The townhouse is spectacular all on its own and is used beyond the McIntosh Group for private events; the artwork and audio gear are permanent fixtures.
The street entrance with a reception desk, reveals a view into the 8-foot-deep pool located one level up.
The pool area has been used as an art gallery including a resident artist who painted for 10 days; his canvases adorn the pool walls.
The third level up is the massive space for living, by my calculations the volume is easily 40,000 cubic feet, and if you’re McIntosh, for filling with your gear.
A smaller “cozier” space for relaxing still offers a music space and a view of Petrosino Park across the street.
The next level includes bedrooms converted to offices and yet another decent sized listening room, currently housing audio gear from Audio Research and Sonus Faber speakers, more on that later. The top floor is yet another large living space with access to an outdoor landscaped deck, priceless in NYC.
Evidence of the collaboration between McIntosh and Sonus Faber is everywhere including on display, the limited-built sf16 table top speaker, processor introduced around mid-2016. What you “see” is Sonus Faber, what you don’t see internally is McIntosh.
The McIntosh Group has taken residence in this multi-level space since 2015. On the heels of their “best year ever”, which says a lot for a company begun in 1949, “Mac” introduced their new line of gear along with an eye-opening monstrous speaker, the 12th speaker McIntosh has produced, the XRT2.1K.
The two-day event however also included the reinvention of the Aida speaker from Sonus Faber. For those not following, the McIntosh Group is now several companies that try and keep autonomy from each other while sharing design and technology. The group consists of obviously McIntosh, still based out of Binghamton, NY along with Wadia Digital, the Vicenza-based Italian Sonus Faber, Audio Research out of Minneapolis and Sumiko, known for their phono cartridges and Pro-ject, turntables and audio components.
Although lured by the prospect of seeing and hearing the remarkable project known as the McIntosh XRT2.1K Loudspeaker, we were treated to some new audio components. Included was a hefty new portable player, the MHA 50 with a 32-bit DAC, supporting 32 bit/192kHz hi-res files including all the DSD iterations. Bluetooth and aptX support as well. Giving the presentation was longtime Product Manager for McIntosh, Ron Cornelius.
If you need an excuse to buy your first Mac product, I suggest the very beautiful, retro-styled MA252 Integrated hybrid amplifier. The preamplifier section uses 2-12AX7a and 2-12AT7 vacuum tubes, LED lit from below that glow Mac green and turn yellow when turned on and glow red when over loaded. With just a few inputs, balanced and unbalanced along with an MM phono stage, for most, this may be their first foray into McIntosh for about $3,500.
There is no audiophile who wouldn’t want McIntosh monoblocks, the new MC1.25KW weighing 152 pounds, produces 1,200 watts with a listed distortion of 0.005%, the most powerful McIntosh has ever produced. Styled with the XRT2.1K speaker in mind, (also designed to handle 1,200 watts) the Quad balanced amplifier includes the proprietary Autoformer™ technology. The heat sinks are extruded monogrammed with the “Mc” logo, unmistakable McIntosh in heft, style and design.
But we were here for the literal unveiling of the 350 pound+ XRT2.1K speaker, better thought as a speaker system.
Italian designed and built, McIntosh is upgrading the XRT2K with a new line array speaker. McIntosh has coveted the principle that an array will produce an even dispersion, at any distance and any angle. At 7 feet tall, this speaker is a dominant element, in any space.
The extraordinary industrial design is credited to Livio Cucuzza, Livio talked about his influence from modern skyscrapers from the speaker silhouette to the front baffle attachment, like a glass curtainwall.
Chief Industrial Designer while the Acoustic design is from Paolo Tezzon, Chief of R&D.
The speaker is striking; 7 layers of gloss black paint, aluminum trim and supports that mimic McIntosh gear, ported 6-8” woofers, 2-6.5” mid-range drivers, 45-3/4” aluminum-magnesium dome tweeters.
Rated for 2,000 watts power rating and 8 ohms nominal impedance.
The beautiful baseplate has the traditional McIntosh black glass with machined aluminum structure and the McIntosh logo lit.
Naturally the question is, how does it sound – big, powerful and broad! Playing only digital files, the demonstration exposed not only the heft and weight to the music but the nuances present. The speaker is not for everyone aside form the cost at about $130,000 for a pair, this speaker would dominate any space. I’m going to hold my breath for a smaller version, that’s my guess at this point, no confirmation or rumor intended.
The heritage of this company from Vicenza finds inspiration from a local legendary instrument maker, Antonio Stradivarius located not far in Cremona, Italy, both in philosophy and in style and design: The cabinetry, craftsmanship, functionality, design and technology all guiding principles to the soul of this company.
Aida sketch from Livio Cucuzza
Paolo Tezzon, Chief of R&D decided it was time to update the Aida from 2011, however maintaining the current design and styling. The speaker stands 5.5 feet tall and weighs over 360 pounds. The “skin” includes the beautiful side panels in a “lute” shape, meaning double curved.
The slogan for the speaker is “limitless immersion” and Aida is of course named after a Verdi opera. Paolo refers to the design as 3 and 2/3 way, nor sure what exactly he meant frankly. The speaker being so large and tall, the design incorporates a “Tuned Mass Damper”, very much like a tall building that sways in the wind, thus removing vibration transmissions from the listening environment.
All new drivers however are the core changes with a Neodymium motor system. The tweeter is their “arrow point” 28 mm, while the mid-range is the Sonus Faber M18 XTR-04, 180 mm driver. The woofers are a pair of 220 mm, individually chambered and the infra woofer is a 320 mm. Sound Field Shaper Technology allows the user to customize their rear-mounted drivers and controls to their own taste or balance.
The proof most certainly was in the pudding, for these speakers sounded stunning! My notes included words like: Emotional and excellent black levels. Clarity and smooth tones, Dynamic, amazing subtle nuances. What struck me most was how I felt these speakers would never fatigue me, I’m certain I could listen for hours. Aida can grip you and engage you with the music. I was overwhelmed by the sound.
A bit must be said about the gear driving the demonstration from Audio Research anchored by their Reference CD player, the REF 6 preamplifier and Reference 250 SE monoblock power amplifiers.
All in all, it was a great couple of mornings at WOM, I plan to go back as often as I can, or that they would allow. Our hosts included the affable President of McIntosh, Charley Randall centered in the picture. Thanks to all involved who made everyone feel welcomed, fed and entertained.
WOM Event, McIntosh Introduced the replacement for their XRT2k speaker with the XRT2.1k. Extraordinary design and engineering.
At the WOM, World of McIntosh, heard the astounding new Sonus Faber Aida speaker. Giving some kudos to Audio Research for the gear.