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Fight the future with McIntosh’s C49 ‘super pre-amplifier’

  • C49. Not a 49-minute cassette tape from TDK but McIntosh’s all-new “super pre-amplifier” that caters to digital streamers, vinyl fiends and headphonistas via a whopping 13 inputs: 2 x balanced, 3 x unbalanced, MM phono, MC phono, 2 x coaxial, 2 x TOSLINK, USB and MCT (“for use with McIntosh’s MCT-enabled SACD/CD transports”).

    Does the C49 do MQA? Not yet. But it could in the future. Tackling possible future obsolescence head-on, McIntosh has made the C49’s internal DAC board fully field-upgradeable. The (initial) DA1 board converts digital to analogue with an unnamed 8-channel 32bit chip whose hi-res support tops out at PCM 384kHz and DSD256. The DA1 can be swapped out for an improved board as technologies develop and McIntosh brings it to market.

    On outputs – for direct connection to a power amplifier or a pair of active loudspeakers – we note 2 x balanced, 2 x unbalanced plus a single fixed level output for those who execute volume control elsewhere in the playback chain. McIntosh has also specified the C49 with their “high-drive” headphone amplifier + HXD crossfeed circuit.

    Interestingly, in touting the C49’s house-styled bass and treble rotaries as a way to better match the loudspeaker output to the room, the press release rubs conventional audiophile thinking the wrong way. If that’s you, the tone controls can be left disengaged.

    And, as per almost all McIntosh gear, the C49 features a black glass panel, an illuminated logo and is made in the USA.

    Shipping begins June/July in the UK with a sticker price of £5495. In the USA, shipping begins almost immediately with an asking price of US$5000.

    Further information: McIntosh

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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