Posted on 10th July, 2019


The McIntosh C53 preamp has just been announced - the first product to debut the New York high-end hi-fi maker's next-gen DA2 Hi-Res DAC module.

Remember the C49 released in May with the DA1 modular DAC? Well, here is the C53 preamp that's the first with bragging rights to come equipped with the all-new DA2 High-Res DAC with HDMI (ARC). Furthermore, the hand-built C53 preamplifier offers an incredible 16 inputs.

McIntosh C53 DA2

The inclusion of a modular DAC in the new C53 preamplifier follows the digital audio precedent set in McIntosh's current line of solid-state integrated amplifiers. Crucially, the C53 is the first McIntosh product to include the new seven-input DA2 Digital Audio Module, an upgradeable DAC with an expanded set of capabilities over the existing DA1. Also, McIntosh states it offers both improved dynamic range and lower total harmonic distortion.

The new replaceable module now includes an audio-only HDMI ARC and native DSD512/DXD 384kHz playback over USB, courtesy of a next-generation, Quad Balanced, eight-channel, 32-bit Digital-to-Analogue Converter (DAC).

As well as sporting the same connections as the DA1 (two coaxial, two optical, one USB and one proprietary MCT for use with McIntosh's MCT series of SACD/CD transports), there's that HDMI ARC input which gets your compatible telly in on the legendary McIntosh sound.

McIntosh C53 DA2 HDMI ARC

There's support for Dolby and DTS multichannel formats, which are converted to two-channel, and when CEC communication is enabled in both the C53 and the TV, the C53's remote can control the TV's power and volume without the need of another handset.

Additionally, the DA2's coaxial and optical inputs both offer 24-bit/192kHz resolution playback.

The C53 also has analogue covered by way of a further nine inputs - three balanced and four unbalanced connections, plus Moving Coil and Moving Magnet. All together this pre-amp offers you a range-topping 16 inputs.

McIntosh C53 DA2

Outputs include three variable balanced and unbalanced connections, along with one fixed unbalanced connection.

To fully integrate the preamp with varying room acoustics, the C53 features an eight-band analogue equaliser with each band adjustable by ± 12dB.

For more personal moments, there is the McIntosh High Drive Headphone Amplifier complete with Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD).

Finally, Home Theater Pass Through seamlessly integrates the C53 into a home cinema system and Power Control ports turn other connected McIntosh components on and off; the Data Ports can send remote control commands to connected source components, too.

Don't worry if your McIntosh is equipped with the DA1. If you want in on the DA2 action too, it will be soon available as a separate upgrade to all products using the DA1. So, that's great news for owners of the MA9000, MA8900, MA7200 and MA5300 (reviewed) Integrated Amplifiers, MAC7200 Receiver and, of course, the C49 Preamplifier.

Pricing and availability

The C53 can be ordered now for £9,995 with shipping in August. The USA will get them later this month, and the rest of the world following shortly after.

For more information, head over to McIntosh.


Jay Garrett's avatar

Jay Garrett

StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.

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Posted in: Hi-Fi
Tags: mcintosh  jordan acoustics