XR290 Listening Impressions

Discussion in 'McIntosh Audio' started by Velocityboat, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. Velocityboat

    Velocityboat Well-Known Member

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    I initially set up my XR290s last night after unloading. I was lazy at first not wanting to tear down the old system and rewire my MC2500s to run 8 ohm. So I just wired to the Lyngdorf TDAI 2200 integrated amp outs and slid them in front of my XRT20 stacked XR19. Played two songs Santana Oye Como Va and Led Zep Stairway to Heaven. The sound was just as incredible but soon had hit the limits of what the digital amp could muster.

    I quickly knew these puppies need big McIntosh amps and went for the bridged MC2500s. The difference in dynamics with effortless sound was immediately noticed. My wife took over playing her favorite lossless iTunes library.

    Which ranged from Bill Withers,, Cat Stevens, Josh Groban, Yo Yo Ma, original Cast Les Miserables, and Miss Siagon.

    Though I love the stack the XR290s whoop them in voice accuracy and low and mid bass, mids and smoothness and different voice articulation in harmonies. Abilty to articulate both different and similar instruments better and such a relaxed smooth and natural sound. Symphony in particular leaves you wondering how can they duplicate real experience so well. All listening was done with Room Perfect room correction off.

    My daughter remarked that I have now ruined music for her she will not want to listen to anything else. She felt she had been blind but the XR290s let her see what she was missing. We were all mesmerized.

    The only thing my stack bests the XR290 is in soundstage width and sharper highs. But Soundstage maybe width of tweeter arrays or XR19 dispersion of highs. Sharper highs are not necessarily as natural sounding for non amplifed percussion. The twenty four tweeters in the stack in horizontal array on XR19 are likely influencing both.

    One thing noticeable is need to be wary of exceeding safe dB levels with XR290. It is so enveloping even at 1000 Watts. The sound never gets stressed. So smooth and clear at any level.

    I can't wait to get MC1000s in the system and speakers back at wall and try out the C39.and try to see if room perfect improves experience.

    So far they are worth every penny.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
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  2. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

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    So ... I guess I have to find a pair now too huh?
     
  3. nj pheonix

    nj pheonix AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have to find every penny first.:D
     
  4. Velocityboat

    Velocityboat Well-Known Member

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    Well the IDS-25 is supposed to be better but can't get the SPL of the big boys. They still build those but they will not take 1200 WPC. But you enjoy the hunt. Thought I would have been bidding versus you. My good fortune I was not.

    Amps, preamps, DACs all get you a little bit. You got all that. I am astonished how big a change for the better these were for me.

    Having never heard XRT22 you may be most of the way there. Those 12 five inch mids and crossing 24 dome tweeters at 1300 Hz. You never hear a singers voice waive changing range. I always thought that was the way their voice reacted. It is just so smooth and so clear not having any single driver stresses. It really alters your music perspective.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  5. Velocityboat

    Velocityboat Well-Known Member

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    I bet I would in the future. Not like me but impulses are hard to control.
     
  6. twiiii

    twiiii Super Member

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    I first heard 290s at High fidelity in Houston. They were using a 2600 for the woofers and a 7300 driving the mids and tweeters without an electronic crossover and they were balanced incorrectly and I was very dis appointed. Later in the year I heard a pair at Bjorns in San Antonio with two 2600's in mono and the sound was totally different. The clarity and intimacy were fantastic. The bass with the newer LD woofers was so much more natural, though not as impressive as stacked pairs of ML-4's. I really enjoyed the 290's, you could listen for hours with out fatigue. They are still my favorite line array speaker. I'd take a pair over 1k and 2K speakers with their terribly resonant tweeters any day of the week. It would be fun to have 3 behind a grill cloth projection screen for HT. No need for subs and I guess 250's for the rear/side speakers would be my dream, I seldom use more than 100 watts for my speakers which are bi-amped and 6 db more efficient. So that means 400 watts per 290 speaker. I would love to hear a pair driven by MC 3500's. But imagine I would prefer my old stand by the 1.2 K . I would go to Rogers site and read all about the 290s before investing in amps. You can contact him about any questions about your speakers. He's a great guy and will give you honest answers. I listen at 16 ft in a 25 ft long room. If you listen closer you would even need less power. We never sold a pair of 290's, even though we had a pair for Demo at Mcintosh Amplifier Clinic. I hated to see them go. We didn't have big sound rooms so a 2600 was more than enough. We did get the power guard lamps to flash a few times. It was a fun time. If I hadn't been paying for an RV and Hasselblads at the time, I would have made the plunge. But looking back I'm glad i made the choice I made. Having 6 to 8db power for each speaker and all the other necessary up grades would have kept me home and I prefer to travel. And I didn't like projectors at the time, still don't. So I'll stick with my Plasma for a few more years.
     
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  7. Velocityboat

    Velocityboat Well-Known Member

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    Twiii,

    I have been in email discussions with Roger. He is adamant that Room Correction is not needed. So far advice appears to be right on.

    I also talked with Ken H who builds and sells IDS-25. He last drove his XR290s with 2KWs. and tried MC3500s. He sent me photos of the set up. The MC1000s that came in my deal are likely to be what I use. My MC2500s bridged do well. Ken told me to ghost center channel. He never found a center that would match the XR290s output though he tried all of McIntosh offerings. So three would be the way to go. I have some HT-3s for surround though considering using XR19s. It seems crazy to not let the XR290s do all the LF duties and just cross over the HT-3s for mid bass and up. I could use XR5s too with a MQ. I guess I will experiment.

    I bought these not seen or ever heard in person, all based on Roger's engineering skills having owned earlier products and descriptions I could find on line.
    Your listening room is similar to mine in size.

    Have you ever listened to the IDS-25?
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  8. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

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    Well . . . I do have the "two 2600s in mono" . . . So, I got that goin' for me! They really make the XRT22s sing - and I do continually marvel at the system's capabilities. Just last night, I was listening to a yard sale copy of NGDB DS&G on vinyl at less than 1wpc and I could not believe how well the picking came across - just breathtaking.

    Roger says - If you like the XRT22s, the XR290s are just "more." I bet! Roger is good people and it's nice that he still enjoys chatting with us owners about his designs. I've never heard his IDS-25s either. He says that he sold his personal pair of XR290s after realizing that the IDS-25 outperformed them in several areas. AKer Rich Andrews (awol for some time now) has both XRT22s and IDS-25s, as well as a pair of MC2500s. I don't recall him commenting much in regards to either pair of speakers.

    I think the moral of the story here is that the McIntosh line array speakers that Roger developed offer extraordinary performance and Roger is certainly among the great speaker designers. While not inexpensive, the speakers are a bargain on the used market considering what they sold for new. [I remember hearing my buddy Mike's XRT20s in his home in the mid '90s and being absolutely blown away. He was driving them with an MC2205, but my MC2500 really took them to the next level.]

    VB - you're having way too much fun! Update on the MC1000?
     
  9. Velocityboat

    Velocityboat Well-Known Member

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    673
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    I found this post below I remembered.
    Rich,

    Seeing you have the XRT22 and Roger's IDS 25 what is better or worse between the two?
    The short review goes like this:

    The XRT22 handles higher power and thus produces a higher SPL.
    The IDS25 images like no other. Everything is perfectly and distinctly placed on the sound stage. Even kettle drums.

    Everything is a tradeoff. There is no perfect speaker system.

    I also found him on another forum Rich talking about still being intrigued by XR290 after owning IDS-25 and getting to spend several hours intently listening to XR290.

    I agree all these line arrays can do amazing things and they make nearly everything interesting if recorded without a dozen separate tracks.


    Update on MC1000s. The extended off time and the amp reset itself! It will be interesting to see if driving a load causes an issue. But I really think it was a short of speaker wires since I was moving speaker. It is driving a signal like no tomorrow. So I unloaded them both. Will set until weekend. I need to pick up some short XLR cords.

    Also need a cheap source for cords to send power signals between pres, processors and amps.

    Lastly you are right I am having a blast.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
  10. Dave B.

    Dave B. Member

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    VB, I know you're busy right now dealing with the "Gotta get this new stuff set up right!" fever, but could you (or others who may be familiar with it) give me a brief comment or two about your experiences with Room Correction software? I'm unfamiliar with that genre of audio tools.

    My main question is: To you, which has sounded better -- a Room Correction room setup or a What-Sounds-Best-To-Me-By-Ear room setup? Sounds like Roger isn't a Room Correction fan. Thanks!

    Dave
     
  11. c_dk

    c_dk Super Member

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    I think Roger is referencing the bass eq concept he used for the early ML and XR series speakers.

    The only solution for room resonance caused peaks and valleys in speaker response is "live with it" or parametric eq. Oh, I suppose you could live in a concert hall but even those use passive filter systems to modify the accoustic response.

    I wonder if I should bring my vernable AA2 with me when I finally get across the mitten to visit with Ken myself?

    The first time I had a eq conversation with Gordon, Sidney, and Roger back in 1979 both Roger and Gordon could not believe the client could hear a 1.5 dB differentiation between the L and R speaker in the critical voice range. The "rules" say you can not hear that small of difference but once the client showed me how the singer's voice jumped over a foot when she hit that note even I could hear it.

    Sidney was much more practical and spent the time teaching me the math to create a custom filter set to solve the client's needs and make him happy.

    From then on making sure the two speakers response curves replicated each other was much more important in my opinion and what I pressed Gordon on in our subsequent voicing conversations.

    Roger's bass eq concept while important, and certainly the founding concept behind the eq products, became second fiddle to curve smoothing.
     
  12. ron-c

    ron-c AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    MEN220 would work great with the 290s. You could use a parametric EQ for some touch up or you could use the MEN220 with 1/12 octave granular resolution across all ten octaves.

    Thanks,
    Ron-C
     
  13. c_dk

    c_dk Super Member

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    I would love to see some response curves. With today's readily available computer driven RTA programs and modestly priced digitally corrected USB microphones, room eq curves should be a common practice in today's high end audio system setup.

    We were doing it back in the 70s with graph paper and colored pencils, today you push a button and get an instant curve.
     
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  14. mrz80

    mrz80 I guess it's in my blood

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    Pictures? :biggrin:

    Much as I would LOVE to hear a pair of 290s in the wild, I'm afraid that they'd ruin me for my XR-250s the way the 250s ruined my beat up old Stereotech3s!

    When I bought my XR-250s from Roger I listened at length to his IDS-25. I was highly impressed. The imaging was truly scary no matter if you were sitting or standing and the bass extension was darned impressive. Really messed with your head looking at those skinny columns! He offered the prototype pair from the Speaker Builder article to me at a really good price but I'd had a hard enough time convincing the wife to let me fork over the dead presidents for the 250s; if I'd have brought TWO pair of speakers home with me she'd have likely widowed herself!

    The IDS-25 in its natural habitat:
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Velocityboat

    Velocityboat Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    The purist will always say fix the room first. Which is great if you have a dedicated listening area, spouse, knowledge, time and money. Plus a room that accepts optimum placement and is of a conducive shape acoustically.

    Line arrays like Roger designs in columns with cylindrical wave front emissions overcome m floor and ceiling reflections with wave cancellation. He also designed his bass cabinets to be back to wall to take into account the bass frequency di pole and let the wall behind reflect without phase timing areas. The line array wave front over powers the back wall side wall reflections. Thus he designed speakers to perform in real living areas counting on room effects and negating them. The also suck up amp power where you compensate in volume to overcome room issues.

    Room Perfect was developed by Peter Lyngdorf whose technology Mcintosh licenses in MEN220. He is from NAD, owns Lyngdorf and is part of the Steinway Lyngdorf. Now go google about him and Room Perfect. In order for it to work as advertised it is about knowing how to take the room measurements and letting software do the frequency and time domain manipulation. I own a Lyngdorf box the TDAI2200 that does this. If you measure wrong or too many measurements it will suck out huge amounts of bass. Done right it is awesome.

    I liken the effect to taking you to the room or location the music was mixed or recorded. It is kind of like a line array magic box. It is not supposed to alter character of the original speaker design.

    It does great cleaning up room effect bass and mid issues and gives you back power wasted on room issues. There is a mixing box for music producers produced by ERGO that licensed the software you can find used reasonably if you want to play. You need an old PC to use that set up software though. Where Lyngdorf and McIntosh are integrated in one box.

    In my opinion RP works. is fast and simple and provides you with quick easy breathtaking results If you do correct room measurements. I like focus mode for critical listening. Globlal gives you more standard room effects. Not as clean.

    What it does to XR290 I will let you know. Right now stand alone Roger's design is great already. we will see if it gets better.
     
  16. Velocityboat

    Velocityboat Well-Known Member

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    I am ordering a USB mike for my iPad. i will capture wit and without Room Perfect curves of the XR290 and post. I have original room voicing curves from previous owner. They were lying under the C-39 when packing up.

    Roger was not willing to share with me if he designed to a BK curve or what curve he used.
     
  17. Velocityboat

    Velocityboat Well-Known Member

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    That's a great story. Luckily my wife does not question my purchases but is not fond of me keeping the rest of my McIntosh speakers. Some reason she rather keep Bose 901s in the bedroom.
     
  18. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

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    Wow - very cool story.
     
  19. Dave B.

    Dave B. Member

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    Thank you for the great RP details, VB. I'm afraid they're lost on me, though. At my age, "what sounds good" functions as "good enough."

    Which brings me to the philosophical audio question: What is real? Is a live performance "real"? Yes, in the sense that we can see live performers playing music. However, assuming that the goal of home audio is to recreate the aura of live performances as accurately as possible, one has to ask: Is it possible for a home audio system to sound better than a live performance? If so, then back to Square 1: What is real?

    I would be willing to bet that your 290s et al will sound at least as good as any live performance, but which would you prefer? (That's rhetorical, I know.) Some performers (maybe most) perform better in front of a live audience. In the classical piano realm, my wheelhouse, Arthur Rubinstein, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Vladimir Horowitz, among many others play(ed) better before live audiences and their recordings show that.

    In my home, though, my system can modulate extramusical variables to make the sound (not the performance) appear to be better, at least to me. So, the bottom line may well be that an incredible system like yours and those of the other AKers might be considered "reality plus." From a purist's standpoint, is that bad or good? (Maybe that's a rhetorical question, as well.)

    Sorry to wade into semantics, but I think about "What is real?" quite often while watching the blue meters do their thing.

    Dave
     
  20. c_dk

    c_dk Super Member

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    I was a part of the show so could not listen other during setup, and even if he helped by just being his wiseass self Skizo was there at least once when we showed off a pair of Mac XR16s vs a live group of a violin, viola, cello and flute.

    What can you remember from way back then Skizo?
     

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