McIntosh revives the spirit of Woodstock with MC3500 Mk II amp
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 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