McIntosh launches MHA50 portable DAC/headphone amp

Laptops and portable devices may be great pieces of kit, but when it comes to audio performance they often leave a little to be desired.

That has opened up a market for portable digital-to-analogue converters (DACs), and amplifier specialist McIntosh is aiming to grab a slice of the action with its MHA50.

And with a price of £895, McIntosh is going in big. The company's first truly portable device, the MHA50 features a 32-bit DAC that supports DSD256, DXD384 and PCM files up to 32bit/192kHz.

McIntosh has applied its amplifier know-how to the MHA50 by including the brand’s proprietary Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) - technology more usually found in its high-end amplifiers.

Physical inputs include USB and USB type-B for laptops, Apple devices and Android equivalents compatible with On-The-Go USB technology. Three USB cables are included in the box, and support for aptX Bluetooth 4.1 adds wireless connectivity too.

McIntosh claims the MHA50’s 3000mAh rechargeable battery provides up to six hours of Bluetooth playback, so we’d expect wired listening to offer a lot more.

The audio output is a gold-plated 3.5mm jack. And with two gain settings, the MHA50 can supposedly drive headphones with impedances ranging from 8-600 ohms.

It may not be a typical McIntosh product, but some trademark design traits have been carried over. The MHA50 is largely aluminium, with a glass front panel and touch-sensitive volume control knob inspired by some of the company's other products.

The McIntosh MHA50 will be available in the UK from November.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.