McIntosh MR 78 – High End Stereo Equipment We Buy

McIntosh is one of the most dependable brand names when it comes to high-end audio systems. For years the brand has been recognized by audiophiles throughout the world as equipment that delivers clear and consistent quality in music. McIntosh is probably best known for its amplifiers and preamps, but the company produces many other components and parts for stereo and home theatre.

What are the specs for the McIntosh MR 78?

Years Manufactured:
Mono/Stereo Tuner
Tuning Bands:
Tuning Scale:
FM Tuning Range:
88 to 108 MHz
2.5uV (FM)
Signal to Noise Ratio:
75dB (FM)
0.2% (FM)
55dB (FM)
Frequency response:
20Hz to 18kHz (FM)
16 x 5.5 x 13 inches

What else to know about the McIntosh MR 78?

"Richard Modafferi was a senior engineer at McIntosh Laboratory from 1968 to 1974. His first stab at a new tuner that could do better was the MR 77. That model, introduced in 1970, was acclaimed among audiophiles—and it was the subject of an article by Modafferi in the November 1970, issue of IEEE Transactions on Broadcast and Television Receivers. And then Modafferi outdid himself with the MR 78 tuner, which came out in 1972.

The MR 78’s distinction was a new intermediate frequency filter, the culmination of a design that Modafferi had begun working on [PDF] as a graduate student at the Newark College of Engineering (now part of the New Jersey Institute of Technology) in the mid-1960s. He dubbed it the Rimo filter (a concatenation of the first two letters of his first and last name). In a superheterodyne radio receiver, which all FM receivers are, the incoming signal is mixed with that of a local oscillator to produce an intermediate frequency (IF) that is lower than that of the carrier frequency of the received signal. There are several reasons for doing this. A really big one is that the lower value of this IF makes it easier to filter out nearby sources of interference. Basically, Modafferi’s Rimo took a leap beyond existing IF filters by applying a computer to fine-tune the filter’s frequency response, and also by minimizing “intermodulation distortion,” which plagued IF filters at the time.

Regarding the Rimo, “It is the correct width to let just one FM station through,” McIntosh states in the owner’s manual for the MR 78 [PDF]. “The excellent selectivity of the MR 78 (210 kHz wide at 60dB down) permits tuning stations that are impossible to receive on ordinary tuners.” Touting the great “mathematical complexity” of the new filter, the manual also asserts that “an IBM 1130 high speed computer spent eighteen minutes on the mathematics for the design of the IF filter. It would have taken an engineer, working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and working error-free three-hundred years to perform the same mathematical calculations.”

One of the more eye-popping disparities between the Rimo filter’s performance and the performance of competing products was in delay distortion. “All other IF filters have delay distortion, as much as 100%,” the owner’s manual rhapsodized. “The MR 78 filter has less than 1.0% delay distortion from antenna input to discriminator output,” it added.

In addition, the company built a new FM detector, also designed by Modafferi, to work with the new filter. The new filter, the new FM detector, and other improvements added up to the MR 78 having the narrowest IF bandwidth ever achieved in a stereo tuner, the company claimed.

People paid for that level of performance. The original list price for the MR 78 was US $1,699, which translates to a whopping $10,000 in today’s dollars. Even then, the price was roughly 10 times as much as that of the average tuner. Today, when an MR 78 pops up on eBay in decent shape, it generally fetches more than $1,000.

The high price notwithstanding, audio salesman Cornelius says the MR 78 “was very popular at the time as it was a demonstrable solution to a common problem. With a large FM antenna, you could receive stations from one to many hundreds of miles away.”

He adds that the MR 78 solidified McIntosh’s position in the highest echelon of tuner manufacturers. It had an immediate effect on the rest of the market too; it forced all the competitors to scramble to match it. “They all had to develop ‘super tuners,’ usually FM-only, to compete,” he recalls." - IEEE Spectrum

Brief History of McIntosh

Long mapped-to Binghamton New York – the current headquarters and manufacturing center for McIntosh Labs – not many people know the brand was originally launched outside of the Nation’s Capital in Silver Spring Maryland, in 1949. In 1956, the brand built their original facility in New York, according to the official brand website.

Other McIntosh Products We Often Buy

Typically, StereoBuyers purchases mostly used amplifiers, especially the vintage amps and high-end McIntosh models such as the MC202 or MC252, and the C220 preamp, for example. We have also purchased many pre-owned tuners from McIntosh over the recent years, including the MR67 and MR78 models, for example.

StereoBuyers has purchased tens of thousands worth McIntosh brand equipment since 2014, with individual buys ranging from $100 to well over $50,000. If you are moving, ready to upgrade, or have McIntosh equipment you do not or will not be using, why not contact us today to find out if it is worth good money?

If you are interested in selling your used McIntosh equipment to us in the greater NYC area or Colorado, please click here to fill out a Free Quote Form and we will get back to you. If we agree on terms, we come to meet you where you want, and pay cash.

The following images show actual McIntosh equipment purchased by StereoBuyers.