McIntosh MC451 mono power amplifier combines valve and solid-state tech in one box

McIntosh MC451 mono power amp combines valve and solid-state in one compact box
(Image credit: McIntosh)

Like having your cake and eating it? McIntosh has the amplifier for you. The new MC451 Dual Mono Power amp combines both valve and solid-state amplification in one (beefy) unit.

The 150 Watt vacuum tube amplifier drives midrange drivers and tweeters, while the 300W solid state section drives the woofers. This nifty "McIntosh Hybrid Drive" technology is adjustable, too...

Users can tweak the crossover point on the back of the MC451 so that frequencies below the crossover point are sent to the solid-state amplifier and frequencies above it will be sent to the vacuum tube amplifier.

The US firm reckons its wizardry can be used to match music genres to their preferred amp technology. For example, rock music might be enhanced by introducing a higher proportion of solid-state amplification while jazz might benefit from more valves.

Sound familiar? It's probably because the MC451 isn't McIntosh's first crack at a Hybrid Drive amplifier. The much larger, pricier MC901 performs the same trick but with a lot more grunt (a 300W vacuum tube amplifier combined with a 600W solid-state amplifier).

It goes without saying the MC451 has been given the full McIntosh treatment. The black glass front plate is set with two blue-lit watt meters (one for the vacuum tube amp, one for the solid state amp) and three green-lit windows that showcase the valve tubes.

Other features include McIntosh's proprietary Power Guard signal overload technology, which prevents the amp from overdriving the speakers, and Sentry Monitor short-circuit protection.

Much like the recently-launched MI502, the MC451 is not exactly an impulse buy. Pricing is set at £16,495 / $14,000 (around AU$21,000). Pre-orders are open now and shipping is due to start this month (US and Canada), followed by the rest of the world shortly after that.


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Tom is a journalist, copywriter and content designer based in the UK. He has written articles for T3, ShortList, The Sun, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph, Elle Deco, The Sunday Times, Men's Health, Mr Porter, Oracle and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include mobile technology, electric vehicles and video streaming.