measured Level vs Load.png
 
Worth noting they use output transformers (autotransformers), that's why they have individual pairs of binding posts for 2ohm, 4ohm and 8ohm load, and also the reason why power to 2/4/8ohm is similar. There must be a piece of engineering behind these autotransformers to get the parameters they have.


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Worth noting they use output transformers (autotransformers), that's why they have individual pairs of binding posts for 2ohm, 4ohm and 8ohm load, and also the reason why power to 2/4/8ohm is similar. There must be a piece of engineering behind these autotransformers to get the parameters they have.


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Last time I damage an amplifier because of speaker impedance. Bi-wiring 6 ohm speakers on an amp that require minimum 8 ohm. The amp is not directly broken but breaks down over time.
 
Buy Wiring? Thankfully this useless fad is past it now...

The house style is not really to my taste, but this brand has been plugging away for so long that one almost takes them for granted!

Also, great to see a properly designed and built powerhouse which actually isn't silly money in the high end (look at the cost of a Pass, Naim or Linn power amp, let alone Krells of yore or (shudders) the D'Agostino luxury boxes that some audiophiles lust after...
 
Worth noting they use output transformers (autotransformers), that's why they have individual pairs of binding posts for 2ohm, 4ohm and 8ohm load, and also the reason why power to 2/4/8ohm is similar. There must be a piece of engineering behind these autotransformers to get the parameters they have.
I think this is the single most cool feature of these MacIntosh amps. It is truly amazing how linear and low distortion they still are with these transformers!

Interestingly, they choose not to use the transformers for the Hypex-based products like MI502, etc. Would be interesting to see how they would perform when coupled with an autoformer.
 
$10k is an adequate price for the amplifier built like this and with parameters like this.
$10k ‘adequate’ what else is comparable in terms of measurement ?
What else is comparable and cheaper Benchmark?
Keith
 
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