I watched Top Gun: Maverick on a 29-channel speaker system with 16 subwoofers at the McIntosh House of Sound, and the experience was otherworldly

Flight scene from Top Gun: Maverick
(Image credit: Future)

I recently attended a screening of the movie Top Gun: Maverick at New York City’s House of Sound, a showcase for state-of-the-art home theater and the best stereo speakers that was constructed from the ground up by the McIntosh Group, owner of luxury audio brands such as McIntosh Labs, Sonus Faber, and Sumiko Phono Cartridges.

Film fans will know that Top Gun: Maverick won an Oscar in 2023 for “Best Sound.” At the event, Mark Weingarten, the production mixer, was on hand to share stories about his experience on the movie. Weingarten touched on topics such as working with Tom Cruise and the rest of the cast to get clean, intelligible dialogue, often as they flew in actual high-speed fighter jets with the cooperation of the U.S. military, which I’ll discuss in more detail below.

But, let’s first back up a second. The McIntosh Group’s previous product showroom and experience center, the World of McIntosh townhouse, was closed several years ago amidst the pandemic. In September of 2023, the group renamed the showroom House of Sound and relaunched it in a gorgeous new location in New York City’s Chelsea district.

McIntosh house of sound TV over fireplace showing blue VU meter

The iconic McIntosh blue amplifier VU meter displayed on a TV at the House of Sound (Image credit: Future / Howard Kneller)

In the House 

The 11,000 square-foot House of Sound, a “thoughtfully curated multi-sensory townhouse that highlights the group’s brands and premium audio innovations,” is a treat for the eyes and ears. It contains contemporary artwork, Baxter furniture from Italy, USM custom cabinetry from Switzerland, a high-end kitchen with Meile appliances, an elongated modern fireplace, two terraces, a swimming pool, and a finished rooftop area. Audio gear from the McIntosh Group’s brands is spotlighted, and along with the home theater there are two open reference listening areas, two intimate dedicated listening rooms, an extensive vinyl library, and a $50,000 Alpange digital piano. 

When I walked into the new digs, I first saw a glass wall with a Jeep Grand Wagoneer containing a McIntosh MX1375 entertainment system behind it. After that, several other journalists and I were brought upstairs for a building tour, though I didn’t realize at the time that I had walked right by a secret passage to the theater, which is located on the ground level.  

After enjoying some wine and hors d’oeuvres, I perused the various listening rooms and spaces, which contained everything from Rotel’s RAS-5000 integrated streaming amplifier ($2,999) to McIntosh’s MC2.1KW 2000-watt monoblock amp ($50,000) and Sonus faber’s Suprema speaker pair with external subwoofers and external crossover ($750,000). I soon realized this House was a place where I could spend a lot of time.

McIntosh house of sound stereo system

One of several McIntosh systems on display in NYC's House of Sound (Image credit: Future / Howard Kneller)

The theater 

We were soon called into the large theater, which was designed to look like one that might be located in a high-end home. The theater’s video system consists of a Sony video projector, a 204-inch Screen Research projector screen, and a Kaleidescape movie player. Audio, unmistakably the star of the show here, is provided by a 29-channel system powered by 14,500 watts that features no less than nineteen McIntosh amplifiers – nine MC611 monoblocks and ten MI502 stereo amps. The amps drive a range of Sonus faber custom installation speakers, including four installed in the ceiling. Also aiding the sonics are sixteen subwoofers, with ten located beneath the screen. 

McIntosh house of sound theater with journalists sitting in chairs

The author (left) with Mark Weingarten (right), Oscar-winning production sound mixer on Top Gun: Maverick (Image credit: Future / Howard Kneller)

Tapping into the aircraft communications systems...

David Mascioni, the McIntosh Group’s Director of Brand Marketing, and Ricky Miranda, the House of Sound’s Audio Experience Manager, welcomed the event’s attendees and introduced Mark Weingarten. As noted, since Weingarten was responsible for capturing Top Gun: Maverick’s dialogue, much of it in flight, his role in the movie was pivotal. Weingarten had done something that had not been done before by tapping into the aircraft communications systems to obtain the sound he needed. Interestingly, and to his surprise, the plane’s cockpits were almost completely quiet save for the actors’ voices, and often exasperated breathing due to intense G-forces. In several instances, Weingarten noted, the actors passed out mid-flight, although he said that Tom Cruise “loved it.”

One scene among several non-dialogue-related ones Weingarten mentioned was where a jet fighter buzzes actor Ed Harris at an extremely low altitude, causing the roof of a small guard tower to separate from the structure and momentarily lift several feet into the air.  According to Weingarten, the effect was unintended and the flyover knocked numerous cast members and set workers off their feet!

McIntosh house of sound theater with journalists sitting in chairs

House of Sound attendees ready for Top Gun: Maverick action (Image credit: Future / Howard Kneller)

Movie time 

When it came time to watch Top Gun: Maverick, the experience was otherworldly. The sound field was enormous and contained rock-solid images, clean highs, crystal-clear dialogue (needless to say), and prodigious, linear, non-bloated bass that resonated throughout my body. I left thinking that, by comparison, watching a movie in a commercial theater would now be underwhelming. The McIntosh Group’s House of Sound theater allowed me to hear Oscar-caliber sound as it was intended to be heard.

I left the House of Sound under the impression that I could easily show up every Saturday evening to listen to music and watch action movies in the venue’s ultra-luxurious setting. But as it turned out, that was more than the team had in mind when they extended my invitation. Nevertheless, the McIntosh Group has created a special space where McIntosh Labs, Sonus faber, and its other brands deliver truly great home theater and music experiences. Those who love high-end sound, or even those merely curious about the House of Sound, are encouraged to make an appointment and see and hear it for themselves.

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Howard Kneller

Howard Kneller is an equipment reviewer, columnist, photographer, and videographer. He is a co-founder of The Listening Chair with Howard Kneller, a multi-platform audiophile ecosystem. His popular YouTube channel features not only reviews and factory tours but audio show coverage from around the world. Over the past 15 years, Howard has contributed to AV publications such as Copper, The SoundStage! Network, and Sound & Vision.