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McIntosh Group’s House of Sound in Chelsea Needs to Be Experienced By All Who Love Music and Cinema

We got an exclusive tour of the new House of Sound by McIntosh Group in Chelsea NYC, which opens today September 21, 2023.

McIntosh House of Sound NYC High-end audio lifestyle

During the pandemic, I was the last consumer A/V journalist to visit the WoM Townhouse (World of McIntosh) in New York City. What I could not share at the time was the disturbing news that the world’s most unique high-end audio/video experience was about to close its doors. After that experience, McIntosh Group took a very cautious path before creating the new House of Sound in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood but that is only part of the story.

We need to circle back to the pandemic for a brief detour before any of this makes sense.

Wandering the filthy and empty streets (and I’m being polite) with dozens of shuttered restaurants and retailers on every block tainting what was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my audio journey — made for a very strange day.

Boarding NJ Transit at Penn Station and heading back to the Shore before sitting down to compose my thoughts on the experience gave me an opportunity to think about the long-term plan (of lack of one) for our industry and how it would need to evolve post-pandemic.

McIntosh Factory Sign
McIntosh Factory in Binghamton, NY

If McIntosh Group was having a very hard time in New York City, what did that mean for the rest of the industry? My factory tour in Binghamton revealed that the most iconic brand in audio was about to open the floodgates in response to pent up global demand and when CEO, Charlie Randall, hinted at what was about to come post-COVID, I just shut my mouth and waited for the chips to fall.

Was the closing of WoM in NYC an ominous sign that the family of brands that includes McIntosh, Sonus faber, Pro-Ject, Sumiko, and Rotel were moving away from its core business?

The sale of McIntosh Group stunned even the most seasoned industry insiders but that move was part of a much larger global plan that has already played out in the marine, automotive, and CI markets.

There Goes the Neighborhood…

David Mascioni and Livio Cucuzza
David Mascioni (left) and Livio Cucuzza (right)

David Mascioni, Global Director of Brand Marketing for McIntosh Group, is a very shrewd visionary who understands the playing field better than most. You don’t get to handle this much responsibility unless you have a plan that extends well beyond the gear fetishism of white-haired audiophiles.

That’s not a business plan. Just corporate suicide.

Mascioni and his team that handles McIntosh and the House of Sound in NYC do not view the world through throwaway amusement park sunglasses and always have the big picture in mind.

Clarity and thinking about where the various brands can make serious inroads and even dominate outside of two-channel audio is the long-term play and the new House of Sound demonstrates that in a profound way.

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Across the pond, Livio Cucuzza, Chief Design Officer of McIntosh Group, works with CEO Charlie Randall to drive the brands on a global level and is also responsible for the industrial design that continues to inspire both customers and the company’s vast dealer network.

Jeep Grand Wagoneer with McIntosh Interior
Jeep Grand Wagoneer with McIntosh Interior

Driving through Manhattan in the Jeep Grand Wagoneer which is outfitted with one of the best high-end automotive audio systems we have ever tried — was a very interesting start to the day because it reminded me of two very important realities.

Consumers listen to more music in the car than any other place.

NYC’s migrant and crime problem is very real and pushing more and more people with money across the river into New Jersey and destinations much further south.

My town in New Jersey is filled with such people who still commute into the city for work but are also building new homes that run into the millions of dollars and are a sizable percentage of the luxury car and marine markets.

Maserati Grecale Trofeo Exterior Side Vehicle
Maserati Grecale Trofeo

I finally saw a Maserati Grecale with the Sonus faber system we drove in Italy parked at a local cafe and the owner looked nauseatingly satisfied.

Fortunato figlio di puttana!

These are also the same people with the money to build dedicated home theater spaces and install multi-room audio throughout the home — and even outdoors.

All of this begs the most obvious question…

Why create a state-of-the-art, five story showroom, in the heart of Chelsea if the city is falling apart?

Because New York City is the center of the universe and the neighborhood is always packed because of Chelsea Market, Google, YouTube, and the High Line which is only a few blocks away.

McIntosh House of Sound Exterior Sonus faber outdoor Speakers

What is Behind Those Closed Doors?

Unlike the WoM Townhouse that admittedly didn’t really feel like a home that anyone lives in — even in a place like New York City with some of the most expensive brownstones and multi-floor apartments in the world, the new McIntosh Group House of Sound feels far more like something that people actually live in.

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There is a garage in the building (with a glass wall to showcase the Jeep Grand Wagoneer that was parked there) and the front foyer was rather warm and inviting with the supplied custom furniture from Baxter that had arrived only weeks before from Italy.

McIntosh House of Sound Reception

The entire house has been outfitted by Baxter and the setup throughout the house begs one to take off their coat, put away their phone, and just listen.

The ground floor is also the secret passage to the 9.16.4 McIntosh/Sonus faber/Sony/Kaleidescape home theater room that is now one of the best places to watch a movie in New York City.

The 9.16.4 configuration proved to be interesting because it offered convincing evidence that 16 subwoofers can be integrated into a dedicated home theater space and not overwhelm the senses with too much bass. Bass articulation and balanced response was the goal for every seat in the house and they have succeeded.

We saw this at CEDIA 2022 with Sonus faber and McIntosh and just experienced it again at CEDIA 2023 with Trinnov Audio and Ascendo who pulled off the impossible with 24 subwoofers.

The home theater featuring Sonus faber’s ARENA CI Loudspeakers was dynamic, articulate, clear, and the bass response watching Dune was genuinely earth shattering without taking away from the rest of the dialogue and score.

The price tag for this system is significant but it was the setting in the middle of a NYC building that made everyone watching realize just what can be accomplished if you focus on the room and overall experience.

McIntosh House of Sound Rooftop

One of the unique features of the WoM Townhouse were the outdoor spaces that allowed visitors to enjoy music whilst looking at the city and having a drink; the House of Sound offers an even superior experience because of the surrounding neighborhood and the installation of Sonus faber ASTER Loudspeakers which can fill the entire space with highly engaging sound.

The rest of the house features a number of smaller listening rooms that mimicked a typical bedroom, office, or den and it was in those spaces that listeners can sit back and enjoy a wide range of components from McIntosh, Sonus faber, Pro-Ject, Sumiko, and Rotel.

McIntosh House of Sound Listening Room 2 Disco
McIntosh House of Sound Listening Room 1 Jazz

The rooms didn’t feel like stereo demonstration rooms at all because of the furniture, art work, placement of the equipment, and isolation from the busy street traffic below. This is how regular people listen and watch TV and movies and it will certainly resonate with visitors who don’t want to feel rushed as they listen, read, and enjoy a drink.

The House of Sound also offers the opportunity to experience musical instruments like the Alpange Piano that is manufactured in France. The $50,000 electronic instrument was set-up in one of the open spaces above the kitchen and we were afforded the opportunity to listen to a brief performance and it did not disappoint.

McIntosh House of Sound NYC with man playing Alpange Piano

The main listening space features a six-figure McIntosh system in front of a gas fireplace and large 4K TV and is dramatically smaller than the main floor listening space in the older townhouse.

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Furniture and art finished the room well and it felt like a large media room where a family could entertain guests and watch or listen in style.

McIntosh House of Sound Reference Room 1
McIntosh House of Sound NYC Reference Room 1

The adjacent kitchen is a magnificent room featuring state-of-the-art appliances and CI loudspeakers in the ceilings and walls. McIntosh Group will have no issue filling this room when they conduct private events and it didn’t feel like strange standing around speaking with McIntosh Group management that had flown in from Texas, Europe, and Binghamton; it was like being at home with family and friends and that’s a very different vibe from the older space.

McIntosh House of Sound Kitchen
McIntosh RS250 in the House of Sound NYC Kitchen.

Chelsea Market is no longer the most interesting place to hang out anymore in this part of NYC; the House of Sound will be a major attraction when word starts to spread across town and in the offices of the tech companies located on the adjacent streets.

Will McIntosh be offering test drives of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and Maserati Grecale out of the House of Sound? Don’t be surprised if that happens.

The opportunity to experience art, design, food, and some of the finest sound and image quality in New York City has a new address. The House of Sound is open for business starting today and is a must visit for those who love music and cinema.

McIntosh House of Sound Bedroom with Sonus faber Omnia
McIntosh House of Sound Bedroom with Sonus faber Omnia (under TV)
McIntosh House of Sound NYC Reference Room 2

For more information: houseofsoundnyc.com

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. ORT

    September 23, 2023 at 1:57 am

    ’tis no secret that I am a McIntosh Enthusiast (“fan” is so nutter a term for such as I!). Would that I could afford them.

    Oh but to have a room with a pair of VUs…

    And for those typists out there I’ll wager you too base…too common. Too, too fell to know this, the truth of my words – You love your ego and pride far more than you ever loved the meaning of the music: Life’s memories.

    cyranORT De Bergerac

    • Ian White

      September 23, 2023 at 3:05 pm

      ORT,

      I’ve noticed a few things since our visit. Media coverage of the opening has been very spotty, if not rather quiet. I’ve had 3 conversations with fellow EICs and most were not blown away by the House of Sound (none of them actually visited so I take their comments with a grain of salt) and felt that it didn’t convey the “brands” with enough power and machismo. They expected each room to feature the new McIntosh subwoofer and stacks of gear in every space.

      What they don’t seem to get is that the market is evolving. The white-haired audiophiles are a dying breed. If you don’t have a CI, marine, automobile, HT, and 2-channel game plan…you might not be around in 5 to 10 years.

      IW

  2. Catherine Lugg

    September 25, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    This is all lovely stuff, and yet….There is no possible way I could own any of it. My spouse will balk on $$$, and it’s all too heavy. Yes, I could hire out installation and set up, but that now adds costs, and for maintenance, if we want to move gear around, etc etc. If it weighs more than 25 pounds, my answer is no. Yes, I’m a “N of 1,” but there are fair number of 50+ women with disposable income, who aren’t going to drop $$$ on equipment that is flatly too heavy to move around. So, here’s to smaller 2-way stand mount speakers, SVS Micro subs, and NAD amps, all of which I can heft.

  3. Steve

    October 11, 2023 at 7:48 pm

    Made an appointment to visit House of Sound tomorrow

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