We all know that McIntosh products are not cheap, but for many people, they are regarded as the best of the best when it comes to amplifiers. The price of these tends to put them out of the question for most people and I would wager that your average Joe would be more than fine with something from our best stereo preamp under $500 guide or even our best phono preamp under $200 guide if you want something that is even more affordable. It is not just McIntosh that we are looking at today, Accuphase is a Japanese company and they also make some very high-end amplifiers too and we are putting these two kings of the world of amps head-to-head today.
Recently I wrote an article called, Yamaha AS-1100 vs McIntosh MA5200 Pros and Cons Review and had a lot of fun doing so. While that specifically looked at the MA5200 offering from McIntosh I thought today we would just look at these two as companies and try to see if there is one that we feel is better overall than the other.
Style And Substance
The first thing I want to talk about is the style, both of these companies have a style that is all their own. I find that McIntosh are all about being black and stylish and that is something I certainly think is very cool. If you look at their McIntosh mc152 for example, this thing looks very sleek, very cool and it is freaking huge too.
On the flip side of that, we have the Accuphase STEREO POWER AMPLIFIER P-4500 which has that signature Accuphase kind of style going for it. At the end of the day, it is all down to you what style you prefer. I find that the majority of products that these two offers have a similar look which is why they are both such iconic brands.
I am having a really hard time deciding what style I like best when it comes to these two as I like what they both offer for me, McIntosh tend to have a more 80s kind of thing going on as they have that dark black body that makes up most of their amplifiers and products. Accuphase on the other hand has gone in the other direction and most of their products tend to be brighter, almost a kind of 70s would look great would the wood paneling wall style going on. For my own personal taste, I think I would have to say that I do prefer the McIntosh style, but only just.
Use Your Ears More Than Your Eyes
I once read an article that said you cannot compare apples to oranges and you can sometimes not compare apples to other apples. What the hell did that mean? Well, I never really understood until now. You see, these companies both make very high end (and very expensive I might add) amplifiers. The thing is, your average person is not going to notice a ton of difference between what a McIntosh amplifier is offering over what an Accuphase one is.
Look at this video showing off the Accuphase STEREO POWER AMPLIFIERA-48, it sounds awesome, right?
Well, the thing is for you to get that exact same sound, you would need the same speakers and setup that this guy has to get it. If you have this amplifier, but you also have these Klipsch R-41M Powerful Detailed Bookshelf Home Speaker Set and not the large floor standing one the guy in the video has the sound you get will be different.
It will still sound fantastic, I do not doubt that for one single second, it will just sound a bit different. I had a look online and many people are really hung up on stuff like the McIntosh has a much less dampening factor, but truth be told, you would need to have the most sensitive and finely tuned hearing the world to notice a huge difference.
I have a good friend who works in a music shop and he always says that people will come in and ask to demo a set of speakers and amplifier or whatever. He will then tell them that they can do that, but the sound they get may differ as they will be using a different turntable/stereo, speakers, and whatever. It is something that people can often have a hard time grasping.
The Price Is Right!
Both of these companies do not make cheap products. I am not saying that these are overpriced and the performance you will get from a McIntosh MC2301 is 100 percent going to be better than you get from this Bluetooth Tube Amplifier Stereo Receiver.
This is a solid little amplifier, but it costs under 200 bucks whereas the one from McIntosh is going to set you back a few grand! Accuphase are also very expensive with their Accuphase CLASS-A MONOPHONIC POWER AMPLIFIERA-250 coming in a few thousand bucks!
I know that some people will look at the asking prices of these and just be like “hell no” and I 100 percent understand that and get where you are coming from. These amplifiers are not made for the guy who was browsing Amazon and saw Nevermind by Nirvana had been re-released on viny so they picked up a 100 bucks turntable and now wants to collect vinyl.
I would have to say that if you have the money and you do fancy yourself a first-rate audiophile and you can pinpoint all the little details in a record or even a song that you are streaming off your phone, you are the kind of person that these two companies are making products for.
It has certainly been a lot of fun taking a little browse at these two companies. They both make very sexy and high-quality amplifiers and I can see why so many people are seduced by them and they are somewhat of a grail item for some music fans. I for one think that Accuphase and McIntosh are both worthy of all the praise that they get, I just do not think at the end of the day, anyone needs to be spending this much money on an amplifier, but that is just my opinion.
If you have your heart set on one of these I have to say, do not start reading all the specs and stats as you are just going to drive yourself crazy and be even more confused than when you first started. Instead, I would say base your choice on the price and what one has a style that fits the rest of your setup best.