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Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II
Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II

McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II

Inspired by an amplifier that inspired a generation, that’s how McIntosh Laboratory Inc. describes the new McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II, which, how could it be otherwise, is reminiscent of the McIntosh MC3500 of the 1960s.

The new McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II is to be understood as a reminiscence of an amplifier that came onto the market in the late 1960s and enjoys a legendary reputation, not least because it is associated with historic music events such as the Woodstock concert.

The McIntosh MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier is even considered an icon, for which almost horrendous prices are demanded on the second-hand market. To resurrect it with the new McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II, of course in its most modern form, will probably delight many a vintage lover.

An amplifier that inspired a whole generation

Well, it may sound a bit exaggerated when McIntosh Laboratory Inc. describes the McIntosh MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier in such a way, but, as already mentioned, they are referring to the fact that this solution – dozens and dozens of them, of course – was actually used to provide sound for over 400,000 people at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969.

The US company equipped numerous other festivals during these years, which have also long since enjoyed a legendary reputation; in general, McIntosh Laboratory Inc. was regarded in those days as one of the most important suppliers in the field of professional sound reinforcement solutions.

The McIntosh MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier was produced between 1968 and 1971, and delivered an impressive 350 watts of power.

McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II – Inspired by a Legend

As McIntosh Laboratory Inc. states, they themselves were not aware of the actual significance of this amplifier from the 1960s. It is obvious that it fetches top prices on the vintage market, but the significance of the McIntosh MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier goes beyond that.

So it was at an event to mark the 50th anniversary of Woodstock in 2019 when the idea was born to resurrect it. The initial spark is said to have been provided by Charlie Randall, President of McIntosh Laboratory Inc, who recognised the historical significance of the McIntosh MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier and decided to bring it back into production.

However, in the end, this was no easy task, after all, it was developed more than 50 years ago. A lot of things had to be worked out anew, so it took more than two years of development time to actually present the new MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II.

Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II
Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II

Brought up to the state of the art

The new McIntosh MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II is a conservatively designed 350 watt monoblock that takes its cue from the original McIntosh MC3500 from 1968 to 1971 and incorporates everything the company has learned about tube amplifier design since the 1960s, he said.

It was upgraded to modern standards and with modern components to deliver audio performance worthy of its predecessor and the legacy of the shared model number, the manufacturer promised. So the task was to integrate said state-of-the-art standards and current components into the original design.

Like the original 1960s amplifier, the McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II uses, first and foremost, what is known as the Unity Coupled Circuit output transformer, which enables the full 350 watts to be delivered safely to virtually any speaker, regardless of whether it has an impedance of 2, 4 or 8 ohms.

Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II
Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II

The McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II is powered by eight EL509S high-performance vacuum tubes. The EL509S tube was specifically chosen because it has many similar qualities and characteristics to the 6LQ6 used in the original MC3500, which was actually a type of tube designed for TV sets in the 1950s and 1960s.

Like the original McIntosh MC3500, the McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II features a fully balanced driver section using three 12AX7A and one 12AT7 vacuum tube. The first 12AZX7A is the differential input amplifier, the second is the buffer/driver for the voltage amplifier, and the third is the voltage amplifier.

The 12AT7 is the buffer/driver for the EL509S output tubes. All tubes are located behind the power and output transformers and are covered by a stainless steel wire cage with black powder coating.

Of course, the McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II now has all the features that distinguish every amplifier from the Americans, such as McIntosh Power Guard Screen Grid Sensor or McIntosh Sentry Monitor and a special version of the McIntosh DualView Power Output Meter is used on the front. The patented McIntosh Solid Cinch speaker binding posts are particularly robust and gold-plated for best signal transmission.

  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II
  • Foto © McIntosh Laboratory Inc. | McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II

Classic Design

Like the original, the new McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II has front-mounted carrying handles, but these are now supposed to be designed in such a way that the 54.9 kg can be lifted somewhat “more easily”.

The base of the cabinet is made of highly polished stainless steel, the front panel is made of aluminium and has a bead-blasted surface and golden anodisation. A clear glass insert covers the VU meter and a black glass insert at the bottom houses the buttons and illuminated lettering.

Paying homage to the look of the original McIntosh MC3500, the McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II features two U-shaped side rails that wrap around the top, back and bottom of each side.

Many of the original McIntosh MC3500s were used “on-the-road” and these sidebars provided strength and durability. It is a very unique design element that they naturally wanted to adopt for the latest incarnation of the amplifier.

There were also four black rubber buffers on the back of the rails, which allowed the amp to be temporarily stood upright when set up for performances. The buffers were large enough to prevent parts sticking out from the back of the amplifier from hitting the floor and being damaged. These buffers have also been replicated on the new McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II.

A few details at the end

As you would expect, the new McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II delivers 350 watts of power to speaker systems with an impedance of 2, 4 or 8 ohms. With dimensions of 45.7 cm in width, 30 cm in height and 54.9 cm in depth, this solution – as we have already mentioned in passing – weighs in at an impressive 54.9 kg.

Getting to the point

An amplifier inspired by an amplifier that inspired an entire generation – this is how McIntosh Laboratory Inc. describes the new McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II, which is actually based on the legendary power amplifier that, among other things, provided sound for 400,000 people at Woodstock in 1969. As a homage to the McIntosh MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier, which was built from 1969 to 1971, the new McIntosh MC3500 1-Channel Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II presents itself not only with a design based on it, but also the circuit concept has been adopted to a large extent, even if, of course, the most modern components and the latest technologies have by no means been dispensed with.

PRODUCTMCINTOSH MC3500 1-CHANNEL VACUUM TUBE AMPLIFIER MK II
PriceUS$  15.000,-
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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