McIntosh Laboratory has introduced the MA12000 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier. The amp offers 350 watts per channel of power, providing what the company says are the warm nuances of a vacuum tube preamp paired with the speed and power of a solid-state amplifier, state-of-the-art digital audio capabilities, and enough analog audio connections for virtually any home music system.
The hybrid design boasts a preamplifier section powered by (4) 12AX7A vacuum tubes (two tubes per audio channel), while the 350-watt power amplifier section employs a solid-state design. McIntosh’s Autoformer technology is said to guarantee the speakers will always be capable of receiving that full 350 watts whether they have 2, 4 or 8 Ohm impedance.
There are 10 analog inputs on the MA12000 consisting of two balanced and six unbalanced inputs, plus one Moving Coil and one Moving Magnet input. Both phono inputs feature adjustable loading for fine tuning the MA12000 to a specific turntable configuration for vinyl playback. All the unbalanced analog connectors are constructed from gold-plated solid brass for signal handling and grounding. The MA12000 also has one balanced and one unbalanced output to connect to an additional amplifier that’s used in a different part of the house.
For digital music, the MA12000 comes with McIntosh’s DA2 Digital Audio Module factory installed. Located in the DA2 are seven digital audio inputs: two coaxial, two optical, one USB and one MCT (for use with their MCT series of SACD/CD Transports), and one audio-only HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) connection. The DA2 is powered by a next-generation, Quad Balanced, eight-channel, 32-bit Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC). This audiophile-grade DAC features improved dynamic range and improved total harmonic distortion. The DA2 supports high-resolution digital audio playback, as the USB input supports native playback of up to DSD512 and DXD up to 384kHz, while the coax and optical inputs can decode digital music up to 24-bit/192kHz.
The HDMI (ARC) input allows TVs with a compatible HDMI (ARC) output to be connected to the MA12000. The DA2 can be replaced by future modules to keep the MA12000 up to date as new digital audio formats and technologies are developed. The DA2 has also received Roon Tested designation from Roon Labs.
The top of the MA12000 is highlighted by some updated industrial design elements. The Autoformers and power transformer are now contained in a new glass-topped enclosure capped by a glass nameplate encircled with a decorative trim ring. Key performance specifications and a detailed block diagram are printed on five glass panels.
Other MA12000 features include:
• Power Guard, that monitors the output signal for over-driving and makes real-time micro adjustments to the input signal to prevent harsh-sounding clipping that could potentially damage speakers
• McIntosh’s fuse-less short-circuit protection circuit Sentry Monitor that disengages the output stage before current exceeds safe operating levels, and then resets automatically when operating conditions return to normal
• A pair of peak responding, trademarked “McIntosh Blue” watt meters that indicate the real-time power output of each audio channel
• McIntosh Monogrammed Heatsinks, which are connected to advanced high-current output transistors that minimize thermal equilibrium lag (or warmup) time and help keep the MA12000 running cool
• Home Theater PassThru that allows for seamless integration into a home theater system
• McIntosh’s patented Solid Cinch speaker binding posts that securely attach the speaker cables to prevent them from coming loose and possibly causing a short; the binding posts are also gold-plated to prevent corrosion and ensure a quality signal is sent over speaker cables to speakers
• A discrete, eight-band tone control that allows for advanced manual analog adjustment of favorite recordings
• High Drive headphone amplifier with Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD), which can bring an added dimension to headphone listening
• Power Control to send power on/off signals to connected McIntosh components for easy system power up and shutdown
• Doubling of filter capacity compared to McIntosh’s other integrated amplifiers for even better low-frequency performance
• The latest audio-grade circuit components
• Control microprocessors to improve overall system operation
• Easy operation via front-panel controls or the included comprehensive remote control
The entire unit is wrapped in the classic McIntosh aesthetic with a pair of blue watt meters, a black glass front panel, rotary control knobs, illuminated logo, aluminum end caps with built-in handles and a stainless-steel chassis polished to a mirror finish. The MA12000 can be paired with a variety of turntables, CD players, music streamers, and speakers.
Shipping is expected to begin this month in the U.S. and Canada, and to the rest of the world shortly thereafter. Suggested retail price is $14,000.