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McIntosh C47

Stereo analog and digital preamplifier

6 Reviews | 5 questions - 6 answers

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Overview

Our take on the McIntosh C47

Like other longtime audiophiles here at Crutchfield, I nearly flipped when I heard that McIntosh was coming on board. And as I dug into the details of their audio gear lineup, one component I kept coming back to was the C47 stereo preamp. One of their newest models, the C47 is designed to deliver world-renowned McIntosh sound quality whether you're listening to your favorite analog sources or the latest high-res digital audio formats.

A state-of-the-art stereo preamp for the way we listen now

Like other longtime audiophiles here at Crutchfield, I nearly flipped when I heard that McIntosh was coming on board. And as I dug into the details of their audio gear lineup, one component I kept coming back to was the C47 stereo preamp. One of their newest models, the C47 is designed to deliver world-renowned McIntosh sound quality whether you're listening to your favorite analog sources or the latest high-res digital audio formats.

Along with its stellar sonic attributes, the C47 boasts the classic McIntosh look — black glass front panel, big metal knobs, and illuminated logo. And this gorgeous preamp is designed and built right here in the USA.

Hear everything at its best, from high-res digital files to vinyl

McIntosh C47 back panel

With multiple analog and digital inputs, and XLR and RCA outputs for two amplifiers, the C47 can handle sophisticated stereo systems.

With connections for up to 12 components, the C47 is one of the most versatile stereo preamps we know of. For your analog audio gear, you'll find two balanced XLR and three unbalanced RCA inputs. The high-quality built-in phono preamp lets you plug in a turntable with either a moving-magnet or moving-coil cartridge.

Your digital sources are covered, too, with an array of inputs that give you access to the C47's advanced digital-to-analog converter (DAC). It's a great way to seriously upgrade the sound from your computer, disc player, music streamer, or TV. The USB Type B input handles the highest-resolution digital files: up to 32-bit/384kHz for PCM, as well as DSD and DXD formats.

And speaking of DSD, the C47 is one of only a handful of components with a digital DSD input. It means that you can play SACD discs on the McIntosh MCT450 SACD/CD Transport and send the DSD bitstream to the C47's superb DAC for decoding.

Plays nicely with your other equipment

McIntosh C47 angled view

Like a talented musician, the C47 seems to raise the performance level of the players around it. Balanced XLR inputs and outputs ensure that your music remains as pure as possible from your compatible XLR-equipped sources all the way to the balanced inputs on your power amp(s). That's right, the C47 has dual balanced and unbalanced outputs, making it easy to bi-amp your system, if you choose. One easy amplifier recommendation is McIntosh's MC152.

With this preamp at the helm of a high-end audio system, you'll experience music with 3D immediacy and impact, and the sense that you're sharing the studio or stage with your favorite musicians. And the C47 has a few other tricks up its sleeve. The full-size headphone output features McIntosh's Headphone Crossfeed Director circuitry, which reduces the common trapped-inside-your-head quality of headphone sound and adds spaciousness and depth. And a Home Theater Pass Through feature lets you make the C47 part of a multichannel surround sound system. The right and left front channels from an A/V processor or surround decoder can pass through the C47's analog inputs/outputs and on to its associated power amplifier.

A world-famous audio heritage, made in America

Since its founding in 1949, McIntosh has defined the meaning of high-quality sound reproduction, while setting industry standards for superior performance and reliability. The company is based in Binghamton, New York, where its high-end components and speakers are still individually handcrafted by a team of skilled experts. This uncompromising dedication to quality has made McIntosh one of the most recognized and respected audio manufacturers in the world.

Product Highlights:

    Features:
    • stereo preamp with analog and digital inputs to handle a variety of music sources
    • high-quality built-in phono preamp for exceptional vinyl playback
    • digital inputs let you connect sources like a computer, disc player, media streamer, or TV and enjoy superior sound
    • accepts and plays high-resolution digital audio sources, including PCM, DSD and DXD files
    • asynchronous USB (Type B) input for reduced timing jitter and better sound when connecting to a computer
    • fully regulated power supplies and R-Core Power Transformer ensure stable, noise-free operation
    • Home Theater Pass Through lets you seamlessly integrate this preamp into an existing multichannel home theater system
    • full-size headphone output with McIntosh's Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®) circuitry for sound with greater spaciousness and depth
    • bass and treble controls
    • fluorescent front-panel display with adjustable brightness
    • remote control
    • handcrafted at McIntosh's Binghamton, New York factory
    Connections:
    • 2 sets of stereo balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs for connecting two power amplifiers (for bi-amping)
    • set of fixed-level unbalanced RCA outputs for sending an unaltered signal to a recording device
    • 2 sets of balanced stereo XLR inputs for connecting compatible sources
    • 3 sets of unbalanced stereo RCA inputs
    • 2 phono inputs for connecting a turntable (one for use with moving-magnet cartridges, one for moving-coil cartridges)
    • 2 Toslink optical digital audio inputs and one coaxial digital audio input (supports music files up to 24-bit/192kHz)
    • USB (Type B) input for connecting a Mac® or Windows® computer
      • supports PCM music files up to 32-bit/384kHz, plus DSD64, DSD128 & DSD256, as well as DXD 352.8kHz & DXD 384kHz
      • USB audio driver required for playback on a Windows PC (free USB driver download available from McIntosh's website)
    • proprietary digital DSD connection for playback of SACD audio when paired with the McIntosh MCT450 SACD/CD Transport
    • 12-volt outputs (1 main, 2 trigger)
    • RS-232 port for automated control systems
    • IR input for connecting an IR receiver
    • 4 data ports allow basic remote control of connected McIntosh source components
    • detachable power cable
    • If connecting to a TV, please make sure you can select "PCM" output in its audio menu — the preamp's DAC cannot decode multichannel Dolby® Digital signals
    Specifications:
    • total harmonic distortion: less than 0.003%
    • signal-to-noise ratio: greater than 100 dB
    • 17-1/2"W x 6"H x 18"D
    • weight: 23 lbs.
    • warranty: 3 years
    • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

    What's in the Box:

    • Stereo preamplifier
    • 6' AC power cord
    • Remote control
    • Owner's Manual

    Featured Video:

    Amazing Amp. For the money you can't beat it.

    Anonymous, Pr Du Chien, WI

    Reviews

    McIntosh C47 Reviews

    Average Customer Review(s):

    (6 Reviews)

    Exceptional D/A and exceptional headphone amp!

    Bob from Davis, CA on 2/12/2018

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    First off, the video of a McIntosh representative on this site was very helpful, as was Peyton, my Crutchfield advisor. This preamp is everything I was looking for. McIntosh describes it has having their very latest (solid state) circutry. Leaving out the big blue VU meters, eight-band EQ, and using a smaller, all black chassis, they get the price down be being competitive with other high-end preamps of the highest performance. I just received the unit a week ago, and have started out evaluating it with a computer music source (Audirvana Plus running on an iMac), Sennheiser HD800S headphones, and Cardas headphone cable. Comparing the McIntosh C47 against a Benchmark DAC2 HGC, they are very close, which is to say the D/A converter in the C47 is exceptional. The headphone amp in the McIntosh drives the HD800S headphones with a little bit tighter and bigger bass, and a slightly more relaxed sound, especially when playing loud. It is an exceptional headphone amplifier. I have not yet used the moving coil phone preamp, I'll comment when I do, but having that is a major reason for my purchase.

    Pros: D/A equals mastering quality professional unit. Headphone amp is spectacular, even driving inefficient 300 ohm headphones, lots of I/O including balanced (XLR), includes both a MM and a MC phono preamp, absolutely dead silent

    Cons: You trade off having no VU meters and no eight-band EQ for a lower price point, yet with McIntosh latest solid state circuitry.

    McIntosh C47

    Anonymous from Pr Du Chien, WI on 11/13/2017

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Amazing Amp. For the money you can't beat it.

    Pros: Great Value,American made

    Cons: Non

    Outstanding pre-amp

    Will from Mount Pleasant, SC on 5/15/2017

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    The best pre-amp I've ever used by a wide margin. Handles everything I want it to do and I've barely scratched the surface of its capabilities.

    Pros: Extraordinary capabilities. Provides perfectly clean sound.

    Cons:

    Brilliant

    Stephen from Atlanta, GA on 8/9/2016

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    Expensive, but it was the sound I was looking for - great soundstage, detailed reproduction. The setup was simple as well and feature set just right; handy but no nonsense. The shelving EQ is really nice as well. I had been using a Marantz 8802a for stereo and was looking for the sound I remembered from "back in the day" that came from a good integrated stereo amp - something I don't think modern AV units can deliver affordably. This IS *that* sound. I have it powered by an MC152 amp driving Sonus Faber Venere 2.5 speakers and a REL 328 sub. I have not been this happy with my stereo sound in ages. Additionally, the Home Theater bypass works great with the AV8802a setup and I can easily switch to A/V for TV and Blu-ray - a great setup!

    Pros: Great Sound Wide soundstage Smooth, yet detailed Looks beautiful in the rack!

    Cons: expensive

    McIntosh C47

    Julius from Brooklyn, NY on 6/22/2016

    C47 which is supplemented by two MC301 is well designed multifunctional preamp for analog and digital use. I have ClearAudio TT, Marantz SACD, computer, and DVD 4K connected to this unit. TT & SACD via RCA cables, computer via USB cable, and DVD via optical cable. AND I CAN ADD MORE!!! Through C47 I can manage monoblocks via power control cables. In comparison with MAC6700 the sound is better - we compared sound using only TT as the source. I still added external vacuum tube phono preamp Pro-Ject as I feel the difference. It doesn't have two blue levels as more expensive units, however while at the dealer my friend and I we didn't hear any difference between this unit and more expensive ones.

    Pros: to many to list. Its McIntosh.

    Cons: none

    C47 Preamp. Robust analog digital preamp

    Alberto A from Pembroke Pines, FL on 3/28/2016

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    I bought the C47 to integrate it with a McIntosh HT system (MX150, MC302 and MC303) for stereo audio. It sounds absolutely outstanding as one may expect from a MacIntosh product. Right now is connected to a SONY HAP Z1-ES (loaded with more than 1Tb of aiff and DSD files), using the balanced analog inputs. It has a wide soundstage, it is incredible clear, quiet and have deep bass. relatively inexpensive for a McIntosh product, it complements very well my setting as it has HT passthrough working flawlessly with my MX150. If you are looking for a affordable excellent sounding stereo pre amp, this is it.

    Pros:

    Cons:

    Details

    Hands-on research

    Features and Specs

    General
    Signal to Noise Ratio 100
    THD 0.003%
    Number of Inputs
    USB Connections Type-B (1)
    Ethernet Connections None
    Phono Inputs 2
    Preamp Outputs 5
    Network Streaming Services N/A
    Bluetooth No
    AirPlay Compatible None
    Dimensions
    Width (inches) 17-1/2
    Height (inches) 6
    Depth (inches) 18
    Weight (pounds) 23
    Parts Warranty 3 Years
    Labor Warranty 3 Years

    Product Research

    Features

    Stereo Preamplifier: The McIntosh C47 is a versatile solid-state stereo preamplifier with an expansive set of inputs (12 total inputs) to connect virtually any of your analog and digital music sources. The C47's multiple outputs have the ability to drive multiple power amplifiers (sold separately). The McIntosh preamplifier's reproduction is sonically transparent and absolutely accurate.

    Classic McIntosh Design & Specially-Designed Power Supply: The C47 stereo preamplifier incorporates classic McIntosh design cues, including a black glass front-panel, rotary knobs, illuminated logo, and brushed aluminum end-caps. Fully regulated Power Supplies and a special R-Core Power Transformer ensure stable noise free operation even though the power line varies.

    32-Bit/384kHz DAC: The McIntosh C47 utilizes a 32-bit/384kHz DAC for exceptional high-resolution audio reproduction. The C47's internal DAC (digital-to-analog converter) circuitry is designed to decode 2-channel PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) and DSD (Direct Stream Digital) Digital Signals.

    Note: Other digital audio signal format types than 2ch PCM or DSD will cause the audio outputs of the C47 to be muted and the front-panel LCD will indicate an error message.

    Electromagnet Input Switching w/ Naming: Electromagnetic input switching is used in McIntosh C47 preamplifier to switch the variety of source components connected. Rather than the commonly-used mechanical switches that will deteriorate with wear, electromagnetic switches are high tech switching nodes that allow very long, trouble-free operation. The default Input Names can be changed to match the name of the component connected to it or any other custom name desired (up to 10 characters).

    Analog Inputs: The McIntosh C47 Preamplifier is fitted with balanced & unbalanced analog inputs, plus MM & MC phono inputs.

    • Balanced & Unbalanced Analog Inputs: The McIntosh C47 Preamplifier is equipped with two balanced stereo XLR inputs and three unbalanced stereo RCA inputs. The Balanced Inputs allow the connection of a source component using longer cable lengths without a loss in sound quality. The analog inputs can be matched in level, preventing abrupt changes in volume levels.
    • MM/MC Phono Inputs: The C47 has two precision Phono Preamplifier Circuits, one for Moving Coil (MC) Phono Cartridges and the other for Moving Magnet (MM) Cartridges. Both Phono inputs have selectable loading (MC: 25-1,000Ω) / MM: 50-800pf).  The Phono preamp circuits used provide the lowest possible noise and distortion. The close tolerance resistors and capacitors used in the RIAA Correction Equalization Circuitry provide an extremely flat frequency response.

    Digital Inputs: The McIntosh C47 Preamplifier features optical & coax digital inputs, a USB-B input for computer audio, and a proprietary MCT port for SACD playback.

    • Optical & Coaxial Digital Inputs: The McIntosh C47 Preamplifier is fitted with two optical (toslink) digital inputs and one coaxial (RCA) digital input. The optical and coax digital inputs will decode 2ch stereo PCM music files at up to 24-bit/192kHz for high resolution audio playback.
    • USB-B Input: The McIntosh C47 can decode and play back high res PCM & high fidelity DSD files from your Windows PC (7/8/8.1./10) or Mac (OS 10.6.8+) computer via its USB-B input. The preamp's USB-B input will accept 2ch stereo PCM signals up to 32-bit/384kHz and supports DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 along with DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz. A Windows PC will require the installation of McIntosh's USB Audio Window Driver (available on the McIntosh website).
    • MCT Port: To enjoy the high definition audio found on SACDs (16/24-bit; 32-192kHz), you can connect the C47 to McIntosh's MCT450 SACD/CD Transport (958MCT450, sold separately) via the MCT input on back of the preamplifier to create a secure and custom DSD connection.

    Analog Outputs: The McIntosh C47 Preamplifier is fitted with balanced & unbalanced outputs, a front-panel headphone jack, and a fixed output.

    • Balanced & Unbalanced Outputs: The McIntosh C47 is equipped with two balanced stereo XLR outputs and two unbalanced stereo RCA outputs. Balanced & Unbalanced Inputs & Outputs can be mixed. For example, you may connect signal sources to Unbalanced Inputs and send signals from the Balanced Outputs; or vise-versa. You can also use Balanced and Unbalanced Outputs simultaneously, connected to different Power Amplifiers.
    • Headphone Jack w/ HXD: The C47 offers a front-panel 1/4" headphone jack for connecting a set of low-impedance (100-600Ω), dynamic headphones, so you can enjoy your music in private. The C47's Headphone Crossfeed Director Circuitry (HXD) improves the sound localization for headphone listening. HXD restores the directionality component of the spatial sound stage normally heard with Loudspeaker listening. You can choose for the preamp to mute the audio outputs when a headphone is connected or have both the audio outputs and headphone jack live at the same time.
    • Fixed Output: The audio signal present at the stereo RCA "FIXED OUT" jacks is unaffected by the preamplifier's equalizer circuitry, so you can send an unaltered audio signal to another zone amplifier.

    Gold-Plated Connectors: The Input and Output connectors contacts are gold-plated for superior corrosion resistance and high electrical conductivity.

    Home Theater Pass Through: When the C47 preamplifier is part of a home theater or multichannel audio system, the Right and Left Front channels from an AV processor or surround decoder can pass through the C47's analog inputs/outputs and onto its associated power amplifier.

    Front-Panel & Remote Control: On the front-panel of the preamplifier are Input & Volume rotary knobs, Output 1 and Output 2 buttons, Tone button, Mute button, and Standby/On button. The McIntosh C47 also includes an IR remote control for wireless operation of the preamplifier. In addition, the remote operates other McIntosh audio components. The IR remote offers the following button functions - Power On/Off, Input Selection, Volume Up/Down, Setup/Menu, Numeric Keypad, and Playback Control.

    • Precision Volume Control: Volume levels are controlled by a precision balanced digitally controlled attenuator system with an optical encoder rotary control. This assures a 0.1dB tracking accuracy between channels. There are 225 individual 0.5dB volume level steps with no noise as the volume level is changed.
    • Bass & Treble: Bass & treble tone controls allow for some fine tuning of your audio sources.  The Bass & Treble controls provide up to 12dB of boost or cut. The C47 remembers the Bass & Treble Setting for each input.
    • Balance Left/Right: You are also able to balance the output level of the preamplifiers left & right output channels.
    • Stereo/Mono Mode: By default the Stereo mode is active for all input sources. However, any input source may be assigned to Mono mode. Mono mode combines the Left and Right channel signals for Monophonic Sound.

    Fluorescent Display: The C47's front-panel, fluorescent display indicates the Source Selection, Volume/Balance Levels, and Setup Mode Selections. The display intensity is also adjustable.

    Custom Integration: The McIntosh C47 offers advanced connectivity and control features often required for custom home integration using premium control systems.

    • Power Control Connectors: The C47 has the ability to automatically switch power on or off to source components via the Power Control connections. The C47's "Main, "Trigger 1/2", and "PASSTHRU" Output Jacks (3.5mm) send power on/off signals (+12 volt/0volt) when connected to other McIntosh source components. The Power Control outputs can be assigned to activate when a given input or output is selected.
    • Data Ports: The C47's four Data Out Ports (3.5mm) send remote control signals to McIntosh source components. These Data Port connections allow for the remote operation of basic functions using the C47's Remote Control.
    • IR Input: The 3.5mm IR input allows the connection of an external IR receiver. With an external sensor connected to the C47, remote control operation of the system is possible from another room and/or when the C47 is located in a cabinet with the doors closed. The signal from a connected external IR receiver will have priority over the signal from the preamp's front-panel IR sensor.
    • RS-232C Port: The preamplifier's RS-232C port requires a 3.5mm stereo minijack to a subminiature DB 9 connector cable (sold separately) to transmit and receive RS-232 commands.

    AC Power Cord + Auto Power Off: The McIntosh C47 stereo preamplifier features a detachable AC power cord with 3-pole IEC connector. The C47 incorporates an Auto Off feature, which automatically places the preamplifier into the Power Saving Standby/Off Mode after approximately 30 minutes of inactivity or no audio signal.

    Mounting Options: The McIntosh C47 can be placed upright on a table or shelf, standing on its four feet. It also can be custom installed in a piece of furniture or cabinet of your choice. The four feet may be removed from the bottom of the C47 when it is custom installed. Always provide adequate ventilation for your C47. Allow at least 2" above the top, 2" below the bottom, and 1" on each side of the preamplifier, so that airflow is not obstructed.

    Our Product Research Team

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    Q & A

    Customer Q&A

    Crutchfield asked  
    Why did you buy this?

    Conversations with my advisor, Payton, about alternate products, and my personal experience with McIntosh. (I own and will be using this with an MC 352 power amp.) [ ROBERT  Jan 30, 2018 ]
    Satisfies a bucket list item. I've always wanted McIntosh components. [ Will  Apr 19, 2017 ]
    Its a McIntosh any other ? [ finis  Apr 09, 2017 ]
    It's a McIntosh! Nuff said. [ Thomas  Dec 29, 2016 ]
    To be integrated with a McIntosh home Theater System. [ Alberto  Mar 02, 2016 ]

    5 questions already asked

    The McIntosh is as quiet as pre-amps can be. Any noise you hear from the speakers would be due to the source, the amp, or dirty AC power. I hope that helps. My Bio: https://www.crutchfield.com/Support/Bio.aspx?bio=5 [ Ryan  Mar 03, 2017 ]  Staff
    The manual states the C47 USB Input is compatible with PC Computers (Windows 7.1, 8.1 and 10) and Apple Macintosh (OS 10.6.8 or later). If using a Windows PC, you need the McIntosh USB Audio Software Driver. So your Sony media player may not be supported, even with the new firmware. When I first got my C47 I struggled with how to leverage the C47 DAC since most CD/media players have an internal DAC. First I used the digital optical output of my CD player, then I ended up getting a Mac mini - ripped all my CD's and use Audirvana as my music player. Very happy with the current setup. Good luck. [ DAVID  Feb 22, 2017 ]
    I'm pretty sure it means Mcintosh Cd Transport. It seems to be dedicated for playing SACDs - For example, the MCT450 SACD/CD Transport, when playing SACDs, could use the MCT DIN connector to "deliver the purest sound quality". [ DAVID  Apr 04, 2016 ]
    That is an special input to connect the SACD CD transport MCT450. Others pre amps, like the C52 and D150 have the same input. [ Alberto  Apr 04, 2016 ]
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