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Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier

McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier

McIntosh Laboratory Inc. now presents an outstanding preamplifier with the new McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier. This preamplifier uses the so-called two-chassis preamplifier design of the US hi-fi manufacturer.

The McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier is a truly outstanding solution, even by McIntosh Laboratory Inc. standards.

It is a preamplifier that relies on the so-called two-chassis preamplifier design of the US-American high-end hi-fi forge. The manufacturer himself describes this two-chassis preamplifier design as a particularly sophisticated solution to guarantee a level of quality at the highest level. No less than the ultimate in channel separation and sound purity is promised.

McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier with Two Chassic Preamplifier Design

But what does this mean in concrete terms? Well, here one simply relies consistently on what ultimately applies to all electronic components at the highest level, one effectively separates components that can negatively influence each other by using separate audio and control sections in this specific case, whereby the left and right channels are also electrically and mechanically isolated from each other. McIntosh Laboratory Inc. refers to this as true dual-mono operation.

Of course, it goes without saying that this is a fully symmetrical design, but it should still be explicitly mentioned.

McIntosh C12000C Controller Module and McIntosh C12000ST Preamplifier Module

This solution consists of the McIntosh C12000C Controller Module and the McIntosh C12000ST Preamplifier Module.

All power controls, data ports and external control connections are located in the controller. Two isolated power supplies drive the left and right channels, while a dual microprocessor provides high-performance control to the control system.

The preamplifier module houses the audio connections and related circuitry. Inside, the left and right channels are electrically and mechanically isolated from each other, allowing true dual-mono operation. The result, according to the manufacturer, is ultimate stereo separation and sound purity.

The two units are connected via a pair of specially designed, high-performance cables that are shielded to prevent outside noise from entering the audio signal.

Although they are two separate units, when connected they behave as one and can be easily controlled and operated via the supplied remote control or the front panel of the McIntosh C12000C Controller Module, the manufacturer promises.

Transistor or tube

Another special feature of the new preamplifier is already in the name: McIntosh Laboratory Inc. calls the C12000 a 2-channel solid state and vacuum tube preamplifier.

This means that you can switch between signal processing via transistor or tube, so that you can choose one or the other depending on your taste. Interestingly, the selection is made via the corresponding outputs, so there is one solid-state and one tube output via two balanced and two unbalanced outputs.

All outputs are driven by discrete amplifiers. According to the data sheet, two 12AT7s and one 12AX7A drive the left and right channels of the tube outputs, while a discrete, balanced operational amplifier is used for the solid state.

  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier

Flexible connection options

It is striking that the McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier presents itself with a multitude of connections, so that even the most extensive hi-fi systems can be realised with it.

There are six balanced and four unbalanced analogue high-level inputs, as well as two phono inputs that can be configured either for MC cartridges, i.e. moving coils, or MM catridges, i.e. moving magnets, and that allow flexible adjustment with adjustable capacitance, resistance and gain.

Incidentally, whether you choose tube or solid-state for the preamp, the phono preamps are always based on tube technology, using four 12AX7A vacuum tubes, with two tubes per channel in a fully balanced configuration with RIAA equalisation.

For connecting the McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier to the power amplifier as well as the rest of the audio system, a total of four outputs are available, as already indicated. The preamplifier thus has a balanced tube output, a balanced solid state output, an unbalanced output and a programmable unbalanced output that allows either tube or solid state.

By the way, the McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier can also be seamlessly integrated into a multi-channel home cinema system by means of a so-called Home Theatre Pass Through.

It goes without saying that this solution also offers a multitude of interfaces for integration into control solutions, so it should only be mentioned in passing.

Integrated headphone amplifier

For personal listening pleasure, the McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier has an integrated high-drive headphone amplifier with high output power and a user-selectable Headphone Crossfeed Director, or HXD for short, to give music additional depth and three-dimensionality.

Classic design

With its classic black glass front, blue indicators and solid knobs, stainless steel cabinet, illuminated manufacturer’s logos and custom brushed aluminium handles, it naturally presents itself quite as you would expect. The manufacturer himself says that the McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier makes a visual statement in addition to its sonic capabilities.

Getting to the point

McIntosh Laboratory Inc. promises maximum flexibility in configuration and outstanding quality in signal processing for the new McIntosh C12000 2-Channel Solid State and Vacuum Tube Preamplifier, which is seen as a clear statement in the field of amplifier systems.

PRODUCTMCINTOSH MC3500 1-MCINTOSH C12000 2-CHANNEL SOLID STATE AND VACUUM TUBE PREAMPLIFIER
PriceUS$ 16.000,-
BrandMcIntosh
ManufacturerMcIntosh Laboratory Inc.
Distribution Audio Components GmbH
More about this manufacturer at HiFi BLOG

About Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.com, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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