McIntosh transceiver adds two-way Bluetooth streaming to any hi-fi setup
Music lovers who want to stream tunes from their smartphone to the living room hi-fi or from the hi-fi to wireless headphones might be disappointed. Many setups, including audio gear from McIntosh Labs, don't support Bluetooth, so the company set out to put that right with the MB20 Bluetooth Transceiver.
The MB20 doesn't require any third-party mobile apps to set up and use and isn't restricted to just McIntosh systems, it can bring legacy hi-fi gear from other manufacturers into the streaming era, too. And even if your home audio hardware has Bluetooth included, it may serve as a receiver only. The McIntosh box can transmit audio wirelessly as well.
There's a switch around back to change between receiver/transmission modes, and an external antenna to maximize range of the Class 1 Bluetooth unit, which means it has a potential wireless reach of up to 150 ft (46 m). And high resolution audio transfer between compatible devices comes courtesy of Bluetooth 5.0, with support for aptX HD, aptX Low Latency and AAC codecs.
When in receiver mode, the unit leans on an internal 32-bit/192-kHz digital-to-analog converter, though for maximum compatibility, the MB20 does fix the output to 96 kHz when used with an outboard DAC. When you want to transmit sounds from the hi-fi turntable or CD player to Bluetooth headphones or speakers, an analog-to-digital converter with a 110-dB signal-to-noise ratio is employed.
McIntosh has provided balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs for connecting the transceiver to hi-fi systems, as well as coaxial and optical ins and outs for use with an external DAC.
The black aluminum chassis and black glass top panel should fit right in with legacy McIntosh hardware, but won't look too out of place with audio gear from other manufacturers either. It's available to order now for a suggested retail price of US$500.
There are cheaper Bluetooth transceivers available of course, such as the capable BTA30 from FiiO, and there's always a premium to pay for McIntosh gear, but the MB20 does offer more input/output flexibility than most and promises ease of operation and long Bluetooth range.
Product page: MB20