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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

The 60th Anniversary Limited Edition C22 Tube Preamplifier and MC75 Tube Monoblock Power Amplifier aren't exact replicas of the originals—they're better!

McIntosh is commemorating its 60th anniversary with 120 sets of its legendary C22 stereo preamplifier and MC75 monoblock power amplifiers for the U.S. market. Like the re-born, retro-styled, Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger, these components look the part and seduce the eye with classic styling, but inside, they feature modern design touches.

 McIntosh C22 and MC75 60th Anniversary Special Edition

Produced from 1963 to 1972, the original McIntosh C22 preamplifier set the standard for features and flexibility for preamplifier designs. The 60th Anniversary Limited Edition C22 Tube Preamplifier has the look and feel of the original, but adds a number of circuit enhancements to bring the design up to modern specification. For example, the new C22's rear panel has two sets of XLR inputs and eight RCA inputs. RCA and XLR outputs are provided, along with trigger and data ports to communicate with other McIntosh components.

The new C22 is a bona-fide stereo preamplifier. Back in the days before CD, LP was the format of choice, so preamplifiers always included built-in phono amplifying stages. By the late 1980s the high-end preamp faded away, replaced with the "linestage" preamp (meaning sans phono stage). Somewhere along the way the linestage moniker disappeared and manufacturers started calling them preamps again, but they no longer included phono sections.

The C22 does and it's a doozy. It can accommodate one or two turntables. The C22 even has front panel controls to adjust "loading" for moving-magnet and moving-coil cartridges, so it's especially easy to fine-tune LP sound. I can't think of another preamp that offers that feature.

The C22 is the rare stereo preamp sporting bass and treble tone controls. There's also a Loudness control that boosts bass and treble to enhance sound for late-night listening.

Another feature you just don't see on today's stereo preamps is headphone jacks. The C22's, especially with my Grado RS-1 headphones, sounded big and bold.

McIntosh C22 60th Anniversary Special Edition
 
Rather than use the sort of mechanical switches found on the original C22, switching is now handled by magnetically activated devices inside vacuum sealed glass tubes, to ensure ultra-low contact resistance and consistent operation over decades of use.

Though there was some debate among McIntosh engineers, they went ahead and included something no 1960s audiophile would ever dream of: an IR remote control. It's a big, chunky thing, with thick extruded metal sides and glossy black face. The look is pure Mac.

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