McIntosh MHA200 Impressions
Mar 14, 2022 at 1:47 AM Post #781 of 888

tommyc

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I am going to reach out to McIntosh to see if I can get replacement tubes as well. Thanks for the reply.
So I am using my new MHA200 with my Empyreans. They sound amazing. However, without being fed an audio signal I can hear what seems to be faint static or feedback. When playing music with quieter passages it is evident as well.

Any one else experience this with this amp and their headphones? Any ideas as to what might be causing this?
I have the same thing happen to me. When I connect my EE Odin to the mha200, the right side has some electrical crackle noise, the left side has a faint "laser gun" type noise when the music is very faint or silent(Can't hear it with my maze elite thou). The problem completely went away after I replace the 12BH7A tubes with vintage tung-sol ones, now it's totally silent with any of my headphones.
 
Mar 15, 2022 at 8:03 PM Post #782 of 888

Lépine

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So I am using my new MHA200 with my Empyreans. They sound amazing. However, without being fed an audio signal I can hear what seems to be faint static or feedback. When playing music with quieter passages it is evident as well.

Any one else experience this with this amp and their headphones? Any ideas as to what might be causing this?
You should check all your cabling to make sure you are not picking up RFI. The amp and headphone cable pickup bluetooth, wifi, and cellphone noise (especially with navi apps running in the background). Stay away from WiFi routers.

I found after using Toslink, I have zero noise using the original stock tubes. By comparison, my HeadAmp GS-X Mini makes more background noise after changing to Toslink connections between the dac and PC, and eliminate as many stray power cords near the MHA200.
 
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Mar 16, 2022 at 11:00 AM Post #786 of 888

u2u2

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I'm thinking about getting a set of tubes until Russia becomes part of the real world. Suggestions?
Checked a few of the sellers I have dealt with and several are closed to online sales due to overwhelming demand and stock issues. Some are simply showing out of stock, and one has prices heading up over the moon... not a good time for buyers.
A fast search of this thread or perusal of some MHA200 reviews will point the way.
I have had very good fortune with Eletro Harmonix BHA127A, Mullard NOS CV4024 and Mullard NOS 6201 gold pins.
 
Mar 16, 2022 at 11:17 AM Post #787 of 888

Lépine

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I try to isolate any potential cable issues. I was not aware of some of these issues. Thank you for your incite and response.
Calling it an issue in my opinion is wrong. That would imply that McIntosh didn't know what they were doing and everyone else in the market does RFI shielding correctly. My opinion is that tube gear needs more care than solid state.

I don't think this is unique to the MHA200. Others more heavyly into tube equipment pointed this out to me, and when I moved my cellphone charger away from my MHA200, I noticed immediately a much quieter amp. I thought at first I had a bad batch of tubes, but the tubes were in fact picking up noise from my cellphone getting notification and text messages. Also, my XLR cables were picking up noise coming out of my DAC and going into the MHA200. A couple of core chokes and moving the power cables away from the XLR cables reduced the occasional waterfall hiss. I moved my MHA200 off of my desk ( you can see old photos I posted about this ). The reason was it was picking up noise from my bluetooth mouse or more correctly, my iem wires were acting as antenna for picking up bluetooth noise and the amp was somehow amplifying it. Larger headphone cables or less sensitive headphones, I haven't noticed anything that distracting.

Also to get faster internet speeds, I have a router extender on my desk (great for the computer). This is a bad idea for audio, I am adding a lot of usb and WiFi noise from my computer and router to my system. To get around this; for audio, I switched back to TOSLINK. I gave up some of the higher audio speeds, but really going back to 96Khz vs noise at 172Khz+ is an easy choice. This eliminated all the noise from my computer and router to the DAC. I use an older dap with toslink output for the conversion from usb to toslink. There's a few out there on ebay you can get relatively cheap Astell Kerns AK300 for example and it is plug and play. I don't know about the quality of the conversions for the $25 range TOSLINK adapters on Amazon if any are of any good.

Below is an example of how crowded my desk can get and you can also see I switched to TOSLINK. I normally have all these sources of noise further away from the tube amps to get rid of the RFI noise sources. I put them together in this photo to show what's a bad environment. I know this isn't normal and everyone has nice clean dedicated racks, but if you don't, you should clean up your cables and move RFI sources away. These will also sound like "Tube Noise". Hiss, static, popping, clicking, hum, etc.
 

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Mar 16, 2022 at 3:08 PM Post #788 of 888
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Soon as someone says the dumb volume or "unity gain" control is fixed... I'll buy one.

I refuse to use a preamp to fix the volume control linearity problem, My Spring 3 KTE DAC puts out plenty of power.
Refuse? I haven’t seen anyone try to force into getting one. Have I missed something??
 
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Mar 16, 2022 at 11:20 PM Post #789 of 888

Lépine

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Hi @TSAVJason, when can we expect the next generation MHA to come out? I just love the sound of the MHA200 so much I am eagerly awaiting the next generation.
 
Mar 17, 2022 at 2:41 AM Post #790 of 888

dw8083

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Refuse? I haven’t seen anyone try to force into getting one. Have I missed something??
McIntosh has said the dopey unity gain volume control shouldn't be used as a volume control; and a preamp is needed. SO yes, if a listener wants to control the volume they are forced to buy a preamp.

Silly that a $2400 headphone amp doesn't have a linear volume control, and the factory says the fix is to add a preamp. I'd buy a MHA-200 today if it had a properly working volume control.
 
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Mar 17, 2022 at 11:15 AM Post #792 of 888

Lépine

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I don’t have any issues with the volume control, I do twist the knob careful and gently, but that’s no problem at all for me.
I agree. With a source that has a relatively normal line out output level, the volume knob range of 11:00 to 1:00 is really not bad. Annoying right near 12:00 because of the detent, but you don't really need to be the "safe cracker" to operate it. If you source can lower it's line out output level, then of course your MHA200 volume knob usable range increases.

My personal preference is to set my volume knob at 1:00 where I think it sounds more dynamic than at 12:00 and use the variable output from my source. I have tried a few headphone amps and even compared to the headphone jacks straight out of the HugoTT2. The musical performance of the MHA200 is much more dynamic, clearer, bigger sound stage, more holographic. Basically the difference between a believable performance vs. yeah its a great rendition of the performance, but it ain't the real thing.


McIntosh has said the dopey unity gain volume control shouldn't be used as a volume control; and a preamp is needed. SO yes, if a listener wants to control the volume they are forced to buy a preamp.

Silly that a $2400 headphone amp doesn't have a linear volume control, and the factory says the fix is to add a preamp. I'd buy a MHA-200 today if it had a properly working volume control.
I think as audiophiles, we are chasing the sound and in some cases putting up with some craziness. Come on bare motherboard Raspberry Pi DYI computer running Linux software version of audio players with hand assembled opamps amps with garden hose size electrical cords? That's pretty extreme.

$2500 for a McIntosh, to me that is less than half the normal entry price to get into a McIntosh. I am willing to put up with a lot of quirks to hear something that sounds better than the MHA100/150 with everything "correct" at half the price. The way I view it, I have budget for adding a $2500 preamp of my choice or nothing at all if I don't really need it.

No disrespect for HeadAmp, but you can keep my GS-X Mini, it's not connected to anything. I listen to it only once in a while. I listen at least two hours a day to my MHA200. To get the HeadAmp to sound close to the MHA200, it needs to be left on almost overnight and set to high gain which is too noisy for my taste.
 
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Mar 17, 2022 at 11:22 AM Post #793 of 888

dw8083

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I don’t have any issues with the volume control, I do twist the knob careful and gently, but that’s no problem at all for me.
Some people have decided to just live with it, while others find it unacceptable 80% of the volume adjustment is within 20% of a range.

It's a flaw and the factory agrees that it's not a viable volume control.

Many of us headphone users like fine adjustments for volume. Many have seen others resort to placing non-hardening putty ball against the "volume" knob to keep a small nudge from damaging their ears from a sudden 10-15db jump in volume.

$2500 for a McIntosh, to me that is less than half the normal entry price to get into a McIntosh. I am willing to put up with a lot of quirks to hear something that sounds better than the MHA100/150 with everything "correct" at half the price. The way I view it, I have budget for adding a $2500 preamp of my choice or nothing at all if I don't really need it.
Using Lepine's comment as a basis, not directed at Lepine. Because it's McIntosh, people are willing to tolerate something which would be unacceptable on another product. Some kind of brand hypnosis.

Lets demand McIntosh do better. They don't care unless we the customer base does.
 
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Mar 17, 2022 at 1:17 PM Post #794 of 888

u2u2

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Lets demand McIntosh do better. They don't care unless we the customer base does.
Problem is the typical wait for McIntosh gear in my area is two months and then you feel lucky to even receive it!
They can't meet the demand of their customers as is, given market conditions.
When you can sell everything you are capable of making, niche users, like here, have minimal influence.
Last summer they were having trouble sourcing tubes for warranty and new products. Wonder where things are headed now and what influence the "customer base", as you may define it, has?
Not trying to defend McIntosh decisions but it seems they know their market more than well enough. Some of us simply aren't it.
 
Mar 17, 2022 at 1:29 PM Post #795 of 888

dw8083

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Problem is the typical wait for McIntosh gear in my area is two months and then you feel lucky to even receive it!
They can't meet the demand of their customers as is, given market conditions.
When you can sell everything you are capable of making, niche users, like here, have minimal influence.
Last summer they were having trouble sourcing tubes for warranty and new products. Wonder where things are headed now and what influence the "customer base", as you may define it, has?
Not trying to defend McIntosh decisions but it seems they know their market more than well enough. Some of us simply aren't it.
I agree with you. No reason for them to care, but they should.

In the end it doesn’t speak well for them. The first batch they released had the same volume control problem but it was mechanically wobbly as well. The remedy was to suggest customers put a felt pad underneath the knob to keep it from tilting. At least they fixed that aspect of the issue.
 

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