McIntosh C22 (old & new) vs C2600

I'm trying to decide between buying an old school C20/C22 preamp versus a modern C22 or C2600. I've never owned McIntosh before, but just bought a mint condition MC225 power amp and I'm looking for a nice preamp to use with it. I've heard it's best to stick with point to point wiring (though I don't know why sonically) it just seems like perhaps the best signal path? I think the new models incorporate printed circuit boards so I'm not sure what that does (if anything) to the sound produced. Can anyone who's actually owned or owns these models give me some advice on why I should choose one or the other and what the benefits might be to use an older model versus updated technology. My primary use will be vinyl and CD. Or maybe offer up other preamps as well, though 6k price range is about the limit. 



Seems to be your first post..welcome?

Will you be using the DAC in the C2600 and will you be using an external phono stage?

I had an excellent experience with the C2600. Used the phono stage as well as the DAC.  I encourage you to give it a listen.

There’s a lot of other good options but for me the C2600 rekindled my music listening. I have Moon by Simaudio gear and if you get a chance to hear it you may see what I mean by there’s a lot of good options. 

enjoy the journey 

I purchased a C20 and had audio classics restore to spec. It is excellent and in many ways I prefer it over modern solid state. I cannot personally compare to modern tube, though, aside from an icon audio integrated I own that doesn’t get much playing time. I’ll say this, with most speakers, especially horns, I prefer my C20 paired with Marantz 8B over a McIntosh C53 with MC462. This has led me to think highly of vintage tubes.

My Mc225 amps pair best with the C50. The synergy is undeniable in my system. Going on10 years now. Have not had a chance to hear the C53 yet.

I’ve had a c2500 about 5 years with a Mc 275 tube amp. New Harbeth 40.3 speakers. Couldn’t be happier with the 2500. Great sound and the tuning options are all there. 

I have owned a C220 for about 12 years and I love it.  I did roll the tubes to some Millard reissues.  Sounds great.  I think the 2600 is similar to the C220, plus meters and a better phono section.

You cannot go wrong with the 2600. I had one for a few years and sold it for what I paid for it to get the 2700. No reason for the upgrade, just want too.

I love my C2600.  It has more inputs than I can ever use and sounds great with everything.  Besides, it’s beautiful just sitting on the shelf. I’m a sucker for those green lit tubes too!

What I find really cool is the 2600’s built-in DAC with modern circuitry.  So I was able to buy an old Macintosh MVP-851 CD player (design matching the 2600, btw) outputting through the player’s coax digital out into one of the C2600’s digital inputs. This avoids the player’s dated DAC and essentially uses it as a transport.  Anyhow, the audio quality is superb.

The C2200 and C2300 would offer better value than the C2600, and both aren’t burdened with the McIntosh DAC modules, which are easily bettered by external units of modest cost. A C2300 would come in under budget and allow for other system upgrades. Newer is not always better.

If you’re eager to spend your whole budget, than the C22 Mk V would get my vote. That will likely become collectors item in the future.

BTW, if you go for a used or demo unit, or there aren't any McIntosh dealers near you, check out Audio Classics.  I got my used C220 there.  Ryan has provided stellar support and service over the years since then.

Thanks for everyone's input and comments. I'm not sure I see how to respond to each person individually. I think I'm still leaning toward an NOS C22 or maybe the new C22 MKV. It states that it's all analog, but I'm sure it has some type of circuit board to control the remote and led tube lamps etc... maybe it's just not in the direct signal path. 

FWIW, there are two modern innovations in newer Macs that I think are a big plus. First is the sealed, gas filled control knobs. This prevents dirt from degrading performance over time. Second is LED lighting, which eliminates the need to replace burnt out bulbs for a much longer time, probably longer than most of us will be around, I bet. Yes, point to point wiring has its fans, but in terms of actual performance, I am unconvinced of its universal superiority.