While Internet radio and streaming services are growing in popularity there are still tens of millions of people who listen to good old fashioned terrestrial radio. McIntosh's MR88 is designed to allow you to listen to traditional radio in your system with audiophile quality. The new McIntosh MR88 tuner not only receives traditional AM and FM signals but also XM and HD radio signals as well. Unlike many of the tuners on the market, the MR88 is a serious audiophile piece and is built like the tank as you would expect with its $4,000 price tag.
The MR88 is instantly recognizable as a McIntosh product from the first glance of either the front or the rear. The signature black glass panel bordered on the sides with metal end caps frames a traditional analog dial display which sits over a two line fluorescent display which provides further information such as station call sign, music genre and song title. The illuminated pointer is controlled by a traditional analog dial with McIntosh's 'Smooth Acting Weighted Tuning' mechanism. The controls allow access to up to sixty station presets. The beauty is not just skin deep. The MR88 features high end components on the inside including a linear power supply with a custom wound R-core transformer. The MR88's all digital topology is reputed to provide superior dynamic range with near CD quality for FM HD radio signals.
The back panel, which is also immediately recognizable to Mac enthusiasts because of its two tone design, has enough connections to allow easy integration with most systems. The panel features both single-ended and balanced audio outputs as well as digital outputs. The FM antenna connection is a traditional 75 ohms, "F" type connector; the AM antenna connection is proprietary and works with the supplied McIntosh RAA2 Remote AM antenna. In addition to the antenna and power connections I was pleased to see a RS-232 port for ease of system integration and control.
Read about the high points and the low points of the MR88 on Page 2.
• The MR88 gives you the best possible sound for a once mighty format in radio.
• With the addition of a XM Satellite Tuner and subscription, the MR88
can receive satellite as well as terrestrial radio signals.
• The choice of single-ended and balanced analog outputs as well as
digital audio outputs provides a great deal of flexibility and the
ability to optimize the integration of the MR88 into your system for
the best possible sound quality.
• RS-232 capability will allow you to easily control the MR88 through Crestron and other similar control systems.
• The MR88 cannot use AM antenna of choice. While most radio
enthusiasts I know are more particular about their FM antenna choices,
the ability to choose your own AM radio antenna may be important to
some hardcore enthusiasts.
• As Internet radio and streaming services are growing in popularity it
would be nice to be able to receive these signals as well. While
Internet radio doesn't pack beaming audiophile sound - the micro-niche
programming is appealing to music enthusiasts from all over the world
and isn't limited to the geographical range of local AM and FM radio.
Even though millions of people listen to radio signals every day, the
market for standalone radio tuners is fairly small. However, the
majority of those in the standalone radio market are looking for this
type of device as they want to obtain the best possible sound from
their radio signals. The MR88 should appeal to those buyers. This is a
well built unit with a well balanced combination of traditional
McIntosh styling and contemporary conveniences and features. Of course,
these features would be meaningless without the performance to back it
up which the MR88 provides with high-quality and well designed
components that should provide superior audio quality.
The MR88 is a must audition for the radio enthusiast in the market
for a tuner that can receive AM/FM/XM/HD Radio signals. As with all
tuners, performance will depend in part on your location and buyers
should audition the unit at the location they intend to use it.