McIntosh has announced its latest preamp, the £9995 / $8000 C53 – and it’s a product of firsts.
It’s the first McIntosh product to utilise the US brand’s new DA2 DAC, and the first McIntosh preamp to sport HDMI ARC sockets for connecting it to a TV’s HDMI ARC output.
The DA2 module, which is replaceable and will also be offered as a separate upgrade for all DA1-toting products, introduces an advanced DAC chip, native DSD512/DXD 384kHz playback over USB, and an audio-only HDMI ARC input.
To that movie-focused end, there are home cinema-specific functions: Dolby and DTS multi-channel formats are converted to two-channel, and the C53’s remote can control a TV’s power and volume through CEC.
There are six additional digital inputs (two coaxial, two optical, one USB and one proprietary MCT for use with McIntosh’s MCT series of SACD/CD transports) and nine analogue inputs (three balanced and four unbalanced, plus moving coil and moving magnet). That's – quick maths – a rather impressive 16 connections in total.
McIntosh’s proprietary High Drive headphone amplifier is onboard too, complete with its Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD), which during headphone listening aims to create a soundstage more similar to that of stereo speakers.
The McIntosh C53 preamplifier is currently shipping in the US, with the UK and the rest of the world to follow next month.