New York's McIntosh Labs has announced a new addition to its high end audio catalog in the shape of the C53 preamplifier, which is the first product to feature the company's new DA2 Digital Audio Module and the first capable of connecting to HDMI (ARC)-compatible TVs.

The McIntosh DA1 Digital Audio Module is currently in use in the company's solid state integrated amplifiers, like the mighty MA9000, but for the new C53, an updated design has been included. It features the same two coaxial, two optical, single USB and single proprietary MCT connections as its predecessor, but has now been treated to an audio-only HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) port to route audio from compatible televisions through the home stereo system.

The DA2's USB input can now support native DSD512 playback, compared to the DA1's DSD256 limit, thanks to the inclusion of the latest generation quad-balanced, 8 channel, 32-bit DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter). McIntosh also promises improvements in dynamic range and total harmonic distortion. While opting to use the coaxial or optical inputs means that the system can decode digital music content at up to 24-bit/192 kHz resolution.

The C53 2-channel solid state preamplifier gives users a total of 16 inputs for connecting up hi-fi source components – that's seven digital inputs from the DA2 and nine analog from the C53 itself, including MC and MM phono inputs for plugging in a turntable without needing to buy a phono pre-amp.

Tone control comes in the shape of an eight-band analog equalizer, and there's an included headphone amp that should be powerful enough to drive even the most demanding of audiophile cans.

The C53 starts shipping this month for US$8,000.

Product page: McIntosh C53

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