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McIntosh Offers a Sneak Peak of their 2012 Model Line: Same Great Quality, Lower Prices

By Chris Boylan

At a press event in New York City last week, McIntosh wowed the crowd with a 50th Anniversary Special Edition gold-plated edition of their popular and longest running item in their product line, the MC275 tube power amp. The 50th Anniversary Limited Edition MC275 Tube Power Amplifier will be made in extremely limited quantities, and will sell for $6,500. Coincidentally, a mint condition used MC275 from 1961 sells on eBay for approximately the same price, and the company had one of these classics on active display during the shindig, driving one of their most affordable pairs of speakers ever.

And that, it appears, is McIntosh's goal for its 2012 product line: celebrate the past while embracing the future by offering high performance products at more affordable price points.  the company hopes that this will lure in a new, younger, perhaps slightly less affluent buyer. To celebrate the occasion, representatives from Moet & Chandon were also on-hand, providing cocktails and champagnes optimized for the various systems on display. The classic Hennessey side car in the bedroom was nice but my favorite was the new Ice Imperial Champagne in the living room -- a bit sweeter to allow you to enjoy your bubbly on the rocks. If you're entertaining, there are few choices as esteemed as Moet & Chandon, and they made a nice complement to the electronics on display.

Moet and Chandon offered a variety of champagnes and cocktails optimized for the systems on display. Pictured here is the new MC275 50th Anniversary amp with a blinged up bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne.

Speaking of which, in addition to the new MC275 LE amp (covered here in more detail), the company was showing off prototypes, in most cases working prototypes, of a new suite of loudspeakers and electronics. In the bedroom, the XR50 loudspeaker ($4,000/pair) was on display: a pair of 3-way bookshelf speakers that would give most tower speakers a run for their money. They produced a natural sounding midrange and crisp high frequencies effortlessly but also offered substantial bass that belied their relatively diminutive size. For a source, they were playing back high resolution lossless audio tracks, and were driven by that vintage MC275 amp, and they availed themselves well in such lofty company.

The McIntosh XR50 bookshelf will be their most affordable new model in 2012.

Also on active display were additional new loudspeakers models which featured the same drivers from the XR50, the XR100 towers ($10,000/pair). At over four feet tall and weighing 68 pounds each, these beasts pack in four 6" woofers, ten 2" midrange/tweeter drivers and one ¾-inch super-tweeter into each cabinet. The resulting sound was pretty impressive with bass that extended down to the lowest octaves.  McIntosh says their frequency response ranges from 30 Hz to 45 KHz, but did not give ant additional details on that spec. Although they're only average in efficiency (87 dB 1 watt @ 1 meter), their massive power handling capabilities should allow them to sing without strain given proper amplification.

The final speaker in the new line-up is the LCR80 ($2,500 each), which offers the same drivers as the XR50 bookshelf but with an additional woofer for most substantial bass in the home theater environment. The LCR80, XR50 and XR100 speakers are all timbre-matched so you can mix and match a system optimized for your space and budget.

The MVP891 universal player plays just about any type of silver disc (except DVD-Audio).

The MX121 acts as the control center of a high-end home theater system.

Joining the new speakers is a new preamp/processor, the MX121 ($6,000), capable of decoding all the lossless audio codecs and providing 3D passthrough; a new universal disc transport, the MVP891 ($5,500), which is capable of playing CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and SACDs and a new seven-channel power amp, the MC8207 ($6,000) which updates those elegant analog VU meters with a modern twist: LED power meters.

The upcoming MC8207 amplifier will offer LED-lit versions of the standard VU meters that sport the fronts of classic McIntosh gear.

The electronics are expected to begin shipping in January, and the loudspeakers in February. McIntosh reps said that the cost of an entry-level full home theater system, comprised of the new components, should be about half the price of the company's current entry-level price point.

Note: updated on 10/10/11 with pricing information.

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