The new stereo integrated amplifier from McIntosh Laboratory Inc., the McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier, features a so-called hybrid design for saturated performance, countless connections for analogue and digital sources, and the possibility of intervening flexibly in the sound characteristics.
Interestingly enough, a development has taken place in recent years which is probably due in large part to the so-called convergence of the worlds, the merging of consumer electronics and IT. If one looks at amplifier systems, it is inevitably noticeable that they often have significantly fewer interfaces than solutions from earlier years. In fact, the triumph of music streaming has made one or the other component of a classic hi-fi chain obsolete for many users. In many cases, a streaming client serves as a kind of universal source for a wide variety of content, be it from your own network, an online streaming service or Internet radio. In addition, there may be a record player, but in many cases that’s it. In line with this development, many amplifier systems these days have comparatively few inputs, not so with the latest solution in this area from McIntosh Laboratory Inc., the new McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier. This is an extremely flexible system which, apart from other impressive features, offers a true phalanx of interfaces.
“Fully loaded” is how McIntosh Laboratory Inc. advertises the new stereo integrated amplifier McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier, which really lives up to its name. Not only does it provide no less than 17 inputs in analogue and digital form, it is also the most powerful stereo integrated amplifier ever designed by the US-American high-end hi-fi manufacturer. While a tube preamplifier is supposed to provide warm, nuanced sound, it is a solid state power amplifier, which is responsible for two times 350 watts of power.
As already indicated, and as the name suggests anyway, this new stereo integrated amplifier is a so-called hybrid design. The preamplifier of the new McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier is based on four 12AX7A tubes, two per channel, while the power amplifier is designed in classic transistor technology and can provide a full 350 watts per channel. McIntosh Autoformer Technology is used to ensure that this power is always available, regardless of whether the loudspeaker systems have an impedance of 2, 4 or 8 ohms.
Of course, the new McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier is also equipped with all the other technologies that have distinguished all solutions from McIntosh Laboratory Inc. in the amplifier segment for years, such as McIntosh Power Guard to prevent so-called clipping, and McIntosh Sentry Monitor as a fuseless short-circuit protection circuit.
It goes without saying that the new McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier is also equipped with the very special cooling elements, the so-called McIntosh Monogrammed Heatsinks, which show the manufacturer’s signature when viewed from above, as well as the newly designed VU meters, which the manufacturer refers to as McIntosh Blue Watt Meters.
As already mentioned, it is not only the performance that is impressive in the new McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier, but also the impressive number of inputs, no less than 17 in total.
There are ten analogue inputs on the rear panel alone, two in the form of balanced XLR sockets, the rest in the form of conventional unbalanced RCA sockets. However, two of these eight unbalanced analogue inputs are used as phono preamplifiers, one designed for drives with MM pick-up systems, the second for drives with MC pick-up systems. According to the manufacturer, both phono inputs allow optimal adaptation to the cartridges used.
Incidentally, one balanced and one unbalanced connection is available on analogue outputs, so that the new McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier can be used flexibly in a wide variety of configurations, including a home cinema.
There are also no fewer than seven digital inputs. While the McIntosh DA2 Digital Audio Module is offered as an optional add-on in many solutions from McIntosh Laboratory Inc., the new McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier comes with the module already installed ex works. This provides two coaxial and two optical S/PDIF interfaces as well as a USB port for direct connection to a PC or Mac. This interface is not only particularly interesting because it provides the full performance potential of the integrated converter, it is also Roon Tested. There is also a so-called MCT, which is used for the integration of an SACD/ CD transport from McIntosh Laboratory Inc. In addition, there is also an HDMI input which supports not only an ARC, i.e. an audio return channel, but also HDMI CEC for control by remote control. It is also interesting to note that Dolby Digital and DTS are supported and converted to stereo.
The signal processing of digital data is carried out here with a Quad-Balanced 8-Channel 32 Bit DAC, which supports content in Linear PCM with up to 32 Bit and 384 kHz (DXD), as well as DSD with up to DSD512 via the aforementioned USB port. The S/PDIF interfaces are limited to Linear PCM with up to 24 bits and 192 kHz.
As a further special feature, the new McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier has an integrated headphone amplifier. The manufacturer refers to it as a high-drive headphone amplifier with Headphone Crossfeed Director (HDX).
Another interesting feature is that the McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier has a very flexible sound control in the form of an 8-band equalizer.
It is hardly surprising that the front is dominated by the already mentioned VU meters, just as little surprising that other typical design features such as a black glass front flanked by two aluminium carrying handles are also used. What is new, however, are a few design elements on the top, such as the fact that the autoformers and power transformers are now in a new housing with a glass cover with a decorative ring. The most important power specifications and a detailed block diagram are printed on a total of five glass plates, which can be found on the top.
Finally, the developers of the new McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier rely on a particularly powerful microprocessor to provide highly intuitive, fluid control via the front panel controls and an LCD display. A matching infrared remote control is also included.
The new McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier is expected to be available at specialist dealers in the near future.
Getting to the point
“Fully loaded” is how McIntosh Laboratory Inc. advertises the new stereo integrated amplifier McIntosh MA12000 2-Channel Hybrid Integrated Amplifier, which really lives up to its name. Not only does it provide no less than 17 inputs in analogue and digital form, it is also the most powerful stereo integrated amplifier ever designed by the American high-end hi-fi manufacturer. While a tube preamplifier is supposed to provide warm, nuanced sound, it is a solid state power amplifier, which is responsible for two times 350 watts of power.