McIntosh MAC7200 stereo receiver

Recently, I received an email from Editor Jim Austin. "Larry, do you still use your Day Sequerra FM Reference tuner1 to listen to FM radio?" he asked.

"Jim, yes, I still listen to FM classical music in the Bay area. Why?"

"I had kind of a crazy idea. McIntosh has lots of good new stuff coming out now, but I want you to review the MAC7200 receiver, which isn't new. I like FM radio. I'd listen to FM a lot more, except that I'm stuck on the first floor in a neighborhood full of very tall brick and stone buildings. I am literally a 3-minute walk from Columbia, but I cannot receive Columbia's powerful radio station—WKCR—in decent quality due to multipath. So, unless we move up in the world, literally, I won't be listening to terrestrial radio much anytime soon."

I was intrigued. This would be my first review of an FM tuner in decades and Stereophile's first review of a stereo receiver since Herb Reichert reviewed the Outlaw Audio RR2160 "retro receiver" and loved its sonics and low price. Still in production, the RR2160 is the only stereo receiver still listed on the spring 2020 Recommended Components list. Is it time to add another?

Design
During its 71-year history, McIntosh has produced some classic stereo receivers, including the MAC1500, MAC4100, and MAC6700. The MAC7200 is the company's newest, bundling into one huge chassis a 200Wpc stereo amplifier, a preamplifier with 14 inputs, a sophisticated FM/AM tuner, a 32-bit/192kHz DAC, and line-level and MM/MC phono preamplification. Inputs to its DA1 digital audio module (footnote 2) include two coaxial (S/PDIF), two TosLink, one USB, and one proprietary MCT DIN input that allows DSD to stream from a McIntosh SACD/CD Transport.

The MAC7200 shares many design features with the McIntosh 450Wpc MC462 stereo amplifier reviewed by Sasha Matson, including single-winding output-stage Autoformers to optimize impedance match between the MAC7200's "ThermalTrak" output power transistors and the attached loudspeakers. McIntosh's Ron Cornelius explained to me that solid-state amplifiers operate best—with the best sonics, lowest noise, lowest distortion, and least heat—into an optimal impedance, "say 2.7 ohms." The Autoformer matches the amplifier's "best load" impedance, while the 2, 4, or 8 ohm output taps match the loudspeaker, allowing the amplifier to deliver the same 200Wpc to different loudspeaker impedances.

The MC462 and MAC7200 employ rugged heatsinks, which are shaped to form the letters "MC" when viewed from above. Their output Autoformers and the power supply transformer are potted in black housings and sit exposed just behind the front panel, adorned by their circuit diagrams in old-school McIntosh fashion. Both have black chassis, blue watt meters, a black glass front panel, rotary control knobs, a green-lit "Olde English" McIntosh logo, and aluminum end caps. The MAC7200, though, is 2" shorter and 43lb lighter, and lacks the amplifier's front-panel aluminum handles. That means that, despite its lower weight, the receiver is harder to manage. Its meters are smaller, measuring 1" tall by 4.5" wide. The MAC7200's FM circuitry and performance are said to match the company's flagship MR87 FM tuner, minus its balanced outputs, stereo-blend/de-emphasis switch, and variable scan sensitivity. This tuner design is intended to provide reception of strong signals without distortion and also noise-free reception of distant, weak stations. Up to 20 stations for each band—FM and AM—can be stored as presets. DSP FM tuning circuitry minimizes multipath tuning noise. The front panel's multipurpose display shows the noise level and multipath of the incoming RF signal, facilitating optimal positioning of the FM antenna for optimal reception.

1220mac.bac

The information display sits below and in between the watt meters and changes with each input selected, showing trim-control adjustments, FM and AM presets, and AM and FM tuner settings. To the left of this display is the rotary input selector knob and a Preset Control knob. To the right is the tuning knob and a large volume-control knob. The lowest row on the panel, moving left to right, includes the headphone connector for dynamic headphones, selector pushbuttons for two sets of stereo speakers, an IR sensor, a tone control/bypass toggle, a mute button, and Standby/On. All the front-panel control functions are duplicated on the MAC7200's slim, well-designed remote. The MAC7200's rear panel (footnote 3) is divided into upper and lower portions. The upper portion contains the DA1 digital audio connections: 2 S/PDIF coaxial and 2 TosLink optical inputs, the MCT DIN connector, and a USB-B digital audio input. Next to the DA1 module is a 75 ohm antenna input, an RJ45 jack for the AM antenna, and various control ports.

1220mac.bacclose1

Flanking these upper-portion connectors are the four gold-plated speaker terminals for each channel. I connected the spade lug from one of my R50 Pure Silver Speaker Cables to the bottom unmarked speaker terminal and the other to either the 2, 4, or 8 ohm terminal. I slid the spade lugs on the terminals and tightened the nut with my fingers and then with a small plastic wrench that came in the box.

1220mac.bacclose2

The lower panel, moving left to right, offers a socket for a detachable AC cord, the main fuse holder, two preamplifier outputs (one has a jumper plug to the MAC7200's amplifier input), five pairs of unbalanced RCA connectors, a ground terminal, the two phono inputs (MM and MC), and a pair of unbalanced inputs. HDMI and AES/ EBU digital input connectors are not included on the rear panel. Ron Cornelius explained that both AES/EBU and HDMI connectors and their associated circuitry occupy large portions of the rear panel and internal circuit boards, so McIntosh decided not to include them. He finds that AES/EBU digital are better suited to recording studios than home settings.

Readers patient enough to read through this description will appreciate the MAC7200's complexity. Fortunately, its 39-page printed owner's manual—with 132 diagrams and large, clearly written foldout illustrations—lists the name and function of every connector, control, display panel, and speaker terminal. For someone who struggles with PDF manuals, the MAC7200's printed and well-illustrated instructions were a blessing. Thank you, McIntosh!

Setup
The 75lb MAC7200 measures 17.5" wide by 7.6" high by 22" deep. It shipped to me in a sturdy cardboard package weighing an additional 18lb, strapped to a wooden pallet with metal bands, bringing the total shipping weight to 142lb. After the trucker moved the pallet into my garage on a hydraulic dolly, I cut the metal bands with Wiss Aviation Snips, then "walked" the 93lb box into my condo. Cutting away the packing tape, I opened the outside carton to reveal a second internal box suspended on Styrofoam blocks. I walked this inner carton up the stairs to my listening room, as its weight and size made it impossible for me to lift it off the floor.

The MAC7200 is shipped with the owner's manual, a warranty card, a McIntosh HR085 remote, an RAA2 AM antenna, a detachable AC mains cord, a black plastic speaker terminal wrench, and a 20' coaxial cable with JR45 connectors for the AM antenna.


Footnote 1: Day Sequerra Reference Monitor FM tuner, Vol.21, No.6; 25th Anniversary Edition, Vol.36, No.11. My original review of the FM Reference Monitor appeared in the December 1991 issue of Stereophile (Vol.14, No.12). Although this review has not been posted to the Stereophile website, it can be seen in full at allegrosound.com/DaySequerra-FMR.html.

Footnote 2: The DA1 Digital Audio Module can be dealer-upgraded to the DA2 version to extend DSD native playback from DSD256 to DSD512 and DXD up to 394kHz. The DA2 includes an HDMI connector (not found on the current MAC7200's DA1 rear panel), which supports Audio Return Channel (ARC) functionality. This enables the MAC7200 to play the TV's audio through the stereo system and for the TV's remote to control the MAC7200.

Footnote 3: The layout and functions of the rear-panel connectors can be best understood using the large 8.5" by 22" quick-setup diagram folded into the manual. It contains a life-size drawing of the receiver with arrows for each connector with an explanation.

COMPANY INFO
McIntosh Laboratories, Inc.
2 Chambers Street
Binghamton, NY 13903
(607) 723-3512
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
volvic's picture

As someone who uses a Tandberg receiver to listen to classical stations when I visit my parents in Montreal and a Linn Kremlin for my FM sessions here in NYC, it is nice to see companies still investing in FM. Also nice to see a receiver with enough inputs for those of us who have more than two components to plug in.

JRT's picture

Antenna Specialties APS-13 enjoyed a good reputation, but they went out of business a long time ago. I don't think Channel Master or Winegard still offer anything in a good high gain directional outdoor antenna optimized for FM.

What is available commercially? Anything pro-grade, broadcast monitor reference grade?

Are there any credible good DIY designs available?

A brief article covering the subject, including a nontrivial market survey would be an interesting read.

CG's picture

Maybe a little on the techie side, but that's the nature of it all. Brian *REALLY* knows his stuff.

http://ham-radio.com/k6sti/

EDIT: I should have read some of the replies below before hitting "Save". Somebody already mentioned this website. Sorry for the duplication. I'll do better in the new year. (Just not post - that's my resolution.)

Timbo in Oz's picture

A rhombic wire antenna on the ceiling pointed at the desired station.

See FM Tuners site. IIRC

IF the station's transmitter is close by, a T antenna pointed at it may suffice. You may need a map to figure out the bearing.

Or mount the T antenna on a narrow strip of wood on a round base and add a kitchen / dining table turntable under it.

Still surprises me that so many folks don't GET that antennas matter way more than the tuner.

Timbo down under as in OZ not Okey!!!

volvic's picture

Good question, I am using an old rabbit ears antenna and would love to put an aerial, albeit a small one on my 11th floor balcony, so I can better catch WKCR.

jimtavegia's picture

Find a good VHF TV antenna as the FM band is between channels 6 and 7. Most of these will work well depending upon your distance from the transmitting site.

If you are close to a metro area don't forget about the Magnum Dynalab ST-2 omni outdoor antenna. They make some of the best FM tuners on the market.

Also check out https://winegard.com/ I am still using one of their smaller directional FM only older models.

This new Mac receiver is an amazing all in one product. Given what separates cost these days it might even be a bargain.

volvic's picture

I think this is the best option, especially for those who live in NYC Co-op buildings that need something inconspicuous from property manager’s prying eyes.

JRT's picture

Magnum Dynalab ST-2 is omni-directional, so may help improve reception of weak signal, but is not going to help with multipath interference. If mutlipath interference is the problem, then a directional antenna may help.

Ortofan's picture

... residential-grade FM antenna with relatively decent performance seems to be the four-element Stellar Labs 30-2460, sold by Newark/Farnell/Avnet/MCM for $30.
https://www.newark.com/stellar-labs/30-2460/four-element-directional-outdoor/dp/97W3565
http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/2329535.pdf

If you want to order from the UK, a higher-performance option, at a significantly higher price, would be the Innov 88-DES-11.
https://innovantennas.com/en/shop-page/240/26/88mhz-108mhz-broadcast/11-element-88-108mhz-op-desInnovAntennas.html

A professional-grade, broadcast monitor quality antenna would be the Kathrein-Scala CL-FMRX. Last time I checked the price, it was over $1K - maybe not an unreasonable sum if you're already spending $7.5K for a receiver.
https://kathrein-bca.com/files/cl-fmrx.pdf

Best resource I've found for FM antenna info is the K6STI site:
http://www.ham-radio.com/k6sti/
It includes modeled performance evaluations for many antennas, some suggested mods and a few DIY projects.

JRT's picture

Footnote 1 mentions past reviews of the Day Sequerra Reference Monitor FM tuner. I would like to see a review and test of the current model Day Sequerra M4.2Si AM/FM tuner. I like that it includes AES3 (AES/EBU) digital audio output.

https://www.daysequerra.com/key-features-4

M4.2Si
AM-FM Broadcast Receiver

RF TUNING RANGE
AM: 520 kHz to 1720 kHz (User-selected 9 kHz or
10 kHz increments)
FM: 87.9 MHz to 108.1 MHz (User-selected 100 kHz or
200 kHz increments)

RF USABLE SENSITIVITY
AM: < 20 dBf (-100 dBm) for SNR -20 dB referenced to 30% modulation
FM: < 15 dBf (-100 dBm) for SNR -30 dB referenced to 100% modulation

RF INPUT
F-Type 75-ohm connectors
AM-FM: -55 dBm Nominal; -20 dBm Maximum

IF REJECTION
AM: > 100 dB for SNR -20 dB
FM: > 100 dB for SNR -30 dB

IMAGE REJECTION
> 65 dB

FM ALTERNATE CHANNEL SELECTIVITY
> 70 dB

AM ADJACENT CHANNEL SELECTIVITY
> 35 dB

AF BANDWIDTH
AM: ±1 dB, 40 Hz to 15 kHz
FM: ±1 dB, 20 Hz to 20 kHz

FM DE-EMPHASIS
50 µSEC or 75 µSEC (User-selected)

ANALOG AUDIO OUTPUTS
Left/Right Balanced XLR connectors
+4 dBm into 600 ohm at 100% modulation

DIGITAL AUDIO OUTPUT
AES-3 Professional, 110-ohm transformer-isolated on
XLR connector
0 dBFS <0.005% THD+N using HD Radio™ input

HD RADIO™ HYBRID ACQUISITION
<4.5 seconds

HD RADIO™ SPLIT-MODE
MPS Left (on R output) and HD-1 Left (on L output) on
Analog, Digital and Headphone audio outputs

ALARM NOTIFICATION
5-rear panel tallies, front panel indications and email for loss of Audio, Carrier, OFDM HD Radio Lock, Multicast Available and
PAD-RBDS

RBDS DATA
PI [Call Letters], PS [Program Service], PTY [Program Type], and
RT [Radio Text]

HD RADIO™ PAD AND SIS DATA
SIG, SIS, Extended SIS, AAAS, and LOT; PAD including station long and short name, program type, song file, artist, album, genre and comment fields.

RDS/RBDS CAPABLE
All tuners are RDS/RBDS capable

AC POWER
Auto-sensing 85-264 VAC, 47-63 Hz input

ENVIRONMENTAL
Operating Temperature: +41 to +105° F (+5 to +40° C)
Storage Temperature: -13 to +140° F (-25 to +60° C)
Relative Humidity: Maximum 85%, non-condensing

DIMENSIONS
1RU EMI-hardened; 19” (482 mm) W x 14” (3.5M) D x 1.75” (44) H

SHIPPING WEIGHT
12 lbs. [5.4 kg]

WARRANTY
Three years, limited parts and labor

M4.2S RCA OPTION
Unbalanced analog and digital audio outputs on RCA connectors installed in place of standard XLR connectors; order model "M4.2S-RCA"

-------
contact information:
DaySequerra
7209 Browning Road
Pennsauken, NJ 08109, USA
Phone: 1.856.719.9900
Email: sales@daysequerra.com

AaronGarrett's picture

The Grimm Mu 1 streamer has an FM Tuner which is promised to be enabled in a future software update. Having FM tuner functionality in a streamer sees like a good idea. Can't comment on the quality of the tuner since it isn't enabled yet.

jimtavegia's picture

For the $83K for my pre thanksgiving surgery I could have bought 10 of those and had 9 new friends for life. Just sayin. Glad I had the surgery, though. YMMV.

DavidEdwinAston's picture

Forgive me, nothing technical to add. Although I am perfectly content with my Quad solid state amplification, I want this product, or to be fair, any McIntosh product!!! Surely, that facia appearance must be ingrained into the subconscious of anyone who has heard music on a radio and then grown up attempting to hear it played, as well as possible, in their own homes?
Anyway, thank you for this wonderful online resource, and Happy New Year to you all.

avanti1960's picture

would be mainly interested in the amplifier section of this receiver, thank you for (briefly) capturing its essence.

jimtavegia's picture

$2K less. Would love that as well.

Ortofan's picture

... a US dealer for the MA7200 integrated amp?
According to the McIntosh website, the MA7200 is not available in the US (or Canada).
https://www.mcintoshlabs.com/products/integrated-amplifiers/MA7200

jimtavegia's picture

$5500.00 Another bargain I would think for those in high end land.

Ortofan's picture

... the MAC7200.
The MA5300 does not have the output-coupling autoformers.
For about the same price as the MAC7200, there is the autoformer-coupled MA8900 integrated amp.
https://www.mcintoshlabs.com/products/integrated-amplifiers/MA8900

jimtavegia's picture

I still love it and I would still want the receiver, all in one, and have everything I could ever want and more. By right buy once.

jimtavegia's picture

$5500. Seems like another great buy.

DavidEdwinAston's picture

£6750, to purchase this side of the pond!

a.wayne's picture

Why Mac wont invest in Heat Sinks is beyond me , at these prices it should seem possible ..

Sigh

dial's picture

Mc is an US so an international legend, known by every music lover in the world. Like ARC, Cello, CJ, Klipsch, Krell, Lyra, ML & Red Rose Music. It's always affordable, very well built (one of the best ever for that) and reliable. Strongly recommended in general.
So can't understand these numerous issues. Hope it's just a faulty product.

Ortofan's picture

... amplifier preconditioning procedure from running an amp at one-third power for one hour to running it at one-eighth power for one-half hour?

John Atkinson's picture
Ortofan wrote:
Why has there been a change made in the amplifier preconditioning procedure from running an amp at one-third power for one hour to running it at one-eighth power for one-half hour?

When Stereophile started measuring amplifiers in the late 1980s, we preconditioned the amplifiers being tested by running them at one-third power into 8 ohms for 60 minutes. With an amplifier with a class-AB output stage, this maximally stresses the output devices, and was the preconditioning originally recommended in 1967 by the IHF (Institute of High Fidelity) and adopted by the FTC.

Many manufacturers argued that this was too demanding and not typical of normal use, so the CEA introduced a different preconditioning: running the amplifier at one-eighth power into 8 ohms for 30 minutes. As current-day designers probably use the more-recent CEA test rather than the IHF test when specifying heatsinks, etc, we recently decided to use both: applying the CEA test, then, if the amplifier didn't overheat, continuing with the older IHF test.

With this McIntosh receiver, it only just passed the CEA test. Continuing with the IHF test would probably have broken it, aborting the measurements.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Ortofan's picture

... incorporates built-in thermal protection circuits to guard against overheating.
It might have been useful to determine if those circuits performed as intended.
For those amplifiers that do pass the CEA preconditioning procedure, if you are concerned that the more stressful IHF/FTC preconditioning procedure might cause a given unit to fail, perhaps you could perform that test after all of the other measurements have been completed.

DavidEdwinAston's picture

and here is me, thinking that a McIntosh product would have the durability, and longevity of granite!
Should you deign ever to test the Quad monoblocks that I use (no longer marketed Platinum.) I wonder how they would fare using the old test?

JRT's picture

Your comment about the product having the durability and longevity of granite seems inappropriate for something with only a non-transferrable 3 year warranty on parts and labor (per the specifications page of this review).

DavidEdwinAston's picture

Excellent point JRT. Perhaps, the hifi electronics with the longest (transferrable?) warranty should always be the go to choice! Hmm, a bit of googling is called for!

JRT's picture

One way to ameliorate some of the risk would be to distribute system functionality across separate devices rather than having so much of the functionality bundled into one disposable receiver. The separates can be separately replaced, so that less is lost when something fails out of warranty and it is discovered that the repair is either impracticable due to some future scarcity of obsolete items needed for the repair, or impractical due to cost and bother of the repair being excessively expensive relative to the cost of replacement or substitution. There is nothing at all new in this consideration, rather is one of the old arguments in favor of separates.

DavidEdwinAston's picture

JRT.
I did have a brief look round. Chord Electronics apparently give a five year warranty on their "full size" electronics. McIntosh may well be above average with their warranty. You know doubt realised I was attempting humour with my granite comment. I would swap my Quads for McIntosh monoblocks in a shot although I likely don't have the shelving space or strength for them!

Ortofan's picture

... provided by Bryston.
https://bryston.com/service-and-warranty/

DavidEdwinAston's picture

Wow!

patrickf.orlando@gmail.com's picture

Hi, my outlaw tuner has HD FM and USA made. That's why I brought it.

rl1856's picture

The MA7200 *is* available to US buyers, and is priced slightly less than the MAC7200. I mention this because FM station choice is problematic for most in the US. Big city or large metro area usually has a few good stations, and a 1 box solution has merit. For suburban and non big city use, a FM radio option may be a waste of funds. In fact the variety of choice, and potential quality from some stations makes internet radio streaming a very viable option. The sound quality of a high bit rate stream rivals or exceeds what is generally offered by FM stations in the US. MA7200 may be the sweet spot for a MAC 1 box solution.

dsmalle's picture

In my country the radio stations are moving from FM to DAB+. It's even become an obligation for new cars to have a DAB+ radio. So I'm surprised when a new receiver from McIntosh with digital inputs doesn't sport this option. It's surely capable for this.

Trevor_Bartram's picture

The Stellar Labs 30-2460 FM antenna has all the right ingredients (folded dipole, two directors, one reflector) and the price is right at $30 but does not appear to be available (using Google Shopping). Does anyone have another affordable suggestion?
P.S. this Stellar Labs antenna is large and intended for outdoor applications.

X