McIntosh MAC7200 stereo receiver Page 2

As the MAC7200 does not come with an FM antenna, I connected my Day Sequerra FM Urban Antenna (footnote 4) to its 75 ohm threaded antenna terminal. For AM reception, I connected the McIntosh RAA2 remote AM antenna, a brick-sized black plastic box, to the rear-panel RJ45 connector via a 20' cable included in the box.

Setup involved selecting the optimal amplifier-output speaker terminals—2, 4, or 8 ohms—for my Quad ESL-989 electrostatic speakers. Ron suggested I use the speaker manufacturer's nominal impedance rating or JA's measurement and then use a lower impedance speaker tap. Although Quad rates the ESL-989 as an 8 ohm speaker, JA's measurements showed it to be 6.5 ohms in the upper midrange, dropping to 3.3 ohms at 10kHz (footnote 5). I selected the 4 ohm tap. My other speakers, Revel Ultima Salon2's, were rated by the manufacturer at 3.7 ohms at 90Hz. JA measured its impedance to lie between 3 and 5 ohms, so I selected the 2 ohm tap.

I enjoyed controlling the MAC7200 with its HR085 remote. I switched among components and inputs with ease, comparing the digital and analog versions (converted by my Bryston BDA-3 DAC) from a Bryston BCD-1 CD player and from a Bryston BDP-3 media player. Listening to KDFC, a local classical music station, I compared the MAC7200's FM tuner with my Day Sequerra FM Reference 25th Anniversary tuner.


Throughout the listening sessions, the MAC7200 amplifier ran cool, its heatsink faintly warm while driving my Quad ESL-989 electrostatic speakers during long listening sessions. The MAC7200 never triggered the Quad's self-protection circuit. The Revel Ultima Salon2's also did brilliantly, playing with full dynamics and volume and with no sense that the amplifier was straining. The MAC7200 did briefly mute its outputs if the volume control was turned up too high. It never showed a fault condition that required its amplifier to be turned off and reset.

The FM tuner
Tuning with McIntosh's HR085 remote was precise: Each push on the remote's tuning ring changed the FM tuner's frequency by 0.2MHz. Tuning from the listening room chair was far more convenient than having to get up and turn the unit's tuning knob. Tuning is aided by the central display's bargraphs of signal strength, noise, and multipath. As the 7200 sat on the floor between me and the speakers, this display was easy to read.

Long ago, in the August 1997 issue of Stereophile (pp.21–23), Don Scott encouraged other reviewers to first listen to FM tuners without an antenna to make sure the interstation static sounded "full spectrum, deep, and also crisp with a muted smoothness. ... No squeals or birdies (oscillations) should be heard, as this indicates distortion being generated in either the front-end or IF amplification stages, which will give the tuner a nasty, gritty quality." The MAC7200's interstation static sounded ideal: smooth, nonirritating, and free of whistles, squeals, and peeps. Even though my Day Sequerra FM Reference provided better quieting when it had captured an FM signal, its rendition of interstation static without an antenna revealed a faint whistle.

The MAC7200's FM tuner proved to be very sensitive and selective. I live 19 miles north of San Francisco in the North Bay, and it pulled in 25 FM stations, 17 strong enough to fully "quiet" the tuner and produce a black background with minimal multipath or noise; that makes it one of the most sensitive and quietest FM tuners I've reviewed, equal to the Day Sequerra in sensitivity and selectivity. I created presets for KDFC (90.3MHz, for classical music), KCSM (91.1MHz, for Jazz), KQED (88.5MHz, for NPR), and KISQ (98.1MHz, for relaxing music). Listening to KDFC, I enjoyed a wide variety of classical music, including Antonio Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in B-Flat, RV 375. I continued to listen, leaving the FM radio on for several days. The convenience of the remote and the quiet, mostly noise-free source of classical music was wonderful.

How did the MAC7200 compare sonically to my Day Sequerra FM Reference 25th Anniversary tuner? I chose FM Reference because its transparency, imaging, warmth, and midrange timbre are the finest I've heard in a tuner (footnote 6). The MAC7200 equaled the FM Reference's ability to generate a jet-black background and render the music punchy, dynamic, and involving. The FM Reference's sonics were more transparent and 3D when playing classical music from KDFC, and its selective bandwidth and muting control options, not present on the MAC7200, gave me more control over background noise on weaker stations. But this was a fine performance for the MAC7200; it gave the Day Sequerra a run for its money.

The AM tuner section's performance proved to be quite good, capturing 21 AM stations, but unless you're aiming to listen to sports or political programming in the lowest fidelity, who cares?

The phono stage
With the MAC7200 placed on the floor, I had to move my Linn Sondek turntable from the top of my equipment rack to a lower shelf so that its interconnect cables could reach the receiver's MC phono inputs. The low-output Spectral Reference MC cartridge (0.2mV) suggested it might need a boost, but in the end it didn't: The sound was clean and dynamic, with great hall ambience, spacing, and three-dimensionality. Using the McIntosh remote, I was able to compare different impedance loading for my MC phono cartridge while playing a record. The 200 ohm loading gave the best results.

After first sampling an old well-worn disc and finding it too noisy to enjoy, I turned to a cache of unopened, unplayed vinyl. What am I waiting for, a rainy day? In California?

First up was the direct-to-disc vinyl recording, Wagner—Die Walküre: Ride of the Valkyries / Tristan und Isolde: Prelude to Act I / Gîtterdämmerung: Siegfried's Funeral Music / Siegfried: Forest Murmurs Sheffield Lab LAB-7), with Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This has long been my go-to LP for dynamics, imaging, and rich orchestral tone, and the MAC7200 didn't disappoint. Next came a new copy of Eddie Daniels playing Brahms's Clarinet Quartet in B Minor, Op.115, from Brahms & Weber: Clarinet Quartets (Reference Recording RR-40). As reproduced by the MC7200, the recording captured Daniels's instrument's full resonance. My fun increased further when I sampled a previously unplayed copy of Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop with Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas, playing "Behind the Veil" (Vinyl, Epic Records 463472-1). This fresh vinyl recording played with stunning transients, wide soundstage, and incredible detail. It easily bested my CD version.

My vinyl recording of Howard Dunn conducting the Dallas Wind Symphony in Owen Reed's La Fiesta Mexicana from Fiesta! (Reference Recordings, RR-38) delivered a warm, rich bassoon sound in the opening track—again, better than the CD version. Similarly, I reveled in the rich, full orchestral sound of Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Prokofiev's Symphony No.2, Op.40 (RCA, LSC-3061).

The DA1 digital module
I was surprised how well the MAC7200's DA1 DAC performed. Livingston Taylor's cover of "Isn't She Lovely," from his Ink album (CD, Chesky JD162), was dynamic, transparent, involving, and holographic. I was bowled over by the 3D imaging of Eriks Ešenvalds's Translations by the Portland State Chamber Choir, Ethan Sperry, conductor (CD, Naxos 8.574124; auditioned as 24/96 WAV). My other Ešenvalds recording, Doors of Heaven (24/88.2 WAV file or CD, Naxos 8.579008), exhibited the same exceptional imaging when the MAC7200's DAC played "The First Tears."

Footnote 4: See Stereophile's review of the Day Sequerra Urban FM antenna, Vol.12, No.7, published in July 1989.

Footnote 5: JA measured the newer Quad ESL-2912 and wrote that the impedance was "basically identical to that of the ESL-2912's predecessor, the ESL-989 (reviewed by Larry Greenhill in November 2002."

Footnote 6: The Day Sequerra FM Reference was first manufactured in 1987. Production stopped by the late 1990s and its last upgrade was in 2014, yet it remains listed in Recommended Components because of its continued use in reviews.

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

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.

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 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.

If you want to order from the UK, a higher-performance option, at a significantly higher price, would be the Innov 88-DES-11.

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.

Best resource I've found for FM antenna info is the K6STI site:
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.

AM-FM Broadcast Receiver

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)

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

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

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

> 65 dB

> 70 dB

> 35 dB

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

50 µSEC or 75 µSEC (User-selected)

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

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

<4.5 seconds

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

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

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

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

All tuners are RDS/RBDS capable

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

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

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

12 lbs. [5.4 kg]

Three years, limited parts and labor

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

contact information:
7209 Browning Road
Pennsauken, NJ 08109, USA
Phone: 1.856.719.9900

Heinz R.'s picture

I think good FM tuners are fantastic. But, unfortunately, it is at least in my area in Germany so that FM nowadays sends in very miserable quality cheaply converted analog signals that come in the studio anyway already digitally from the hard drive. I still have a Quad FM3 tuner and an Audiolab 8000T, both of which are far too good for what FM transmits these days. In the case of the beautiful MAC 7200, that would be like throwing pearls before swine re its FM section.
The only chance for a good FM tuner would be if there were a new scene of FM lovers who would broadcast analog vinyl or tapes.
When I pass the French border by car I can listen to such analog stations for some time, it transforms the sound of my car radio. We don't know anymore what we have lost.
I made the comparison, my local classical station WDR3 sounds 1000 times better as internet stream even via iPhone than via FM because the stream is the unaltered digital signal…like decades earlier the analogue signal was the true unaltered one.

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).

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.

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 ..


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

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.

DavidEdwinAston's picture

Wow!'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.

Charles E Flynn's picture

aRui's picture

"My other speakers, Revel Ultima Salon2's, were rated by the manufacturer at 3.7 ohms at 90Hz. JA measured its impedance to lie between 3 and 5 ohms, so I selected the 2 ohm tap."
Why 2ohm tap on the Revel Salon 2? Why not 4ohm tap?

John Atkinson's picture
aRui wrote:
"My other speakers, Revel Ultima Salon2's, were rated by the manufacturer at 3.7 ohms at 90Hz. JA measured its impedance to lie between 3 and 5 ohms, so I selected the 2 ohm tap." Why 2ohm tap on the Revel Salon 2? Why not 4ohm tap?

In general, the electrical phase angle reduces a loudspeaker's effective impedance, making it more difficult to drive than the manufacturer's specification suggests. The tradeoff with using the McIntosh's 2 ohm output transformer tap would be reduced maximum power but as the measurements show, this was not an issue.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile