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McIntosh launches 50th Anniversary edition MC275 Tube Power Amplifier


January 18, 2012

McIntosh Laboratory has launched a very limited 50th Anniversary edition of its iconic MC275 tube amplifier

McIntosh Laboratory has launched a very limited 50th Anniversary edition of its iconic MC275 tube amplifier

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While it's true that we've seen some gorgeous examples of modern amplification at Gizmag over the years, there's still something very pleasing to the eye about those that proudly display their tube circuit credentials, like the JoyVirtue TM-6 Tube-Amp AV Center. It's not just about looks, though. In spite of many, many advances in audio reproduction technology, enthusiasts still demand the warmth that vacuum tubes seem to give to an audio signal. One of the first tube amps I ever heard was an MC275 from McIntosh Laboratory way back in the mists of a misspent youth. The company is now celebrating the Golden Anniversary of its iconic amp with a very limited edition release.

The original McIntosh MC275 tube amp made its debut in 1961 and gave audio fans a lush, detailed and powerful soundstage still cherished by audiophiles to this day. There have been quite a few advances in sonic technology since then, though, which haven't been completely ignored for the sake of authenticity when designing the new 50th Anniversary Edition MC275 tube amp.

Although built around the same tube circuitry as the original, the strictly limited tribute edition - which is appropriately encased in a stunning gold-toned chassis - sees a first outing for Power Control input and output, which allows for control via cable connection to any McIntosh preamp or processor. McIntosh has also added a multi-colored LED indicator to show performance status, and there's now a High Speed Sentry Monitor circuit that automatically turns off the power when a worn tube is detected. When the tube is replaced, normal service is resumed.

The company does stress that none of the modern performance-related enhancements will adversely affect the smooth, clean sonic characteristics for which the original MC275 is held in such high regard.

The stunning 8.5 x 21.5 x 12-inch (216 x 546 x 305 mm) amp features four KT88/6650 power tubes, three 12AX7A inputs and phase inverters, and four 12AT7 voltage amplifier and drivers - all of which can be partially obscured from view behind a grill/dust cover or majestically exposed to the world.

The MC275 outputs 75 watts per channel at 2, 4, 8 or 16 ohms, or 150 watts in bridged mono mode, has a power band rating of 20Hz to 20kHz, total harmonic distortion of 0.5 percent, and a signal-to-noise ratio of 105dB below the rated output. Both balanced XLR and unbalanced inputs are supported.

The McIntosh 50th Anniversary MC275 tube amp is accompanied by a commemorative booklet and carries a suggested retail price of US$6,500.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

I love reading about valve amplifiers. It seems there is always another valve aficionado out there extolling the virtues of purist valve pursuits. Lot\'s of accolades for the look of the device but precious little for the engineering, and not surprising at all I might add. KT88s were common as muck in the old tube days (and actually very cheap). Goes to show how you can fool the public when the technology is (thankfully) superseded. Take a very average component, stick it out side the enclosure so you can stare at the glowing lightsand take advantage of those with too much money and not enough brains. Brilliant! For the record, the \"warmth enthusiasts still demand\" that only vacuum tubes seem to give to an audio signal (LOL) is actually the crossover distortion which is inevitably caused when you have to use output transformers! When Harold Leak introduced his company\'s (H.J. Leak & Co) first transistorised amplifier, the famous Leak Stereo 30, he remarked that in his opinion, eliminating the output transformer was the greatest advantage of the new model. But...so called purists still insist that the sun goes around the earth.


This really dates me, but when amps like this were state of the art, I was repairing them. I only hope McIntosh did it right and hand wired the under side of the chassis, rather than simply creating printed circuit board.

Bob Strong

Tubes are extremely linear at the proper bias point and filament temperature, and they have effectively infinite headroom in typical applications. Also contrary to popular opinion, there is no reason an output transformer has to be used to power everyday speaker loads in most home-use applications.


A ripoff at 1/4 the price! Actually, I wouldn\'t even pay $1000 for a pair!

Warren Gang

Ralph, nothing you said was correct. Tubes sound good because they distort the sound peaks into rounded topped waves instead of cut off sq as in transistor amps which causes massive harmonics.

For far less cost one can buy a silicon amp with 10x\'s the output and a peak filter unit to make the sound distortion for well under $500.

Don\'t get me wrong as I love Macs and all the old tube amps I worked on for yrs and I prefer the sound. Bt not for 2x\'s the price or in this case, 10x\'s the price.

And just how will you connect a speaker to 200+ DCVolts? Got any 400 ohm voice coils?

These are not complicated amps and anyone with a RCA tube manual and Electrical knowledge could build one.


Audio engineers strive to create amplifiers that faithfully reproduce the input signals outputting these at high power levels to drive loudspeakers. This means no distortion of the input, flat frequency response, excellent transient response, and wide bandwidth to handle harmonics.

Tube amplifiers are the opposite of this. If one wants a solid state amplifier to sound like a tube amp, just add some controls to distort the sound and you\'re there.

If you want faithful reproduction of the input, go with solid state otherwise, enjoy you warm and distorted tube sound which only gets more distorted as the tubes age, the bias points change, and gains change. This provides tube sound lovers with a constantly changing and rich audio smorgasbord of ever new sounds (for the same inputs) over time.

Clearly the El TubeO\'s enjoy this cacophony and they are welcome to it.

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