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MX114 vs. MX110z imaging

Discussion in 'McIntosh Audio' started by mnmmt, May 15, 2018.

  1. mnmmt

    mnmmt AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    152
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I have owned and used an MX114 for several years, and think it performs very nicely. I've replaced all the electrolytics and the striped "lollipop" caps in it and it sounds good. I have been working on an MX110z, and recently finished replacing electrolytics, coupling, and ceramic caps in it. When I was done, I installed tubes (old and used--I didn't want to risk my good primo vintage tubes in it yet) in the MX110z to try it out. Both preamps are used with the same power amp (restored MC250) and same speakers in the same space in the same room.

    I was blown away by the imaging of the MX110z! The MX114 gives clear sound and is dynamic, but when listening to say an orchestral recording, the instruments do not locate with any accuracy--I hear a general location of the instruments, but I can't really point to where they are in the stereo image. There is also little depth to the soundstage. In contrast the MX110z was incredibly accurate with the locations of instruments in terms of where they are laterally, vertically, and even depth-wise in the stereo image. I don't think I have ever heard such pinpoint imaging from stereo equipment, and certainly not in my system. I understand what the fuss over the MX110z is all about.

    I had hoped that the performance of the MX114 would be closer to that of the MX110z, but it isn't. Is there anything I can do to the MX114 to improve the imaging of the MX114, or is this difference in imaging to be expected simply because of the difference between tubes and solid state? Will it make a difference to replace the small caps in the signal path (primarily the rectangular box kind) on the preamp boards of the MX114, or will this be a matter of diminishing returns?

    Thanks all!

    Matt
     

     

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  2. c_dk

    c_dk Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,190
    Location:
    West Michigan
    Even going back to phono cartridge evaluations back in the 70s the concept of "imaging" was very much a matter of the personal taste of an individual. Speakers were even worse......

    It was not uncommon for two different clients to have such startling difference of opinion you wondered if they were listening to the same thing. Some were huge fans of glorified mono with a sound stage so narrow between the speakers it was as if all the stereo magic was covered up.....others liked a sound stage so wide it was spooky and you looked for phasing issues.

    That said I have found even going back to the day of phono cartridge evaluation often the speaker system needed minor adjustments to bring out the best of each cartridge. I have found this to be the case with amp and preamp evaluations as well recap reviews.

    Out of curiosity what speakers are you using?
     
  3. mnmmt

    mnmmt AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    152
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I am using Tannoy s8 towers. They are front ported, and i usually have them chained to the wall (I have 3 energetic boys that play in my listening area). My room is far from ideal, as it is my family room in the lower level--the speakers are on a 15 foot wide wall, and i sit about 12' back, with a 30 foot long wall to my left, and a 15 foot wall to my right, and to my behind right it opens to the lower landing open area.

    Thanks for the reply!
     
  4. c_dk

    c_dk Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,190
    Location:
    West Michigan
    How about the soundstage width?

    I have had discussions with clients that felt a narrow soundstage, well within the width of the speakers to be superior than a wall to wall wide stage......

    While I have no experience with the Tannoys I do have experience with the Kef UniQ type.

    I found that that design format, with the larger cone acting as a waveguide were appreciated by those looking for a more narrow stage.....not as narrow as horn within the critical distance but a in between setup, a compromise between such wide soundstage types like Vandersteens and Thiels and horn loaded types.

    I wonder if a bit of additional speaker toe in might help the MX114 setup.
     
  5. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,131
    Location:
    Angel Station, Alabama
    It should be consistent if all else remains the same, the only difference being this one component.
     
  6. AlTinkster92

    AlTinkster92 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,240
    Location:
    NC
    Matt, I have never heard a 110z but they sure look nice. I had my MX114 redone at Dave Gillespie's and Audio Classics for the alignment and it's the best FM reception I have ever heard. It even beats out my Fisher FM-200B that Dave went thru. I also have and use a rebuilt MC-250 and as far a SS these 2 pieces are all I will likely ever own. I enjoy them that much. Still a tube guy at heart though.......:rolleyes: AL
     

     

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  7. mnmmt

    mnmmt AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    152
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Soundstage width is similar in both units, extending several feet to the outside of each speaker. I definitely hear a difference when I move the speakers out from the wall and let them breathe. The bass and overall balance of the speaker response evens out.

    I need to retube the 110 and get both aligned. Even with bad tubes and a poor alignment, the 110 tuner was excellent. I can't wait until I get it aligned.
     
  8. c_dk

    c_dk Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,190
    Location:
    West Michigan
    It would be interesting to see a spectral analysis of the noise floor of the two units.

    I have often wondered if the possible channel interaction across the 470k resistors that tie together the L&R channels to create the center channel might affect the image width. The MX110 uses 220k if I remember correctly.

    A compressed together to the center might create a tighter more defined image but at the expense of the width.......pure speculation but somebody has to do it.
     
    Pio1980 likes this.
  9. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,061
    Location:
    west Texas
    When I started out Mac was a dream and so when I got my first job that paid enough while going to HS I started actually listening to Mcintosh in the early 60's. The most popular system at the time was the MX-110 with the 240. It was a very special sound whether with Stephens, Altec, Bozak, AR, KLH, etc etc. My first System was HH Scott and Stephens, then I up graded to Altec speakers a couple of times. By the time I was a freshman in college, I got a MA 230 and a MR-67, which was great, but that special sound wasn't there and when I changed to Bozak bought a MC240 and as I already had a MR-71, I by passed the 110 and got a C-22. Now you would think a C-22 and a MR-71 would easily surpass a MX-110. But not always especially when it came to FM. Sure the 71 could weed out the good from the bad and the 19 KHZ carrier didn't bother me as much, but there was still some thing special about the 110. When a close friend of mine was looking for a system I helped her choose a MX 114, 2505 and ML1C. The sound was much different from the MX 110 and 240, but it wasn't. When she played LP's on her 1219 or Cassettes on her Nakamichi the sound was really surprising and when play FM from the two college stations the sound could be almost as good especially the station using Dolby. The sound quality had really improved I thought over the 110, but then the stations had, too. I installed a few 114's over the years and they performed well, and didn't have some of the issues the MX 110 had. Though I will have to admit the 110 was special, it wasn't that special for me. Problem prone Volume control, cross talk between inputs, 19 KHZ pilot leakage and high frequency distortion issues would make me choose a 114.
     
    motorstereo likes this.
  10. analog addict

    analog addict Glory or Death!

    Messages:
    9,112
    Location:
    Central NC - RDU
    Eh. Who would ever want to mess with an old junker like a 110?...

    [​IMG]Untitled by Analog Addict, on Flickr
     
  11. 62caddy

    62caddy Trust but verify Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,331
    Location:
    NEPA
    Or three...:D
     

     

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