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.