Peter Familari's avatar

by Peter Familari

8th February, 2018


McIntosh conceived the beast of a monoblock amp called the MC611, knowing full well that the marketplace is full of audiophiles who prefer single-ended valve amplifiers rated at a handful of watts.

Their opposition numbers those who believe that the ultra-low powered single ended amps are little better than glorified tone controls. Eschewing low power, this muscular lot typically heads for valve or solid-state watts measuring three figures, at least.

The two divergent amplifier philosophies co-exist quite nicely.

On one side of the amplifier divide, fans of low-powered valve amplifiers use them to power hugely efficient speakers that are usually horn-loaded.

On the other flank are the devotees of amplifiers so powerful they could provide enough juice to light up a suburb’s worth of houses; amps that exist to drive any loudspeaker rather nicely at any specified impedance.

Our preferences see us straddling both camps. Why so? Simply because the large number of speakers we review, requires amplifiers with real-world power.

But we adore low powered single-ended amps because the memory of hearing half a dozen half-watt valve amps powering immense horns in tri-amped mode in a temple in Kyoto, Japan is unforgettable.

The sound was exalted, and yes, the monks built the amps, valves and the speakers.

McIntosh falls into the latter camp. From memory it’s least powerful amplifier is the 75-watts per channel, MC275 valve power amplifier.

And it ain’t single ended. It’s a push-pull circuit and has been on sale for more than half a century because that’s how long it’s been around.

McIntosh MC611

All this presages the brutishly powerful new model called the MC611. Judged by any standard, this is one daunting mother of an amplifier. More so when you tote in that a pair of 611s can give a pair of stereo speakers 600-watts per speaker.

Even scarier is the thought of five, seven or more of these well-endowed beasties driving a multi-channel, home cinema speaker array.

This power fest moreover will be delivered in full regardless of whether the speaker has an average impedance of 2, 4 or 8 Ohms.

You can imagine Wilson Audio speaker owners salivating in anticipation of the big McIntosh’s release as they read these specs while the single-ended brigade nod sagely and cringe at the thought.

McIntosh says its new MC611 model replaces the previous MC601 amplifier. Improvements over the older model are numerous.

But one of the major tweaks is the doubling of the amp’s filter capacity resulting in a dramatic 55 percent increase in dynamic headroom that climbs from 1.8dB to 2.8dB. An increase that also aids the performance of low frequencies.

Stylistically the MC611 sports a front fascia illuminated by direct LED backlighting. And on the top, the audio transformer and power transformer are now housed in new glass-topped enclosures.

Two monogrammed heatsinks sit behind the transformers. They look great but have an essential function to play: they’re connected to advanced high current output transistors to help erase thermal equilibrium lag time.

On the rear, the MC611 carries three sets of Solid Cinch speaker binding posts to cater for each speaker impedance. Internally you’ll also find heavier gauge wiring, upgraded circuit components and the addition of the brand’s eco-friendly power management system.

Orders for the MC611 can be placed now, with Australian delivery expected in April. The McIntosh MC611 will sell locally for $14,995 RRP.

For more information visit McIntosh.


Peter Familari's avatar

Written by:

Peter Familari

One of the veterans of the Australian HiFi industry, Peter was formerly the Audio-Video Editor of the Herald Sun for over two decades. One of the most-respected audio journalists in Australia, Peter brings his unparalleled experience and a unique story-telling ability to StereoNET.

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Posted in: StereoLUX! Hi-Fi
Tags: mcintosh  synergy audio visual