Preamp Recommendation Please

Discussion in 'McIntosh Audio' started by Timberwolf53, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. Timberwolf53

    Timberwolf53 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    I have recently replaced my Yamaha M50 Amp with a McIntosh MC300 that I am currently using with a Yamaha C6 Preamp. The effect of adding the new amplifier was dramatic to say the least. Up until now I thought the C6 was fine, but now I can't help but feel that it's my weakest link, and holding back the capabilities of the amp. I'm not really an audiophile, I'm more a music lover, so I don't want to keep switching gear out all the time just to see how it sounds. I want to put together a system I can keep forever. I'm looking to spend $1000 - $1,500 for a pre, and I've been looking at various Macs as well as Audio Research & Conrad Johnson. The rest of my system consists of a Dual 721 TT, and Bang & Olufsen M150 speakers. I have a Pioneer DVD player hooked up as a CD player, but I can't remember the last time I actually used it. It's mostly dedicated to playing LP's only. I have done some research, but also wanted some input from enthusiasts too. The only Mac preamp I have heard bad things about is the C28, which is reported to have fiddly pots. Any advice would be appreciated.
     
    joeinid likes this.
  2. MACKIE1975

    MACKIE1975 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    521
    C34V should be the best bet
     
  3. c_dk

    c_dk Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,498
    Location:
    West Michigan
    For a music lover the 5 tone controls found on many Mac preamps are really special......not all the time but often enough the ability to undo a flaw in the sound engineer's mix to make a barely tolerable record or digital file excellent.

    C30,31,32,33,34,35,37 all have this ability and from a reputable restorer or reseller will be priced below 2k, most though, will be north of 1500 restored.
     
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  4. MACKIE1975

    MACKIE1975 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    521
    Sound like the OP don't upgrade often, I recommend buy it from Audio Classics or McIntosh Audio.
    These old preamps are in need of a full restoration and these 2 reputable sellers are the one . You get what you pay for.
     
    chef free likes this.
  5. chef free

    chef free AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,029
    Location:
    Oakland! What?!
    You don't want a remote or multichannel? That gives you a lot of great choices! All the 30 series preamps are good, don't forget about the C35, C37, and C40, they have the five band equalizer and the beloved VARIABLE LOUDNESS. Also consider the C15, C504, and the C710/712.

    Coming from a Yamaha C6, I guarantee you will hear a difference!
     
  6. Timberwolf53

    Timberwolf53 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    I don't NEED remote or multichannel, but I'm not opposed to having either, if I can get a good deal on one. Fill me in on the variable loudness, and why it is so beloved.
     
  7. twiiii

    twiiii Super Member

    Messages:
    4,579
    Location:
    west Texas
    I asked Frank Gow which was the best sounding 16" Mcintosh pre-mp Mac ever made. His answer was the C-37. He said it was a step up from any of the others. His dad was President of Mcintosh and Frank was the man who new everything there was to know about Mcintosh during his tenure at Audio Classics. I chose the C-34 V. It has a very similar sound to C-28 without all the mechanical issues. When mine was returned recently it had less than .005 % distort, 20 to 20,000 and the Phono stage measured the same. Both line and phono inputs stages surpassed the signal to noise specs by close to 6 db. No wonder I didn't hear any hiss. later I decided I wanted to use a low level moving coil cartridge so I bought and connected a MP 100, to a line input. Now I have the sound of two of my favorite pre-amps for phono inputs. The smooth revealing with just a touch of analog warm of the C-34, and the dry ever revealing sound of the phono stage from my former C29 via the MP 100 connected to the C-34. All to be adjusted by those fantastic graphic tone controls. The Loudness control and expander/ compressor used in moderation have very important uses, too/. And if you are thinning about electrostatic headphones the monitor amp in the C-34 is an ideal source.
     
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  8. jdwdmi

    jdwdmi AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    313
    Location:
    Des Moines, IA
    Love my C34V! I think it was about $1500 from Audio Classics.
     
  9. kevzep

    kevzep Its all about the Music Subscriber

    C33,34 is what I'd recommend in that price range, I have a C33 which is all original, I intended on recapping and giving it a full birthday, but haven't got round to it yet, and you know, it works absolutely perfectly, everything works on it and reliably...
    VERY nice sounding preamps....33 and 34 are essentially the same pre, I think the 34 has ore line level inputs and only one phono input...something like that..
     
  10. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,801
    Location:
    Gilbert, AZ
    I've also always admired the C33, C40, and the later C37. A few years ago, I went on the hunt for a C40. After realizing that I could buy a C100 for a few bucks more, I did just that. The C33 and C40 command top dollar while the C37 and C100 don't sell for similar percentages (based on new sell price) on the used market.
     
  11. kevzep

    kevzep Its all about the Music Subscriber

    Would you get a C100 for $1500US though?
     
  12. c_dk

    c_dk Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,498
    Location:
    West Michigan
    I am quite certain that the above named resellers DO NOT recap or restore the mentioned preamps that they resell. They do make sure they meet factory spec and warranty them however. Which is a good thing.

    I am positive and we have done local A/B comparisons, that a meet factory spec unit can be made to sound better with a bigger soundstage and a quieter noise floor after a basic recapping. Each vintage preamp also has some basic needs that should be tidied up while a hot iron is nearby. I believe of those that have already posted here only Chef free and myself have experienced this before and after recapping phenomena.

    I wish I knew exactly why this 4-5 hour investment in time makes such a improvement but it would only be speculation.

    As for Frank and his father well, I know his Dad would have said whatever unit was currently in production sounded best! The old one would make a nice trade in for a new owner to get started......
     
  13. motorstereo

    motorstereo the wonder of it all Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,858
    Location:
    Connecticut
    My all original C33 was a very noticeable upgrade over the recapped Yamaha C4 it replaced. The 33 has a better phono section, it's a quieter preamp and more pleasant to listen to long term. I can imagine the difference would've been even greater if the C33 had the complete recap that the Yammy did.
     
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  14. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,801
    Location:
    Gilbert, AZ
    Apparently not in New Zealand!
     
  15. joekapahulu

    joekapahulu Active Member

    Messages:
    224
    Location:
    Honolulu, HI
    I am using an Acurus R11 with my DeWick updated mc250. It's the best preamp I've had but I too would like to get a good more modern pre with remote. I believe I would get better sound from my amp with a new pre but as a early retiree I am on a budget. I can probably do $1500. I have watched out here for a couple years but no luck. Any suggestions McIntosh or otherwise would be appreciated. My back cropped out a few years ago so a remote is needed. It's worth any aural trade off to me.
     
  16. jdcarlson

    jdcarlson Not Good Enough for Jazz Subscriber

    Messages:
    97
    Location:
    Pensacola, Fl
    Take a look at the MC130 - especially if you can find one with 5.1 analog inputs.
    The MC130 is one of the most UNDERrated McIntosh units. It is the C39 pre-amp (rated class "B" by Stereophile at a time they had very little good to say about McIntosh), with the FM tuner added.
    Short of a full rack mounted patch panel, it is probably the most flexible unit around. It has 12 selection inputs (and the phono input can be used for aux depending which jack you plug the source into - which really gives you 13 choices). By using the VCR audio jacks as tape jacks, you can go from any of the 12 sources to any of four tape units.
    It was originally designed as an A/V unit, but the Video side is only analog (Component, Composite, or S-Video). Just ignore the video stuff, and concentrate on the audio.
    The MC130 will simulate 5.1 surround from two channel analog. With the MAC-3, you can use digital audio inputs to create the 5.1 surround sound (thus the admonition to get a later unit with 6 channel inputs).
    It will also run two zones - there are two selector switches (12 selections each) on the front panel.. Or, it will allow you to do two jobs simultaneously. I recently digitized 200 LPs to 192k/24bit digital through the MX130 while my wife was using it to listen to Oprah and Dr. Phil through my MC7270s on the TV - with both jobs running through the MX130 simultaneously, with NO cross-talk.
    Plus, it is old enough that each switch on the front serves only a single purpose. None of this wading through "menus" to get to what you want.
    It has the variable loudness control that is missing on some later units.
    They usually go for around $1,000 on the used market. Several years ago I lucked up on a MAC-3 and MX130 together for $1,100. One of my better value acquisitions.
    As you can tell, I am in love with mine!
    Thanks,
    Jim
     
  17. jdcarlson

    jdcarlson Not Good Enough for Jazz Subscriber

    Messages:
    97
    Location:
    Pensacola, Fl
    Take a look at the MC130 - especially if you can find one with 5.1 analog inputs.
    The MC130 is one of the most UNDERrated McIntosh units. It is the C39 pre-amp (rated class "B" by Stereophile at a time they had very little good to say about McIntosh), with the FM tuner added.
    Short of a full rack mounted patch panel, it is probably the most flexible unit around. It has 12 selection inputs (and the phono input can be used for aux depending which jack you plug the source into - which really gives you 13 choices). By using the VCR audio jacks as tape jacks, you can go from any of the 12 sources to any of four tape units.
    It was originally designed as an A/V unit, but the Video side is only analog (Component, Composite, or S-Video). Just ignore the video stuff, and concentrate on the audio.
    The MC130 will simulate 5.1 surround from two channel analog. With the MAC-3, you can use digital audio inputs to create the 5.1 surround sound (thus the admonition to get a later unit with 6 channel inputs).
    It will also run two zones - there are two selector switches (12 selections each) on the front panel.. Or, it will allow you to do two jobs simultaneously. I recently digitized 200 LPs to 192k/24bit digital through the MX130 while my wife was using it to listen to Oprah and Dr. Phil through my MC7270s on the TV - with both jobs running through the MX130 simultaneously, with NO cross-talk.
    Plus, it is old enough that each switch on the front serves only a single purpose. None of this wading through "menus" to get to what you want.
    It has the variable loudness control that is missing on some later units.
    They usually go for around $1,000 on the used market. Several years ago I lucked up on a MAC-3 and MX130 for $1,100. One of my better value acquisitions.
    As you can tell, I am in love with mine!
    Thanks,
    Jim
     
  18. jlovda

    jlovda Things I loved from the 60's and 70's

    Messages:
    3,130
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    The C34V is basically the same as the C33 except for these changes:
    . C34V has one phono input, the C33 two. Second input converted to an additional line level. They both use the same phono board. The C34V board is half empty.
    . C34V takes a 5 v signal from the input selector (that goes to the FET switches in back) and also sends it to a large D connector on the back panel. There is an optional video switcher that plugs in there.
    . C34V has more "modern" nomenclature such as CD, VCR, Laser, TV instead of Aux1, Aux2, etc. They are all the same line level inputs.
    . An internal change was that the C33 used TO-66 outputs for the monitor amp. The C34V uses plastic TO-220.
    . The C33 uses longer knobs like the MC2125 and MC2205. The C34V uses shorter knobs.
    . The side pieces for the front glass are different.
    . There are some changes and rearrangement of the pushbuttons.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017

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