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Article: McIntosh MS500 Music Streamer Review

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I might have to get one of these for my parents if it's that easy to use. I like TuneIn as well, when I can't get a Michigan football game here I use it to listen to the "radio" broadcast.

 

My SO loves Xmas music, so I am now listening to the Clapton record before I add it to the playlist.

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How can you write a review that 

1) does not mention the price and 

2) appears to highlight the non bit perfect digital out but fail to explain what or how the digital is modified.   

 

The redt is is well written and enjoyable ....just some constructive criticisms 

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I really like the tone of this review.

 

I know a McIntosh owner who would never read a review about stereo gear, he just owns McIntosh and listens to a ton of music. I am certain he doesn't even know the model of his speakers yet he has a thirst for music that will never be quenched.

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2 hours ago, Toolonginexile said:

How can you write a review that 

1) does not mention the price and 

2) appears to highlight the non bit perfect digital out but fail to explain what or how the digital is modified.   

 

The redt is is well written and enjoyable ....just some constructive criticisms 

 

The price is $6k, it's listed at the end, under product information:

 

Quote

 

Product Information:

 

 

 

 

Your second point was one I wondered about as well, but I assume it's covered in the user manual that Chris linked, but I haven't read that yet.

 

P.S.  The major omission in the review was that Chris forgot to link Mariah Carey's Christmas classic, so I'll fix that here!  :D 

 

 

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1 hour ago, loop7 said:

I really like the tone of this review.

 

I know a McIntosh owner who would never read a review about stereo gear, he just owns McIntosh and listens to a ton of music. I am certain he doesn't even know the model of his speakers yet he has a thirst for music that will never be quenched.

 

Sounds like my kind of guy!

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2 hours ago, Toolonginexile said:

How can you write a review that 

1) does not mention the price and 

2) appears to highlight the non bit perfect digital out but fail to explain what or how the digital is modified.   

 

The redt is is well written and enjoyable ....just some constructive criticisms 

Hi Tool - I rarely mention price in my reviews because it’s always listed in the product information section below. It’s a fact that people don’t need to hear from me because it doesn’t take a writer to quote the price. 

 

With respect to the digital output, I believe it’s probably too in the weeds to discuss this in the review for this specific product. There is some DSP going on no matter what selection is made in the product setup / optional config. The user can set the sample rate and bit depth out the output. This stays the same until switched. When audio at that exact sample rate is played, the output isn’t bit perfect for some reason. My guess is some DSP or volume attenuation is taking place. Autonomic products have always had this issue, including the one I had several years ago. 

 

However, I don’t think this is the right product for the person who cares about this specific nuance / issue. 

 

Constructive criticism is always welcomed here. Thanks for taking the time to write. 

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9 minutes ago, Hugo9000 said:

The price is $6k, it's listed at the end, under product information:

 

 

 

Your second point was one I wondered about as well, but I assume it's covered in the user manual that Chris linked, but I haven't read that yet.

 

P.S.  The major omission in the review was that Chris forgot to link Mariah Carey's Christmas classic, so I'll fix that here!  :D 

 

 

 

To discover the lack of bit perfect digital output one has to actually test the equipment. It’s something I always do because this can be a big deal for some consumers and not a deal at all for others. 

 

 

 

Ha! Her best music was when she featured Ol’ Dirty Bastard on Fantasy. 

 

 

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Ugh, I'm a pathetic Lamb (yes, it's silly, Mariah's fans are "lambs" and as a group are known as her "lambily" hahaha!), I neglected to plug her new album, which drops tomorrow, the 16th!  It's called Caution, and I hope there will be at least a semi-classic among the 6 tracks I haven't heard yet!

 

I'll make this post on-topic by adding that Mariah's music sounds incredible on every McIntosh-based system I've ever heard (okay, all three that I've heard lol), and based on Chris' review of the new MS500 streamer and its musicality with less-than-perfect source material, I imagine her albums will sound amazing on this unit as well!  Can it just be coincidence that the queen of Christmas' initials are M.C. like "Merry Christmas" and the MC in McIntosh?  Okay, maybe it's just a coincidence, whatever!  :D

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1 minute ago, Hugo9000 said:

Ugh, I'm a pathetic Lamb (yes, it's silly, Mariah's fans are "lambs" and as a group are known as her "lambily" hahaha!), I neglected to plug her new album, which drops tomorrow, the 16th!  It's called Caution, and I hope there will be at least a semi-classic among the 6 tracks I haven't heard yet!

 

I'll make this post on-topic by adding that Mariah's music sounds incredible on every McIntosh-based system I've ever heard (okay, all three that I've heard lol), and based on Chris' review of the new MS500 streamer and its musicality with less-than-perfect source material, I imagine her albums will sound amazing on this unit as well!  Can it just be coincidence that the queen of Christmas' initials are M.C. like "Merry Christmas" and the MC in McIntosh?  Okay, maybe it's just a coincidence, whatever!  :D

 

You mean this album?

 

Everything so far sounds good on my McIntosh gear.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 10.37.07 PM.png

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3 minutes ago, Hugo9000 said:

Ugh, I'm a pathetic Lamb (yes, it's silly, Mariah's fans are "lambs" and as a group are known as her "lambily" hahaha!), I neglected to plug her new album, which drops tomorrow, the 16th!  It's called Caution, and I hope there will be at least a semi-classic among the 6 tracks I haven't heard yet!

 

I'll make this post on-topic by adding that Mariah's music sounds incredible on every McIntosh-based system I've ever heard (okay, all three that I've heard lol), and based on Chris' review of the new MS500 streamer and its musicality with less-than-perfect source material, I imagine her albums will sound amazing on this unit as well!  Can it just be coincidence that the queen of Christmas' initials are M.C. like "Merry Christmas" and the MC in McIntosh?  Okay, maybe it's just a coincidence, whatever!  :D

I love it!

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34 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

 

 

 

Xmas = Christmas, is this not well known?

 

Yes, but my surprise was that your gf liked xmas muzak

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Great review!  I appreciate the clear outline on the pluses and minuses.

 

I'm a big McIntosh fan (and in love with my MC275), but it really bums me out that the MS500 does not output bit perfect audio.  The McIntosh proposition is that we "overpay" for incredibly beautiful music.  So it does not bother me when, just for example, McIntosh and/or tube detractors rant and rave about price/performance ratios.  If I wanted to focus on bang for the buck, I'd buy a terrific whole system for less than my amp alone.  On the other hand, the lack of bit perfect output appears to be a compromise with no return.  For $6,000, there should be no obvious shortcomings.

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On 11/15/2018 at 4:18 PM, bunno77 said:

McIntosh are great at making music just sound good. 

It's shame they haven't jumped on board with Roon. Big missed opportunity. 

 

McIntosh indeed continue to make great sounding tube preamps and power amps. Neither the last word in resolution nor the last word in lush warm tube sound but often as Goldilocks would say “just right “!

 

I would not recommend any of their SS products nearly as strongly.

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For me, all those fancy-pants streames commit a cardinal sin: they omit both Google Play and sideloading. Sorry, not interested in being restricted by some coorporate-head to which music to listen. 

 

Until those people realize it's in thier interest and thier customers' interest to open thier eco-systems, I'll stick with a small humble DAP. As for SQ, a re-clocker can do wonders. 

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Looking at the internals of the MS500 we see a bog-standard mini sized computer motherboard, worth something like $200, maybe $250, with an added 2GB of memory and a very standard SSD drive. Total cost, somewhere south of $350 if shop bought.

 

On the right side we see a USB-DAC chip made by Tenor, not even a brand, but a label which only claim to fame is to be budget friendly.

The DAC board doesn't even come with its own power supply, but it borrows its power from the motherboard and uses a muRata chip and largish condensator to cleanup the voltage a bit.

 

Unless the housing costs over $5000 to produce, this device looks like a total ripoff.

 

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