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Experiencing the World of McIntosh

The high-end audio manufacturer uses a dazzling NYC townhouse to show its performance power — and its style.

It’s been said many times — including on this website — that anyone who experiences a high-quality audio demo will never want to listen to anything lesser again. As much of a certainty as that is, imagine if they are listening in a unique, stylish environment — one that can make a life-changing experience that much more memorable.

The World of McIntosh is an event space/demo room in downtown NYC that combines the high-tech flair of McIntosh audio products with a space that is designed to impress. Recently, I had an opportunity to explore the facility and treat my ears to a demo or two. Here is how it went down.

A little history before we begin: The building was originally a Con Ed substation, built in 1922, to provide electrical power to the subways and downtown NYC. It became a warehouse in the ’70s and artist lofts in the ’80s before being bought by a film producer in the ’90s who gutted and renovated the building as a residential property and event location.

Just getting into the World of McIntosh is an adventure, as the entryway is a set of handle-less metal doors that are completely painted over with a mural. I would have taken a picture of it, but I was pacing in front of it, thinking it was a wall, until someone walked out of it and I quickly hopped in before the door closed!

Once through the semi-secret doors, I still was unsure I was in the right place, as the lobby doesn’t scream “World of McIntosh,” until you notice the set of gorgeous amps on the left and the floorstanding speakers on either side of the reception desk.

Behind the reception desk is a window to what appeared to be an empty space with some lights attached to the far wall, but really it provides a view of the building’s pool from the deep end looking toward the shallow. The pool area is used for parties and for photo shoots, but you won’t find any casual swimmers in there.

Next to the pool is a library with a few subtle McIntosh touches, including some bookshelf speakers. We did not demo the setups in every room, but, at a gathering, guests could experience McIntosh sound at very system sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

Up a few stairs is the main gathering room — a sizeable space with a large amount of McIntosh gear, as well as automated shades, a drop-down projection screen, and, naturally, a projector. This room is versatile in the ways it can be set up; in fact, the day I was there it was arranged as a large dining room for a birthday dinner later that evening. Even so, McIntosh experience director Joshua Dellinger was easily able to call up the room’s movie mode using the facility’s Savant automation system. The curtains were drawn quickly and quietly as the screen lowered and he played a music demo from YouTube (!) that filled the space. (The room can handle Dolby Atmos, but he did not use the height channels for my demo.)

Here is the McIntosh gear list for this space:

  • McIntosh XRT2.1K’s: $65,000 ea  ($130,000 pair)
  • McIntosh XCS2K Center Channel: $40,000
  • McIntosh XRT1K: $22,500 ea  ($45,000 pair)
  • McIntosh MC2KW Mono Amp: $40,500 (x3)
  • McIntosh MC1.2KW Power Amp: $12,000 (x4)
  • McIntosh MC452 Quad Balanced Power Amp: $8500 (x4)
  • McIntosh MPC1500 Power Controller: $5500 (x2)
  • McIntosh MX160 AV/Processor: $14,500
  • McIntosh XCS200 speaker: $7000 ea (x6)
  • McIntosh XCS200 in wall mounting kit: $700 (x6)
    Total: $458,700

I mentioned the room was set for a dinner, right? Near the back of the space is a full kitchen where work was being done on the actual meal. Sadly, I was not invited to stay for it.

Next came the room where I received my main demo of what the McIntosh Group can do on this very impressive 2-channel music listening system. Here is what’s in it:

  • SF Il Cremonese: $50,000
  • ARC REF160M Power Amp: $15,000 ea (x2) = $30,000
  • ARC REFPHONO3 Preamplifier: $15,000
  • ARC REFCD9SE: CD/DAC: $15,000
  • ARC REF6 Line Stage Preamplifier: $15,000
  • McIntosh MB50 Streamer: $2,000
  • Pro-Ject RPM 10 Carbon:  $4,000
    Total: $131,000

Streaming off a hi-res Studio feed on Qobuz, Joshua dropped on some John Meyer to show how well the gear can reproduce his vocal and guitar tones, and it was stunning. I then asked if I could choose a song to play, which Joshua graciously let me do. I chose the song “Echoes of You,” from the album Phantoms by Marianas Trench, as I had written an article about the making of the album for Mix magazine, and it was practically the polar opposite of the sparse Meyer track.

“Echoes” is a multi-layered masterpiece that features an orchestra, pitch-perfect vocal harmonies, and a chorus that builds each time it is sung to reach anthemic levels. (It was also available in Studio mode from Qobuz.) As expected, each nuance of the song — orchestral fills, Theremin — came to life during the demo. It was a song that I thought had tremendous depth, and up until that point I had only listened to it through headphones. Listening to it through a six-figure system was mind-blowing.

Another flight of stairs led to another listening room — this one adorned with props and artwork from movies that the building’s owner produced.

The previous room led to an intimate outdoor garden where music was pumped through Costal Source outdoor speakers.

Thanks to David Mascioni, senior marketing manager for McIntosh, for inviting me down and showing me around the space. If you are in the NYC area, I’d recommend checking it out — and definitely bring any clients who are on the fence about investing in a high-end sound system!

For more information and to book a tour, visit https://worldofmcintosh.com.

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