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  6. McIntosh C12000 Flagship Preamplifier

McIntosh C12000 Flagship Preamplifier

McIntosh C12000
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The C12000 Preamplifier is the next generation of our acclaimed two-chassis preamplifier design. The two-chassis design allows the audio section to be completely separated from the control and power sections. The absolute isolation of a preamplifier's two main functions – control and sound – is achieved by this unusual but effective design. Splitting these primary purposes of a preamplifier up into separate chassis will deliver the purest sound reproduction possible.



  • Separate audio & control sections
  • 12 analog inputs including 2 configurable phono inputs
  • Offers both solid-state and vacuum tube output
  • Fully balanced circuitry


The C12000 is comprised of the C12000 Controller module and the C12000 Preamplifier module. All power control, data ports, and external control connections are located in the C12000 Controller. Dual isolated power supplies drive the left and right channels, while a dual microprocessor gives robustness to the control system. The C12000 Preamplifier houses the audio connections and circuitry. Inside each, the left and right channels are electrically and mechanically isolated from each other to allow true dual mono operation – resulting in the ultimate stereo separation and sonic purity. The two units are connected together via a pair of specially designed, high performance umbilical cables that are shielded to prevent outside noise from leaking into the audio signal. Although they are two separate units, when connected they act as one and are easy to control and operate from the included remote control or the C12000 Controller front panel.


A total of 12 analog inputs are located in the C12000 Preamplifier module: six balanced, four unbalanced, and two unbalanced phono inputs. The phono inputs are no longer set up as dedicated for Moving Coil or Moving Magnet cartridges; instead, both are configurable as either Moving Coil or Moving Magnet with adjustable Capacitance and Resistance Loading, along with adjustable Gain in 6dB steps from 40dB to 64dB. This provides maximum flexibility for you to configure the C12000 to best fit your turntable(s), cartridge(s), and vinyl record collection.


The C12000 Preamplifier module offers both vacuum tube and solid-state output, allowing you to decide which to use based on the music being played, the audio components in the rest of your home audio system, and your sound preferences. All outputs are driven by discrete amplifiers. For vacuum tube output, six tubes or valves power the high-level preamplifier section with two 12AT7 tubes and one 12AX7A tube assigned to each the left and right channel. Solid-state output is via a discrete balanced op-amp.


Regardless if you choose the vacuum tube or solid-state output, the phono stage utilizes four 12AX7A vacuum tubes, with two tubes used per channel in a fully balanced configuration that incorporates RIAA equalization.


For connecting the C12000 to your amplifier(s) and the rest of your home music system, there are four total outputs: one balanced vacuum tube; one balanced solid-state; one fixed unbalanced; and one programmable unbalanced (can be either vacuum tube or solid-state). The amount of user adjustments available on the two phono inputs and all the outputs represent a new level of customization in McIntosh preamplifier design, allowing you maximum flexibility in how you want to configure your audio system.


The amplifier circuit has a high common mode rejection, so any noise introduced by interconnect cables is significantly reduced. For personal listening, our high output High Drive headphone jack is included, while the user selectable Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®) brings an added depth and spatiality to your music. The C12000 can be seamlessly integrated into your existing multi-channel home theater system via the Home Theater Pass Through feature.



  • Inputs:
    • 6 x Balanced
    • 4 x Unbalanced
    • 1 x Phono Input MC
    • 1 x Phono Input MM
    • 1 x Digital USB
  • Outputs:
    • 2 x Balanced Variable
    • 1 x Unbalanced Fixed
    • 1 x Unbalanced Variable
    • 1 x 1/4" Headphone
  • Total Harmonic Distortion
    • High Level: 0.005%
    • Phono: 0.05%
  • Frequency Response
    • +0, -0.5dB from 20Hz to 20kHz
    • +0, -3dB from 10Hz to 100kHz
  • Sensitivity High Level (Balanced / Unbalanced): 900mV / 450mV
  • Sensitivity Phono (Moving Coil): 0.25 – 2.5mV
  • Sensitivity Phono (Moving Magnet): 5 – 10mV
  • Signal To Noise Ratio (High Level): 107dB
  • Signal To Noise Ratio (Moving Coil): 79dB
  • Signal To Noise Ratio (Moving Magnet): 83dB
  • Input Impedance (Balanced / Unbalanced): 50K ohms, 25K ohms
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 44.45 x 15.24 x 45.7 cm
  • Weight
    • C1100C: 12.3 kg
    • C1100T: 11.3 kg


For a comprehensive list of features check out the user manual - McIntosh C12000 User Manual


Check out the brochure for more information - McIntosh C12000 Preamplifier Brochure


or read up on some early reviews of the C12000 - AudioExpress /  What HiFi?


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