New McIntosh Preamp Boasts Digital Upgrade Module

McIntosh today introduced a stereo preamplifier that features a removable module that enables it to be easily upgraded to new audio formats and technologies as they become available.

At the heart of the upscale C49 ($5,000) is McIntosh’s DA1 Digital Audio Module, which can be replaced with newer modules to accommodate new technologies. The module boasts an eight-channel, 32-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC), which operates in “quad balanced mode” and supports hi-res audio playback, including DSD256 and DXD 384-kHz files.

The preamp is equipped with bass and treble controls, home theater passthrough, and a built-in headphone amplifier featuring McIntosh’s Crossfeed Director (HXD) processing for more natural sound in addition to 13 inputs, each of which can be assigned a name for simplified system control.

On the analog side there are two balanced XLR connections, three unbalanced RCA inputs, and phono inputs for moving coil and moving magnet cartridges. In addition, the C49 provides six digital inputs via the DA1 module: two coaxial, two optical, one USB, and a proprietary MCT connector for use with McIntosh’s MCT series SACD/CD transports.

Outputs include variable balanced and unbalanced connections — two each — and one unbalanced fixed output. The outputs are set up for bi-amping and designed to ensure that highs or lows can’t be inadvertently turned off. Power control ports enable easy turn on/turn off of connected McIntosh components, while the data ports send remote control commands to connected source components.

Design touches include McIntosh’s signature black-glass front panel, silver-ringed control knobs, aluminum end caps, and an illuminated logo.

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