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 methods when I used to be in faculty. Its unique brand and brilliant blue-backlit stage meters had been straight away recognizable, indicating that the landlord used to be eager about sound.

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


Carrying a couple of the corporate’s iconic blue-backlit stage meters at the entrance panel, the RS200 is large 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 nearly makes it seem to be floating above its steel base, which is lovely cool.

mcintosh rs200 closeup1McIntosh Labs

The vintage blue-backlit stage meters straight away 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 fireplace downward onto the steel base underneath the sloping undercarriage. The woofers proportion 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. Total frequency reaction is specified from 40Hz to 20kHz (-Three dB) with THD+N not up to zero.05% (mid-band).

After all, the main approach 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 can be normally thought to be to be the highest-quality client formats to be had as of late.

mcintosh rs200 lifestyle2McIntosh Labs

In case you have sufficient tablespace underneath a TV, the RS200 can function a soundbar.

As well as, audio may also be despatched to the unit by way of Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n at 2.four and five GHz) the use of Apple AirPlay 2, DTS Play-Fi, and DLNA, permitting the RS200 to enroll in a whole-home wi-fi audio machine. It might probably additionally circulation audio from a number of on-line suppliers, together with Tidal, Napster, Amazon Song, Spotify, Pandora, Web Radio, iHeartRadio, and others. As though that weren’t sufficient, it could play audio from any of its inputs to different Play-Fi audio system.

Some other attention-grabbing 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 you make 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 could, but it surely’s manner too deep to slot in a decent area underneath the display screen.

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 an eye on indicators to different McIntosh gadgets, and a USB carrier port for carrier techs handiest.

mcintosh rs200 backMcIntosh Labs

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

Like maximum wi-fi audio system this present day, the RS200 works with Amazon Alexa voice instructions. However it’s not a sensible speaker in and of itself; you’ll want the Play-Fi app and an Alexa-enabled tool to keep an eye on it with voice instructions. A rising selection of on-line track services and products reply to Alexa instructions, so if you happen to’re into that type of factor, it’s to be had. The speaker does no longer lately improve Google Assistant.

Person interface

3 controls also are discovered close to the connections at the again panel. The EQ slider selects one in every of 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 environment compensates for by means of chopping low frequencies from about 100 to 500Hz by means of a couple of decibels.

I used to be a little perplexed concerning the Loose and Desk settings; in the end, the RS200 shall be put on a flat floor in the end. In step with the handbook, “The Desk environment is to make amends for reflective surfaces that can be provide if the unit is driven again 8 or extra inches from the brink of a flat floor (like a desk).” In step with a McIntosh rep I spoke with, it cuts a narrower band of frequencies round 100Hz by means of a few decibels. The Loose environment is designed to be used when the unit is with reference to the brink of the outside on which it’s positioned.

The CEC Defeat button permits 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 identify implies, the Wi-Fi Reset button resets the Wi-Fi capability. The one different keep an eye on is the grasp persistent 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 proper knob allows you to modify the quantity, have interaction 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 somewhat easy IR far flung. Controls come with persistent 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 monitor ahead and again that paintings with appropriate resources.

The input-selection button is surrounded by means of a hoop with the numerals 1 via four. Urgent those numerals remembers one in every of 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 services and products shall be added one day.

mcintosh rs200 remoteMcIntosh Labs

The incorporated far flung is inconspicuous however serviceable.


Putting in place the RS200 used to be no longer a easy procedure for me. After I first plugged it in and grew to become it on, the Internet mild used to be pulsing, indicating that it used to be in a position to be attached to a Wi-Fi community. I sought after initially Bluetooth from my iPhone XS, so I did what the handbook instructs: “Position the RS200 in pairing mode by means of urgent and keeping the left knob for 2 seconds.” After I did that, not anything came about after two seconds, and I didn’t see the RS200 within the listing of Bluetooth gadgets on my telephone.

Subsequent, I attempted to glue it to my Wi-Fi community the use of the Wi-Fi settings on my telephone. I noticed the tool categorized PlayFi2Device within the listing of networks—no longer gadgets—so I decided on it, however the Internet mild stored pulsing like not anything had came about. 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 luck than I had. He advisable that I obtain the Play-Fi app and check out to glue the RS200 to my Wi-Fi community during the app, which labored—type of. The Play-Fi app reported that tool used to be no longer found out and to take a look at once more, but it surely in truth used to be found out and attached to the community. After disabling Bluetooth on my telephone, I used to be ready to play track from my telephone by way of AirPlay over Wi-Fi.

Referring to Bluetooth pairing, he instructed 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 handbook: “Liberate the knob.” Duh…)

mcintosh rs200 lifestyle1McIntosh Labs

The RS200 calls for a slightly massive flat floor.


I positioned the RS200 on the fringe of a desk clear of partitions and decided on the Loose 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 fairly congested and veiled, particularly within the bass. I attempted all 3 EQ presets, however all sounded fairly boomy.

I known 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 a few.64. It appears, the most recent firmware tweaks the EQ, particularly the Wall environment. 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 moderately, however no longer dramatically. After taking note of all 3 EQ presets, I finished up who prefer the Desk environment, even if the unit used to be sitting on the fringe of a desk. It reduce the bass a little in comparison with the Loose environment, however no longer up to the Wall environment, which sounded quite wimpy to me.

Within the realm of global track, I began with “Area of the Ancestors” from the album Sound Magic by means of Afro Celt Sound Machine, which blends Celtic and African tools and influences. The RS200 sounded wealthy general with tubby bass. The vocals sounded fairly excellent, although moderately recessed.

The similar used to be true for “Farewell” from the Yuval Ron Ensemble’s album Tree of Existence. This monitor options oud (Center Japanese lute), duduk (Armenian clarinet), hand percussion, and feminine vocals. The oud sounded thick and congested, however the hand percussion vocals sounded fairly excellent 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 every facet.

Turning to jazz fusion, I listened to “Vivid Lighting fixtures” from the album Rapid Ahead by means of Spyro Gyra. Total, the sound used to be wealthy and thick, with congested bass and drums. Then again, the vibes and saxophone sounded fairly excellent. Shifting directly to nation rock, “Pickin’ Up the Items” from the album of the similar identify by means of Poco additionally sounded thick and wealthy with boomy bass, although the vocals had been excellent.

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

As I had come to be expecting, the low-mid vary used to be lovely 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 no doubt 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, but it surely’s the most efficient wi-fi speaker I’ve available.

In all instances, 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 favor comes right down to a question of style; I normally most well-liked the sound of the Rålis.

Base line

I used to be totally ready to like the sound of the McIntosh RS200—and surprised that I didn’t. Total, it has some traits of top of the range, audiophile sound: wealthy and opulent, with a blank mid-to-high vary. However the congestion within the bass and decrease midrange in reality detracts from the sure qualities, and vocals are moderately recessed. Against this, the Urbanears Rålis sounds moderately 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 area for this assessment, and I haven’t any position I may just put it on an everlasting foundation.

At $Three,000, the RS200 is undoubtedly a high-end product with remarkable construct high quality, and it has a pleasing function set. Given the shortcomings in its sound high quality, then again, I will not suggest it.

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