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 Review of the new McIntosh C52 Preamp
The new McIntosh flagship C52 preamp in the flesh
 

A new legend in the making.

We recently had the opportunity to install McIntosh's new flagship single box preamplifier. Here's a little review on the experience. This preamp is the top single box solid state model, so expectations are high. You can view the C52 on our website here: McIntosh C52 Preamp
 
This C52 is from the very first production run in NZ voltages so this was the first time we really got to see what it was like in person. Exciting times!

 

Opening the box...

 

Opening the box revealed the typical McIntosh double box packaging. This, of course, makes sure the packaging is impervious to any hint of damage. The preamp itself is mounted on a small wooden base with the accessories secured separately behind the amplifier.

 

The inner box reveals a shiny new McIntosh remote. A bit sleeker than the previous models, this seems to have made set up and tweaking a breeze. Little features (such as adjusting the cartridge loading in the phono input) are now easier than ever.

 

The new remote has also cut out some of the unneccessary buttons that were on the older remote. Good thinking McIntosh!

 

New C52 Remote
 

Classically handsome.

Aesthetically, the C52 inherits a classical McIntosh look. Signature glowing teal meters look better than ever. The tone controls (should you choose to use them) have a glorious look and feel. Adjustments are very subtle and didn't seem to impair the overall resolution of the sound.

Another change is the volume dial. It is now a much smoother and tactile feel, giving you a better control over how loud you like it. The C52 also has the perfect amount of resistance.

Connecting it up to McIntosh's MC452 and pressing the on button also revealed another trait - dead silence. I've never heard a stereo be so void of any background noise. I feel this is one of those things that really is only noticed in its absence. After a little warm up with a few reference classical pieces, we put on one of the customer's personal reference CDs with Japanese Taiko Drumming.

It sounded incredible, with great impact, realism and space. All in all, this is arguably one of the best preamplifiers I have ever heard.
 
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