Friday was an R & B guitar music listening day while I was testing the new McIntosh MC462 with the songs served up by the dCS Rossini DAC Streamer, CD Player and sort of, Pre-amp… , lest we not leave out, the Wilson Audio “Yvette” speakers.
If you’ve never been an avid Stevie Ray Vaughn listener, your life isn’t over yet 🙂 But he sure seems to trickle into a lot of artists lives, you’ll see in the names below.
These two artist choices today are overwhelmingly talented singer/guitar musicians (with the bands that light them up), who undoubtedly allowed Stevie Ray Vaughn (and of course other amazing artists) to influence their styles to be, namely, Joe Bonamassa (Thank You Scott for the Joe exposure) and Zac Harmon. Two different styles, one born in New Hartford, New York and the other Jackson, Mississippi, but man, do they both appeal to one if craving some intense Rock Rhythm & Blues guitar.
I’m jumping around in my thoughts today, but I’m in a great mood, I have an awesome selection of music to hear, Incredible high end gear to hear, and I am curious to see how this Mac 462 stacks up against the Momentum Integrated Amp. (I may have to lean toward a part two on this comparison)
So, today is another play & test day here at Audible Images AV, where Ed, my boss says why don’t you test drive the new McIntosh MC 462? (See the excellent writeup of the July 2, 2018 debut of the new Mac MC462 at The Absolute Sound Magazine writeup here.) And then Ed suggested, “How about using the dCS Rossini as your Pre-amp and Source?” Now I think Ed was just as curious as I was how the two would pair up as they would sing thru the Wilson Audio “Yvette” speakers. So Ed started in disabling the Dan D’Agostino Integrated Amp, so we could bring the dCS Rossini Streamer over to the new powerhouse Mac for streaming media delivery and DAC services. The really cool thing, is the dCS Rossini serves as not only as a source for the McIntosh MC462 (see the product here), but it also serves up enough voltage to negate the need for the preamp. (normally we’d let the McIntosh C2600 vacuum tube preamp be part of the show) The dCS Rossini software is really nice, just grab the iPad and you can just go right into the Output setting, change it from 2 Volts (normal for going into a preamp) to 6 volts, and now you have a Rossini preamp so to speak.
So we got the Mac and Rossini together, then the Mac plugged into the Yvettes with our new Transparent Ultra speaker cables and interconnects, and We / I were ready for a test run.
I actually have no idea how I came upon Zac Harmon, but when I did, I then thought about Joe Bonamassa and decided these two would be the menu for the day. (I was curious to check him out because a customer of ours really enjoys Joe Bonamassa’s music). In fact, both Scott and Ed went to the Joe Bonamassa concert here in Melbourne at our own King Center and were both blown away with just how good the show was. A slight tangent here, but if you’re an Audiophile, invest a few minutes to watch a video of friend & special customer Scott Hurley talk about Ed’s passion for this stuff, also how Ed enjoys tweaking your System, long after it’s installed in your home and also how he enjoys just talking Audiophilia if you want to drop by the showroom to ask a question or chat. So back to our new Mac test run…
The concert YouTube video below, is a blues song that really depicts the talent of Joe Bonamassa as a Singer & Guitarist, now the words to the song are actually great to get your wife thinking about tonight’s dinner in a left field what’s my husband thinking kinda way. It’s a version of the song off the album “It’s a New Day Yesterday” that I listened to by Joe.
Joe Bonamassa : If Heartaches Were Nickels - LIVE at the Beacon Theatre - around 2013
Now, technically, going from the D’Agostino Integrated Amplifier ($45,000) with the dCS Rossini/DAC/Streamer/Player ($28,000) to the Mac MC462 (at $9000) with the Rossini (used as a preamp and a streamer/dac) would seem to make for a dramatic step down in audio quality. To the contrary. Now with both setups, the Wilson Audio “Yvettes” ($25,500) were the speakers.
Tangent here: Start with this scenario because you want your wife to enjoy music and your system as much as you. Let’s say you just walked in the door after work and had a great day, and want some really upbeat music to celebrate;
And let’s also say you just made your Wife or Better half smile big, with a nice little surprise for her. You say, “after some great music honey, let’s go out to dinner.” Plus, you knew her ADPI Sorority (or whichever one she was in) reunion was coming up in 3 months and she only brought it up to you once a week or so ago, as she wanted to get your opinion on her going going out of state for 3 days with 25 Sorority Sisters for the first time in 20 years, and you decided to give her a nice dinner out tonight so she can talk about things. You just now told her that the reunion is a great idea, and you encourage her to talk about what it will be like, sharing the memories with her sisters over dinner. So right now, you’d like to spend 20 minutes with your Happy Wife, jamming to 3 or 4 R&B songs because of your great mood . Now, comes the major Sacrifice… you say, Honey, would you like to sit in the “Sweet Spot” center chair?
And you start it off with Joe Bonamassa – “If Heartaches Were Nickels” – LIVE at the Beacon Theatre”. And she is mesmerized the incredible sound of Joe’s guitar, his singing on that McIntosh MC462 system that you are so happy you have…
And back to my story, here is what I heard from Joe:
Joe’s voice comes across with his deep Resonance texture voice that literally has that glorious magic to fill a large concert hall with sound even without electronic amplification. His tone comes through his mouth, throat, nasal passages and possibly his shoes. … okay not, but he does command a crowd. Now the album says Gregg Allman does vocals, but they are very sub-dued if he does. Because Joe is the one I hear coming across in the album, much like when you see him on stage in the different venue video recording I shared above.
The saxophone that sneaks in from the right side of the sound stage is very subtle, the timbre is actually subdued a bit, but the composition of the entire piece is certainly high-lighted by that short set of notes by the Sax, especially just before the halfway point of the song.
But Joe’s guitar, speaks most of the emotions for the song. You can feel that bit of Chicago blues influence coming thru to the New Yorker Joe.
It’s interesting that Gregg Allman is on the album, because what I actually feel in the “If Heartaches were Nickels” song, is Duane Allman’s style with slow relaxed tempo and cadence (very bluesey) w Boz Scaggs singing my favorite blues song of all time “Loan Me a Dime” on the “Anthology” album.
Now we jump over to Zac Harmon. Here are the 2 songs that pulled me in quick. “Feet Back on the Ground”, a slow blues song that alone could launch a musician into his career. The guitar had such a depth and range of detail that seemed to continue the decay of his notes as if you were 5 seats back from the stage. This is not a song nor a system, that your other half sitting in the sweet spot would ever ask you to turn the music down. It just sounds too good. This is the beauty of well matched & chosen high end pieces. You are actually there, at the concert. Or in this case a studio recording that has Zac’s guitar etched so crisp and clear and engaging, you’re almost ready to buy tickets to his next show even if it was back in Iraq when he played for US soldiers back in 2008. (something that made me smile for the Troops) Though, this amazing album was recorded in 2015, his talent was I’m sure powerful in 2008 overseas 🙂
“Ain’t No Big Deal on You” – Zac Harmon, same album as Feet Back on the Ground (“Right Man Right Now” is the album), might get both of you (back to You and your wife) off the listening chairs, to step into the sound stage, and see if you still have some dance chemistry stirring in you. Oh, and the keyboards, they accompany Zac’s persistent all around guitar jamming.
Well, afterwards, Ed mentioned to me that listening to two new albums, totally different music, on a “New System” can really confuse your objectivity in your Audio Equipment analysis. So I ask myself, did this great music confuse or distort my expectations? Am I actually saying to myself, that the MC462 and the Rossini are superior to the D’Agostino Integrated Amp & Rossini?
Like that little voice jumped up on my shoulder (like in Animal House) asking, Have you been Deceived? How can $37 K possibly stack up against $73 K? Did the Mac get along better with the dSC and the Wilson Yvettes?
So I knew it was time to go back to my well ingrained into my head from Ed, those standard parameters, of frequency response defining, nuance defining songs that have proven tried and true in detecting imperfections or excellence. “Fade to Black” by Dire Straits, “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” by Bela Fleck, “Mose Allison Played Here” by Greg Brown, and I also went back to “Affirmation” by George Benson and Norah Jones “Come Away with Me”.
The highs and mid-range detail were so good, and plenty, plenty of base range.
Do we need to go back to Dan D’Agostino Momentum Integrated with the Rossini to determine a final conclusion?
I think so.
Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA
Key terms and items related to this post:
Dan D’Agostino Progression monobloc amplifiers electronics, D’Agostino authorized dealer, McIntosh MT5 2 channel turntable, Momentum Preamplifier, dSC Vivaldi, dSC Network Bridge. Ultra high end 2 channel stereo systems designed & installed, in addition to High End Home Theater Systems. Roon authorized dealer and Roon Nucleus Server which is on our showroom floor. Wilson Audio dealer, with Alexx Speakers, Sabrina and Yvette on our showroom floor.