TAS Legacy: McIntosh C22 Preamplifier and MC275 Power Amplifier

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Tubed power amplifiers,
Tubed preamplifiers
TAS Legacy: McIntosh C22 Preamplifier and MC275 Power Amplifier

In 1962 McIntosh debuted what must be by any reckoning a pair of signature products: the C22 stereo preamplifier and the MC275 stereo power amplifier. Although both were anticipated in look and function by the C20 preamp and the C240 amp of two years earlier, it was the later units that helped define the state of the art in electronics throughout most of the rest of the decade. The C22 was almost a dock brief of what the hub of a sophisticated system at the time was supposed to consist of: provision for two record players (manual and changer), two tuners (AM in addition to FM, since most serious tuners in those days, including McIntosh’s after MR55 were FM only), two tape decks with full monitoring, MIC input, tape head, and AUX (what was connected to that in those days? no domestic televisions made the audio outputs available). In addition to tone controls, loudness compensation, and a full complement of scratch and rumble filters, there was a mode selector that included stereo, stereo reverse, mono to both channels, right to both channels, left to both channels, and full mono to one or the other channel (clearly system testing, balancing, and adjustment was a paramount concern back then).

If any single McIntosh product could lay claim to first place among equals, it would have to be the MC275 amplifier, authored by Sidney Corderman, by then himself a legend in the making. Based on the M75 monoblock of a few years earlier, this unit generated 75 watts per channel, and twice that when the amp was run in mono mode (available at the flip of a switch). With its sloping chrome panel that housed input jacks, speaker terminals, and level controls; its chrome-plated base supporting the three transformers in one row, the four output tubes in another, and the six input tubes in a third, and the McIntosh name and model number proudly emblazoned in bas-relief along one side of the base, the MC275 is the most beloved of all McIntosh products. Its sound was notable even then for its neutrality and musical naturalness and authority. It enjoyed an eleven-year run until 1973. But as befits its high reputation, when McIntosh introduced a commemorative product in the mid-Nineties in honor of Gordon Gow, the MC275 was the chosen product, soon followed by the C22.