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In the world of vintage audio, McIntosh occupies a special place. They are generally very sought-after, and the tube models have a dedicated following who go to great lengths to obtain and maintain them. Accordingly, they are being rooted out of closets, attics, and whatever other hidey-holes have contained them and are being sold off, or put into service. This is all very reasonable, as they are all they are cracked up to be. They sound quite good, being smooth and authoritative. They give you the firm impression that they know what they are doing. They were very overbuilt, so they have lasted far longer than anyone would have anticipated, and efforts to service them are usually well spent. Besides the qualities of performance and reliability, they are very nice looking as well, making them all the more collectable.

If you are so fortunate as to have one of these beauties, then you must figure out the most reasonable way to get the most out of it. This can be tricky business. On any older piece of equipment, there is a pretty well established record of what you can expect of it. The problem is that a fairly limited number of people know this track record and therefore know what must be done to properly put the piece into the best condition possible. I think it is fair to say that taking any piece of McIntosh to some fellow who fixes vcr's or tv's is not a very wise thing to do. There is not much likelihood that they will do all of the things needed by the machine, in fact, they are more likely to goof it up by inappropriate repair procedures, and then you have an unfortunate mess on your hands.

At Circle Stereo, we have repaired McIntosh equipment for a good many years, and as time goes on, they seem to be showing up more and more. The service requirements of these machines are fairly consistent. The tube ones will have a certain number of bad tubes, and the capacitors are always suspect. The tuners will always need alignment, and of course, the switches, controls, tube sockets, and tuning capacitors will be oxidized. They rarely have bad transformers, which is fortunate as these are hard to find and very expensive. The solid state McIntoshes will have the same oxidation problems and will also have bad caps. The power amps rarely blow themselves up in a serious way, and electronic part failures are also somewhat rare in the preamps. The tuners do have integrated circuit problems which can be a problem, and they will also require alignment. Both tube and solid state units usually require cosmetic work to really optimize their appearance. This must be done very carefully as it is possible to wash off lettering or break glass panels if you don't watch what you are doing. The cost of restoring your average McIntosh is normally pretty reasonable considering what you wind up with. They usually fall somewhere in the $200-300 range, though a particularly clean one can be less, or an abused one can be more. Observe the sidebar to the left to see if your particular model shows up there, and the information will be a bit more specific and detailed.

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