McIntosh MC501 Monaural Power Amplifier Reviewed

By |

Page 1 Page 2

McIntosh-MC501-MonoAmp-Reivewed.gifCustomer devotion, brand loyalty, cult following, whatever term you choose to describe it - few companies can compare when it comes to the passion exhibited by McIntosh clientele for the firm's products.  Many customers simply will not even consider a product without the trademark blue power meters and green McIntosh label.  This enviable following has been earned by building great-sounding, no-nonsense equipment and taking care of the customers who buy it.

Additional Resources
• Read a more audiophile tube amp reviews from brands like Audio Research, VAC, McIntosh, VTL, Decware, Lamm and many others.
• Check out an all-tube blog page at

As the name implies, the $4,100 ($8,200/pair) MC501 is a mono amplifier that delivers a healthy 500 watts of power into two-, four- or eight-ohm loads.  The McIntosh proprietary output autoformer technology allows for full power at a variety of impedances and helps to reduce distortion by keeping output devices operating in their optimal range.  This means that the MC501 is perfectly happy driving any loudspeaker you choose to connect to it.  The amplifier is also designed to protect those valuable loudspeakers with its Power Guard circuitry, which keeps the amp from clipping and damaging drivers, specifically the tweeters.  Lastly, McIntosh has designed the MC501 to protect itself via the sentry monitor circuit, which insures that the output devices never exceed their staggering 100-amp-current limitation. 

After spending some time listening to the MC501, I began to understand why McIntosh has so many devotees.  From top to bottom, it did everything extremely well.  The treble was detailed and airy, presented in a relaxed manner that drew me in to the music rather than pushing me away.  The midrange was as smooth and textured as anything this side of a single-ended triode, only not quite as euphonic, erring on the side of accuracy.  Bass grip and control were powerful and authoritative, but also musical and capable of extracting detail in lower frequencies, which are often missed by lesser amplifiers.  I can't imagine ever yearning for more power than the 501 is capable of producing. Even when playing at what seemed like rock concert levels, there was always plenty of room left on the power meter.

Aesthetically, the MC501 is pure unadulterated McIntosh, which means you either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it.  Styling aside, it is a beautifully constructed amplifier that should last a lifetime and then some.

Read The High Points, the Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2

  • Comment on this article

Post a Comment
comments powered by Disqus

HTR Product Rating for McIntosh MC501 Monaural Power Amplifier

Criteria Rating







Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.

Latest Audio Reviews

Apr 30
Star Sound Technologies Sistrum Apprentice Speaker Platforms Can these little devices really make that big of a difference in the sound of your speakers? Terry London seems to think so . . .
Star Sound Technologies Sistrum Apprentice Speaker Platforms

Feb 03
Musical Fidelity AMS50 Amplifier Terry London went looking for "that tube sound" and found a true Class-A operation amplifier from the U.K.'s Musical Fidelity. The AMS50 brings the warmth of tubes but with the control of solid-state.
Musical Fidelity AMS50 Amplifier

Jan 13
Wyred 4 Sound mAMP Amplifier Amplifiers are a necessary piece of equipment, but do they need to be so big? Steven Stone investigates this question with his review of Wyred 4 Sounds's mAMP mono amplifier.
Wyred 4 Sound mAMP Amplifier

Dec 23
Polk TSx220B Bookshelf Speakers Reviewed Myron Ho examines the Polk TSx220B bookshelf speakers. During the course of his review, Myron discovers what the bookshelf speaker is not, but he also discovers surprising things about what it is.
Polk TSx220B Bookshelf Speakers Reviewed

Dec 09
Sonos Playbar Soundbar Reviewed Sonos is a name many have heard of. They are well-known and well-advertised. But how do the company's products actually sound? Brian Kahn tests out the Sonos Playbar soundbar to find out.
Sonos Playbar Soundbar Reviewed