MCINTOSH GOES ONE BETTER
A while back US audio legend McIntosh, said it would release an Integrated Audio System.
The MXA70 was duly unveiled and though it boasted compact dimensions, the look, feel finish, functionality and the sound, was all McIntosh. This is to say that anyone harbouring memories of those truly appalling all-in-one audio units of the 70’s, should park their doubts elsewhere.
The MXA70’s mantle has been taken over by the latest McIntosh Integrated Audio System called logically, the MXA80.
The newbie model has the same compact dimensions of the earlier model and maintains many of its features and functions with this not so minor difference: the MXA80 adds support for DSD and DXD digital music files because it carries a brand new DAC.
The core of the MXA80 is a 50-watt stereo amplifier. This drives a pair of McIntosh designed 2-way desktop speakers. But a word here: McIntosh rates its amplifiers conservatively so you can expect the MXA80 and its matching speakers to generate an audiophile grade sonic experience.
This isn’t a question of loudness, though the MXA80 like the MXA70 will drive the average living room with convincing levels of sound. It’s more about the ability of McIntosh models to deliver huge levels of neutrality, transparency and detail. Buy McIntosh and that’s what you should expect.
As for versatility, the new model offers a choice of six inputs-four digital and two analogue. A USB input is handy for accepting PCM signals encoded up to 32-bit/385kHz and supporting DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DXD352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz.
The MXA80 is equipped with McIntosh’s exclusive MCT input to deliver a secure DSD connection that looks to exploit the high definition audio carried by SACDs when played using the MCT450 SACD/CD Transport.
Mention the description “desktop’’ speakers and there’s an immediate headphones connotation. That’s the case with the MXA80 and its dedicated headphone amplifier equipped with Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD), a feature McIntosh insists gets the best performance from any decent headphone.
Also provided is the brand’s Power Guard feature to prevent clipping that could blow tweeters or the headphone drivers. Tailoring the sound is easy thanks to a 5-step Bass Boost Control.
The MXA80 invites pairing with the same sized MB50 Streaming Audio Player and MP100 Phono Preamplifier to create a high-end, all McIntosh compact system that would be a bit of a keeper.
Finish is typically McIntosh and the amp is built into a superbly polished stainless steel front panel that sets off the brand’s classic and iconic glass front panel bedecked by chunky knobs and brushed aluminium end caps. The speakers are finished in a luxurious high gloss piano black finish.
McIntosh MXA80 will be available from April, and local pricing has not yet been confirmed.
For more information visit the McIntosh brand page.
One of the veterans of the Australian HiFi industry, if there's a speaker he's likely heard it or owned it at some point in his career. Peter was formerly the audio-video editor of the Herald Sun for over two decades.
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