Updating/Reconditioning McIntosh tube amps

Discussion in 'Tube Audio' started by GD vinyl, Jun 5, 2018.

  1. GD vinyl

    GD vinyl AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    87
    Location:
    Boise, ID
    I'm hoping someone might be able to share their experience with having Mac amps updated. I've heard of many folks sending amps and other vintage pieces off to Mac, Terry DeWick and others to be reworked, caps replaced, and some cosmetic improvements. I was lucky enough to have a set of MC60s, a MC240 and two C20 preamps handed to me. I have had them all in for the initial once over, warm up on a variac, and tube check, but that's it. That was nearly 8 months ago and they have all been in daily use since. The MC60s / C20 combo in particular sounds fantastic hooked to a set of Martin Logans and a linn Axis turntable. Half of me says, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and the other half thinks about want it could sound like. Any personal experiences you can share and maybe some idea on cost and time period you had to be without it would be appreciated. Did it make a night and day difference? Thanks!
     

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  2. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

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    In my case it wasn't tube amps that needed some work but I felt good about the process and wanted to share. :)

    I purchased a MX119 used some years ago. It wasn't in bad shape but it did need to be refreshed and some new bulbs put in. I listened to it for about 6 months and decided to send it in for some work. I put my older Denon AVR 3805 back in service in preparation for getting the MX fixed.

    I sent it to Audio Classics and it was there for about 3 to 4 weeks. The results were amazing. The pre-amp section really came to life, the other circuits were clear and the overall appearance certainly improved considerably with the bulb refresh. I spent just a tad over $350

    Fast forward about 5 years .... I purchased a MX135 in similar condition but it also had some failing circuits and it needed a good cleaning. After struggling with the failing circuits and scratch pots I sent it in to Audio Classics. They had it about 2 to 3 weeks. I put the MX119 back in service while the MX135 was being serviced.

    The results were awesome. Again, the pre-amp 2channel section really improved, no more scratchy scritchy controls and it just sounded wonderful. I spent about $450 for this work.
     
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  3. GD vinyl

    GD vinyl AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    87
    Location:
    Boise, ID
    Thanks...the cost is lower than I expected. With amps, I might pay that much in shipping!
     
  4. x3workshop

    x3workshop AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I've personally electrically refurbished 8 McIntosh tube amps (among many others) and I can tell you hands down that, unless those units have been updated, they need to be restored. You will absolutely hear a night and day difference. The preamps would certainly benefit from it as well. Not sure what the cost(s) would be to have AC do it since I did the work myself, but they do have reasonable rates. Well worth it IMO.
     
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  5. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,863
    Location:
    Hillsboro, Oregon
    Try lifting an MX119 or MX135...they are heavy!

    Not as heavy as, say, my MC501's but they definitely are not light weight components. Thankfully, Audio Classics can ship back gear a lot cheaper due to the rates they get.
     
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  6. nj pheonix

    nj pheonix AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I'm in very much the same boat.
    The mac tube amps are very user friendly but not a good choice as a first project.
    I've used Terry D for a piece. He's excellent but has a long lead time.
    I only know AC by reputation but they've been there from the beginning. 60+ years maybe which to me says they're doing something right.
    Honestly I don't know who's in your area. You're right shipping can get pricey.
    FWIW I think the amps are easier to service than the preamps (Or tuner preamps).
    I haven't heard the whole lineup , but so far I'm partial to the 60s.
     

     

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  7. x3workshop

    x3workshop AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Audio Classics all the way. They've serviced a few SS Mcintosh pieces for me and have done wonderful work.
     
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  8. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

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    25,661
    Location:
    Athens, TN
    Audio Classics or DeWick Repairs on vintage McIntosh.
     
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  9. dshoaf

    dshoaf That high voltage buzz

    Messages:
    10,121
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    On operating old tube gear in its original form, the question isn't if it will fail but is a matter of _when_ it will fail. Agreed with X3workshop, all the Mac gear I've restored responded to the work with a solid sound stage, crystal clear highs no matter the type of speakers I put on them. If our OP likes what he hears now, wait until he does after a restoration.

    Agreed with Kent on the well-known restorers. The good ones are busy....stand in line. There's likely a reason why someone who says they can take it on immediately can do that.

    Cheers,

    David
     
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  10. StuartB

    StuartB AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I used Terry DeWick to update and restore a pair of MC-60s and a C-11. He is in Knoxville and I had plenty of reasons to drive through as I traveled between Ohio and Georgia. I contacted him and dropped the pieces off at his house. His clock doesn't start until he has the piece(s) in hand. He had them for a while but I was not in a hurry since I was not shipping them and using planned trips to touch base with him. He went through them and replaced everything needed to bring them up to original specs. I think I ended up spending about $1200 in total. They are set to run another 30 years. In addition just having Terry do the work probably increases the value if that is a consideration. The same would be true for Audio Classics. Good luck.
     
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  11. gkargreen

    gkargreen Active Member

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    441
    Location:
    Fairfax, VA
    No doubt that refreshing the Macs, just like any piece of vintage gear, is important to longevity as well as performance, may of those parts have drifted out of value and/or on their way to causing more serious problems down the road, modern parts in many ways are much better than the parts used in those older Macs. That being said, there is also something else to consider, and that is the VALUE of the Macs. If you go and have the parts updated with non-original style parts, the monetary value will drop CONSIDERABLY, perhaps in the $1k ballpark, so that restoring Macs and Marantz, as well as others (Fairchild, Altec, etc.) must be looked into carefully if you want to preserve the monetary/collector value. Yea, I hear you all out there about collector BS and the like, but truth is truth, bringing the high dollar audio pieces up to and exceeding spec can wreck the monetary value of these pieces, been there done that and I am a chasten engineer. Obviously I don't need to tell you that anyone who restores Western Electric audio gear is extremely careful about the parts they used, we are talking $10k values and more, so there is your truth.
     

     

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  12. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    Why I tend to be attracted to "sadder but wiser" examples, tho my Marantz 8 is far from that. The right Mac amp in the non museum candidate category could turn my head.
     
  13. x3workshop

    x3workshop AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I feel that if you are concerned about preserving collector value, then you aren't concerned about listening to music at it's best with that piece of equipment, and therefore shouldn't even plug them in. Just keep them in the closet until you're ready to sell them. My .02ยข
     
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  14. GD vinyl

    GD vinyl AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    87
    Location:
    Boise, ID
    Thanks all for sharing your thoughts. I'm torn more because I don't want to be without the MC60s for any real length of time and unless I sell something an extra $1200-1500 isn't readably available. We'll see and maybe check in with Terry for a time estimate. Sounds like he or the mac lab in NY are the 2 options most go with. Neither are very close to Boise, ID!
     
  15. mcgjohn

    mcgjohn Active Member

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    Chicago area
     

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