Benchmark or McIntosh....

Brain says two Benchmark ABH2 as monoblocks. Heart says Mc because meters and more power. A little background info:

Mixed-use theater/listening room. More listening versus movies. Primary source is a Hifi Rose RS150B into an Anthem AVM 70 pre/pro. Current amplifier is a Wadia A315 at 150x2. Speakers are NHT M6 monitors (a 6 ohm/ 250w sealed speaker, which is exceedingly rare and why I still have them.) I have seven 21" subwoofers so it is fairly equivalent to a live concert when everything is fired up but I need a little more oomph from the monitors.

I was set on a pair ABH2s earlier this week, but I keep getting drawn back to McIntosh - primarily monos MC601 MC611 MC1201 etc...

Do I pick Mc with more power (will probably be a second-hand model due to availability/wait times/budget etc) or so I go for the Benchmark with superior SNR (pre/pro is 110db and Hifi Rose is 117db)

TIA for any real-world feedback!



I agree 100% with @panzrwagn, replacing your main speakers with the JBL 4367's will be a bigger improvement in sound quality then the subwoofers or amps.  Let us know what you decide. Mike

See articles below re subwoofer integration:


@ditusa Going with McIntosh monoblocs for now. I think it ticks a few boxes for me and as others suggested, I can unload them if the fit isn't right. It does feel a little surreal - after years of seeing/dreaming about McIntosh gear, I'm finally a McIntosh owner. I hope my expectations are not let down. 

@ditusa I've seen his videos before, the first youtube link definitely. Sharp dude for sure. 

I agree with @soix  The room looks like a joke. I guess it might be a good home theater situation. But serious music listening? Nah. With that in mind, just get the cheapest, most powerful amplifier you can find. It will be perfectly fine for explosions and Dino stomps.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but sometimes tough love is what’s needed.

@ozzy62 thanks for your feedback.  You missed the part where I said that picture is from AGES ago.  Everything has been switched over to Power Sound Audio subs. You should not so hastily write off the 21. Very musical.  Will measure flat up past 1000-2000hz, not that one would normally cross over that high,  but it shows the capability and background of the driver. I guess I'll go update the pic. 

That pic was so outdated that the only component remaining is the CD player and the Salamander stand. 

Love my Benchmark amps, they are vertically bi-amped to my 20.1 Maggie’s and play concert levels in my home with crazy lifelike detail. I only have 4 subs but it sounds wonderful. I don’t think you could go wrong with Benchmark. . . 

- Steve

Room and components are still indicative of home theater. When you try to do both in one room, compromises will be made. And you have obviously compromised music for movies. No problem with that as long as you are ok with it.

I never owned Mac's or Benchmarks. It seems to me that the whole purpose of this room is for home theater.. Wouldn't the meters from the Mac's be a distraction while watching a movie...

I never owned Mac's or Benchmarks. It seems to me that the whole purpose of this room is for home theater.. Wouldn't the meters from the Mac's be a distraction while watching a movie...

75 percent music/ 25 percent movies.  But everything in this game is a compromise. Nothing wrong with some hybrid action. 

For a system geared more towards music, I would choose different speakers, electronics and speaker placement. But at least you are a good sport about all this.

I had two Benchmarks in my system for a while but just did not get along with them. They did not sound as refined as I prefer in the treble and were extremely midrange forward because they had such a dynamic range.  The midrange content like horns and vocals were so high in volume level that the system had to be turned up quite loudly to get good bass.  

I tried several other amps like Parasound JC5 and Pass Labs XA25 and 30.8 but settled in on a new McIntosh MC 312.  

The Mac sounds specracular in my system, excellent clear midrange and the highest level of treble refinement.  The newer Macs have plenty of detail.  

To the op, I am very familiar with the NHT monitors ( with the B6 bass modules ). If you are looking to move some air ( more oomph ) out of the monitors, you need to upgrade them. I will not comment on the room, as you say, the photo is outdated. I am not a Mc fan, as I prefer the presentation of dc coupled, class A designs, and I have some experience with the Benchmark amps ( the LA4 preamp is the star of their show, imo ), but I believe, you will come to realize the NHT monitors will be the weak link, and need to be changed. If you want to discuss what to change to, I am sure you will get many opinions, some stated here. I have my own thoughts on the subject. Good luck, and Enjoy ! MrD.


I have never heard the Benchmark amps, but what you describe is exactly what their preamp sounds like.

Just picked up the MC601 monos yesterday. I might be able to listen to them later tonight. 

@mrdecibel The B6 modules are currently removed from the system (and for sale!) The photo is now current, I deleted the old one with the "sub array" Currently, it's the M6 monitor on an IsoAcoustics Aperta stand which is on top of a single sealed 21" sub.

Looked at some options...just going to have to deal with the fact that the mains are going to have to be ported,

Good luck!

I think based on your choices I'd go with McIntosh.  I've owned them and they are fun to listen to and with the mixed use I think they'd shine.

@overthemoon I did get a chance to listen. They are 

definitely not in your face. Laid back, detailed, and musical. Rolled off for sure. As others said, easy to listen to. I will have to do some room measurements/ correction before I make a final verdict. They look absolutely gorgeous though!

Why not go for biamping using the mac mc901 monos.

They have the MC 611 monos and the mc 2301 monos combined. That’s the ideal world in my view.

@emergingsoul The monitors themselves are not bi-ampable. With the bass modules attached, they would be. Also, $38,000 for a pair of mc901s versus $6400 for the pair of the MC601s

Holy crap those are big subwoofers you have and you have two of them.

How did you make a decision to buy such huge monsters for this room? I have a subwoofer that's 12 inches in a comparable sized room and it is set at 20% volume and still very very dramatic.

@emergingsoul The Paradigms I had were all mis-matched (see previous comments in this thread about the room looking bad) so I upgraded to 18" PSA subs. I was having some noise issues during certain parts of songs so I decided to try their new(ish) 21. I like the 21 more versus the 18s, so I ended up with the two up front and one in the rear. The sidewalls have a dual-opposed 21 on each side. It works well since I don't have to push them hard to get decent output in the room so it keeps the distortion low, which is the goal. Also, the McIntosh is dead quiet. The Wadia had a little noise if you got very close to the monitor. With the Mac, nothing but silence. 

Switched the speaker outputs from the 4ohm to 8ohm (speakers are 6ohm.) Completely changed the sound of the amp (in a good way) MUCH more to my liking now. Absolutely wild.

I have never heard the Benchmark amps, but what you describe is exactly what their preamp sounds like.

I’ve owned both the amp and preamp and currently still have the preamp. That’s not really the case at all if the LA4 preamp is matched to a synergistic amp. It will reveal weaknesses upstream though, and unlike many FET and tube preamps on the market, it won’t compensate for a lean or unrefined source.

The AHB2s, OTOH, do indeed sound less refined than some designs but that’s really because most A/AB amps produce enough 2nd and 3rd order harmonics to give them a sort of false refinement. But when paired with the right speakers and sources this isn’t really an issue.