Home Entertainment

McIntosh revives the spirit of Woodstock with MC3500 Mk II amp

McIntosh revives the spirit of...
The MC3500 Mk II is a modern reworking of the vacuum tube monoblock amplifier that powered the sound system at Woodstock, and many other music festivals in the late 1960s/early 70s
The MC3500 Mk II is a modern reworking of the vacuum tube monoblock amplifier that powered the sound system at Woodstock, and many other music festivals in the late 1960s/early 70s
View 4 Images
The MC3500 Mk II is a modern reworking of the vacuum tube monoblock amplifier that powered the sound system at Woodstock, and many other music festivals in the late 1960s/early 70s
1/4
The MC3500 Mk II is a modern reworking of the vacuum tube monoblock amplifier that powered the sound system at Woodstock, and many other music festivals in the late 1960s/early 70s
The Mk II features an aluminum front panel in anodized gold as an homage to the original MC3500 (right), but the output meter has been updated and moved
2/4
The Mk II features an aluminum front panel in anodized gold as an homage to the original MC3500 (right), but the output meter has been updated and moved
All 12 vacuum tubes sit behind the Mk II's power and output transformers
3/4
All 12 vacuum tubes sit behind the Mk II's power and output transformers
The MC3500 Mk II has been built for compatibility with pre-amps, turntables, CD players, media streamers and other modern hi-fi gear
4/4
The MC3500 Mk II has been built for compatibility with pre-amps, turntables, CD players, media streamers and other modern hi-fi gear
View gallery - 4 images

New York's high-end audio gear maker McIntosh Labs has reworked the iconic monoblock amplifier that powered the sound system at the 1969 Woodstock music and art fair. Rocking the spirit of the original amps, the MC3500 Mk II has a similar outward appearance but benefits from a host of modern upgrades.

"At the 50th anniversary of Woodstock in 2019, there was a lot of buzz resurfacing about the McIntosh sound system," says the company's president, Charlie Randall. "This enthusiasm was infectious and inspired me to get our engineering team together to redesign the amp that has obviously resonated with music fans as being a historically significant piece of audio gear. After over two years, we are really proud of the result. The MC3500 Mk II takes its inspiration from the original 1968-71 MC3500 and incorporates all the knowledge we have gained surrounding vacuum tube amplifier design since the 1960s."

Taking design cues from the original amps, the MK II comes with front handles and U-shaped siderails that extend over the top, back and bottom of each side. These would have been handy for lugging the amps from festival to festival back in the 60s, and the new model also comes with rubber bumpers around back that allowed roadies to stand the original amps upright while setting up.

The front panel of the Mk II looks similar yet different to the original amp, and has been fashioned from machined aluminum with gold anodizing as a hat tip to its iconic predecessors. The output meter is still there too, but is much larger and gets positioned front and center rather than off to the left, and now employs a variation of the company's DualView design, where the top scale show power output in watts and decibels, while the lower scale is for warmup time.

The MC3500 Mk II has been built for compatibility with pre-amps, turntables, CD players, media streamers and other modern hi-fi gear
The MC3500 Mk II has been built for compatibility with pre-amps, turntables, CD players, media streamers and other modern hi-fi gear

The Mk II's balanced driver section makes use of three 12AX7A vacuum tubes and one 12AT7, while the company selected eight EL509S tubes for the output stage due to their similarity to the 6LQ6 "sweep tubes" used in the original. McIntosh's Power Guard SGS technology has also been included to prevent premature vacuum tube failure, and all of the amp's tubes site behind the unit's power and output transformers, covered by a removable 12-gauge stainless steel wire cage.

Like the original model, the Mk II uses a proprietary Unity Coupled Circuit output transformer for the power to output all 350 watts per channel into 2-, 4- or 8-ohm speakers via McIntosh's patented Solid Cinch binding posts.

Your home doesn't necessarily need to have speaker walls and a huge stage in the living room to make use of the Mk II, McIntosh says that it will play nice with modern pre-amplifiers, turntables, CD players, media streamers, speakers and other hi-fi gear – both balanced and unbalanced inputs are included. Though you will need to have a fat wallet, as the reimagined MC3500 carries a high price tag of US$15,000. Shipping is expected to start in December.

Product page: McIntosh MC3500 Mk II

View gallery - 4 images
4 comments
4 comments
Username
This being a mono amp, you'll need to shell out 30 grand.
Grunchy
I regret ever wasting a dime on any of this audiophile nonsense. I got a pair of JBL SR4704A in decent 2nd hand shape for $100 and now even my ordinary Harmon Kardon amp sounds more amazing than the Bryston etc. system ever did. (I mounted the JBLs upside-down rather than on the inclined face, they ain't stage monitors any more! Took me 5 minutes to put the JBL tags right-side up too.)
Eddy
Don't think many of the original pennyless scruffy Woodstock attendees, now reformed of course would feel nostalgic enough to give up streaming MP3's to their i-phone and shell out for a pair of these beauties.
ljaques
For that price, you could buy two used Phase Linear 400 mono amps, either a Phase Linear 4000 or a Marantz 4300 preamp, a pair of Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater speakers, and an array of good CDs to listen to. You'd still have money to take your wife out to dinner at a French restaurant and treat her to a full day at the spa the next day.
I respect McIntosh for their wonderful equipment through the years, but it's way overpriced for 99% of the public.