You are here

Log in or register to post comments
quadlover
quadlover's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Apr 7 2007 - 9:58am
mcintosh server

it seems rather obvious that as much as the reviewer wanted to give a rave review to this unit he had to dance around issues of sound quality and price vs performance. ja's measurements left little doubt that something was amiss. whether potential customers like mcintosh products or not based on sound and style is one thing but one thing they can't argue about is mc's track record for reliabilty and service. does ja have any thoughts as to the measurements whether it was a defective unit or is the unit an overpriced very convenient server made to satisfy the mc addicts and not audiophile and/or music lovers? especially with the run of great products as determined by the market and the audio press the last few years it is surprising that they release a "stinker" especially if they have the acccess in house to the main part of the system and they should have digital knowledge from their mda series as mentioned in the review?

Editor
Editor's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 8:56am
Re: mcintosh server


Quote:
Does ja have any thoughts as to the measurements whether it was a defective unit or is the unit an overpriced very convenient server made to satisfy the mc addicts and not audiophile and/or music lovers?

I certainly don't think it was defective. Instead, I believe that the D/A and analog sections had not been upgraded from the stock Escient unit. Doesn't matter if you feed the digital output to a standalone DAC, but without that, neither the MS750's sound nor its measured performance was up to the standard I have come to expect from McIntosh.

Great user interface, though.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

quadlover
quadlover's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Apr 7 2007 - 9:58am
Re: mcintosh server

thank you for the specific answer to my question. that is why i love the forum...we can debate issues but we can still get answers if needed.

dbowker
dbowker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 months 4 days ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Re: mcintosh server

I don't get why you featured it on the cover unless it measured and sounded stellar? I guess I figure a cover item automatically is endorsed by the magazine so I'm thinking it's going to be something fantastic for it's price range.

linden518
linden518's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 12 2007 - 5:34am
Re: mcintosh server

I actually really appreciated Mr. Atkinson's candid assessment. I'm a complete neophyte to the audiophile world and just recently started reading hi-fi magazines. Coming from the literary world (I write book reviews) the hi-fi reviews in general seem very... generous to me, in the sense that there are hardly any negative reviews. I, for one, would like to see the reviewers' writing in Stereophile and other journals be as critically astringent and discerning as their ears.

bifcake
bifcake's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 27 2005 - 2:27am
Re: mcintosh server


Quote:
I actually really appreciated Mr. Atkinson's candid assessment. I'm a complete neophyte to the audiophile world and just recently started reading hi-fi magazines. Coming from the literary world (I write book reviews) the hi-fi reviews in general seem very... generous to me, in the sense that there are hardly any negative reviews. I, for one, would like to see the reviewers' writing in Stereophile and other journals be as critically astringent and discerning as their ears.

You know, I've been pushing for that for years and I've been told that readers don't want to read negative reviews. I disagreed, so I was told that I was in the minority. I retorted that even if I were in the minority, it's a sizable minority. I was told that things aren't going to change.

I am glad to see that I'm not the only one raising this issue.

Welcome aboard.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: mcintosh server


Quote:
. . . I've been told that readers don't want to read negative reviews.


This statement perhaps implies that Stereophile has a policy to review everything positively.

Instead I believe that Stereophile makes an effort to seek out and bring to the reader's attention those products likely to be worthwhile. Most published reviews will thus be positive overall.

Stereophile appears to also review those components that have generated unusual interest - such as the Oppo DVD players, the Benchmark DAC1, the Squeezebox. This assists the reader in evaluating these products aside from their popularity.

While I would appreciate an exhaustive list of the thousands of available components, replete with subjective ratings of each, resources necessary to produce this list do not exist.

Other than automobile magazines that review essentially all available cars (their number is realtively limited), other enthusiast magazines appear to employ a similar process of selection.

On the other hand, audio reviewers do tend to pick nits and often can be critical of relatively minor faults. Even the Recommended Component list contains mention of component's limitations.

Having said this I, too, greatly enjoy the well written negative review. I imagine that it is also much more fun to write a negative review.

As I see it, there are two issues;

1) whether Stereophile should review more components that it expects to fail when subjected to a reviewer's scrutiny, and

2) whether each review should contain more negative information.

Would we, as readers, prefer more of 1, 2 or both?

Discuss.

jazzfan
jazzfan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 5 days ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Re: mcintosh server


Quote:
I actually really appreciated Mr. Atkinson's candid assessment. I'm a complete neophyte to the audiophile world and just recently started reading hi-fi magazines. Coming from the literary world (I write book reviews) the hi-fi reviews in general seem very... generous to me, in the sense that there are hardly any negative reviews. I, for one, would like to see the reviewers' writing in Stereophile and other journals be as critically astringent and discerning as their ears.

Please let me know if I'm uninformed but it is my understanding that quite a bit of book reviewing is done by fellow authors and therefore some degree of professional jealousy can enter into the review process. For example I once read a scathing review of a Martin Cruz Smith book (I read the book and did not deserve such a harsh review) and I couldn't help but feel that the reviewer was more than a little jealous about Mr. Smith's best seller status.

On the other hand, most audio equipment reviewers are not audio equipment designers and therefore have no ax to grind with the manufacturer. In fact, if anything the audio equipment review world could use some more equipment reviewers with a better knowledge and understanding of the audio equipment design and manufacturing process. After all, most audio equipment, if not all, is designed with many concessions made to the cost of manufacturing and what the marketplace will bear in terms of selling price.

linden518
linden518's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 12 2007 - 5:34am
Re: mcintosh server

Although fellow writers do a lot of reviewing, they do so occasionally, moonlighting. The main critics who review regularly are NOT writers. Just think of the two giants of the 20th cent literary criticism (at least in the U.S.): Edmund Wilson & Lionel Trilling. Even now, the toughest and the most notable critics are not writers: Michiko Kakutani, James Wood, Wyatt Mason, etc. (well, Wood wrote one very mediocre novel a few years back.) Certain prominent writer-critics (i.e. John Updike or Francine Prose) are exceptions to the rule. I would say that in fact, most of the cringe-inducing axe jobs are written by non-writer critics, and that the authors tend to stay away from being more forthright. So jealousy - although it can factor into the equation sometimes - would not be a main concern; I still have confidence that the editors of many journals & papers are perspicacious enough to spot jealousy-stained reviews.

I imagine we are all making a similar point here, though. I don't think it's right to be negative for its own sake, purportedly writing about equipments that one knows are not up to par. Yet, in matters of taste and connoisseurship, every effort should be made - carefully and conscientiously - by a critic to maintain a rigorous standard or a gradient from which the rest of us readers can also derive a reasonably reliable rubric of performance. Now, don't get me wrong: I am NOT implying that Stereophile does not adhere to such a standard! I would not turn to its pages were it not critical and informative. Yet coming in from a different kind of a critical culture, everything that I read about in hi-fi magazines is just too good, there's something dreamy every month. I haven't heard much of the actual equipment to know for certain, but from a practical perspective (as a total novice to the hi-fi world) it is very difficult to discern which equipments truly stand out, will stand the test of time. I know that everyone has a different subjective palate, that one listener might prefer something to the other, even in identical circumstances. But that's the case with EVERYTHING else, too, especially with books. One might worship even the toilet paper upon which Hemingway wrote a grocery list, yet hate every single word by Faulkner, and vice versa. So although it's nice to respect the different subjective criteria out there, what use would criticism be if the critic's opinions are not totally forthright and written with complete personal conviction, despite the variances in subjective experience? The critic has every right to assert his or her own subjective views - warts and all - and should; criticism is a matter of opinion, after all.

But maybe it's just me & I'm just comparing apples to oranges.

jazzfan
jazzfan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 5 days ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Re: mcintosh server

Thanks for the correction regarding the world of book reviewing.

As for the plethora of positive reviews in Stereophile and other audio magazines, I think that this just represents the very high quality of most high end audio equipment. However, I agree with Elk in that more "negative" information should appear within the pages of Stereophile. And of course this brings us to a conundrum - if most of the equipment available today meets a certain level of quality then how does one handle the negative aspects of some equipment?

I think that the Mcintosh music server review handled this very well since it's not that there was anything "wrong" with the Mcintosh unit but rather that better sound can be had for much less money. Once again we come to another rather sticky subject - how does one deal with the "bang for buck" aspect of various pieces of audio equipment? I believe that Stereophile's Recommended Components listings go a long way (but no where near far enough) in trying to get a handle on this somewhat elusive goal.

I also realize that within the body of many equipment reviews there are comparisons made to similar equipment within the same general price range as the equipment under review and this information is often very helpful when one is in the market for the type of equipment under review.

Finally there is also the fact that if Stereophile's policy is to try and review only the "good" stuff then does the absence of a review within the magazine mean that the equipment is not among the "good" stuff. So sometimes a bit of negativity could go a long way in helping to clear up some of these issues and confusion.

Editor
Editor's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 8:56am
Re: mcintosh server


Quote:
I don't get why you featured it on the cover unless it measured and sounded stellar?

We make the cover decision long before we receive the review text from the the writer, and in this case, a while before the product's shortfall had become evident to Wes P. Unfortunate.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

dbowker
dbowker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 months 4 days ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Re: mcintosh server

Thanks for the reply John. Makes sense now, and I admit it's an interesting "new" category to promote on the cover.

I'd actually appreciate some negative reviews too just so I could get a handle on where the reviewers are coming from. It's not that ALL reviews are entirely positive- not at all. But sometimes I do have a hard time sorting out a great review because I don't know what the reviewer would consider a bad product in comparison. I also think MF should almost never use his 95K Continuum turntable as a comparison. I mean- how would ANYTHING stack up to that rig? Most reviews compare like items, not everything compared to their personal reference equipment.

Great issue overall BTW.

pbarach
pbarach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 1 week ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 3:10am
Re: mcintosh server

Concerning negative reviews and positive reviews: After subscribing to Stereophile for over a year, I find I am swamped with superlatives. This cable is incredible, that turntable is terrific, this speaker is the best I have ever heard, that power cord is a breakthrough, etc. etc. These are the same superlatives that were used years ago for other equipment, sometimes reviewed by the same people. I am not picking on Stereophile, because I believe this is endemic to all of the high-end audio mags. What it all comes down to is that if I have enough money to spend, I can get equipment that makes my music sound good, AND after that there are lots of people with ingenious ways to separate me from every penny I can beg, borrow, or steal. And new "breakthroughs" around the corner that will bleed me further if I let it happen.

But take a step back and look at the bigger picture. When I started listening to classical music in the 60's, records that were recorded 30 or 40 years earlier all sounded horrible. Some a little less horrible than others. But now, any reasonably good recording job done in the last 30 or 40 years still sounds at least pretty good, with the latest advances (hi-rez, for example) being icing on the cake. Unless there is a REAL breakthrough, perhaps we've reached the point of diminishing returns when it comes to recorded sound, which is also reflected in the level of diminishing returns when it comes to buying high-end audio reproduction equipment. Thus, those superlatives might mean a 5% improvement, as compared to the 90% improvement when most 1940's recordings are compared to average-or-better recordings from the 1960's on.

MUDSHARK
MUDSHARK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 5:28pm
Re: mcintosh server

Even though the reviewer was disappointed by the unit I'm really glad the magazine saw fit to review it. A few years back I purchased a Yamaha MCX-1000 server on e-bay and had the hard drive upgraded to 300Gb while adding a Monarchy DAC because the Dac in the Yamaha was so very poor. The result is over 4000 songs spread over 300 albums (if that term still applies) in PCM. The unit has totally changed my listening habits as cds that stayed in their cases are now regularly listened to. To me, these servers are the best thing since sliced bread.

I have heard great things about the squeeze box however I do not have a dedicated computer to hold music in the den and for me a dedicated digital server was just the ticket. These are great products and I hope their will be continued attention to them by Sterophile.

snray38
snray38's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Feb 15 2008 - 8:12am
Re: mcintosh server

Does McIntosh still maintain an engineering staff and production facilities in Binghamton? I know they have been bought and sold a couple of times and, I think, are presently owned by Denon. Just curious.
Sam

Editor
Editor's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 8:56am
Re: mcintosh server


Quote:
Does McIntosh still maintain an engineering staff and production facilities in Binghamton?

Yes. I visited the company in December 2006. You can find a photo essay of my visit in our website gallery, starting at http://forum.stereophile.com/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/1028 and finishing at http://forum.stereophile.com/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/1045/ .


Quote:
I know they have been bought and sold a couple of times and, I think, are presently owned by Denon.

McIntosh, along with Denon, Marantz, Boston Acoustics, Snell, and Escient, is owned by D&M Holdings.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Jim Tavegia
Jim Tavegia's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Re: mcintosh server

What I find more disconcerting is that Mac has not responded with manufacturer's comments to explain their poor digital conversion performance. I guess it is their right, but I would think that anyone who buys a $6,000 music server should at least get "Benchmark" performance? Maybe it is just me, but I have always admired Mac gear and their business model. This seems out of character for them. Even if they said it was attributed to a bad batch of "master clocks", I might understand better.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: mcintosh server

Absolutely.

Welcome back, Jim!

Jim Tavegia
Jim Tavegia's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Re: mcintosh server

Thanks.

I do hope Mac responds. Maybe someone on the Phile staff can fill us in. I am looking forward to MF getting his hands on their new turntable. I love the big honkin front panel.

RGibran
RGibran's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 3 months ago
Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 5:50pm
Re: mcintosh server

Jim,

I

Jim Tavegia
Jim Tavegia's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Re: mcintosh server

RG,

I did see that, but I would hope that the likes of Mac would not get into the "rebadging" game. it is so out of character for a company like Mac. I guess the times they are a changin.

And, now, as WP keeps informing us that our youth have preferred "fast food audio" as MP3 downloads (MF's term which is truly appropriate), it is clear that the hard disc format may end up dying, probably not in my time as I am 60, but the end may be coming in terms of the big labels.

It seems so odd that now we are approaching unbelievable levels of sonic accuracy the masses just want more of less, and faster service. Just pour me a glass of your best wine into my waxed cup and, where did I put my straw? Convenience is great! For Mac to buy into it with a sub-quality product is really sad.

So much of what Michael Fremer wrote about is sadly true. I would have never guessed it would happen and educated people would help fuel it.

Sallywansigh
Sallywansigh's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 19 2008 - 2:41pm
Re: mcintosh server

I came across this thread because I am currently researching the MS750. I already own the MDA100, C46 and MC402. I was also very disappointed by the review findings. Even a Mac lover like me has to admit the review was quite scientific and objective and there is no arguing with the findings. However it did not do enough to point out that the problems lay with the DAC and analogue output. I had to read the article three times looking for a grain of positive before I realised this. The digital output and therefore the transport appeared to be OK. So for someone like me with a high end outboard DAC the problems can be ignored. Still, a massive disappointment. I can't believe a comapny can allow one single product to damage its reputation so comprehensively. The silence is even more puzzling. The whole thing is made worse by the lack of wireless capability and absence of USB. All in all a half hearted product. Very puzzling

Welshsox
Welshsox's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 day ago
Joined: Dec 13 2006 - 7:27pm
Re: mcintosh server

Hi

Whats your thoughts on Mac stuff generally ? im looking at the MC 402

Alan

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading