McIntosh MR80 Review

Discussion in 'Tuners' started by MX117.MC7150, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

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    Owned an MR78 and then an MR80 back in the mid-90s and used in a system with a C38 preamp and MC500 power amp. At the time I found both the MR78 & MR80 to provide less than stellar sonics, so they both went to new homes. Flash forward to a couple of years ago. Don't recall the context, but Terry DeWick stated that he could fix all the known problems with the MR80 and make it a stellar performer. As I've always like the looks of the MR80, decided to find another one and give Terry a chance to strut his stuff. In fact, I bought two, as Terry once told me that when buying vintage gear to do so based on cosmetics, as he can always fix anything else. Sent them both and ask Terry to pick the one that had the best cosmetics, work his magic and put on a new faceplate. All this was done for a total investment of under $1000 and have been listening to for several months, rotating in and out of my system along with the other up-graded (recapped, aligned, etc.) tuners in my collection. Based on several months of listening, the MR80 has become my favorite tuner. It is not the quietest (Sony ST-J75), the most sensitive (Yamaha T-85 or TX-1000), nor does it have the widest/deepest sound-stage (Yamaha CT-7000). However, it does have the best combination of all of these, plus is the best looking of the bunch. My thanks to Terry for another job well done. :thmbsp::music:

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  2. reggaenaut

    reggaenaut Addicted Member

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    Yea McIntosh always has that special looks: reminds me of the beautiful Sansui 999 tuner/amp family. We are fortunate to have people like Terry, with such technical ability, available to us vintage fans.
    I have great respect for the Sony j75 and its sibling j60. These are digitals which have convinced me not to dismiss a tuner because it is not analog.
     
  3. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

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    The MR 80 is a classic, and underrated. It's one of the best digital display tuners made And sounds good. The MR 78's a classic. If you need selectivity and separating adjacent FM stations, it's among the best classic tuners made. If you want sound quality in a McIntosh tuner, get a MR 65b, MR 67, MR 71, MR 73 or MR 74. All of those were designed by the engineer who did the best stage. Rather than one engineer. So they did better as audio. But consider that and how it is to repair and maintain over time.
     
  4. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

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    Have had the MR71, MR73, MR77, MR78, MR7082 and TM2 as well as the MX114 and MX117. All were aligned and working well and the mod'd MR80 is better for sonics, based on my recollection. The MX114 was close. Do use a good decent yagi antenna set-up, but am not a DXer, so can't really speak to sensitivity. As long as Terry and the other "known good" tuner techs (dr*audio, PunkerX, Mark Wilson @ ASL, KenB @ Stereo Surgeons, etc.) are available, no McIntosh (or any other) tuner should be a problem for repairs and maintenance.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2011
  5. Zarathustra

    Zarathustra Active Member

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    Just bought a McIntosh MR80 with last serial according to Larry Hodson info.
    It's on it's way from California to me in Europe.
    Now I can buy a "remote" control for it with 8 metres of cable but I'm not sure if it's the original. (see pic)
    I'm really thrilled if it's better then the SAE Mark VIII I boúght a while ago in the States. I'll keep them in separate setups and run the Mac directly on my Levinson ML-2's.
     

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  6. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

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    Congrats. If working well, the MR80 is a terrific tuner. However, a note of caution in that MR80s have a couple of "known problems". Primarily with the presets and holding circuits. If not too late, would suggest you have it sent along to Terry DeWick to be gone through with a recap and alignment to avoid any possible disappointment. If too late, then you might ask him if he will share his knowledge on these problems, being that you are in Europe.
     
  7. Zarathustra

    Zarathustra Active Member

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    I just got my MR-80 from California with a broken glasspanel....
    That was a real bummer.
    I repacked it and contacted the seller to resolve it.
    McIntosh has probably a few in store at Binghamton NY.
    I already cut my finger at the glass...

    I'm certainly not going to sent it back when the unit functions okay and I have a substitute glasspanel installed. Hope it is a easy job to switch the broken one for an intact one.

    So maybe Terry will share some insight I've recapped a couple of pre-amps and amps like my ML-2's and CD players so the electrolytics won't be a problem.
    First I have to check the unit without cutting myself again.
     

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  8. Zarathustra

    Zarathustra Active Member

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    Yamaha vs McIntosh

    I almost bought a German black faced Yamaha CT-7000 instead of the Mac.
    Probably a better tuner and earsier to transport but not so pretty ...
    Had a T2, C2a and M2 combo once. The M2 managed to drive my fullrange Acoustats which is very good for such a old Japanese amp. My former Denon POA 8000's mono's from the same era could not drive them properly.
     
  9. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

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    Too bad about the faceplate. The factory likely does not have the MR80 faceplate in stock, but is easy to e-mail and ask. They are very good at responding to e-mail'd inquiries in the parts dept. However, Tom shows that he has three (3) in stock http://www.mcintoshaudio.com/. Am not sure if he ships overseas, so you will need to ask.

    Also have a refurbished CT-7000 in my tuner collection. To my ears, the refurbished MR80 is the better sounding. As I have a good antenna set-up and a not very difficult reception area, I cannot comment on their relative sensitivity as am not a DXer. Only a listener.

    Recapping the non-tuner (power supply) will be fine. Recapping the tuner portion requires an alignment. I have the service manual if you need one. It is about 125 pages in length. More of a book then an SM. Good luck with your MR80.
     
  10. Zarathustra

    Zarathustra Active Member

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    McIntosh MR80 total loss thanks to shipper

    Today I examined the damage somewhat further then only the faceplate of the tuner.
    Connected it to a stepdowntransformer but unit remained completely dead when I tried to turn it on...
    Then I noticed both Tuning- and Volumeknobs sustained a blow from the outside and were both off axis bending slightly inwards.
    At the back one one the PanLoc mechanisms had come loose.
    I checked the AC fuse at the back with a MM but it was okay.

    I think I have to accept that this is a total loss.
    I'm really disappointed and angry at Fedex that literally shattered a dream to have one of the nicest classic tuners around.
    I reported back my findings to the seller and I hope he will compensate my losses.

    The pictures are not a lovely sight
     

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  11. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

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    Very sad. Am guessing Your MR80 was not shipped in the proper McIntosh double-boxes. Sold an MA6600 to a fellow in Israel last year and a C2300 to a fellow in Norway the year before. Both went in their proper McIntosh boxes and zero problem. Same with shipping my MR80 and MX114 to Terry and back and other McIntosh amps. Not perfect, but many years of design in those boxes & packing materials. Only safe way to ship those glass-front beauties.
     
  12. capt.chaos

    capt.chaos Super Member

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    I feel your loss, the same thing happened to me a couple of years ago. I hate it for you, I just hope you had it insured.
     
  13. Zarathustra

    Zarathustra Active Member

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    Thanks for the empathy.
    Packing was certainly not up to the McIntosh standards but to the Fedex ones according to the seller. I have my doubts.
    Seller has not responded yet to my totalloss message...
     
  14. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

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    Hopefully, you either got through eBay and/or purchased with Paypal. As bad as those two are, they have stood behind me the two times I've needed them.
     
  15. Zarathustra

    Zarathustra Active Member

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    Seller refunded my money and I must praise him for that.
    It was the Californian based company 'PerfectCircuitAudio' and they receive a thumbs up from me.
    Good communication an honest guy, highly recommended.

    Thumbs down for the shipper 'Fedex' that did not honour his legitimate claim at all according to PerfectCircuitAudio, although the package was fully insured and has been roughly treated.

    I'm now in the progress of acquiring a MR80 through Ryan Kilpatrick from 'AudioClassics'. I think you probably know the guy.
    I hope everything will go better then and I will receive a perfect functioning FM tuner soon...
     
  16. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

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    Unless you've ask for a full recap and alignment you will still be getting a 30+ year old tuner and the possibility of disappointment. Meets "original spec's" doesn't mean much besides that.
     
  17. Zarathustra

    Zarathustra Active Member

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    The alignment was promised so I guess I have to trust these guys from AudioClassics. They seem to be the vintage McIntosh specialists and they're only six miles away from the McIntosh factory in Binghamton.
    The recap is something I could perform myself in due time.
     
  18. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

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    As long as you align after you recap. Been trading with AC for 20+ years. Know them well and been there several times over the years. Do miss FG. Ryan is also a good man. But us old guys like dealing with old guys like us the best.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  19. Zarathustra

    Zarathustra Active Member

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    I pressume that at AC they are so into McIntosh that they know what parts must be substituted before aligning it.
    The most troublesome units I encountered with electrolytics came from Krell.
    First series with the reddish brow Roedersteins electrolytics all dried out and the next series like the KRC preamp started to leak on the prints. The Adcom GFA amps 585 and 565 mono's had Elna "Longlifes" that made sure the frontboards didn't last that long...

    I secretely hoped that Mac does not have this problems with their electrolytics being a very conservative company. We'll see I just asked them if their are any critical parts that should be replaced. They seem to me very straightforward so I hope they are also in these matters.

    Thanks for the well give advice and maybe I need that 125 pages servicebook of yours ;-)
     
  20. MX117.MC7150

    MX117.MC7150 Listener Subscriber

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    IIRC, Krells problems were heat-related, which tends to 'dry out' lytics. Never heard of any McIntosh design suffering from heat. Worst is from the incandescent bulbs used in some of the early meters or an MC501 running at 1/3 power for 30min+.

    This looks like a 'fun' read. :no:

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