McIntosh MC275 Amplifier

McIntosh’s MC275 may be the most famous tube amplifier in the history of high fidelity. Designed and engineered by the company’s co-founder Sidney Corderman and the McIntosh engineering team, the MC275 (2 x 75 watts per channel) was the most powerful McIntosh stereo amplifier in its day. Some say it was the Harley-Davidson of American amps, and with the big chromed chassis and exposed Gold Lion KT88 power tubes, the MC275 certainly looked the part. The retail price was $444 when the amp was introduced in 1961, and the mono version, the MC75, debuted the same year.

While most competitors’ tube amps relied on output trans-formers sourced from outside suppliers, the transformers used in the original (and current) MC275 amps are designed and fabricated in-house on production equipment that has been in continuous use since the early 1950s. The transformers and McIntosh’s famed unity-coupled circuit play a large role in the amp’s distinctive sound.

Phased out in 1973, the MC275 reappeared in 1993 in a limited Commemorative Edition to honor the late Gordon Gow, longtime president and chief designer of McIntosh Labs. The amp is currently available in a heavily revised version, the MC275 LE, which uses four KT88 power-output tubes, three 12AX7A input and phase-inverter tubes, and four 12AT7 voltage-amplifier and driver tubes.

By the time I got into audio in the late 1970s, McIntosh wasn’t a big player in the high-end community in the U.S. So it was somewhat ironic that Mac finally made its mark with hard-core audiophiles when it starting making tube gear again in the ’90s. The company has a remarkably loyal worldwide following, and in recent years China has been a leading export market for this still-made-in-America brand’s products. Export sales slightly exceed domestic output.

(Thanks to McIntosh president Charles Randall for his help with this report.)

GearHead's picture

Neat amp and excellent writing, I am sure, until the very last sentence: "Export sales slightly exceed domestic output."

We know all McIntosh products are made in the USA, so "domestic output" must refer to the total output of products from the manufacturer. If "export sales" exceed "domestic output", then it reminds me of the production and sales figures of certain ultra exclusive French wines: the output from the French vineyard can be, say 500 cases, but sales figures for the same wine in China alone can be 5,000 cases! We don't want to be pointing fingers, but a simple glance at those figures indicates that something unholy is happening to that wine on its way between France and China.

I doubt Mr. G is making this type of assertion; I hope what he means is that domestic SALES lags behind export sales (and the two sales figures adding up to the domestic output of the McIntosh factory). Being precise about one's language not only makes things clearer, it also prevents one's readers from having some nightmare scenario rattling inside their heads for weeks.