McIntosh turns out a trio for high-end audio enthusiasts

When it comes to high-end audio, there are names that you’ll know. Bang & Olufsen, Bowers & Wilkins, and more with an ampersand in there. Then there’s McIntosh.

It’s a brand this writer had to ask about in the office — he’ll admit, but only in the third person — hearing back with a response of “yes, they’re pretty high end” followed by “do they have new things out?”

If you do know who they are, hold up, because you’re about to find out precisely what McIntosh have.

If not, and you’re like this writer, McIntosh Labs is an audio brand that has been around for a little over 65 years, with experience producing powerful audio amplifiers which have been used by the Grateful Dead, and even artists at Woodstock.

Now that you’re caught up, there’s news as McIntosh has new gear ready for audio addicts, with a media bridge providing 1TB of audio storage, a headphone amp, and a small stereo amp and speaker system.

Just as a warning, these aren’t for your casual audio lover, with some serious specs and serious pricing for these models, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.

In fact, with a price of $8795, the McIntosh MB100 Media Bridge is the most expensive of the three new products, boasting a 1024GB (1TB) of storage and working alongside a 64GB solid-state drive for the operation of the product, speeding things up in the process while providing plenty of storage for high resolution audio, capable of up to 24-bit playback on a 192kHz digital audio converter.

Aside for your music files, the media bridge takes streams from Pandora, TuneIn, and Spotify, and can be controlled using an iOS or Android app, as well as a web browser, and we’re told, even a television.

Upgrades for the MB100 media bridge can happen over USB ports, and there are two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 here, with support for ESATA, wired Gigabit network, and even HDMI, with optical, coaxial, and stereo provided for connecting the system to your desired sound device.

If you don’t have a desired sound device, or that’s in need of upgrading, too, there are two of these on the way from McIntosh, offering either music for you to listen to with either headphones or without.

Without the headphones, there’s the MXA70, an integrated audio system with a 50 watt stereo amp and two desktop speakers designed just for this product.

The amp side of things apparently supports decoding of up to 32-bits across 192kHz audio, ideal for the few high-res audio recordings that support this equally high resolution standard, though the 32-bit side of things has to be handled over USB. Regular coax and optical input is limited to 24-bit, likely due to operating standards.

At $8795, it’s smack dab on the same price as the MB100 media bridge, and probably pairs well with it, but isn’t the only option.

The MXA70 on its side

The MHA100 is another possibility, and is McIntosh’s first dedicated headphone amp, with a style that looks spot on like the MXA70’s amplifier, and offers similar performance, with as much as 32-bit of audio performance from USB, with 50 watts of output to stereo speakers if you need it.

Pricing for this model comes in at $6795, which is obviously $2K less than the MXA70 with speakers, though we suspect the two amps in each are close to being the same, and the extra two grand may cover the speakers.

The MHA100 looks like it has come out of the MXA70.

With prices well over the $5K mark, the McIntosh gear won’t be for everyone. In fact, it really won’t be for anyone other than the severe audio aficionado who has plenty of money to play around with, but that’s fine, because we’re sure they’ll know who McIntosh is, and if it’s worth spending that sort of money on.

The McIntosh MB100, MXA70, and MHA100 are available now from select audio specialists.