As we reported recently on Hifi Pig, McIntosh Laboratory has launched a dedicated headphone amplifier for MC_MHA100_1the first time in its history. Here’s a bit more information.

The new MHA100 headphone amplifier has four digital inputs, remote control,  and was first unveiled in January at CES 2014, Las Vegas – it’s now available in the UK from Jordan Acoustics, McIntosh’s UK distributor.

The MHA100 employs a new adaptation of McIntosh’s unique autoformer technology which offers three selectable headphone impedance ranges: 8-40; 40-150 and 150-600 ohms. T.

It also features McIntosh’s new Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) technology, which allows high-quality recordings played through headphones to image like conventional speakers. “HXD improves the sound localisation for headphone listening and restores the directionality component of the spatial sound stage normally experienced with loudspeaker listening” says the company’s pres release.

The internal McIntosh Digital Engine, offers four digital inputs (coaxial, optical, balanced digital AES/EBU and USB), allowing decoding at up to 32-bit/ 192kHz resolution and upsamples digital signals to 192kHz with 32-bit resolution, before the D/A process begins. Two analogue inputs (including balanced) have also been appointed.

Electronic input switching is also included. The preamplifier uses logic circuits controlling electromagnetic switches on all inputs and operating functions.

The MHA100 is also perfectly suited to computer-based systems and desktop working say McIntosh and compared to McIntosh’s other amplifiers, the MHA100 is considerably more compact and fits neatly on a desk or anywhere else in the home.

The MHA100 is more than just a headphone amplifier, too: 50-watt stereo speaker outputs (with less than 0.005% distortion) are included for use with loudspeakers.

The power amplifier uses ThermalTrak1 output transistors for lower distortion and cool operation and McIntosh’s patented gold-plated output terminals deliver high current output and accept large-diameter wire and spade lugs. Loudspeaker listening is automatically switched off when headphones are connected.

The MHA100 also benefits from four forms of protection. McIntosh Sentry Monitor power output stage protection circuits. The Sentry Monitor also protects headphones in the event of an impedance mismatch. Built-in thermal protection circuits guard against overheating, and direct current detection and protection is provided for both headphones and loudspeakers.MCO_MHA100_2

Further features include tone controls plus McIntosh’s Power Guard® technology: a waveform comparison circuit that continuously monitors both input and output signals, dynamically adjusting them when necessary, in order to avoid potentially damaging clipping.

The MHA100’s multifunction OLED display indicates source selection, volume levels, trim settings and set-up functions and the famous illuminated power output meters are peak-responding, indicating the output level. A remote control is also included.


Headphone power output: (high) 1W; (normal) 250mW

Headphone output impedance: 8-40; 40-50; 150-600 Ohms

Power output per channel: 50 watts

Speaker impedance: 8 Ohms

Rated power band: 20Hz to 20kHz

Total harmonic distortion: 0.005%

Dynamic headroom: 1.5db

Frequency response: +0,-0.5dB 20Hz to 20kHz; +0, -3dB 10Hz to 100kHz

Sensitivity (unbalanced): 300mV

Sensitivity (balanced): 600mV

Input impedance (balanced/unbalanced): 25K/25K

Damping factor: >150

Preamp output: 3V (8V max)

Preamp output impedance: 500 Ohms

Voltage gain: 36.5dB

Power Guard: <2% THD with up to 16dB overdrive at 1kHz

Digital audio specifications

Coax input sample rate: 16-bit, 24-bit  32kHz to 192kHz

Optical sample rate: 16-bit, 24-bit  32kHz to 192kHz

AES/EBU sample rate: 16-bit, 24-bit  32kHz to 192kHz

USB sample rate: 16-bit, 24-bit  32kHz to 192kHz


Headphone output: 1x ¼”

High level inputs unbalanced: 1 stereo

High level inputs balanced: 1 stereo

Digital USB input: 1

Digital coaxial input: 1

Digital optical input: 1

Digital AES/EBU input: 1

Preamp output: 1 stereo

General specifications

Tone control: five-step bass boost control: 0 to +12.5dB (in 2.5dB steps) @ 40Hz

Power control in/out: Yes/Yes

Dual-layer chassis and output meters

Output autoformer (headphones)

Standby power requirement: <0.25 watts

Dimensions (WxHxD): (29.2cm) x (14.1cm) x (45.7cm)

Weight: 12kg

Price and availability

The MHA sells for £4,995 and is available now.

Sponsorship button

Furutech Unveil Their Latest Audiophile USB Cable
Graham Slee Road Shows

Read More Posts Like This

  • Headphone Amplifier from McIntosh

    The MHA100 headphone amplifier from McIntosh is their first dedicated headphone amp and employs a new adaptation of the company’s unique Autoformer technology to produce three headphone impedance ranges of 8-40, 40-150 and 150-600 ohms so that every headphone can be accommodated. The new headphone amplifier features McIntoshes new Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) which they say allows high quality recordings…

  • McIntosh Launch MHA150 Headphone Amplifier

    McIntosh has announced the launch of the new MHA150 Headphone Amplifier made in their Binghamton, NY factory, they say 'the MHA150 Headphone Amplifier is a worthy successor to the critically-acclaimed MHA100. The MHA150 contains the same feature set and performance standards but adds our new 2nd generation digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) that provides support for DSD and DXD files to give…

  • iFi iCAN Headphone Amplifier

    iFi have announced the iCAN, a palm sized 167g battery powered, 150mW headphone amplifier. The onboard lithium-polymer 1400mAh battery is said to give over 70 hours of juice and the company’s DirectDrive output with no coupling capacitors is said to offer  “smooth, natural sonics and bass slam”. Input is via a either a pair of RCAs or a 3.5mm jack…

You must be logged in to leave a reply.