McIntosh C12000: The ultimate preamp

McIntosh C12000: The ultimate preamp

Photo Credits: McIntoshlabs/Promo

The producers in Binghamton want it a little bigger anyway, so McIntosh reigns supreme. But now they've re-defined the term "top preamps," and they're aiming for the absolute top.

The divider's name is McIntosh C120000.

Naturally, the new flagship preamp is based on the previous over-preamps C1000 or C1100. That is to say, the C12000 uses the acoustically reasonable two-chassis approach, which allows the control (controller) and power sections to be completely separated. When you stack the two together, you get a massive high-end preamp block that stands more than 30 centimeters tall.

The dual tube and transistor preamplification, as well as the totally symmetrical structure, were always the major highlights: That is, the left and right channels are electrically and mechanically isolated in both the C12000C controller and the C12000ST preamplifier unit to assure true dual mono operation.

A McIntosh, on the other hand, can rarely be beaten when it comes to the range of equipment. You will, however, be unsuccessful in your search for digital here: Only analog sources are permitted in this room to ensure the finest possible sound. But there's a lot of that: Six of the C12000's analog inputs are balanced, while the remaining six are unbalanced.

Two of the unbalanced inputs are phono inputs, which can be switched between MM and MC and can also be exactly set for capacitance, resistance, and gain. There are also different outputs for connecting the power amplifier: 1 x tube (balanced), 1 x transistor (balanced), 1 x fixed (unbalanced), and 1 x programmable (unbalanced) (unbalanced, tube or transistor selectable).

In terms of equipment, The left and right channels each have two 12AT7 and one 12AX7A tube for high-level pre-amplification. A discrete, symmetrical operational amplifier is used to realize the transistor output.

Four 12AX7A tubes are used in the phono stage, two per channel in a completely balanced design with RIAA equalization. Another highlight is the Mac headphone amplifier, which has a huge adjustment set and produces excellent sound. The Power Control option is also fantastic, as it can turn other McIntosh components on and off automatically.

In short, McIntosh has clearly made a genuine preamp statement once again.

Technical concept:Tube or transistor preamp
tubes:12 x 12AX7A
Inputs:6 x balanced (XLR), 4 x unbalanced. (RCA), 2 x phono (RCA)
Outputs:For tube, for a transistor, fixed level
Input sensitivity:adjustable: +/-6DB
Headphone Amp:selectable impedances 16, 40, 40 – 150, 150 – 600 ohms
Dimensions per unit (H x W x D:44.4 x 15.2 x 45.7 cm
Total weight:23.6 kilos