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Price: 30 000 zł

Distribution: Hi-Fi Club

ul. Kopernika 34, Warszawa
tel.: (22) 826 47 67
Fax: (22) 826 24 58



Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Marek Dyba

McIntosh stands for an “amplifier” company. From the very beginning Frank McIntosh's main interest was in signal amplification. McIntosh was the first to offer tube amplifier with harmonic distortion lower than 1% in 20 Hz-20 kHz range, which in that time - 1949 – seemed almost impossible. Moreover amplifier's technical features were guaranteed and could have been verified any time any place. Over the years (1962-1991) continuously McIntosh Audio Clinic was traveling around the country and every owner could come and verify his amplifier and compare the results with officially stated ones. Additionally owners of McIntosh had their devices checked-up and repaired if necessary – that included also tube replacement (!). It is worth noticing that such a low distortion (and the company bit later improved it and achieved incredible < 0,1%) was unreachable for competitors for many years, and in fact for some tube devices it is still unachievable today.

The range of McIntosh was based only on preamplifiers and amplifiers for the first several years. They built first integrated “only” in 1963, which means, that last year there was a 45th anniversary. Forty-five years!!! Forty-five years of constant development, engineering fidelity and reliability in development of new technical solutions, testing them and rejecting those less accurate – that is something that can not be overrated. No other company can present such a record.
Most recent addition to the “family” is an integrated amplifier MA7000 – not just the recent but also the biggest, heaviest and most powerful integrated that has ever left the plant in Binghamgton, N. Y., where the R&D and production line of McIntosh is located. It's been designed to be able to deliver 250 W of constant power regardless loading (there are autoformers in the output – patented kind of output transformer known from many tube designs) – with frequency response reaching 100 kHz (-3 dB), distortions below 0,005% with max rated power output (20 Hz-20 kHz) and weight of 45 kg – you can consider MA7000 a real “SOMETHING”. And the way it is equipped … The purists will disagree but for the most music lowers it's great news.

Music used for testing:
Compact Disc

  • Laurie Allyn, Paradise, Mode Records/Muzak, MZCS-1124, CD.
  • Herb Ellis, Man With The Guitar,Dot Records/Universal Music Japan, UCCU-5287, CD.
  • King Crimson, Larks’ Tounges in Aspic, Discipline Global Mobile/WHD Entertainment, IECP-30006, HQCD/HDCD.
  • Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio, What a Wonderful Trio!, First Impression Music, FIM DXD 079, silver-CD.
  • Depeche Mode, Piece, Mute, CDBONG41, SP CD.
  • Thom Yorke, The Eraser, XL Records/Warner Music Japan, WPCB-10001, CD; reviewed HERE.

Super Audio CD
  • Groove Note. True Audiophile. The Best of Groove Note, Groove Note, GRV1036-3, SACD/CD; reviewed HERE.
  • Milt Jackson Sextet, Invitation, Riverside/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2031, No. 01828, SACD/CD.
  • Manuel de Falla, The Three Cornered Hat, Ansermet, Decca/Esoteric, ESSD-90016, SACD/CD.
  • Depeche Mode, Exciter, Mute, DMCD10, SACD/CD+DVD.
  • Dead Can Dance, Toward The Within, 4AD/Warner Music Japan, WPCB-10077, SACD/CD; reviewed HERE.
  • J.S. Bach, Matthew Passion (ver. 1742), Dunedin Consort&Players, Linn Records, CKD 313, 3 x SACD/CD; reviewed HERE.


The most important element of the sound is bass and this element allows MA7000 to be something more than just “one of the biggest integrated amplifiers in the world”. Manufacturer specifies output power for 250 W (as mentioned for any loading because of the autoformers used in output) and that's a lot of power. On the other hand not that much - Trigon Monolog supplies 400 W at 8 Ω and 650 W at 4 Ω, but still McIntosh offers a better bass… It is simply not about power itself, it's about what you do with it. MA7000 is capable of great differentiation of lower end sounds, achieving level that no other, known to me, integrated amplifier can even dream about. And only few power amplifiers like P-7100 Accuphase or Evo402 Krell can. Sadly I have to admit that my Luxman M-800A, a fantastic amplifier almost twice as expensive, falls behind in this particular regard. This ability of an amplifier beautifully builds tension and emotions. Differentiation of bass is about showing spacing, tone color, and intensity of each low sound, both in Exciter Depeche Mode, and Toward The WithinDead Can Dance – recorded with lot of bass . Number of information, its balance and coherence were simply ingenious. The most impressive were planes and their independence coherently joint with everything happening around them. I was totally surprised especially that this range wasn't pumped up at all. You can tell a good amplifier from a very good one by listening for example how well they define bass. Those good ones might have a level frequency spectrum, clearly marked contours, and so on, but they would play mostly in the monotonous way i.e. the low range is always there – probably not strident or exaggerated – but always sounding the same in every recording. McIntosh clearly shows that monotonous bass has nothing to do with high-end. During first listening session you might get at first the impression that bass doesn't go really deep, that you are missing something “there”. But only until you hear an instrument that plays low bass. Suddenly full scale of colors develops in front of the listener – like a soft carpet, and on that carpet an instrument appears after instrument. You can hear all the nuances and music is played with a real class.

Yes, the lower range – bass, is what places this amplifier in unique position. But my own “picture” of McIntosh is bit different. When the brand entered Polish market I used to work for it's distributor. The “hit” model at the time was MA6850. It was then the “Holy Grail” for integrated amplifier fans, praised in many audio magazines. And the sound of MA6850 and of MC275 is kind of reference for me. Enough to say that during my work for the distributor we sold more than 20 pieces of the first one… Regardless of how praised MA6850 was by many, objectively judging – it wasn't a perfect amplifier. You could easily point out elements that were better in the other devices also those manufactured by McIntosh. MA7000 is totally different. A flaw of MA6850 was bass, bit warm and dull. New integrated is “the whole new world”, totally different from it's predecessor. From the very first moment on you can hear the progress – it gets better and better.
We will find more similarities if we take a closer look into mid- and upper-range. Generally speaking it produces incredibly clear, precise sound. Very nice timbre, sound is rich, never dry, and unlike some less expensive McIntosh integrated amplifiers it is full of emotions. Voices are presented quite close, in a “big” way. I listened quite a lot to vocal recordings of Mode Records label, e.g. Laurie Allyn, but rock records by King Crimson and Depeche Mode confirmed that too. It does not differentiate timbre or doesn't show the space as well as my own system, but still does it very well. If I remember correctly Accuphase E-550 presented the sound in a bit warmer way creating thus an impression of more palpable sound. MA7000 gives us also gently rounded treble – it should never play aggressively or even unpleasantly unless you force it with cables or speakers. If you use neutral sounding components in the system it should sound just fine.

The sound stage presented by McIntosh “in the window” between speakers is excellent regardless of McIntosh's price level. Between speakers – that expression is quite important, I will come back to that later. What we get in the space between speakers is rarely achievable for any solid state amplifier. Sound stage is natural and well organized, it has realistic depth, great differentiation of planes and shows correct sizes of instruments. It is beautifully presented on What A Wonderful Trio! by Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio. The same goes for a large group of instruments from Mozart Piano concerts with Britten as a conductor. Air, dynamics and so on were so natural that I forgot about reviewed system and focused completely on the music.

MA7000 has of course some flaws – it is an integrated amplifier after all and that means some limitations. I mentioned sound stage “in the window”. What I meant was that there is almost nothing happening outside the space between speakers. Same goes for elements out of phase, those are of course present behind and at both side of the listener but rather “by the way” than with clear intention to create “surrounding space”. Simply what matters is behind speakers. Another element worth mentioning is how the relations between basic sound and reverberations is built.. McIntosh “promotes” the first one, shortening the latter and thus slightly blurrs acoustics. I mean comparing it to the top high-end devices - the less expensive ones (with very few exceptions) don't do it better. But with outstanding sound stage you hear that as a weakness. I think this might be a reason why McIntosh is commonly associated with a distance, lack of dynamics and so on. In this particular case it is out of the question. Dynamics is outstanding, but is it the fact that the sound of instruments is not well differentiated, that they lack that little “something” that extents sounds when they are “in the air”, might give you, with the incorrect system setup, such a (wrong) impression.

MA7000 is like a dream when it come to its functionality. McIntosh simply knows how to do it right. I did not need to use tone control even once but I know there are some people who will like it. There is built in high quality MM phonostage – all you have to do is add some nice step-up transformer, use some high grade MC cartridge and then listen to your vinyl collection. There is also a head-amp available but I didn't like it too much – it sounded “mechanical”, but it was still better than what we find in most integrated amplifiers. Simply after using headphone output from MCD500 player (also from McIntosh) rather very few build in head-amplifiers could surprise me. Its design, long live and high prices for second hand devices are another elements of the whole puzzle. Not everybody will love the sound – that's obvious – but you should listen to it first to find out what you don't like. I am pretty sure that after an audition lot of you will go home with certainty that considering the price, you could live with this sound for the rest of your life.


MA7000 is the biggest so far McIntosh integrated amplifier. It is also one of the heaviest – almost 45 kg! It is classic McIntosh design. Front panel made of thick glass. In the upper part we can find blue illuminated power output Watt meters – calibrated to show even the smallest power output. Meters are there just to satisfy customers… Between them you will find two red LEDs that are indicators of one the the company's unique patents – Power Guard. This is a circuit that protects the device from overdriving the power. It doesn't simply cut the power but gently compresses power peaks so that the signal waveform, Power Guard is comparing, stays the same and there are no audible distortions. Below you will find a nice row of controls – two bigger ones at the sides, and five small in the middle. On the left side there is a balance control, on the right a volume control. Small controls in the middle are in fact complex equalizer controls. Equalizer is considered to be unnecessary or even harmful nowadays, but when correctly designed it might come handy surprisingly often. The real reason of avoiding equalizers is simple – no magic about it – well designed equalizer costs a lot, especially like this one with five frequencies: 30/150/500/1500/10000 Hz. There is no on/off button – it doesn't process the signal if control is in the middle position. Beneath there is a row of push-buttons – input selector (6 linear inputs and one MM phono input), mono, output (x 2) and ‘mute’. Rear panel connections are placed in two groups. One is located in the lower part of the chassis, and the other one in the upper part.. Lower part consists of gold finished RCA connectors and XLR preamplifier's output, and in the upper part two balanced XLR inputs with two RCA unbalanced right beside them, plus excellent WBT speaker terminals – like in tube amplifiers separate for different loadings - 2/4/8 Ω. Preamplifier and amplifier sections are connected via jumpers – I would prefer if it was done with electro-magnetic switch somewhere inside the device.

As already mentioned the inside is divided into two parts. Lower part is a preamplifier based on electro-magnetic switches of input selector, transistors and operational amplifiers NE5532. We can find there another circuit - TLC174 by Texas Instruments, eight-channel amplifier, working most likely as tone control. In the upper part of the device we will find power transistors fixed directly to huge radiators, that are visible at the side of the device. There are also four big capacitors – their task is to level current fluctuations for this part of device. The secondary winding is common for both power transistors. There is a separate one for preamplifier, hence advanced power supply in the lower part of the amplifier, where each section - input, driver, meters, safety circuits and so on have their on power supplies. The transformer (EI) itself is huge, packed in a metal case filled up with some dumping material. Autoformers (output transformers) were put into similar cases. All transformers are located in the front of the chassis. They are not hidden under the top plate of the chassis so together with beautiful front they make a nice, attractive design. There are twelve Power Transistors used in each channel of the MA7000Power Output Circuitry. Those are special elements called Thermaltracks. This allows for the instantaneous and accurate monitoring of the power transistor temperature. A specially designed bias circuit precisely controls and adjusts temperature of power transistors so that they always work in the same conditions. As mentioned before, balanced outputs (two pairs) are located separately in the amplifier's part of the chassis. XLR connectors are partnered by RCA ones, right behind the latter signal is symmetrized in inexpensive, low-noise NE5532 circuits. Signal goes from there to the lower part of the amplifier through computer cable.

Technical data (according to manufacturer):
Output power: 2 x 250W/8, 4 i 2Ω (20-20 000Hz)
THD: 0,005% (maximum rated power)
Frequency response:
(+0, -0.5dB) 20Hz-20 000Hz
(+0, -3dB) 10Hz-100 000Hz
Pre Amp Output: 2.5V (RCA, max. 8V); 5 V (XLR, max. 16V)
Input sensitivity (for 250 W): 250mV (RCA), 500mV (XLR)
S/N ratio (weighted) -100dB, -84dB Pre amp
Total harmonic distortion: < 0.005%
Wide band damping factor: 40
Input impedance: 20kΩ, Pre amp 47kΩ/65pF
Dimensions (WxHxD): 444,5 x 239,7 x 558,8 mm
Weight: 44,3kg

g a l l e r y


  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Prime (tested HERE)
  • Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
  • Preamp: Leben RS-28CX (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Polaris II, tested HERE)
  • Power amp: Luxman M-800A (tested HERE)
  • Integrated amp: Leben CS300 (reviewed HERE)
  • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
  • headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version (reviewed HERE, HERE, and HERE)
  • interconnects: CD-preamp: Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52 (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Velum NF-G SE (tested HERE)
  • speaker cable: Velum LS-G (tested HERE)
  • power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 (CD; reviewed HERE) and 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 (preamp, power amp (reviewed HERE)
  • power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
  • audio stand Base
  • resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD (article HERE ) Turntables change continuously, as do cartridges. My dream setup: SME 30 with Series V tone-arm and Air Tight PC-1 cartridge (also in the PC-1 Mono version).