Six decades ago, when Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow founded McIntosh Audio Laboratory, their products distinguished themselves by putting out extraordinary sound at high power with low distortion.
That they used analog, tube-based technology was as unremarkable as using wiring made of metal. The company long revered by audiophiles still stands out for top quality, but in an environment where music is packaged and delivered, sliced into millions of digital bits, with the gear used to reproduce it powered by digital amplification, McIntosh is almost as remarkable for maintaining its strong analog heritage for 60 years.
Yes, the product line has added digital products, but handmade tube technology survives in the tiny Binghamton, New York, plant where it is still made. It is this tradition that has audio junkies reminiscing about the company's fabled releases, often searching for out-of-production products the way auto enthusiasts yearn for classic cars. And now, two famed components are returning to center stage, better than ever.
To celebrate the company's longevity, McIntosh has created the limited-edition 60th anniversary set consisting of a C22 vacuum tube preamplifier, which was originally produced from 1963 to 1972, and a pair of MC75 monoblock amplifiers, originally made from 1961 to 1970. Both reappear now with updated circuitry, but remain true to the original designs in sound and style. The MC75 gains a rich gold-colored titanium-stainless steel chassis instead of the original's ordinary chrome plating, while the C22 preamp retains the classic C22 McIntosh front panel, with its backlit glass display and brushed aluminum panel.
McIntosh cherishes tradition, but that doesn't mean it expects its customers to sacrifice modern advancements. Both models have been equipped with balanced inputs and outputs to handle today's audio sources. The C22 even comes with (gasp!) an infrared remote control. But never fear—this is still the company that produces analog gear for your analog ears, and these carefully tweaked classics deliver the warm, seamless audio reproduction fans have savored for three generations and counting. Only a few devotees will get the chance to savor these, though: the company is making only 120 sets available in the United States and Canada. Pricing hasn't been finalized, but $15,000 is a good estimate.