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McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth Transceiver

McIntosh Laboratory Inc. is now dedicating itself to Bluetooth, and with a system that really stands out, namely the McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth Transceiver. Bluetooth transmit and receive, and at a high level.

McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth Transceiver, with this system, the US high-end hi-fi manufacturer McIntosh Laboratory Inc. is now surprising us with a product that is completely dedicated to Bluetooth, the “wireless” signal transmission that did not really enjoy a good reputation for years.

Bluetooth was just about acceptable to hi-fi enthusiasts for consumer systems, but of no interest for high-end hi-fi systems. But now McIntosh Laboratory Inc. wants to get exactly there with the new McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth Transceiver…

McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth Transceiver, the high-end HiFi solution?

One thing must be made clear: Bluetooth in its current form has little to do with the way this signal transmission was presented just a few years ago.

In the beginning, it was always a lossy signal transmission, but now data rates are achieved that are quite adequate in quality, and this is where the new solution of the US-Americans in the case of the new McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth Transceiver comes in.

Bluetooth 5.0 as a basis

The new McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth transceiver is based on Bluetooth 5.0 and, to emphasise this once again, is designed as a so-called transceiver, i.e. it supports both transmission and reception.

The developers rely on a module from the specialist Qualcomm and support for the SBC and A2DP protocols.

First and foremost, two important codecs are supported, namely AAC for the world of Apple, i.e. Advanced Audio Coding, whereby only approximate “CD quality” is achieved here, as it is still a lossy signal transmission.

In addition, there is aptX, which allows the aforementioned “CD quality” in loss-free form, as well as aptX HD, with which the signal transmission takes place with 24 bits and 48 kHz. aptX LL is also supported.

Reliable signal connection

The manufacturer particularly emphasises the stable signal connection of the new McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth transceiver. Both during transmission and reception, it is to be ensured that music playback never stops, even if the user moves around the room. This is by no means unusual, especially when using a smartphone as a source or Bluetooth headphones…

Integrated high-quality D/A converter

If the McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth transceiver is used as a receiver, according to the manufacturer, a high-performance 32-bit DAC with 192 kHz is used for signal processing, which is supposed to ensure optimum sound quality.

If, on the other hand, an external D/A converter is used, audio data is always output at 96 kHz via the digital output of the McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth Transceiver in order to be compatible with most D/A converters, as the manufacturer writes.

If the McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth Transceiver is used as a transmitter, a high-performance ADC, i.e. analogue-to-digital converter, is also used, which is supposed to excel with particularly clean signal processing free of noise.

Whether the new McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth transceiver works as a receiver or transmitter is determined by means of a selector switch.

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Comparatively not so compact housing

Like many such solutions, the new McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth transceiver is supposed to present itself as a particularly compact device that can easily find its place around the hi-fi system.

A high-quality aluminium housing is used, which is presented in discreet black.

With dimensions of 24 cm in width, 10.01 cm in depth and 6.35 cm in height, the new McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth transceiver is one of the largest solutions in its class and weighs in at a hefty 1.2 kg.

Numerous connections, also balanced

One reason for the comparatively large dimensions is that the new McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth transceiver offers a surprisingly large number of connections in a remarkable form.

Of course, we’re not talking about the usual digital inputs and outputs, which are available in the form of optical and coaxial S/PDIF interfaces, nor about the analogue inputs and outputs in the form of RCA sockets. It is rather surprising that balanced inputs and outputs in the form of XLR connectors are also offered here.

For the promised optimal signal transmission, corresponding antennas are available on the back.

Getting to the point

With the new McIntosh MB20 Bluetooth transceiver, the US high-end hi-fi manufacturer McIntosh Laboratory Inc. takes on the topic of Bluetooth in an appropriate manner. The convenience that comes with Bluetooth is to be available here at the level of quality that is expected at McIntosh Laboratory Inc. This also includes the fact that this solution, which can transmit as well as receive, comes with all relevant interfaces including balanced analogue inputs and outputs.

Manufacturer:McIntosh Laboratory Inc.
Distribution:Audio Components GmbH
Price:zirka US$ 500,-
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Michael Holzinger

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

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