McIntosh Laboratory is an American manufacturer of handcrafted high-end[1][2][3] audio equipment headquartered in Binghamton, New York.[4][5] It is a subsidiary of McIntosh Group, which is under the ownership umbrella of Highlander Partners, a Dallas-based private equity firm.[6]

McIntosh Labs
Company typeCorporation
Founded1949; 75 years ago (1949)
HeadquartersBinghamton, New York, United States
Key people
Co-founders Frank H. McIntosh & Gordon Gow (engineers)
ProductsAudio equipment
ParentMcIntosh Group

The company was co-founded in 1949 by Frank H. McIntosh & Gordon Gow.[7][8][2] McIntosh Labs designs and produces audio amplifiers, stereo tuners, loudspeakers, turntables, music streamers, processors, and various other audio products.[9] Although solid state components are a large segment of the McIntosh line, audio enthusiasts most revere the warm sound of the company's tube amplifiers.[10][11][12] Some of their tube amplifiers rank among the finest ever created for home audio and theater use.[13] Their Unity Coupled Circuit, patented at the brand's inception, is still used today in products like their MC275 amplifier, whose vacuum tubes—used in many of the company's products—help to impart a lifelike warmth and soul to the sound. "McIntosh transformers are hand-wound in house as they've always been" according to McIntosh president, Charlie Randall.[4] Many of the employees working at the Binghamton plant have been with the company for decades and number approximately 170+ as of June, 2022.[14][15]

McIntosh Laboratory revenue was $25 million and $42 million in 2021 and 2022 respectively.[16][17] McIntosh audio products can usually be recognized by their black glass front panels (circa 1960's to present),[18] iconic blue VU meters (circa 1974 to present),[19] and iconic gothic logo.[20][21] Even the Mcintosh factory has a black facade with blue tinted windows to align with the company's trademark theme.[22]

Custom McIntosh system with iconic blue meters
McIntosh system with iconic blue meters

Company history & highlights edit

Frank H. McIntosh & Gordon Gow co-founded McIntosh in 1949.[7][8] The company was originally located in Silver Spring MD. It moved to Binghamton NY in 1951.

Dave O'Brien joined McIntosh in 1962. He led the McIntosh Amplifier Clinics for the next 29 years. Dave retired on June 11, 1999 after 38 years of service with McIntosh.[23]

In 1965, Mcintosh amps were used to power President Lyndon B. Johnson’s inauguration speech.[24]

McIntosh created a Loudspeaker division in 1967.[25]

McIntosh amplifiers were used at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969.[26][27] A battery of twenty McIntosh MC3500 tube amplifiers were used to power the JBL speakers at Woodstock for the 400,000+ fans in attendance.[28] Urban legend has it that these amps needed to be cooled by ice on the hot August days so they would not overheat but McIntosh Laboratory Inc President, Charlie Randall, dismissed the tale as folk lore saying "Any ice packed around the amps in the middle of August would have quickly melted and the resulting water would have caused massive issues with the electronics".[29]

On March 23, 1974, the Grateful Dead's "Wall of Sound" debutted at the Cow Palace[30] in Daly City, CA (and then subsequently on other tour locations). It reportedly used forty-eight 600-watt per channel (bridged monoblock) McIntosh model MC2300 solid state amplifiers for a total of 28,800 watts of continuous power to power a speaker system over 100 feet wide and three stories tall.[31][32][24]

In October 1977, Gordon Gow became president and CEO when Mr. McIntosh retired. Mr. McIntosh sold his stock shares to top management and a few dedicated McIntosh investors. He was retained with a salary on a consulting basis. He moved from his home in Endicott, NY to Scottsdale, Arizona[33]

Japanese years edit

McIntosh MA6800 integrated amplifier

After a long and illustrious history that saw them expand their business around the world, the company began to struggle and was ultimately acquired by Clarion, a large Japanese manufacturer of car stereo gear in 1990 for 28.6 million dollars.[34][35] McIntosh components, particularly the early tube models, are highly regarded in Japan. In a speech shortly after the purchase, Clarion president Yutaka Oyamada told McIntosh employees that "we like McIntosh as it is, and we have no intention of changing what has made it so successful."[36] After the Clarion purchase, McIntosh expanded into car audio and home theater.

In May 2003, Clarion sold McIntosh Laboratory to D&M Holdings also of Japan. The company continued to operate independent engineering, design, and divisions.[37]

Italian years and return to the United States edit

On October 8, 2012, Fine Sounds SpA of Milan, Italy, announced it had purchased McIntosh.[38] In May 2014, the CEO of Fine Sounds Group, along with the President of McIntosh Labs, led a management buyout of the Fine Sounds Group from its Italian investment firm owner, Quadrivio Investment Group.[39]

Since then, Fine Sounds Group has renamed itself McIntosh Group and relocated from Milan to New York.[40][41] McIntosh Group is a holding company for the brands McIntosh Laboratory, Sonus Faber, Sumiko Phono Cartridges, Fine Sounds Americas, Fine Sounds BeNelux, and Fine Sounds U.K.[42] It has also partnered Sonus Faber with Maserati and partnered McIntosh Audio with Jeep.[43] Jeff Poggi and Charlie Randall were named Co-CEO's in 2017 of McIntosh Group.[44] Daniel Pidgeon is the current CEO of McIntosh Group (since June 2022).[45]

Charlie Randall is the current President of McIntosh Laboratory (since 2001).[7][46][47]

A Dallas-based Private Investment firm, Highlander Partners, acquired McIntosh Group (which includes McIntosh Laboratory) as part of their equity portfolio in June 2022.[6][14]

Other McIntosh facts edit

Apple and the Apple logo are registered
trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc.
Macintosh is a trademark of McIntosh
Laboratory, Inc. and is being used with
express permission of its owner.

Label on the back of the
Macintosh Plus 1Mb computer

  • Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, reached a settlement agreement with McIntosh president, Gordon Gow, to use the name Macintosh for Apple's start-up personal computer line. Although the brand names have a different spelling, they sounded enough alike when pronounced that the agreement required a placard to be placed on the back of the Macintosh Plus 1MB computer starting in March 1983. In March 1986, Apple gained exclusive license rights to use the Macintosh name for an undisclosed but substantial sum of money.[48][49]
  • In 2002, McIntosh developed the Harley-Davidson riser mount radio. Sold through Harley dealerships, the radio could be added to many Harley models that lacked mobile audio.[7]
  • On November 7, 2017, McIntosh founders Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow were posthumously inducted into the Consumer Technology Hall of fame in a ceremony held at the Rainbow room in NY city. This honor is bestowed upon those who have made a significant impact in the technology sector with products and technologies that improve lives around the world.[21][50]

Products edit

MC275 (European version with 220/110 V switch (red)
MC240, early version of 1961 (long-exposure)
MC2505 solid-state stereo power amplifier
McIntosh MT10 Precision Turntable
MA12000 350WPC Hybrid Tube Solid State Integrated Amplifier
Woodstock 50th Anniversary MC3500 MkII Tube Mono block Amp
Year Selected products
1949 50W-1 power amplifier
1950 AE-1 preamplifier
1953 A116 power amplifier, C108 preamplifier
1954 MC30 power amplifier, C4 preamplifier
1957 MR55 AM-FM tuner
1960 MC240 stereo power amplifier
1961 MC275 stereo power amplifier
1962 MX110 Tuner-preamplifier
1963 MR67 tuner
1963 MR71 tuner
1964 C24 preamplifier
1965 MC250 solid state power amplifier, MAC1500 receiver
1967 MC2100, MC2105, MC2505 solid state power amplifiers
1968 MX112 solid-state tuner-preamplifier
1968 MC3500 tube amplifier
1970 ML1, ML2, ML4 loudspeaker line
1971 MC2300 power amplifier
1972 MR78 tuner
1980 MC2500 power amplifier, XRT20 loudspeaker system
1985 MCD7000 CD player
1999-2000 MC2000 50th Anniversary New Millenium Edition (1949-1999)
2003 MC501 monoblock amplifier
2004 MC275 Mark V amplifier, XLS loudspeaker
2006 MC2KW, 2000 WPC 3 Chassis Quad Balanced Amp
2008 MT10 Precision Turntable
2017 MC1.25KW, 1200 WPC Single Chassis Quad balanced Amp
2019 MA352 200 WPC Hybrid Tube/SS Integrated Amp
2019 MC3500 MkII 50th Anniversary Woodstock 350 WPC Tube Amp
2020 MX123 A/V Processor
2020 MA12000, 350 WPC Hybrid Tube/SS Integrated Amp
2023 MC451, 150/300 WPC Hybrid Tube/SS Integrated Amp

More notable products edit

1949: Tubed Unity Coupled 50W1 Power Amplifier.[61]

1955: C8 Audio Compensator preamplifier[62]

Late 1960s: MC 2505 First Transistor amp utilizing Autoformer technology.[61]

Late 1960s: MC 3500 Tube Power Amplifier, 350 WPC.[28]

Early 1970s: MC 2300 Power Amplifier, 300 WPC.

Early 1980s: MC 2500 Power Amplifier, 500 WPC Power Guard and similar chassis to MC 2300.

Around 1990: MC 2600 Power Amplifier, 600 WPC Power Guard final version on MC 2300 Chassis.

Around 1990: MC 7300, 300 WPC and much smaller than MC 2300.

Around 2006: MC2KW 2000WPC 3 Chassis Quad Balanced Amplifier.[63]

Around 2008: MT10 Precision Turntable.[64]

Around 2017: MC1.25KW, 1200 WPC Single Chassis Quad balanced Amp.[65]

Around 2019: MA352 Integrated Hybrid Amplifier[66]

Around 2019: MC3500 MkII 350 WPC Mono Vacuum Tube Amp inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the MC3500 that powered Woodstock. [67]

Around 2020: MA12000, 350 WPC Hybrid Tube/SS Integrated Amp (most powerful tube/solid state integrated amp from Mcintosh to date) [68]

Around 2023: MC451, 150WPC/300 WPC Hybrid Tube/SS Integrated Amp [69]

Around 2023: PS2k Powered Subwoofer [70]

McIntosh award highlights edit

09/03/2013 D100 Digital Preamp Receives "HIGHLY RECOMMENDED" Award.[71]

04/02/2015 MA8000 Integrated Amplifier named "Best Amplifier" by Hi-Fi World.[72]

06/05/2015 MA8000 Integrated Amplifier named "High End Stereo Amplifier of the Year" by Lyd & Bilde.[73]

11/25/2015 MA5200 Integrated Amplifier Wins "Diapason d'Or" Award.[74]

12/09/2015 MC452 Amplifier and C2500 preamplifier win Sound+Image Award.[75]

02/10/2016 C1100 Preamplifier Wins "Stereo Sound Grand Prix Award".[76]

02/24/2016 MCD550 SACD/CD player named product of the year by HiFi Review.[77]

03/03/2016 MC152 named "Best Amplifier" by HiFi World.[78]

11/22/2016 C22 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier named "Product of the Year" by Absolute Sound.[79]

12/15/2016 RS100 Wireless Speaker Wins "Diapason d'Or" Hi-Fi Award.[80]

02/08/2017 MC275 Vacuum Tube Amplifier & C22 Vacuum Tube preamplifier win Absolute Sound's "Editor's Choice" award.[81]

06/02/2017 MCD550 SACD/CD player wind "Outstanding Product Award" by Speaker Shack.[82]

08/02/2017 MT5 Turntable wins "Top Quality" award from Fedelta del Suono.[83]

11/15/2017 MC1.25KW Amplifier & MA9000 Integrated Amp win Stereo Sound's "Grand Prix" Awards.[84]

11/17/2017 MA8900 Integrated Amplifier Wins "Diapason d'Or" award.[85]

12/11/2017 MA8900 named "Best Stereo Integrated Amplifier" by Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity.[86]

02/01/2018 MA9000 Integrated Amplifier "Product of the Year" by SoundStage! Network.[87]

07/31/2018 C52 and C47 Preamplifiers receive "Golden Ear" Awards from The Absolute Sound.[88]

11/09/2018 MA252 Integrated Amplifier Wins "Diapason d'Or" Award.[89]

11/13/2018 MC611 Amplifier Wins Stereo Sounds "Grand Prix" Award.[90]

01/23/2019 MA9000 Integrated Amplifier named "Product of the Year" by SoundStage! Network.[91]

12/13/2019 MC312 Amplifier wins "Best Stereo Power Amplifier of 2019" by Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity.[92]

01/22/2020 MCD600 SACD/CD Player named "Product of the Year" by Hi=Fi i Muzyka Magazine from Poland.[93]

01/24/2020 MTI100 Integrated Turntable named "Product of the Year 2019" by Audiophile Apartment.[94]

12/01/2020 MA352 Integrated Amplifier named "Best Hybrid Amplifier 2020" by Hi-Fi World.[95]

12/10/2020 C53 Stereo Preamplifier named "2020 Best High-End Stereo Preamplier" by Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity.[96]

06/08/2021 MA12000 Hybrid Integrated Tube/Solid State Amplifier awarded prestigious "Applause" award by StereoNET UK.[97]

12/02/2021 MA12000 Hybrid Integrated Tube/Solid State Amplifier awarded "Reference" award by France's Haute Fidelite's magazine.[98]

12/08/2021 MHA200 Headphone Amplifier named "Headphone Amplifier of the Year" by HiFi+.[99]

12/13/2021 MA12000 Hybrid Integrated Tube/Solid State Amplifier Wins Stereo Sound's "2021 Grand Prix" Award.[100]

12/22/2022 MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier Wins Stereo Sound's "2022 Grand Prix" Award.[101]

01/04/2023 MC451 Dual Mono Power Amplifier named CES 2023 "Innovation Award Honoree".[102]

01/17/2023 MA8950 Stereo Amplifier receives "Editor's Choice" Award for Best High End Stereo Amp from AVS forums.[103]

01/26/2023 MHA200 Vacuum Tube Headphone Amplifier wins AVS "Editor's Choice" award for Best High-End Hi=Fi Product 2022.[104]

03/23/2023 MX123 and MC257 win Robb Report Best Home Theater A/V Processor and Amplifier [105]

05/14/2023 C12000 Solid State & Vacuum Tube Preamplifier and the MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier MkII named Stereo Pre-power Amplifiers of the Year by What Hi-Fi Magazine. [106]

Competition and value edit

In the all-tube receiver-amplifier category of the 1970s, competition in audio products for McIntosh came from Dynaco, Fisher Electronics, H.H. Scott, Inc., Sherwood (company), Marantz, Luxman, Sansui Electric, Audio Research, Sequerra, Harman Kardon, and Phase Linear (transistor).

During the 80's through mid 2000's products from Bob Carver, Sunfire, Conrad Johnston, Mark Levinson Audio Systems, Technics (brand), Akai, Accuphase, Pioneer Elite, NAD Electronics, Audio Research, Adcom, Bang & Olufsen, Scientific Audio Electronics (SAE), Yamaha, Onkyo, Marantz, Denon, Harman Kardon, and Sony ES series were competitive.

Today Mark Levinson,[107] PS Audio, Audio Research, Jeff Rowland, Manley Laboratories, Accuphase, Allnic Audio, MBL, McGary, Naim Audio, Anthem, Adcom, Emotiva, Trinnov, Integra, Marantz, NAD Electronics, Scientific Audio Electronics (SAE), Hegel, Immersive Audio Technologies (StormAudio), Bryston Audio,[108] Krell Industries, Parasound[109] and Dan D'agostino[110] are examples of modern-day high end audio products that compete with McIntosh.[111] For the present day historical audio collector, McIntosh is the most valued when measured by marketplace prices. “After 66 years in business, McIntosh is the rock of the high end. Their products are always competitive in terms of sound quality, they're generally of above-average reliability, and their resale value is among the best in the business” as quoted by Jeff Fritz of SoundStage! Ultra publications.[112][113]

Car audio edit

Mcintosh MX 950 Reference sound system shown in a 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve model..19 speakers 950 watts with 10" subwoofer

In the late 90's and early 2000's, a few vehicles were available from the factory with McIntosh sound systems, including BMW,[24] Subaru Legacy and Outback models (starting from the BH & BE Legacy chassis) as well as the 100th Anniversary 2005–2006 Ford GT.[114][115] Past production vehicles included a CD changer, CD changer/AM/FM controller, and an external DAC. Unique features such as the Fast Responding Wattmeter and the patented Power Guard circuitry set their amplifiers apart from others' products; various models were available offering from 75 to 2,000 watts, divided amongst one to six channels. High quality power supplies, powerful circuit topologies, and balanced inputs completed each amplifier. At the end of the chain used to lie their hand-built drivers, which came in standard 5+14-inch and 6+12-inch nominal sizes. All applicable car products were finished with McIntosh's signature glass plate displays.

McIntosh car audio has made a comeback in recent years as it has just recently been added to their current catalog.

On September 3, 2020 McIntosh's first ever automotive Reference system was recently announced by Jeep with its return to American luxury SUVs with the Grand Wagoneer concept.[116][117] The McIntosh MX1375 Reference Entertainment System and MX950 Entertainment System are available as factory-installed systems in the Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, and Jeep Grand Cherokee respectively, starting with the 2022 model year.[118] McIntosh is offered as an upgrade in certain models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee L (three row SUV WL platform) starting with the 2021 model year (one year earlier than the Wagoneer or GC model debut)[119]

Marine audio edit

McIntosh recently collaborated with Wally Yachts of Milan Italy[120] to offer an historic milestone at the company. It marks the first time McIntosh systems have been used in a marine environment.[121]

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External links edit

42°06′00″N 75°52′30″W / 42.100129°N 75.875136°W / 42.100129; -75.875136