McIntosh launches MC3500 Woodstock-inspired tube amp

posted on Thursday, 4th November 2021 by Steve May

Hi-fi  High-end 

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McIntosh has unveiled the MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II. Based on an amplifier famously used to power the sound system for the Woodstock music festival in1969, this new monoblock amp has been brought up to speed to reflect technological innovations and acoustic advancements, and can be used with a variety of preamplifiers, turntables, CD players, media streamers and speakers, as part of complete home audio system.

"At the 50th anniversary of Woodstock in 2019, there was a lot of buzz resurfacing about the McIntosh sound system," McIntosh President, Charlie Randall said. "This enthusiasm was infectious and inspired me to get our engineering team together to redesign the amp that has obviously resonated with music fans as being a historically significant piece of audio gear. After over two years, we are really proud of the result. The MC3500 Mk II takes its inspiration from the original 1968-71 MC3500 and incorporates all the knowledge we have gained surrounding vacuum tube amplifier design since the 1960's."

As in the original, the MC3500 Mk II uses McIntosh’s Unity Coupled Circuit output transformer, for a power output of 350 Watts. It has a fully balanced driver section that utilizes three 12AX7A and one 12AT7 vacuum tube, while the output is powered by eight EL509S high-power output vacuum tubes specifically chosen because they’re similar to the 6LQ6 ‘sweep tubes’ found in the original MC3500.

All the vacuum tubes are located behind the power and output transformers and are covered by a 12-gauge stainless steel wire cage.

MC3500 Mk II Back Angle Background1

New features include Power Guard Screen Grid Sensor (SGS) technology to prevent premature vacuum tube failure and Sentry Monitor, to actively observe the output current.

Connections include Balanced and unbalanced inputs to connect with home audio system and multi-amp configurations, with McIntosh patented, gold-plated Solid Cinch speaker binding posts.

As an homage to the original model, the Mk II includes U-shaped side rails, originally used to provide strength and durability when the original amps were used on the road. The Mk II also mimics the black rubber bumpers found in the original amps, that allowed them to be temporarily set upright for shows and were big enough to prevent the model from being damaged during setup at concerts.

The front panel is machined aluminum with a bead blast finish and gold anodizing that emulates the original MC3500. The Mk II version also returns an output meter, though this version is larger and centered on the front panel rather than offset to the left side as in the previous version.

The meter uses a variation of McIntosh's DualView Power Output Meter design, with the top scale showing the power output in both Watts and decibels, while the bottom scale shows the amplifier warmup time.

The MC3500 will start shipping into the UK early 2022, priced at £16,995. Distribution is via Fine Sounds UK.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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