This was how it went for nearly every song that we heard; there was always something waiting to be discovered inside the grooves of each record. With Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” I was able to find new meaning within the shimmering, two-note guitar line that backs each verse of the song. Much has been made lately about the appreciation Zachary Cole Smith—of the dreamy, shoegaze outfit DIIV—has for Nirvana, as well as the resemblance that his band’s sound shares with them. But until I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on this turntable, that similarity had never been entirely clear to me.
What makes the MT5 so noteworthy, though, is that—divorced from this prestigious context—McIntosh has still delivered a product that’s more than capable of standing on its own two feet.
Even an audiophile like Questlove was noticeably moved by the effect that a good set-up can have after hearing Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” played through the MT5. “Bill Withers was the first artist I idolized as a kid,” he said. “But to hear [Ain’t No Sunshine] in this context, like I...I never heard Bill Withers hitting the guitar with the drummer and I never heard the frets of the guitar, the sliding, and the rasp in his voice. Even his foot tapping the ground...I’ve lived with the song for 40+ years and I’m only hearing it now.”
“Digital won’t give you that,” Varvatos added.
Of course, with praise this glowing, you have to expect that the hardware itself won’t come cheap. Unfortunately, the MT5 Precision Turntable will run you $6500 in-stores, and that doesn’t include the two XR100 speakers that were backing it during my listening session, nor the amplifying system.
Obviously, you’ll be hard-pressed to match the ambiance too, as the level of history present in the room was undoubtedly an added plus. After all, here we were, inside the House that Hendrix Built, to hear the latest from McIntosh—the company responsible for powering the original Woodstock.
As Reid noted, bringing himself to the center of the room before cueing up "Superwoman": “Right about here is where Stevie Wonder recorded Music of My Mind.” What makes the MT5 so noteworthy, though, is that—divorced from this prestigious context—McIntosh has still delivered a product that’s more than capable of standing on its own two feet.
Balanced with tracking force, anti-skate force, and a magnetic platter system, the turntable spins steadily and quietly, knocking on every detail impressed into each record. The product is also clearly durable, and the design comes off as smooth and well-ordered. Sure, the price point may be difficult for some, but if you’re willing to spend the money, you’ll find that it's worth every penny. The MT5 Precision Turntable lets you experience vinyl the way that you’re supposed to: truly absorbing the music, hearing every note as if it’s the first time.