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McIntosh Laboratory Debuts Its MHA100 Headphone Amp

Alexander Lamascus

The audio engineers at the venerable McIntosh Laboratory have ventured into new territory for the company: headphone amplification. As a dedicated headphone amplifier, the McIntosh MHA100 ($4,500) marks a first foray into personal listening for the Binghamton, N.Y.,audio manufacturer, whose 65-year history has resulted in some of the most iconic audiophile components of all time—most of which are designed for use in large home stereo and home theater systems. Announced in tandem with the MXA70 integrated audio system and McIntosh Music, a free high-quality, curated music-streaming service, the MHA100 emphasizes flexibility. It uses a special configuration of McIntosh’s Autoformer technology, which enables it to accurately power headphones in the three major impedance ranges—from 8 to 600 ohms—making the amp ideal for pairing with everything from earbuds to large over-ear headphones. While many audiophiles prefer loudspeakers to headphones, as loudspeakers better mimic the experience of a live performance, the advanced audio-processing capabilities of the MHA100 allow it to allocate the sound signal to headphones in a manner that is spatially consistent with the experience of listening to live music. The amp also features 50-watt stereo speaker outputs so that it can also serve as an integrated amplifier for a pair of bookshelf speakers or efficient loudspeakers. Sporting an internal digital-to-analog converter, four digital inputs, and two analog inputs, the MHA100 is designed to accommodate a variety of audio sources. (www.mcintoshlabs.com)

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