Today McIntosh announces a special limited edition commemorative system comprised of the MC2152 70th Anniversary Vacuum Tube Amplifier and C70 70th Anniversary Vacuum Tube Preamplifier. Only 70 of these systems will be sold to coincide with the company's 70 anniversary in 2019. For those who don't demand special markings and matching serial numbers, they'll be able to purchase these together or individually once the initial 70 are sold out.
In addition to these new products, McIntosh also announced that it would donate $1,000 for every commemorative system sold, to global humanitarian organization Save the Children. Save the Children will turn 100 in 2019.
The new products are as classy as anything McIntosh has every released. However, the system is comprised of something old and something new. Ever since Chief Industrial Designer for the McIntosh group Livio Cucuzza started creating beautiful designs for the McIntosh Group as a whole, there has always been some apprehension with respect to storied brands like Audio Research and McIntosh Labs. As the saying goes, don't fix what's not broken.
Fortunately Livio understands the task at hand as well as anyone. He has studied nearly every product ever designed for for these brands and has a keen sense of history. As evidence by his Audio Research designs over the last few years, especially the new ARC Reference 160M amplifiers, I don't think fans of McIntosh need to worry. In fact they should be exited to see what's coming.
With that in mind, the something new in this limited edition system is the MC2152 70th Anniversary Vacuum Tube Amplifier. One can't help but notice the stunning bead blasted black anodized aluminum chassis accentuated with matte finish carbon fiber side panels. What! Carbon fiber on a McIntosh amplifier? I love it.
The heart of the MC2152 remains pure McIntosh. Engineers used 70 years of knowledge to bring what McIntosh aficionados have come to love about the brand into this new chassis. According to McIntosh,
"Utilizing our patented Unity Coupled Circuit output transformer technology – the same technology the company was founded on in 1949 – the full 150 Watts can be delivered to almost any pair of speakers regardless if they have 2, 4 or 8 Ohm impedance.
The MC2152 uses eight KT88 output vacuum tubes plus eight small signal tubes comprised of four 12AX7A and four 12AT7 vacuum tubes; half of the tube complement is assigned to each audio channel. The 12AX7A vacuum tubes are for the Balanced and Input amps, while the 12AT7 tubes are for the Voltage and Driver amps. The LEDs under the eight small signal tubes can be set to three illumination settings: Off (which allows the tubes natural amber glow to be visible), Green or Blue – a new color option unique to the MC2152. Our Sentry Monitor™ technology monitors the output current and shuts the amplifier off if it ever exceeds safe limits.
On the back are both balanced and unbalanced inputs, along with our patented Solid Cinch™ speaker binding posts to securely connect your speaker cables, and an input and output for our Power Control technology that will automatically turn other connected McIntosh components on and off."
In a way the new MC2152 is a bit of old and new in one component. Now let's look at the classic McIntosh part of the 70th anniversary system, the C70 70th Anniversary Vacuum Tube Preamplifier.
I don't know how else to say it, but if you don't think this design is cool, you're crazy. Or, perhaps you'll think I'm crazy for scoring this unit right up there with the best looking audio products ever designed. Oh well, there's no accounting for taste.
Anyway, this all analog design is classic McIntosh. Even the HXD headphone crossfeed is analog. The C70 features the 70th Anniversary 1949-2019 lettering in beautiful back-lit green script.I even love the fact it says Stereophonic Preamplifier.
The switches and knobs are also classic tactile McIntosh. Perhaps those who no longer spin vinyl and miss out on the feel of their HiFi will appreciate the spinning of knobs and flipping of switches required for the C70 70th Anniversary Vacuum Tube Preamplifier.
Here's a bit more directly from McIntosh,
"The C70 features one 12AT7 and five 12AX7A vacuum tubes that are visible through a glass panel on the top cover. All control operations are done via knobs and rocker switches. Modern LED indicators will denote input selection and volume level. The C70 has seven inputs consisting of two balanced inputs, three unbalanced inputs, and one each of Moving Coil and Moving Magnet phono inputs. For outputs, there are two pairs each of balanced and unbalanced connections.
On the front panel, bass and treble tone controls are included and can be adjusted in 2dB increments via rotary knobs. Rotary knobs are also used to adjust the impedance and capacitance for the phono inputs. In addition to controlling the listening level, the volume knob can also adjust the relative volume balance between the left and right audio channels. A ¼” headphone jack powered by our High Drive headphone amplifier is included and features our Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®) technology. HXD brings added dimension to your music in a natural sounding way but can be turned off depending on your preferences. Five rocker switches are used to control the following functions: tone control on/ off; change between mono and stereo mode; HXD on/off; and to turn the independent output 1 and output 2 on/off.
The C70 sits atop a beautiful polished stainless steel chassis and features the timeless McIntosh black glass front panel, illuminated logo, control knobs, and aluminum end caps. Our Power Control technology is included with four ports that can automatically turn other connected McIntosh components on and off. Data ports are also present and can control basic functions of connected McIntosh source components such as CD Players via the C70’s remote control."
Now the bad news, the MC2152 70th Anniversary Vacuum Tube Amplifier and the C70 70th Anniversary Vacuum Tube Preamplifier aren't free. As a limited edition commemorative system the price is $22,000. This system can be ordered today at any authorized McIntosh dealer. Once these systems are gone, again only 70 of them will be made, each component can be purchased separately. The MC2152 70th Anniversary Vacuum Tube Amplifier is $15,000 USD and the C70 70th Anniversary Vacuum Tube Preamplifier is $7,000 USD.
I really wish review samples of this limited edition commemorative system were available, but it makes no sense to waste one of these beauties on folks like me. Cracking open this package will require ordering one before they are gone. I look forward to hearing first hand reports about the C70 and MC2152. Good stuff indeed.