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Old 05-12-2021, 09:43 PM
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j3brow j3brow is offline
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Default McIntosh amp taps vs current

Hey gang. Help me understand this relationship.

In the context of a speaker with a nominal impedance of 8 ohm and a minimal impedance of 3.1 ohm in bass region (Focal Scala EVO).

From what I’ve gathered, speakers that have low impedance in the bass compared with the nominal impedance work best with high current amps that always seem to be capable of doubling watts as the impedance is halved (eg 200w @ 8 ohm, 400w @ 4 ohm, 800w @ 2 ohm).

I understand that the McIntosh autoformer results in ability to supply the amplifier’s rated output whether using 2, 4, or 8 ohm tap which is great when the speaker nominal impedance is fairly flat across freq spectrum.

But what happens when we use 8 ohm tap on the MC601 for example and the bass impedance dips down to 3 ohm? Is this a problem?

If one picks the 4 ohm tap, that helps the bass current needs but what about the higher impedance for the remaining freq?

I know we can try whichever tap we want and pick whichever sounds best, won’t hurt amp or speaker but before purchasing said speaker, is a McIntosh amp able to properly drive a speaker like this compared with a different amp that is capable of doubling watts with decreasing impedance.

Are McIntosh amps considered “high current” amps or is that term only reserved for amps capable of doubling output?
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Last edited by j3brow; 05-12-2021 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 05-13-2021, 09:47 AM
Charles Charles is offline
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If the manufacturer has correctly stated the nominal impedance in this instance 8 ohm, the 8 ohm tap should be used. For Wilson speakers all of which have a nominal impedance of 4 ohm the 4 ohm tap should be used. I own an XVX with a minimal impedance of 1.6. I use the 4 ohm tap with my 1.25 KW's. The amps never get more than warm and never require more than 120 watts.

Solid state amps should never be stressed. Folks that run their speaker with a 4 ohm nominal impedance off the 8 ohm tap will certainly get a "larger" amp that produces more current at the expense of over stressing the amp and shortening its life.

A typical example was the review of the Sasha DAW in Stereophile where the 8 ohm tap was used with the Mac 611 because it sounded better. I don't doubt this. However, the proper Mac amp for the DAW is the 1.25 KW which if used off the 4 ohm tap would sound better and significantly outperform the 611 used off the 8 ohm tap.

Here is the rule and I know this will result in a million comments: With Mac amps always choose the tap that best matches the nominal impedance. Disregard the minimal impedance. If the speaker is 6 ohm nominal impedance use the 8 ohm tap. If the speaker is 3 ohm nominal impedance use the 4 ohm tap.

If the speaker is less than 3 ohm nominal impedance and you really want it, use an amp other than McIntosh.

Best

Charles
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Old 05-13-2021, 01:53 PM
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Default McIntosh amp taps vs current

Great question!

The math says that on a McIntosh transformer coupled amp the lower impedance taps will produce the most current for a given output power.

There is another consideration, and that’s the output impedance of the various taps. With a varying impedance load like pretty much every speaker ever made, the output impedance of the amp ends up in series with the speaker, slightly impacting the frequency response of the system. The resulting response deviation is small.

You would expect the lower impedance taps would have the lowest output impedance, but that’s not always true as evidenced in the review link below, where’re the 8 ohm tap of an MC 462 has a lower output impedance than the 4 ohm tap.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/...r-measurements


Some SS amps without output transformers can ‘double down’ when the speaker impedance halves. This speaks to these amps having really hefty power supplies that can supply the current needed to ‘double down’. Do these amps sound better than ones that can’t ‘double down’? Not necessarily. Are the parts required to do this more expensive? Absolutely.

Are these amps better at driving speakers whose impedance drops in the bass region?

Not necessarily.

There are just so many things that go into a power amp design that this one factor does not determine their suitability.

Are McIntosh amps high current? My MC 602 puts out 150 Amps per channel. I’d say that’s high current.


Anyway, sure, a McIntosh amp can drive properly drive a speaker with highly variable impedance.

Compared to an amp that can ‘double down’?

I don’t think it matters.

This is when everyone having an amp that doubles down will say the transformer coupled amp they had before sounded flabby in the bass.
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Three MC2301's for L,C,R
MC 602 for the rears
C 1100, MX 151, MCD 1100, MR 80
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Old 05-13-2021, 05:44 PM
Charles Charles is offline
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I believe the Amp used for the DAW review was the 462. A 611 is plenty for a Wilson Sasha DAW. If you follow my rule you can never be wrong. Best Charles

Last edited by Charles; 05-13-2021 at 05:52 PM.
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  #5  
Old 05-15-2021, 08:57 AM
greg greg is online now
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Charles
connect your XVX to the 8 ohm taps and you will get a much better sound, don't be afraid, you won't spoil anything. 1.25 will be slightly warmer, it will work for the next 50 years
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Old 05-15-2021, 11:03 AM
Charles Charles is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg View Post
Charles
connect your XVX to the 8 ohm taps and you will get a much better sound, don't be afraid, you won't spoil anything. 1.25 will be slightly warmer, it will work for the next 50 years
Greg, This topic comes up about once a year. Do you own Mac amps? Could you state your signature? I'm bad about not doing so but will state mine below. I appreciate your comment but it is incorrect.

Creating an impedance mismatch in order to obtain better sound over stresses the amp. It can result in fat bass and this can "warm" up the sound. My sound doesn't need it.

I will give an example. Once I owned a Thiel CS5i. This speaker had an essentially resistive impedance of 2 ohm. I used a Mac 2600 stereo power amp. It was a monster amp designed by Sidney Corderman.

When running the CS5i off the 8 ohm tap the bass was fat. I eventually used the 2 ohm tap but later on went to a Krell FPB 700.

Anytime this topic come up folks chime in stating their belief in creating impedance mismatches for Mac amps. My suggestion is that if you desire the most balanced best overall sound, follow my rule.

Best

Charles

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Amps: McIntosh 1.25KW’s (3) set on floor on custom made cultured marble slabs
Preamp and DAC: McIntosh D1100
Sources: McIntosh MCD1100 SACD player, MVP881 BR player, MVP851 DVD player, MR87 tuner, Marantz 510LV Laser Disc player, ASUS laptop USB (JRiver Media Center 23)
Speakers: Wilson Audio Specialties XVX Chronosonic
Sub-woofer: Wilson Audio Specialties Thor’s Hammer (1) horizontal lie and Wilson Watch Controller (abbr: WC)
Cables main system: Audioquest Wel Signature speaker cables and balanced IC (preamp to amps); Wel Signature AES/EBU balanced digital IC for CD playback; Audioquest Diamond optical (1) for tuner, (1) for BR player, and (1) for LD player for total of (3); Diamond USB cable; McIntosh MCT cable for SACD playback; Dragon power cords (5 HC cords and 3 source cords for total of 8); Thunder HC power cord for tuner; cables for DVD player not listed
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Old 05-15-2021, 03:02 PM
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My JBL L100 Classics are rated at 4 ohms. The sound is much, much better on the 8 ohm taps of my MA6600 integrated and that is where they stayed. In the 5 months since, the amp is not running any warmer, especially at the lower volume I listen to. When I spoke to McIntosh they told me not to overthink it and use whatever taps sounded better to my ears.
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Old 05-15-2021, 07:31 PM
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One consideration I thought I’d mention. When you are comparing taps, remember that the as you go from 8, to 4, to 2 ohms, the gain of the amp is dropping 3 dB each tap change. So you have to increase your preamp’s gain by an equal amount to create a fair comparison.

The easiest way to do this is with a test tone or pink noise and an spl meter placed close to one speaker.

If you don’t do this, the higher impedance taps will always sound better because they will be louder.
__________________
Main System:
Amati Futura Mains
Amati Homage VOX Center,
Proac Response 1sc Rears,
Three MC2301's for L,C,R
MC 602 for the rears
C 1100, MX 151, MCD 1100, MR 80
Nottingham Dais with Wave Mechanic
Sumiko Palo Santos Presentation

SurfacePro 3, RPi 4, ROON, WW Starlight Platinum USB, Schiit Yggdrasil, Benchmark DAC3 HGC

MX 151, OppO BDP-95, JVC RS-500 DILA projector, 106" diagonal Stewart Luxus Screenwall Deluxe with Studiotek 130 G3 material.

Lake House:
Ohm F, MC 275V, C2300, MR 77, Rega P3

OnDeck:
McIntosh MAC 4300v
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Old 05-15-2021, 09:45 PM
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What Tom said.

In any equipment comparison, the easiest way to fool yourself is to not insure you are listening at equal sound pressure levels. Loudest (almost) always wins otherwise.
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  #10  
Old 05-16-2021, 04:59 AM
greg greg is online now
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Charles

I have mc1.25kw, I play Kef Blade. Before that, I had the WA Alexia V2. Playing on 8 ohm taps has better drive, space, bass goes lower and is better controlled. give it a try, it's free. 3 minutes of work. You will be able to describe your experience, rather than sticking to the rules. You're probably missing out on better sound. You have it at your fingertips.
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