McIntosh Launches New C53 Preamplifier Comes With Advanced Digital Module

McIntosh has introduced a high-end, stereo preamplifier with an advanced digital audio module that builds on the DA1 module found in a handful of its products, including the C49 preamplifier introduced in May.

Built to prevent obsolescence, the solid-state C53 preamplifier is the first product to incorporate the company’s new DA2 digital audio module featuring an expanded set of capabilities, including native support of DSD files up to DSD512 (the DA1 is limited to DSD256) and an audio-only HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) to facilitate easy connection with ARC-equipped TVs.

The preamp, featuring classic McIntosh styling and a polished stainless-steel chassis, will be available in July for $8,000 but authorized dealers are accepting pre-orders now.

The DA2 module mimics the connections on its predecessor with two coaxial, two optical (both 24 bit/192 kHz-capable) and a USB input that now supports DXD up to 384 kHz in addition to the proprietary MCT connector for use with McIntosh’s MCT series of SACD/CD Transports). The module converts Dolby and DTS multichannel audio formats for stereo playback and can control TV power and volume when CEC communication is enabled.

As with the DA1 module, the DA2 is built around a 32-bit quad-balanced, eight-channel digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that ups the ante with improved dynamic range and total harmonic distortion.

In addition to the DA2 module’s seven digital inputs, the C53 is equipped with home theater pass-through and nine analog inputs: three balanced, four unbalanced plus moving coil and moving magnet phono inputs. On the output side, there are three variable balanced and unbalanced connections and a fixed unbalanced connection. Power control ports for turning connected components on and off are also provided along with data ports for sending remote-control commands to connected source components.

The C53 boasts an eight-band analog equalizer with a ±12-dB adjustment range and a dedicated headphone amplifier featuring McIntosh’s Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD), which adds dimension to the sound; the amp is said to power “virtually any pair of headphones.”

McIntosh said the DA2 Digital Audio Module will be available as a future upgrade for products incorporating the DA1, which includes the MA9000, MA8900, MA7200 and MA5300 integrated amplifiers, MAC7200 receiver, and C49 preamplifier.

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