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McIntosh 60th Anniversary Special Edition System Review

November 16, 2009 By Steve Guttenberg



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McIntosh C22 and MC75 60th Anniversary Special Edition
McIntosh C22 and MC75 60th Anniversary Special Edition
McIntosh C22 60th Anniversary Special Edition
McIntosh MC75 60th Anniversary Special Edition

In 1961 McIntosh introduced two of its most famous amplifiers of all time: the MC275 stereo 75 watt per channel amplifier and its 75 watt monaural counterpart, the MC75. The new Limited Edition MC75 amplifier incorporates many circuit updates to improve reliability while retaining the original's sonic allures.

 McIntosh MC75 60th Anniversary Special Edition

The MC75's power supply is now identical to the one used in the stereo MC275, which effectively doubles the size of the power supply of the MC75. Balanced inputs and outputs have been added that weren't on the original versions. The MC75 delivers 75 watts into 2-, 4- or 8-ohm rated speakers. Trigger switches allow the C22 to remotely turn the MC75 on and off. The original's chrome-plated chassis has been replaced with a gold color, titanium-stainless steel chassis.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the C22 and MC75 are both vacuum tube designs! The C22 uses six small 12AX7A tubes; each MC75 has one 12AX7A, two 12AT7 tubes and two large KT88 tubes. So in that sense they're much like the originals, but built with much higher quality and closer tolerance parts than the 1960s era Macs were.

The tubes come pre-installed so tube novices won't have to touch the tubes. The MC75 looks like a million bucks with the tubes out in the open, but the amp comes with a protective tube "cage" for those buyers who would prefer to keep the tubes out of the reach of small children.

McIntosh can service almost every preamp and power amplifier they ever made at the Binghamton, New York, factory, which is where the C22 and MC75 are hand-built. And in case you're wondering, yes, Mac sells replacement tube sets for all of the tube components they've ever made.

What do these re-born designs sound like? Rich and warm, yet the midrange detail is fabulous! Macs sound more laid-back than modern solid-state or tubed gear.

Tube power amplifiers can be fussy about speakers, so I wasn't all that surprised that the MC75 didn't click with my Magnepan MG 3.6R panel speakers. Not that the sound wasn't perfectly pleasant, just lacking in verisimilitude. My Dynaudio C-1 speakers were another story; there the MC75s' 775 watts sounded considerably more powerful, so bass oomph and definition were superb.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the new Macs was how wide the gulf between the sound of analog and digital still is. That's not to take away the strides digital has made over the years, but turntables, tonearms and cartridges are much, much better as well. So analog was even groovier, juicier and more engaging than digital.

I bought one of the Rolling Stones newly remastered CDs, Sticky Fingers, and wasn't all that impressed by the sound, so I started going back and listening to my old Stones LPs. It's been ages since I played "Emotional Rescue," but the music rocked harder through the C22 on vinyl—a lot harder.  

The Mac faithful aren't part of the high-end mainstream, which tends to jump from brand to brand, swapping equipment on a regular basis. Mac buyers hang in for the long term—many still own and use gear they bought decades ago. No other consumer electronics brand has that sort of devout loyalty. I fully expect the 60th Anniversary Limited Edition C22 Tube Preamplifier and MC75 Tube Monoblock Power Amplifier to be making great sounds when Mac celebrates its 120th anniversary in 2069.

PRICE:
C22 and MC75s (pair): $15,000

CONTACT: 800.538.6576, mcintoshlabs.com

 McIntosh C22 and MC75 60th Anniversary Special Edition

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