McIntosh has expanded its immense, product-spanning catalogue with the all-new MHA200 vacuum tube headphone amplifier, which promises to get the utmost out of virtually any pair of headphones.
The MHA200 – compact for McIntosh amplifier standards (at 15.6 cm wide and 23.2 cm deep), although no less ‘McIntosh’ aesthetically – is driven by pairs of 12AT7 and 12BH7A valves. The former work to amplify the incoming audio signal, while the latter are designed to provide the power to drive the output to the headphones.
So that the MHA200 can work with “virtually any headphones”, McIntosh has adapted many of its proprietary technologies. This includes the Unity Coupled Circuit transformers, which were a key element of the company's foundational products back in 1949, and which can still be found in its full-size amplifiers today.
McIntosh has designed the transformers to match the valve amplifier section to the headphone output stage, ensuring maximum power transfer for various loads. Uniquely, the transformers ensure the full power of the MHA200 is available regardless of the impedance of the headphones, negating the need for your headphones' impedance to be matched with the amp's voltage gain.
The MHA200’s power handling shouldn’t impact your choice of headphones, then – and neither should its connections. There’s 3-pin balanced XLR connectors, a 4-pin balanced XLR socket (for balanced stereo) and the more typical 6.35mm jack. Both balanced and unbalanced inputs complete the spec sheet.
Aside from a relatively compact footprint, McIntosh has worked to make the MHA200 easy to accommodate by providing long balanced cables, which should maintain signal accuracy and give you greater flexibility with positioning. If you're connecting to a McIntosh system, know that a Power Control input and output allows the MHA200 to turn on and off with other connected McIntosh components.
The McIntosh MHA200 will be available in the UK from April, priced £2795; in the US from March, priced $2500; in Australia in April, price AU$4995; and in the rest of the world soon after.
Check out our McIntosh MA9000 integrated amplifier review