As spotted at CES Las Vegas this year the new McIntosh headphone amplifier is now available in the UK. The MHA100 has four digital inputs, remote control and does more than drive headphones. It employs an adaptation of McIntosh’s autoformer technology and offers three selectable headphone impedance ranges: 8-40, 40-150 and 150-600 Ohms, the idea being that it will work with every headphone on the market. It also features Crossfeed Director (HXD) technology, which is designed to produce the same image quality as conventional speakers. HXD is said to “improve the sound localisation for headphone listening and restore the directionality component of the spatial sound stage normally experienced with loudspeaker listening”.
Unusually for a headphone amplifier it only has a single quarter inch output jack, no balanced or 3.5mm connections are provided. But then it’s not just a headphone amp, it also has a 50-watt power amplifier so is in effect an integrated amplifier with a DAC, the most compact and cute in the McIntosh range.
The internal Digital Engine accepts coaxial, optical, balanced digital AES/EBU and USB inputs, with decoding at up to 32-bit/ 192kHz resolution. The MHA100 upsamples digital signals to 192kHz with 32-bit resolution, before the D/A process begins. Two analogue inputs (including balanced) are also available. The MHA100 has four forms of protection; Sentry Monitor power output stage protection circuits that also protect headphones in the event of an impedance mismatch (with all those settings? Ed). Built-in thermal protection circuits guard against overheating, and direct current detection and protection is provided for both headphones and loudspeakers.
Tone controls are provided for ease of headphone matching and McIntosh’s Power Guard waveform comparison circuit continuously monitors both input and output signals in order to avoid potentially damaging clipping. A large power transformer, multiple large filter capacitors and a regulated power supply are all part of the package. A multifunction OLED display indicates source selection, volume levels, trim settings and set-up functions and the cool illuminated power output meters are peak-responding, indicating the output level. A remote control is also included. All of which will cost you £4,995 and is being brought to the UK by Jordan Acoustics.