McIntosh compact AirPlay stereo system


The McIntosh McAire is a standalone stereo system designed for Apple AirPlay. It also is a fine hardware complement for the McIntosh AP1 Music Player app, digitizing those iconic blue meters (although these sadly don't actually respond to the music). The app is free but the McAire is $3,000 -- real blue meters are expensive!


  1. I would consider this if it didn’t have “McIntosh McAire” written in a giant font across the front. It makes a pretty attractive piece of kit ugly.

  2. Real blue meters are expensive!

    Amen to that — they’re getting $1,500 for a freakin’ meter-based clock.

    (That said, the allure of the blue lights is strong…back in ’70, when I was making $3.25 an hour, I couldn’t wait to plunk down $1,200 for a C26 preamp and MC2105 amp. Totally worth it…just don’t read the spec sheet too closely ;-)

      1. I expect the clock is aimed at guys 55+ years old looking to reclaim some youth…kinda like the $35,000 Electra Glides being marketed to us greybeards. (i.e. big blue meters := little blue pill ;-)

      1. Doesn’t surprise me a bit. In ’74 I loaned my rig to a bluegrass outfit as emergency power for the front man’s monitors; he liked it so much that he kept it…and paid me full price for it. Several years after that, he sold it to his banjo tech…again for the orig price. I lost track of it in the mid ’90s, but I’ve got a feeling it’s still pumping tunes somewhere.

        That sucker can drive 2 ohms all day and not break a sweat; your Silverlines (if you still have ’em) should be a sweet, easy load for the 2105. Enjoy your rig!

  3. In 50 years you’ll still be able to get parts & servicing from the manufacturer and if recent price checks are anything to go by, be able to sell it for 10x what you paid for it.

    Try that with your Bose Lifestyle, Samsung, Sony or other system.

    1. Actually, no, I don’t think this will be worth much as it’s not a component you can use to improve an existing system. I actually think it’s a pretty awful dilution of McIntosh’s brand.

  4. Well-well-well… if this makes me appreciate my music better than my $400 outfit… but but it won’t.

  5. I’ve owned a lot of Mac gear, tube and solid state.  It was and is very well made and should last several lifetimes.  Yeah, you can buy disposable black plastic box units with the same features for an order of magnitude less $$.  Same with Bang and Olufsen, which is sort of the Apple of the audio realm, except with 90 years of history behind it.

    1.  I was wondering if you were going to chime in on this one.  Bottom line question is… would you buy one of these? 

  6. Oh yeah, playing MP3s through 4″ woofers placed 18″ apart!

    I bet this baby sounds 1000 percent better than any $300.00 system.

    1. Actually worse, accordingly to your standards I’d guess: a cheap LG home theatre. I’ve once owned top of the line Spendor, YBA associated to a Naim player. It was good fun

  7. It doesn’t really matter that the meters aren’t functional.

    If you’re playing your iTunes-derived MP3s (which I’m assuming since you sprang for AirPlay instead of the rather better DLNA protocol), they’d almost certainly never leave the maximum line anyway.

      1.  Well, I assume most people don’t have much space on their convenient iDevice for ALAC, so they’d likely just have AAC anyway. Does iTunes sell ALAC now?

  8. Does anyone even know if you can stream digital audio over AirPlay that can take full advantage of hardware like that? Doesn’t the wireless compression make those $3k speakers worthless?

    1. Expert explanation: AirPlay streams at either 44.1/16 or 48/16, depending on the receiver. Any audio format you have will be transcoded on the fly.

      Translation for non-audiophiles: AirPlay uses CD-or-better-quality audio streaming — much higher than, say, Bluetooth. Output will be much more affected by the receiver’s electronics and speakers than the AirPlay formatting. Many people say that they cannot tell the difference between AirPlay and quality audio cabling.

Comments are closed.