Home / Gaming / McIntosh RS200 wireless speaker review: Congested sound mars the performance of this high-end behemoth

McIntosh RS200 wireless speaker review: Congested sound mars the performance of this high-end behemoth

McIntosh used to be the epitome of top of the range audio programs when I used to be in school. Its unique emblem and vibrant blue-backlit degree meters had been in an instant recognizable, indicating that the landlord used to be fascinated with sound.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary this 12 months, McIntosh continues to constitute fine quality audio because it expands its portfolio to incorporate extra fresh merchandise. The RS200 is an ideal living proof. This 2-channel wi-fi speaker gives all of the options we’ve come to be expecting in this sort of product, however sadly, its sound high quality does no longer measure as much as the usual I had come to be expecting from McIntosh.

Options

Carrying a couple of the corporate’s iconic blue-backlit degree meters at the entrance panel, the RS200 is massive for a wi-fi speaker, measuring 24.eight x five.75 x 12.6 inches (WxHxD) and weighing in at a hefty 29.five kilos. Its sloping undercarriage virtually makes it seem to be floating above its steel base, which is beautiful cool.

mcintosh rs200 closeup1McIntosh Labs

The vintage blue-backlit degree meters in an instant establish this as a McIntosh product.

The driving force supplement contains two zero.75-inch titanium-dome, fluid-filled tweeters and 4 2-inch titanium inverted-dome midrange drivers at the entrance face of the unit. Two 4×6-inch long-throw woofers hearth downward onto the steel base beneath the sloping undercarriage. The woofers percentage a commonplace chamber, which is vented downward on the entrance of the unit.

The tweeters and midrange drivers are powered by means of a complete of 400 watts, whilst the woofers have a complete of 250W pushing them round. General frequency reaction is specified from 40Hz to 20kHz (-Three dB) with THD+N not up to zero.05% (mid-band).

In fact, the main manner of having audio into the RS200 is wirelessly. It implements Bluetooth five.zero with the A2DP profile and AAC, aptX HD, and aptX Low Latency formats, which might be usually thought to be to be the highest-quality client formats to be had these days.

mcintosh rs200 lifestyle2McIntosh Labs

When you have sufficient tablespace beneath a TV, the RS200 can function a soundbar.

As well as, audio can also be despatched to the unit by way of Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n at 2.four and five GHz) the usage of Apple AirPlay 2, DTS Play-Fi, and DLNA, permitting the RS200 to sign up for a whole-home wi-fi audio device. It will probably additionally circulate audio from a lot of on-line suppliers, together with Tidal, Napster, Amazon Tune, Spotify, Pandora, Web Radio, iHeartRadio, and others. As though that weren’t sufficient, it will probably play audio from any of its inputs to different Play-Fi audio system.

Some other fascinating Play-Fi function is the power to play the entrance 3 channels in a five.1 surround-sound setup. Two Play-Fi wi-fi audio system whole the bundle.

Bodily connections come with a three.5mm 2-channel analog-audio enter, optical digital-audio enter, USB Kind B port, and HDMI ARC enter, which you’d hook up with the TV’s ARC enter if making a decision to make use of it. The HDMI ARC and ptical inputs suggest that the RS200 can be utilized as a soundbar, which it will probably, however it’s manner too deep to slot in a decent area beneath the display.

There’s additionally an RCA subwoofer output if you wish to have even deeper bass from a powered sub. Different connections come with a 12V cause output, information output that sends proprietary keep watch over alerts to different McIntosh units, and a USB provider port for provider techs best.

mcintosh rs200 backMcIntosh Labs

All connections are discovered at the left of the again panel. The primary continual transfer is subsequent to the AC power-cord receptacle at the proper.

Like maximum wi-fi audio system nowadays, the RS200 works with Amazon Alexa voice instructions. However it isn’t a wise speaker in and of itself; you’ll want the Play-Fi app and an Alexa-enabled software to keep watch over it with voice instructions. A rising choice of on-line tune products and services reply to Alexa instructions, so for those who’re into that kind of factor, it’s to be had. The speaker does no longer recently toughen Google Assistant.

Consumer interface

3 controls also are discovered close to the connections at the again panel. The EQ slider selects one among 3 preset equalization curves for placement close to a wall, on a desk, or totally freestanding. Striking the unit close to a wall acoustically boosts the bass, which the Wall EQ atmosphere compensates for by means of chopping low frequencies from about 100 to 500Hz by means of a couple of decibels.

I used to be just a little perplexed in regards to the Unfastened and Desk settings; in the end, the RS200 will probably be put on a flat floor in the end. In keeping with the guide, “The Desk atmosphere is to atone for reflective surfaces that can be provide if the unit is driven again 8 or extra inches from the threshold of a flat floor (like a desk).” In keeping with a McIntosh rep I spoke with, it cuts a narrower band of frequencies round 100Hz by means of a few decibels. The Unfastened atmosphere is designed to be used when the unit is with reference to the threshold of the outside on which it’s positioned.

The CEC Defeat button allows and disables HDMI CEC (Client Electronics Keep an eye on), and because CEC does no longer all the time paintings as anticipated, I like to recommend disabling it. As its title implies, the Wi-Fi Reset button resets the Wi-Fi capability. The one different keep watch over is the grasp continual transfer subsequent to the AC power-cord connector.

mcintosh rs200 closeup2McIntosh Labs

Two multifunction knobs flank the extent meters.

Two multifunction knobs that may be grew to become and pressed flank the extent meters at the entrance. The left knob selects the enter, initiates Bluetooth pairing, signifies Wi-Fi standing with a multicolored led, and controls the brightness of the extent meters’ backlight. The appropriate knob permits you to regulate the quantity, interact and disengage mute, and input and go out Energy Save mode. Retaining each buttons for 10 seconds resets the unit to its manufacturing facility situation.

The RS200 comes with a rather easy IR far flung. Controls come with continual on/off, quantity up/down, mute, enter alternative, meter/LED lighting on/off, and lip-sync build up/lower, which delays the audio as much as 150ms as had to synchronize the audio to the video symbol. 3 shipping buttons come with play/pause and skip observe ahead and again that paintings with appropriate assets.

The input-selection button is surrounded by means of a hoop with the numerals 1 thru four. Urgent those numerals recollects one among as much as 4 Play-Fi presets. (4 touch-sensitive “buttons” at the most sensible of the RS200 will also be used to recall the presets.) As of this writing, you’ll be able to assign presets to Web Radio, iHeartRadio, Tidal, Spotify, and Pandora, however extra products and services will probably be added one day.

mcintosh rs200 remoteMcIntosh Labs

The integrated far flung is unassuming however serviceable.

Setup

Putting in place the RS200 used to be no longer a clean procedure for me. After I first plugged it in and grew to become it on, the Web gentle used to be pulsing, indicating that it used to be able to be attached to a Wi-Fi community. I sought after to begin with Bluetooth from my iPhone XS, so I did what the guide instructs: “Position the RS200 in pairing mode by means of urgent and maintaining the left knob for 2 seconds.” After I did that, not anything took place after two seconds, and I didn’t see the RS200 within the record of Bluetooth units on my telephone.

Subsequent, I attempted to attach it to my Wi-Fi community the usage of the Wi-Fi settings on my telephone. I noticed the software classified PlayFi2Device within the record of networks—no longer units—so I decided on it, however the Web gentle saved pulsing like not anything had took place. Additionally, my telephone used to be now disconnected from the community.

I spoke with a McIntosh technical rep, who attempted the similar procedures on his iPhone eight, and he reported extra good fortune than I had. He really useful that I obtain the Play-Fi app and check out to attach the RS200 to my Wi-Fi community in the course of the app, which labored—kind of. The Play-Fi app reported that software used to be no longer found out and to check out once more, however it in fact used to be found out and attached to the community. After disabling Bluetooth on my telephone, I used to be in a position to play tune from my telephone by way of AirPlay over Wi-Fi.

Relating to Bluetooth pairing, he informed me to carry the left knob for 2 seconds after which liberate it, which labored once I re-enabled Bluetooth at the telephone. (I must have learn the following sentence in that segment of the guide: “Liberate the knob.” Duh…)

mcintosh rs200 lifestyle1McIntosh Labs

The RS200 calls for a moderately massive flat floor.

Efficiency

I positioned the RS200 on the fringe of a desk clear of partitions and decided on the Unfastened EQ preset to start with. I began my listening with “One” from Esperanza Spaulding’s album Emily’s D+Evolution. The sound used to be rather congested and veiled, particularly within the bass. I attempted all 3 EQ presets, however all sounded rather boomy.

I referred to as the McIntosh rep about it, and he helped me uncover that the firmware had to be up to date from model Three.48 to three.64. It sounds as if, the most recent firmware tweaks the EQ, particularly the Wall atmosphere. I downloaded the McIntosh Updater app, which is now to be had for iOS and shortly for Android. It took about 15 mins to replace the firmware.

After the replace, the sound stepped forward reasonably, however no longer dramatically. After taking note of all 3 EQ presets, I finished up who prefer the Desk atmosphere, even supposing the unit used to be sitting on the fringe of a desk. It lower the bass just a little in comparison with the Unfastened atmosphere, however no longer up to the Wall atmosphere, which sounded somewhat wimpy to me.

Within the realm of global tune, I began with “Area of the Ancestors” from the album Sound Magic by means of Afro Celt Sound Gadget, which blends Celtic and African tools and influences. The RS200 sounded wealthy general with tubby bass. The vocals sounded rather just right, although reasonably recessed.

The similar used to be true for “Farewell” from the Yuval Ron Ensemble’s album Tree of Lifestyles. This observe options oud (Center Jap lute), duduk (Armenian clarinet), hand percussion, and feminine vocals. The oud sounded thick and congested, however the hand percussion vocals sounded rather just right and wealthy.

mcintosh rs200 grilles offMcIntosh Labs

With the entrance grilles off, you’ll be able to see a tweeter and two midrange drivers on each and every facet.

Turning to jazz fusion, I listened to “Vivid Lighting” from the album Rapid Ahead by means of Spyro Gyra. General, the sound used to be wealthy and thick, with congested bass and drums. Alternatively, the vibes and saxophone sounded rather just right. Transferring directly to nation rock, “Pickin’ Up the Items” from the album of the similar title by means of Poco additionally sounded thick and wealthy with boomy bass, although the vocals had been just right.

After all, I attempted a few classical tracks. Placido Domingo sings “Aranjuez” (an adaptation of the second one motion of Concerto de Aranjuez, firstly for guitar) on his album Encanto del Mar. Domingo’s voice is wealthy at the RS200, although just a little recessed within the combine and somewhat congested. Within the accompanying tools, the harp, guitar, bass, and percussion had been very congested, although the soprano sax and clarinet had been rather just right.

As I had come to be expecting, the low-mid vary used to be beautiful congested taking note of Molly at the Shore by means of Percy Grainger as carried out by means of the London Wind Symphony beneath Denis Wick on their album Grainger: A Lincolnshire Posy. Alternatively, the upper tools had been great and blank, although undoubtedly wealthy general.

Comparability with Urbanears Rålis

For comparability, I additionally performed all tracks at the Urbanears Rålis, which I reviewed right here. At $180, it’s a trifling six p.c the price of the RS200, however it’s the most productive wi-fi speaker I’ve readily available.

In all circumstances, the Rålis sounded lighter, brighter, and extra open than the RS200. The bass used to be no longer as deep, whilst vocals sounded extra ahead. Which one you like comes right down to an issue of style; I usually most popular the sound of the Rålis.

Base line

I used to be absolutely ready to like the sound of the McIntosh RS200—and stunned that I didn’t. General, it has some traits of top of the range, audiophile sound: wealthy and luxurious, with a blank mid-to-high vary. However the congestion within the bass and decrease midrange actually detracts from the sure qualities, and vocals are reasonably recessed. In contrast, the Urbanears Rålis sounds reasonably thinner however extra open and higher balanced.

Then there’s the dimensions—the RS200 is humongous! I struggled to discover a position it would slot in my space for this evaluate, and I haven’t any position I may put it on an enduring foundation.

At $Three,000, the RS200 is undoubtedly a high-end product with outstanding construct high quality, and it has a pleasant function set. Given the shortcomings in its sound high quality, alternatively, I can’t suggest it.

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