The big brand from Binghamton, NY announced a new headphone amplifier this week in the form of the McIntosh MHA200. While the company’s mobile compliment MHA50 and desktop MHA150 were both solid state in nature, the MHA200 is the first personal audio amplifier to feature that analog tube touch that so many of McIntosh’s classic loudspeaker counterparts employ.
The external look is unmistakably McIntosh, as it really looks like a little MC275 power amplifier, or the even new 150 watt MC1502. On the more practical side, the amplifier does include most of what high end headphone connoisseurs look for in a desktop amp.
That is simply, an abundance of connections including balanced options from end to end. The front panel on the McIntosh MHA200 even includes both channels separated in a 3-pin XLR configuration as well as the more common 4-pin balanced configuration. Headphone impedance is also variable, adjustable in ranges of “32 – 100, 100 – 250, 250 – 600, and 600 – 1,000 Ohms at 500mW”. There is also a power on/off control (both in and out) when connected to other McIntosh gear, something that is perhaps a bit more of a rarity in the headphone market.
LED-lit tubes on the decorate the right side of the piece, from the PR release:
A pair of 12AT7 and 12BH7A dual triode vacuum tubes power the compact MHA200. The 12AT7 vacuum tubes amplify the incoming audio signal while the 12BH7A tubes provide the power to drive the output to the headphones with low distortion. The MHA200 uses a pair of McIntosh’s Unity Coupled Circuit output transformers to deliver pristine audio. The Unity Coupled Circuit is the same technology McIntosh was founded on in 1949 and is still used in their vaunted full-size home audio vacuum tube amplifiers such as the timeless MC275 and the more recent MC1502.
McIntosh custom designed and manufactured the output transformers to match the tube amplifier section to the headphone output section in order to ensure maximum power transfer for various headphone loads. Instead of having to adapt to the impedance of the headphones with voltage gain in the input stage, the Unity Coupled Circuit output transformers’ secondary windings ensure the full power of the MHA200 is available regardless of the impedance of the headphones. A custom, high-performance, and highly efficient toroidal power transformer with low mechanical hum and a low magnetic field, which helps reduce electrical noise, provides clean power to the amplifier.
The McIntosh MHA200 headphone amplifier will be released into the dealer network beginning in March 2021, with an expected retail price of $2,500.
More info: McIntosh MHA200