The company behind the speakers
At this price level, such speakers are a near statement product from a company known for its statement products; fine performance is an expectation. McIntosh Laboratory, Inc. is one of the venerable heavy weights of the high fidelity audio world and has earned an enviable reputation and name recognition, particularly for producing quality high-end amplifiers.
McIntosh Laboratory began as McIntosh and Ingles Consulting, a radio station and sound system design consultancy, by Frank McIntosh in Washington D.C. in 1942. Poor quality of the amplifiers available at the time lead Frank to build his own amplifiers; typical designs of the time were high distortion at low power and few even met published specifications. In 1947, the firm was renamed McIntosh Scientific Laboratory, and by 1949, the company was incorporated as McIntosh Engineering Laboratory. McIntosh's first foray into loudspeaker design occurred as far back as 1952 with the F100 speaker. Only about five units sold and the line was discontinued until 1967 when McIntosh hired Roger Russell to develop a speaker line; by 1970, the McIntosh ML-1C loudspeaker was in production.
The XLS 340 loudspeakers are among the latest products offered by McIntosh. According to McIntosh, XLS product line is intended for both home theater and stereo applications with accurate reproduction as a primary design goal. At this price level, such speakers are a near statement product from a company known for its statement products; fine performance is an expectation. In the review of such products, one must keep in mind that sonic subtleties and nuance become disproportionately important to describe differences in products that are at the top level of performance.