Project Overview:

We recently had the privilege of procuring and installing two amplifiers and a pair of new speakers to complement an existing preamplifier and digital audio streamer. The client is a classically trained professional musician and has a very distinguishing ear. The upgrade path he chose involved some very sophisticated and unique equipment, in the form of:

  • MacIntosh 901 Dual Mono Amplifier x 2
  • Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3 Floor Standing Speakers
  • AudioQuest Folk Hero Cables

Connecting with:

  • MacIntosh C2500 Preamplifier
  • BlueSound Node Digital Music Streamer
  • Rotel RDV-1050 DVD Player
  • Apollo x8p Audio Interface
  • MacBook Pro
  • Qobuz

What makes this upgrade path special?

The MacIntosh MC901 is a unique “hybrid” monoblock, combining digital and analog amplification in one 200-pound unit. It is ideal for bi-amping the Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3 speakers, with a 300 Watt vacuum tube amplifier and 600 Watt solid-state amplifier on one chassis. The vacuum tube section powers the mid and upper drivers while the solid-state section drives the low-frequency woofers. It even has special DualView™ Power Output Meters.

Watching the eight KT88 output tubes and four 12AT7 and two 12AX7A signal tubes warm-up was a show into itself.

The two amplifier sections of the MC901 are designed to work together in a synergistic relationship and specifically engineered to assure that each section only amplifies its intended frequencies. Each amplifier section has its own discrete power supply, so neither siphons power or performance away from the other. All of this results in easy bi-amping with unparalleled performance and sound reproduction from your speakers.

Another unique feature is the internal, adjustable crossover with the controls easily accessible on the top of the unit. These adjustable crossover filters allow the user to optimize the performance of both amplifier sections to the desired listening preferences.

While the MC 901 is an entirely new design, it comes with the technology, power, and low distortion the world has come to expect from a McIntosh amplifier

When we unpacked the Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3 speakers, there was a collective “ahh” from everyone present. The gloss white finish is spectacular, and rolling them out of their well-designed packaging and into place made them the center of attraction in the room.

With the Diamond dome tweeter in its solid aluminum housing proudly sitting on top, the Continuum™ cone midrange, and Aerofoil™ cone drivers aligned below, these speakers are majestic. They are among the pinnacle of three-way vented speakers, weighing about the same as the amplifiers do.

We applied AudioQuest Folk Hero cables to connect everything, using the William Tell series Zero and Bass cables. These cables are renowned for eliminating the speaker cable’s characteristic impedance (ZERO Technology), current compression, and distortion of the signal/current transient significantly reduced. The result is dynamic contrast, transient response, and bass slam that are rendered seemingly without effort because the cable is not electrically impeding the music.

Folk Hero cables are Cold-Welded to AudioQuest’s extremely pure Red Copper Spades or Bananas. The bare copper is submerged (hung) in a vat of pure silver instead of being tumbled in a lower-grade solution. AudioQuest speaker breakouts and plug casings are not metal to not induce RF Noise into the conductors.

The Verdict:

In combination with the tube preamplifier, and at first listen, there was an unmistakable purity of tone of the instruments and incredible sound refinement. Of course, we opened with the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3, and the imaging and separation was astounding. When the mix shifted to Stanley Clark’s Vulcan Princess, there was a total stomach punch with a precise and beautifully imaged soundstage. And as you might imagine, our client was ecstatic with his upgraded stereo system.

We can’t wait to return and listen to this system after a proper breaking-in period.

Are you ready for an upgrade?

Audio Video Synergy has the very best brands in stereo and home theater, along with the expertise to help you select the products that are right for your room (and your budget). And we can arrange for professional installation to ensure the new components exceed your expectation.

Use the form here and let’s start a conversation.

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