McIntosh MAC7200 stereo receiver Page 3

Except on a few choral recordings, the MAC7200's DAC matched the Bryston BDA-3's dynamics, background quietness, and depiction of the soundstage. Both revealed subtle details in the bass drum head—muffled but solid—which underpinned the chorus and soloist, Jose Carreras, in the "Kyrie" of Ariel Ramirez's Misa Criolla, conducted by José Luis Ocejo (CD, Philips 420 955-2), and discriminated different vocal details in the chorus. In their rendering of Patricia Barber's Companion (Premonition/Blue Note/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDSACD 2023), the two DACs both depicted the rich, well-defined notes from Michael Arnopol's stand-up bass, the timbre of Barber's vocals, and the subtle adjustments in her Hammond organ described so well by JA in his review of the dCS Rossini Transport.

The DA1 DAC also processed DSD native files streamed from my P50 laptop (using JRiver Media 26 software, footnote 7) once I had downloaded and installed the "McIntosh-HD USB Audio Windows Drive D v2.0" driver to identify the MAC7200 as an audio output device. I streamed a DSD musical file of Art Lande's piano version of "Tenderly" from While She Sleeps (DSD64 and DSD128 downloads from Blue Coast Music) to the MAC7200's internal DAC. The sound of the piano was warm, immediate, but dynamic, and the front-panel display confirmed that the MAC7200 internal DAC was processing DSD files.


I also listen to KDFC-FM's "Classical California Ultimate Playlist" streamed from its website. Although free of FM noise and multipath, the digital stream did not have the dynamics, transparency, or soundstage imaging of the MAC7200's FM tuner or of PCM digital music files stored on my laptop.

Line section and amplifier stages
The MAC7200 refreshed my Quad ESL-989's, which delivered in turn a translucent upper midrange while reproducing the pipe organ's tenor and soprano ranks of pipes in Andrew Galuska's performance of Bossi's Intermezzo, from the compilation Pipes Rhode Island (CD, Riago CD-101). Like KR in his review of the NAD Master Series M33 streaming integrated amplifier, I enjoyed the warm, well-defined pipe organ notes from the album's opening track, John Dunstable's Agincourt Hymn played by Patrick Aiken (Riago 101).

The MAC7200 painted a wide 3D soundstage for the male chorus on John Rutter's Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace from Requiem, performed by Timothy Seelig and the Turtle Creek Chorale (CD, Reference Recordings RR-57CD), their distinct vocal timbres easily resolved. The ending of Piè Jesu conveyed intense sadness and hope, as soprano Nancy Keith's voice gradually ascended the scale as the pipe organ descended. The MAC7200's amplifier delivered the power and bass extension of the pipe organ, so much so that I had to reduce the volume as the electrostatic screens began to flap, or seemed to. The separate notes from harp, organ, and rich mix of voices on the album's final track, A Gaelic Blessing, could be differentiated easily. Similarly, Lyle Lovett's cover of the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil," in the compilation Deadicated (CD, Arista, ARCD-8669), was played with a 3D, holographic image of the singer. The large conga drum that opens "Hotel California," from the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over (CD, Geffen GEFD-24725), was 3D, the drumhead tight, fast, deep, and massive. The ESL-989's midrange blossomed playing piano music. Keith Jarrett's "Part 7" from his 2006 Carnegie Hall Concert (CD, ECM Records B0007362-02) had both a warm piano timbre and tight, syncopated, rhythmic drive that had me tapping my foot and singing along. Wow!


I was shocked by the sudden crashing transients that open "2049" from Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch's score for Blade Runner 2049 (CD, Epic 19075800852), followed by eerie reverberant echoes and sustained new-age synth chords. The MAC7200 delivered the same explosive dynamics, beginning with a faint, staticky whine followed by crashing heavy-metal chords on another Hans Zimmer soundtrack, The Dark Knight (CD, Warner Sunset 511103-2)—specifically the track "Why So Serious?"

I enjoyed the line stage and amplifier's tubelike warmth and highly detailed imaging in the title track "Going Home" from a CD reissue of The L.A. Four: Going Home (CD, East Wind 32-JD-10043), which placed Laurindo Almeida's guitar to the left, Ray Brown's standing bass just left of center, Shelly Manne's drums slightly to the right of center, and Bud Shank's alto flute and saxophone far right.

The MAC7200 belongs in Class A of Stereophile's Recommended Components list. Yes, its $7500 price makes it the most expensive stereo receiver available today, but its power, resolution, dynamics, and transparency are among the best I've heard. Its internal DAC's transparency, speed, and imaging provided strong competition for my Bryston BDA-3. The phono and line preamplifiers excelled in their versatility as well as delivering transparent midrange, tuneful bass, and open highs. The amplifier allowed the Quad Electrostatic 989s to play loud with great dynamics.


The FM tuner is this product's jewel. Its sensitivity, selectivity, and ability to quiet with an FM signal equaled and in many cases bettered my FM Reference tuner. This FM tuner's superb performance was not limited by multipath, as in Jim's case, but because there are so few FM fine music stations in my area of the country—and that's not the tuner's fault! Here in SF's North Bay region, it pulled in 17 FM stations well, but only one offered classical music, one other National Public Radio.

I will be sad to return the MAC7200. Its intuitive remote made it so easy and convenient to access high-quality FM radio, vinyl, and digital musical sources.

If you have the sturdy shelf space for its large, heavy chassis, are a fan of FM radio, and are looking for one unit to handle many different two-channel tasks, the MAC7200 should be on your short list.

Footnote 7: I had to select two settings in my laptop's streaming software, JRiver Media 26: "McIntosh HD-(ASIO)" and "1 × DSD in Native Format (requires ASIO and 1×DSD capable DAC)."
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