You know where you are with a McIntosh Labs product. And it’s probably middle America. The brand is hugely popular in the United States, but also has a strong following across most of the world. The solid build, the bold changing yet changeless styling, the glass front and the blue meters… these all define the McIntosh brand as much as the big, powerful sound. The one word you can use across the board to describe McIntosh Labs products is ‘big’; big sound, big case, big blue VU meters. It’s the polar opposite of the small, minimalist monochrome understatement of UK products, which might explain why in McIntosh’s worldwide domination, Blighty has always been a tough nut to crack.
The MA5200 might just be the right nutcracker for the job.
This is a 100W per channel, extremely full function amplifier by most company’s standards (although almost stripped to the bone by McIntosh levels), with hardly any controls on the front panel, a stack of source inputs and a remote control that can make the MA5200 do anything apart from bark when called. To discuss its full range of options would take up dozens of pages; suffice it to say that with the bare minimum of button pressing and that two-deck blue LED read-out in the MA5200’s centre, you can make the glass fronted, chrome bumpered McIntosh perform almost anything audio aside from UPnP streaming and grow a front-mount USB. You want a cinema pass-through setting – it can be done. You want to rename, pre-set the level, balance, start volume, information display and the rest for each source – not a problem. Multi-way comms for a multi-room system – you got it. Balanced inputs, a three input DAC and using the MA5200 as a preamp – it’s yours. You can even connect up a turntable (MM only). All from something that could match a McIntosh tuner installed 50 years ago.