[b]McIntosh MA2275 Integrated Valve Amplifier[/b]\n\nMcIntosh. \r\n\r\nYou know. \r\n\r\nThat obese American garbage that looks like a 70's Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and audiophiles smirk at. \r\n\r\nBig silver knobs. Blue VU Meters. Tone Controls. Geez they put the full roster of useless retro jewellry on McIntosh amps- must be a nostalgia trip marketed to those that know no better.\r\n\r\nSo if you believe in the minimalist theories spouted by the hedonistic British upstarts of the eighties, you can already discount this anachronism as B&O for those sad gits living in a time warp and still listening to the summer of love soundtrack.\r\n\r\nBut such an assumption would be your loss. Actually take the time to listen to this behemoth of a 75wpc valve amplifier, and you might well need to reassess much of what the HiFi press have told you over the last quarter of a Century.\r\n\r\nThe first shock is that it sounds totally unlike the stereotypical vintage valve amp. Indeed it is difficult to associate the sound coming from your speakers with valves until a female vocal comes along and moves you to tears. Bass is deep and powerful, without having the buttock clenching quality associated with many solid state power amps. The bottom end breathes in a natural way (something not possible with clenched buttocks in my experience). All the audiophool attributes are there in abundence. Huge soundstage depth, wonderful HF detail and extension, along with excellent low level resolution. \r\n\r\nIt's just that you don't care about such niceities. You are far too busy pulling out long archived recordings and devouring them with a passion you remember from your youth. Simply put, the Mac breathes life into everything you put though it. Music has more meaning and seems hardwired to the heart and foot at the same time. Yes! This antiquated American lump of metal times like Tim and has the abilty to follow rythmns and seperate musical strands that reminds me of my first LP12 based system back in the 80's.\r\n\r\nSo we have an amplifier that delivers the musical experience with alacrity. The fact that it includes a workable mm phono stage, tone controls, and a decent headphone socket, is simply the icing on the cake. The Big VU meters serve two purposes. Firstly they enable you to see before the amp clips. Secondly they look too cool for words. They are more than simply the faux walnut on the dash.\r\n\r\nDownsides? Well it isn't cheap. But then again it's an investment that should be looking and sounding the same in 30 years (give or take the odd valve swap!) The phono stage is adequate for occasional listeing, but those with substantial vinyl collections will still want to seek out an off board alternative. The remote is bulky and cheap for a unit of this cost but it does provide remote mono switching which can be fun.\r\n\r\nThis one's a keeper guys! Well unless I upgrade to a McIntosh pre/power. That will come as a shock to many. Merlin the mighty box swapper has met his match. I will not be bothering to look outside of the McIntosh catalogue for amplifiers in the near future. I'll be feeding this baby with as much new vinyl as I can afford.