McIntosh has introduced the MHA200 Vacuum Tube Headphone Amplifier, which, according to the company, is designed for “discerning headphone enthusiasts who demand the most from their headphones.” Its versatile set of connectivity options, including balanced inputs and outputs, allows for nearly all headphone types to be connected.
A pair of 12AT7 and 12BH7A dual triode vacuum tubes power the compact MHA200. The 12AT7 vacuum tubes amplify the incoming audio signal while the 12BH7A tubes provide the power to drive the output to the headphones with low distortion. The MHA200 uses a pair of McIntosh’s Unity Coupled Circuit output transformers to deliver clear audio. The Unity Coupled Circuit is the same technology McIntosh was founded on in 1949 and is still used in its full-size home audio vacuum tube amplifiers such as the MC275 and the MC1502. Indeed, the MHA200 shares many physical design traits with the aforementioned vacuum tube amplifiers.
A wide assortment of connectivity options come on the MHA200. For attaching headphones, there are three options: a pair of 3-pin balanced XLR connectors for dedicated Left and Right balanced output; a 4-pin balanced XLR connector for balanced stereo output; and a 1/4-inch stereo headphone jack. For connecting the MHA200 to a home music system’s source components, it has one set each of both balanced and unbalanced inputs. Thanks to the MHA200’s small size of just 6-1/8 inches (15.6cm) wide x 9-1/8 inches (23.2cm) deep and its balanced inputs, it can be placed close to the listening position for ease use, with long balanced cables connecting it to the audio system without fear of signal loss.
The Unity Coupled Circuit transformers have been adapted to produce four headphone impedance ranges of 32–100, 100–250, 250–600, and 600–1000 ohms at 500 mW
McIntosh custom designed and manufactured the output transformers to match the tube amplifier section to the headphone output section in order to ensure maximum power transfer for various headphone loads. Instead of having to adapt to the impedance of the headphones with voltage gain in the input stage, the Unity Coupled Circuit output transformers’ secondary windings ensure the full power of the MHA200 is available regardless of the impedance of the headphones. A custom, high-performance toroidal power transformer with low mechanical hum and a low magnetic field, which helps reduce electrical noise, provides clean power to the amplifier.
The user can select the best impedance range for the headphones via the LOAD knob. The VOLUME knob allows the MHA200 to be connected directly to music sources that only have a fixed volume output without needing a preamplifier for volume control. Conversely, if the component has variable volume output, then the VOLUME knob should be set to the center Unity Gain point and the volume controlled by the variable output component.
The MHA200 features a custom formed stainless-steel chassis with a polished mirror finish that will accentuate the glow of the vacuum tubes. A vintage die cast aluminum McIntosh name badge adorns the side. A Power Control input and output allows the MHA200 to turn on and off with other connected McIntosh components, such as preamplifiers, CD players, turntables, or media steamers.
Orders for the MHA200 can now be placed with Authorized McIntosh dealers with shipping expected to begin in March 2021 to the United States and Canada, and to the rest of the world shortly thereafter.
Suggested retail price (VAT, shipping and any customs duties related to current standards of individual countries are excluded): $2500 USD.
For more information, visit https://www.mcintoshlabs.com.