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McIntosh XRT1.1K ‘Mini-Flagship’ Loudspeaker Overview

By Jacob Green
McIntosh XRT1.1K ‘Mini-Flagship’ Loudspeaker

McIntosh XRT1.1K ‘Mini-Flagship’ Loudspeaker

Summary

  • Product Name: XRT1.1K ‘Mini-Flagship’ Loudspeaker
  • Manufacturer: McIntosh
  • Review Date: February 03, 2019 20:00
  • MSRP: $60,000/pr
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now
  • 4-way tower speaker
  • Impedance: 8 Ω nominal
  • Sensitivity: 89 dB
  • Frequency Response: 16Hz - 45kHz
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 21.22” x 70.72” x 21.22”
  • Weight: 181 lbs

Executive Overview

McIntosh has been going all out for the last year or so, introducing new flagship products across several categories — from massive, 1,250-watt solid-state monoblocks to an entirely new tubed preamp and power amp combo system designed to celebrate the brand’s 70th anniversary in 2019. (I hope to investigate the $22,000 70th Anniversary Limited Edition Commemorative System further when it reaches my local showroom.) At the end of 2017, the company unveiled a new flagship loudspeaker, the XRT2.1K. These colossal, 7-foot-tall towers contain 81 drivers per side, weigh over 350 pounds each, and sell for a gut-punching $130,000 per pair. Now McIntosh is following up with a somewhat scaled-down speaker called the XRT1.1K, which delivers the same technologies as its larger sibling but in a smaller (or, perhaps I should say, less enormous) and less expensive package.

McIntosh describes the XRT1.1K as “more accessibly sized” than the XRT2.1K. The 1.1K stands 14 inches shorter than the 2.1K, and weighs in 173 pounds lighter. It’s still no featherweight, but McIntosh devotees with less-than-cavernous listening rooms will have an easier time achieving good results with the smaller speaker. At $60,000 per pair, the 1.1K is also less than half the price of the 2.1K, so well-heeled audiophiles who opt for the 1.1K can still send at least one of the kids to college. Like the 2.1K, the 1.1K is a ported, four-way system that uses a line array which according to McIntosh “yield(s) an even and wide sound field, producing exceptional stereo imaging in nearly all listening positions”. The line array in the 1.1K comprises 64 aluminum-magnesium domes: 24 (2-inch) upper-midrange drivers, and 40 (0.75-inch) tweeters. I have only heard McIntosh’s line array speakers in audio show conditions, but I can tell you that they sound big — titanically big. The line array is suspended in its own column in front of a large ported bass enclosure containing six (6.5-inch) drivers, four of which function as woofers, with the remaining two performing lower-midrange duties. These cones are made from a nanocarbon fiber and Nomex honeycomb material designed to be both lightweight and stiff, delivering bass extension down to 16 Hz. If you’ve lost count of the drivers, I won’t blame you; there are 70 drivers total in each XRT1.1K loudspeaker. All of the drivers were originally designed for the XRT2.1K (which also contains larger 8-inch woofers not found on the 1.1K).

McIntosh says that the line array allows the 1.1K to sound amazing whether the listener is situated close to or farther back from the speakers, since not all of the drivers are aligned on the same axis. Nearfield listeners will only be on axis to some of the drivers, and therefore won’t be overwhelmed. Farther back, listeners will be on axis to more drivers, so the perceived sound level and quality should remain constant. The four-way crossover network employs capacitors and inductors with low loss and high current capacity, and the inductors were specially chosen for their high linearity at high power levels. McIntosh claims that these critical parts result in reduced distortion across the audio band, and an even frequency response from top to bottom. The fuses used in the crossover network are self-resetting, high current PTC type fuses, chosen to provide the drivers with an extra measure of protection.

McIntosh XRT1.1K close-up

 

Sounds Good Just Looking At It?

As you would expect from McIntosh, XRT1.1K makes a bold visual statement. Without the magnetic cloth grilles in place, the line array looks daunting, almost dizzying. But with the grilles, the towers have a stately if somewhat monolithic appearance, with seven layers of high-gloss piano black paint and aluminum trim on the bass cabinet. The line array is connected to the cabinet via steel “spiders,” which McIntosh says are inspired by modern skyscraper construction. Around back, you’ll find three sets of gold-plated binding posts, allowing for tri-amping or tri-wiring. The speaker rests on a machined aluminum and glass base plate with an illuminated McIntosh logo. In order for the illumination to work, you’ll need to connect the speakers to a McIntosh amplifier, preamplifier, or integrated amplifier that uses the brand’s Power Control technology. That’s probably not a problem, since most customers who take home a pair of XRT1.1K speakers will likely have a whole rack of McIntosh gear waiting to make the most of them.

Will the XRT1.1K find its way into your listening room or home theater? Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below.

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Recent Forum Posts:

mtrot posts on February 22, 2019 17:29
I heard the larger size version of this at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest last October. I've always thought, eh, McIntosh is an amplifier company and sort of discounted their speakers. Boy, was I wrong. I sort of stumbled into the McIntosh room where they had the line array speakers playing a large scale orchestral piece. Maybe I don't have discriminating enough ears, but it sounded just fantastic to me.
shadyJ posts on February 18, 2019 00:39
GrimSurfer, post: 1299250, member: 87433
I read a piece on this by Floyd Toole in the AES Journal the other day. It is Toole's assertion that what we hear as imaging is the result of reflected sound. His contention is that in a quest for greater imaging, we often accept the various negative effects of reflected sound as the price of dog business.
Floyd would say that much of imaging comes from the direct sound, not reflected sound. While reflected sound can contribute to imaging, the way in which we determine imaging is largely a matter of first arrival of sound, since we determine much of localization from loudness difference and arrival time difference.
haraldo posts on February 18, 2019 00:30
GrimSurfer, post: 1299250, member: 87433
I read a piece on this by Floyd Toole in the AES Journal the other day. It is Toole's assertion that what we hear as imaging is the result of reflected sound. His contention is that in a quest for greater imaging, we often accept the various negative effects of reflected sound as the price of dog business.

Floyd's thoughts were framed by well founded views on the directionality of sound at certain frequencies and the importance of flat anechoic frequency response as a necessary precondition of quality sound.

Some of this makes sense, especially Toole's belief that centre channel and other drivers are needed for more accurate sound reproduction. I also agree with Toole's views on the need for flat frequency responses (which, one must admit, increases the possibility that electronic room correction will be reasonably effective.

Some of this doesn't make sense because we all know that humans can image real sounds quite well… so how does this square with the notion that a speakers' recreation of a sound stage is somehow bad?

I think there's a compromise to be achieved and linear arrays may be the best way to get reasonable front hempispherical coverage from two loudspeakers through phase and driver orientation. The key, I believe, is not to overdo it, as Amar Bose did with the 901s (which had ~360 degrees of driver orientation, making it difficult for the loudspeaker manufacturer to anticipate how these may interact in a variety of rooms).

More accurate direct sound is something that might appeal to a “thinking audiophile”, particularly if the electronic mediation is used to create a realistic sound stage. Looked at in this way, it might just be possible for the right linear array, amp, and audio software to deliver something closer to perfection. But a lot of pieces need to come together here – and speakers are just one piece of the puzzle.

To me it’s all simply about the music being presented in a natural realistic way, in a simplistic way it is very simple. IMHO line arrays do not present music in a realistic way, generally larger than life it seems to me. Like watching a movie with exagerated colors.

My experience, the more I manage to kill first reflection, the better imaging. I have no idea what Floyd Toole is getting at here……
GrimSurfer posts on February 17, 2019 22:34
shadyJ, post: 1296191, member: 20472
In my experience, line arrays are the speaker type for those looking for a ‘wall-of-sound’ effect, that larger than life sound that you would expect from an Imax. The cost is imaging; these speakers don't tend to have very precise imaging.

I read a piece on this by Floyd Toole in the AES Journal the other day. It is Toole's assertion that what we hear as imaging is the result of reflected sound. His contention is that in a quest for greater imaging, we often accept the various negative effects of reflected sound as the price of dog business.

Floyd's thoughts were framed by well founded views on the directionality of sound at certain frequencies and the importance of flat anechoic frequency response as a necessary precondition of quality sound.

Some of this makes sense, especially Toole's belief that centre channel and other drivers are needed for more accurate sound reproduction. I also agree with Toole's views on the need for flat frequency responses (which, one must admit, increases the possibility that electronic room correction will be reasonably effective.

Some of this doesn't make sense because we all know that humans can image real sounds quite well… so how does this square with the notion that a speakers' recreation of a sound stage is somehow bad?

I think there's a compromise to be achieved and linear arrays may be the best way to get reasonable front hempispherical coverage from two loudspeakers through phase and driver orientation. The key, I believe, is not to overdo it, as Amar Bose did with the 901s (which had ~360 degrees of driver orientation, making it difficult for the loudspeaker manufacturer to anticipate how these may interact in a variety of rooms).

More accurate direct sound is something that might appeal to a “thinking audiophile”, particularly if the electronic mediation is used to create a realistic sound stage. Looked at in this way, it might just be possible for the right linear array, amp, and audio software to deliver something closer to perfection. But a lot of pieces need to come together here – and speakers are just one piece of the puzzle.
haraldo posts on February 11, 2019 16:19
There are some very slim and room friendly line source speakers being made in Norway too under the Adyton brand, require subs though….

Price tag at $23.000 plus required subwoofers

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