McIntosh C22 Mk V Review

April 15, 2023
David Sunnyside

mcintosh c22 review

A retro look, state-of-the-art performance

Mcintosh has announced the C22 Mk V preamplifier and MC75 power amplifier. Like the MC70 Limited Edition that launched last year, the two are direct replacements for their predecessors (though the new MC75 does deliver more output).

The C22 is a vacuum tube design with six small 12AX7A tubes; the MC75 uses one 12AX7A and two 12AT7 tubes plus two large KT88 valves. Both units feature electromagnetic input switching for reliable, noiseless and distortion-free operation.

It's easy to get a bit nostalgic looking at these devices: they look just like the old ones, with the front panel bearing a set of classically styled rocker switches and knobs, all operated by LEDs. A tone bypass switch is also available if you'd prefer to leave the bass and treble controls as-is.

On the back, you'll find two sets of XLR inputs and one pair each of RCA inputs for connecting a phono stage or other device. There are also outputs to connect a pair of McIntosh 'power control' amplifiers, and to drive an 'integrated high-quality headphone amplifier' that combines McIntosh HXD technology – or 'Crossfeed Director' – with a 6.4mm headphone socket.

The McIntosh sound is rich and warm, with fabulous midrange detail. They're best partnered with a clean-sounding valve amplifier, but I could also see them working well with transistors. They're not for everyone, however: if you're used to modern solid-state or tubed gear, they may seem thin and lacking in fullness.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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