Ampzilla 2000 v2 and Mcintosh MC402

I have the opportunity to either purchase an Ampzilla 2000 or MC402 from Mcintosh. I am choosing either one of these and would like your opinion on either one. Which one is better sound quality wise?

The rest of my system is : Mcintosh C1100 preamp, KEF reference 1 speakers, and Audioquest cables.

I like deep big bass, smooth mid range, big and deep sound stage and airy high.



MC402 because you already have a McIntosh preamp. The MC402 will have a better resale value. The GAS company is out of business, so no warranty repairs.

@jasonbourne52 They are still in business under SST. I just spoke to the owner yesterday. In fact, I am purchasing the 2000 directly from the company.

... and I actually found out (to my surprise) that Mcintosh preamp goes well with other branches of amplifiers. I come to that realization after selling my MC352 amp and connecting the C1100 to my Pass Lab x150.5

I can’t tell you how the Ampzilla will compare to the McIntosh amp, but they are very good. I have owned many amps in that price range and the Ampzilla is one of the best. It’s nice that they are cool running and can deliver the amount of power they do without having to have a 20 amp outlet. They provide great detail and dynamics. I think they will tick the boxes for the things you mentioned you like, except maybe the "airy" high. I’m not sure I would describe it that way. I think the treble response is pretty neutral. To me, "airy" means something artificial added to the sound, but adjectives can be misinterpreted.

There is a lot of owner feedback that you can find with a search. I don’t remember reading anything negative about them before I bought mine.

If you are already purchasing the Ampzilla, why did you bother to ask the question?  Seems like you already answered it yourself.

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I had the Ampzilla and the Son of Ampzilla and both were great, but without being able to hear it on your system, you’ll have no idea how either will sound.  Having said that, Mac usually plays very well with Mac.

All the best.


Too bad you didn't pick the MAC, amplifiers are what McIntosh does best out of all the stuff they make. And no amp, I repeat NO amp stays out of the service center like a MAC, Ive had my MC352 since 2007 and its never had a problem ever.

The McIntosh for looks, the Ampzilla for sonics.  McIntosh has gone down in quality

control as well as quality in the last 4-5 years sadly , when a foreign company bought them ,the true Audiophiles were gone  that being said there is a lot inside that can be modded for a Substantial increase in fidelity if you plan on keeping them , this too includes the preamplifier , this too applies to most electronics 

having owned a Audio store. The cost of the item from build to packaging is roughly around 25% of its cost  a $6kamp $1500 in total to build the rest R&D overhead and markup. That is why I mod or have assistance ,with speakers I transform the heart of the speakers and a weak point in most speakers the Xovers.

I am still deciding between the MC402 and Ampzilla 2000. I am going to make the final decision this weekend.

The major draw back of the Mc is its weight. It is 120lbs and very big!

The Ampzilla 2000 is much lighter and small.

@jallan I am serious. Ampzilla is a good American company made in central California.

Mcintosh is an equality good one as well.

I really need some one with an open mind! Ampzilla is not inferior to Mcintosh as far as I can see.

Having said that, I just want to find a good amp amongst them that will be better sonically.

If you want pretty, get the Mc.  If you want music, get the one designed by James Bongiorno, who knows more about amp design than Mc ever will.


Back in the Days of Yore (75-79) the original GAS Ampzilla ruled the High End world. Harry Pearson of TAS praised it, calling it "surgically romantic"!!!! It's sibling the Son of Ampzilla garnered more praise! And the Thaedra preamp had the world's first high-gain phono stage capable of handling a lomc cartridge with minimal noise. These products elevated James Bongiorno (SAE, SWTP, Dynaco) to audio designer stardom. Sad to say that James B. is no longer with us. His legacy continues on with the products from SST. 

I say sell the McIntosh preamp and buy the SST preamp and the Ampzilla 2000. The pair complement each other! 

@jasonbourne52 That is a good piece of history. My only concern is: since Jame is gone, the company might stop innovating. It will begin to fall behind its competitor (for example: Mcintosh).

I am current having appointments for both Mc402 and Ampzilla 2000. I have until this Friday to cancel one of them!

Yes, back in the Days of Yore I was listening to the then-new Snell Type A's driven by the Thaedra/Ampzilla pair fed by a Denon DD TT/DL103/Levinson JC1 clone headamp.

@jasonbourne52 No way in hell that I will sell the Mc Preamp. In my opinion, Mc makes some very good preamp. I compared it with a lot of other preamps and always come back to the Mc preamp.

I cannot say the same with Mc power amp though.

I regret selling my McIntosh C28 preamp several years ago. I still have the MR77 tuner! Excellent tuner!

I have been in A/V retail for 30 years. I have had the pleasure of facility tours of 2 major high end electronic manufactures. The most important take away from both tours is that their products are designed to work and sound their best in a complete system. Mix and match at your own risk. In my experience, it leads to frustration and the endless cycle of upgrades.

Stick with Mac if you like a warm robust sound.  Almost anything else in that price range will articulate better.



A subtle nuance to your comment above regarding your Mac preamp. I’ve owned a few Mac preamps through the years. They are feature rich, inoffensive, reliable and trustworthy. They commit no major sins, however, yours interfaced well with Pass Labs NOT because the Mac preamp is universally versatile but because Pass Labs amplification is quite forgiving in that regard.


There are fans and foes of every type of gear manufactured; past, present and future. Mac is a solid business, Ampzilla’s business strength is for you to decide. Formerly bankrupt companies (or those for whom that might be a fallback plan) are difficult to value. I recognize I keep it pretty simple for my amplification choices and I’ve owned alot of great gear. I prefer non-gimicky reliable and beautiful sounding amplification. I don’t have any qualms admitting that I prefer what I prefer and that usually involves vacuum tubes. Horses for courses right?


Have you considered another Pass Labs amp? I believe the Pass Labs amps are reasonably agnostic regarding preamps...which wasn’t an accident but in fact a design goal. My 2 cents on the topic with a 2 cent discount.

I do understand your Mac passion, but the SST Ambrosia is an outstanding  preamplifier.  It was just a suggestion,  no harm, no foul. 

Just to add a bit more info. I built the original GAS Ampzilla from kit in 1975, after meeting Jim Bongiorno, Jon Dahlquist, and Saul Marantz at the Dahlquist room (driven by an Ampzilla) at an Audio show in DC. I also owned a GAS Ampzilla II…

Fast forward to 2013 or 2014, I was looking to rebuild my original Ampzilla. I cold called Jim’s company on a Sunday afternoon to leave a call-back message about rebuilding the amp, and Jim answered himself. We talked for 2 hours about amplifier design, with him telling me about his strategy for the new Son of Ampzilla II he was designing for his new joint company Spread Spectrum Technologies (SST). Mr. Bongiorno died perhaps 3 months after our conversation, but I never forgot his kindness. A year ago I had the opportunity to buy a used SST Son of Ampzilla II from the Music Room, just after Underwood Wally no longer sold them (Wally is another super-nice guy who spent a lot of time with me).

I am hugely impressed with the sound of this amplifier. SST is made by Wyrd for Sound as I understand it, and thus provide repair. I am familiar with the house sound of Mac, and some of this sound is due to the use of autoformers in the output. But the Son of Ampzilla II is truly a giant killer, and I would think that the monoblock Ampzilla 2000 II’s to be even better!

@ghasley I actually seriously considering a new Pass Labs amp. My borrowed x150.5 sound great with my Mcintosh C1100 preamp (even better than the MC352 itself).

I am exploring the option of having a new x250.8 as my next amp. 

... By the way, none of the Pass Labs Preamp I came across can even come close to the C1100 Pre. But somehow, my Mcintosh Preamp paired very well with my borrowed Pass Labs Power Amp.

While I understand your affinity for your Mac preamp, I wonder if you have tried an ARC preamp IN YOUR ROOM.  It may not be for you, but if you have not tried one, I would give it a shot.  Try the newer ones or the older ones--be sure you stick to the tube versions.

Whatever you decide, enjoy the music!


Have purchased a couple of McIntosh integrated and power amps. Never stayed long as they are not my thing. We bit overhyped in my opinion.

Have never had the pleasure of the Ampzilla products, perhaps one day. 

Quite enamored with Norma Audio and my collection of European tube integrated amps.

@richopp I tried at least three different models of ARC preamp. Those ARC tend to have more resolution than the Mc Preamp, but always sounds thin and bass-shied ... Overall, ARC is more hi-fi than Mc, but will drive me out of the room sooner or later due to boredom. 

Hello, to the person who stated he was surprised his McIntosh worked with a Pass power amplifier. Why surprised? Does your McIntosh have unique colorations you believe are tailored for those of a McIntosh amplifier?


what makes you think the McIntosh gives a colored presentation?  Have you ever owned a Mac or is it just heresay?

I never said it did. Learn to understand what you read. Someone mentioned they were surprised their McIntosh preamplifier worked with their Pass power amplifier. I asked why.

Show me where I stated it was coloured.

Ampzilla 2000 was far superior to the X350.8 I tried in my system.

Another to try is prob SPL. 

@keithr too bad, I just cancelled my ampzilla order yesterday. I might go with pass labs based on every one recommendation. 

@richopp Do not get me wrong though. I ranked ARC Pre as second best after Mcintosh Preamp. The thinness makes them falls a little behind the Mc

@viethluu Got it.  I don't know your speakers or source gear very well, so not sure why the ARC stuff performed that way, but the good news is that YOU are happy with what you have.

In my shop, back in the day, we tried all the Mac stuff over the years, and while it was certainly built well, it did not perform as transparently on our basic system, which consisted of ARC components driving Magnepan products.

Anyway, this is why we sold 45 different brands of gear.  Customers have to love what they buy, and we did our best to make sure they were happy!