McINTOSH MT2

PW24.04.2018

Analog sources

The MT2 is an entry level turntable offering from McIntosh. Affordability is a very flexible word – in McIntosh’s jargon it equals the asking price of around 5.800€. The turntable is preset in the factory and equipped with all necessary accessories, including an excellent Sumiko Blue Point No.2 cartridge. The styling is a typical McIntosh, light, glass and art, the performance cools down the excitement a bit.

Function and form

98%
Ease of use
78%
Sound
88%
Appearance

The belt-driven MT2 arrives in a big carton box as if a hot-air oven was inside. It is carefully packed and contains even a pair of gloves – to make it play is a matter of ca 15 minutes and I have to applaud for its very well written assembly manual (something that is terribly missing with many renowned tables).
The chassis is a sandwich of lacquered MDF board and acrylic plates, the platter is a slab of acetal polymere (high-endurance plastic that is used for many applications including gears for drilling equipment or guitar picks) and rotates on a steel shaft in bronze bearings. The tonearm is dural-aluminum straight piece and the manual says that its ‘vertical bearings feature two precision ceramic surfaces with damping fluid, the horizontal bearing is a gimballed sapphire design’.

The McIntosh MT2 comes with a detachable 12V DC power supply, bubble level, stabilizing clamp, cartridge alignment paper sheet and a dust cover that protects the unit from damage rather than from dust as it is open on sides. You do not need to buy anything extra.

To make the unit blend with other McIntosh gear the platter is under-lit by mcintoshian green and the light spills through the transparent top plate. The operation is fully manual yet to change from 45 to 33rpm you do not need to move the belt manually – there is a knob to do the job. Located at the back there is also the possibility to fine-adjust the platter speed.

Bass management

Weight
77
Slam
74
Articulation
76

Although I hesitate to recommend the MT2 to any serious symphonic music audiophile I liked the McIntosh MT2 very much with rock recordings, like David Bowie’s Heathen (ISO Records/Sony, 180g vinyl). I Took A Trip on A Gemini Spaceship presented very tuneful bass with a nice balance between weight and punch. The turntable manages to create the analog aura of not sounding sterile and yet having rich and potent bass, mostly thanks to the excellent Sumiko Blue Point cartridge.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
80
Air
77
Transparency
73

To include the Sumiko Blue Point No.2 with the MT2 was a very wise – and deliberate – choice. The cartridge is very tolerant to phono preamplification, provided that loading capacitance is keep reasonably low. Be careful to use also short and low-capacitance cables if you want to max your listening enjoyment. Because Sumiko is a high-output MC cartridge it can connect to the MM input of the amplifier; I recommend to set the gain higher than usual – 48dB gave me the best results. Also I found that although the turntable was supposed to be factory preset the tracking force was set to 2g. Although it is the upper limit for the BP2, the sound was marginally better when I readjusted to 1.8g.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
83
Dynamics
76
Temporal resolution
76

The highs are smooth and open although the MT2 may not be the last word in dynamics the bluesy swings of The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions passed with flying colors. The all-stars ensemble gathered for Olympic Studios sessions feature Howlin’ Wolf on vocals, Eric Clapton and Hubert Sumlin on guitar, Steve Winwood on piano, Bill Wyman on bass and Charlie Watts on drums, plus other guest musicians. Stabs on piano had nice clarity and full tone, the guitar duels were warm and beautifully distorted. I missed better insight into textures of this wonderful recording and better sense of control – the music tended to get fuzzy in its complex parts; I suspect that this may be due to the vibration control of the rather standard McIntosh’s chassis. That’s exactly why I have some reservations towards using the MT2 for classical orchestras.

Spatial resolution

Holography
80
Soundstage width
78
Soundstage depth
82

It was interesting to compare McIntosh MT2 with Rega Planar RP 8 turntable. I had on hand a set of the Rega RP 8 equipped with very good Rega Apheta 2 moving coil cartridge, that retails at 3.200€ as a set. To keep the story short I preferred Rega that beat the McIntosh by big margin with superior dynamic punch, richer tonality and finer resolution, all this at a fraction of the cost of MT2.
I assume that McIntosh focuses on life-style fans of the brand rather than on audiophiles, which is a trend that is more and more pronounced in their catalogue. If you insist to have a McIntosh green lit logo at home then go for their amplifiers that are great but look for associated components elsewhere.

Price as reviewed:145 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

E.P. Audio, Dobřejovice u Prahy, +420 323 605 088

Associated components

  • Sources: TW-Acustic Raven One with Graham Phantom tonearm and Transfiguration Orpheus cartridge, Rega RP 8, Rega Apheta 2 cartridge
  • Amplifiers: Spectral DMA-150, phono Gruensch Reference Phonostage MCS
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: MIT MA, MIT MA-X XLR, MIT V2.1 Oracle, Stealth Audio Hyperphono, Van den Hul The D-102 III Hybrid
  • Loudspeakers: Wilson Audio Sasha W/P
  • Power conditioning: Furutech, Oyaide

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