McIntosh C28 Vs. "Modern" Pre

Discussion in 'McIntosh Audio' started by Phack, May 2, 2012.

  1. Phack

    Phack New Member

    How does a fully restored, vintage preamp like a C28 stack up against some of the more modern options out there today? Keeping it under $1000 (about the price of a restored unit from AudioClassics), can I do better with today's technology? I'm currently running an AudioClassics restored MC2100 paired with a Rogue Audio SixtySix Magnum that I got for a steal, but I've often wondered if pairing my 2100 with its contemporary preamp of the day would yield better results. I have no complains about the sound of my current setup, and I really dig the warmth of the tubes, but I guess the question of "what if" is always in my mind. Thoughts?

    Specs on the Rogue:
  2. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

    Suggest you ask exactly what "fully restored" means. All new caps? What else?

    Also, isn't AudioClassics policy that you can listen for 30 days and return for full credit/refund if you pay the shipping? You can listen to the C28 and be the judge of what you hear.
  3. vahe

    vahe Well-Known Member

    If you are willing to spend roughly $1K look for a restored C29 and stay away from anything older including C28.
    C29's are not easy to find but you can find one if you are willing to wait.
    Look at the big auction site, almost half of all Mac preamps listed are C28's and for a good reason.

  4. Rodeodave

    Rodeodave hates ground loops

    The new McIntosh amps/preamps have electrolytic coupling caps, for whatever reason.
  5. c_dk

    c_dk Super Member

    There is a lot of them for sale because they sold over 22.000 of them.

    I am currently just finishing up the revised power supply for one to match up with a restored MC2105.

    The C28 and the MC2105, paired up, are an American audio icon.
  6. efhjr

    efhjr Can you be more specific?

    I have a fully restored C28. Terry Dewick did the work for me.

    I never listen to it. I find it dull and lifeless. The phono stages have never worked.

    I now use a fully restored Audio Research SP-6B, and it's so much better than the C28 it's not even funny.
  7. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

    Just like they always have. :thmbsp:
  8. PB_Audio

    PB_Audio Super Member

  9. Phototone

    Phototone Super Member

    How can it be "fully restored" and the phono stages never worked?
  10. dshoaf

    dshoaf That high voltage buzz Subscriber

    If Terry D did the work and you are not using it, I would be interested.....they can be made to sing.


  11. c_dk

    c_dk Super Member

    Cosmetically restored or electronically restored...there is a lot of work to be done at "wholesale" to keep it under that price if it is truely restored.

    Hope to have an A/B this weekend along with the companion MC2105.
  12. efhjr

    efhjr Can you be more specific?

    Ask Terry DeWick. He had it on his bench twice.

    Not that I have any problems *at all* with his service or skills. He refurbed two MC30s, an MC2505, an MR74, and a C28 for me. I think that C28 is rotten or something.
  13. c_dk

    c_dk Super Member

    I think you should then donate it to the cause for a documented exorcism! Can't take the chance it might spread to your AR and other equipment.
  14. jlovda

    jlovda Things I loved in the 70's Subscriber

    They all do, old and new.
  15. Rodeodave

    Rodeodave hates ground loops

    I don't know if we mean the same thing, but not all McIntosh amps use electrolytic capacitors to couple audio signals. The classic MC30, MC60, MC70, MC225, MC240, MC275 from the 60s/70s all had non-polar film capacitors for coupling (amongst them the famous Sprague Black beauty caps). The MC250 seems to have a 10uF electrolytic coupling cap in there somewhere, same as the MC2105 or C28. I'll never understand why.
  16. c_dk

    c_dk Super Member

    Most likely reason....because they wanted them keep a potential problem out or under control. It is now a part of their signiture sound....
  17. Phototone

    Phototone Super Member

    Electrolytics or film caps, it has to do with the "type" of device you are coupling. Tubes are most generally coupled with film caps, transistors (or IC's) are generally coupled with electrolytics. I don't know the electronic theory behind this, but that is the rule anyway.
  18. Rodeodave

    Rodeodave hates ground loops

    No, it's not a rule, and it has nothing to do with the device you're coupling (not intrinsically).

    Film caps are non-polar (some have an out and inner foil and thus some "polarity" but that's a different concern), have tight tolerances (5% or so), can withstand high voltages and are bulky and expensive for high capacitances.
    Electrolytic caps are cheap, polar, loose tolerances (50% or so), have limited voltage capability and are tiny when you compare them with similarly rated film caps.

    Electrolytic caps are inferior to film caps in almost any parameter you care to measure. Read the "Capacitor Sound?" series of articles by Cyril Bateman for an extensive analysis. A recap can be found here:

    There is no reason other than money and space constraints for using an electrolytic cap in an audio application. They're cheap and small, and have distortion figures many times worse than non-polar film caps.
  19. ehoove

    ehoove Old & New - Carpe Diem Super Mod Subscriber

    I also had a C28/MC2100 combo that Terry went trough top to bottom for me, which made up my Vintage rig of desire. However it was so slow and blah I ended up selling both units. The C28 has the worst volume control I have ever encountered. FWIW

    I like modern Mac gear, but the vintage gear is not my cup of tea.
  20. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

    Even the newest McIntosh soiid-state amps use electrolytic coupling caps. And their solid-state amps always have. As no one had brought up tube amps except your post (after my post), did not think we were discussing tube amps.

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