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McIntosh MB50

Wireless audio streamer with Wi-Fi® and DTS Play-Fi®

9 Reviews | 4 questions - 4 answers

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Overview

Our take on the McIntosh MB50

When high-end audio fans buy McIntosh gear, they hang on to it. The company's components are built to last, so amps and speakers purchased years ago often sound as pristine and satisfying as they did on day one. But the way we listen to music has evolved in the age of digital streaming. That's where the McIntosh MB50 streaming audio player fits in. It features DTS Play-Fi®, giving you wireless access to a huge selection of music, all controlled with your phone, tablet, or PC. Several digital and analog outputs ensure your tunes sound their best through your existing stereo gear — whether it's old-school or brand new.

Wireless music player with McIntosh sensibility

The McIntosh MB50

The McIntosh MB50 adds wireless music to your existing system via DTS Play-Fi (phone not included).

When high-end audio fans buy McIntosh gear, they hang on to it. The company's components are built to last, so amps and speakers purchased years ago often sound as pristine and satisfying as they did on day one. But the way we listen to music has evolved in the age of digital streaming. That's where the McIntosh MB50 streaming audio player fits in. It features DTS Play-Fi®, giving you wireless access to a huge selection of music, all controlled with your phone, tablet, or PC. Several digital and analog outputs ensure your tunes sound their best through your existing stereo gear — whether it's old-school or brand new.

DTS Play-Fi gives you tons of music choices

The MB50 connects to your home network via dual Wi-Fi® antennas, reducing drop-outs and interference. Once connected, Play-Fi gives you easy access to music stored on your computers, music servers, and mobile devices — including high-quality lossless files. You also have access to popular subscription-based music services like TIDAL and Amazon Prime, along with over 37,000 Internet radio stations.

A multi-room music system with flexibility

Play-Fi is also a flexible whole-home audio system. While you stream a laid-back playlist on the MB50 through your big living-room speakers, the kids can thump out uptempo tracks on a McIntosh RS100 Play-fi speaker in the basement. Or play the same song through both. And these McIntosh devices will work with other Play-Fi devices from other manufacturers, so you can mix and match.

Set up and control Play-Fi on your phone, tablet, or laptop

Back of the McIntosh MB50 streaming audio player

The McIntosh MB50 features flexible inputs and outputs along with dual Wi-Fi antennas.

Download the free DTS Play-Fi app, and you're ready to use the MB50 in mere minutes. It's available for Android™, iOS®, and Kindle Fire, along with Windows® PC operating systems. Use the app to select music, control playback, and adjust volume.

Plays nicely with other McIntosh gear

The MB50's glass front display and steel chassis complements the look of other McIntosh components. And the connections make them a perfect match. There are balanced XLR outputs for connection to a compatible preamp or integrated amp, as well as unbalanced RCA outs. Or, you can connect its coaxial or optical digital output to a digital-ready preamp like the McIntosh C47.

You can also use the MB50 as a preamp for other gear, like a CD player, using the digital and analog inputs. Back-panel trigger input and output connections allow automatic power on/off when used with other compatible McIntosh components.

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:

  • add wireless music to your existing home audio system
    • analog and digital outputs
  • analog and digital inputs allow use as a preamp for a variety of music sources
  • mirror-finish stainless steel chassis is rack-mountable
  • fiber optic illuminated glass front panel for a beautiful appearance and long-term durability
  • hand-crafted at McIntosh's Binghamton, New York factory
DTS Play-Fi Software:
  • allows speaker to communicate with McIntosh RS100, as well as other Play-Fi speakers
  • built-in dual-band Wi-Fi allows connection to your wireless home network and wireless communication with other Play-Fi devices (recommended maximum of 16 devices on a network)
  • free Play-Fi app for Apple, Android, Kindle, and Windows PC offers easy music selection and playback
  • plays music stored on device
  • supports Spotify® Connect, Pandora®, Rhapsody, Amazon Prime, TIDAL, SiriusXM, and thousands of free Internet radio stations (subscription required for some services)
  • DLNA support for streaming music from compatible networked computers and NAS drives
  • multi-zone synchronous playback (same music plays in multiple zones simultaneously) or multi-stream playback (music individually selected for each player)
  • easy wireless setup using your smartphone, tablet, or PC
  • plays MP3, M4A, FLAC, and WAV files; sampling rates up to 24-bit/192kHz
    • not compatible with protected files with digital rights management (DRM)
Connections:
  • balanced stereo XLR outputs
  • unbalanced stereo RCA outputs
  • optical and coaxial digital outputs for connection to a digital preamp
  • trigger input and output for automatic power on/off with other McIntosh components
  • front-panel 1/4" headphone output
  • one Toslink optical digital audio input and one coaxial digital audio input (supports music files up to 24-bit/192kHz)
  • set of unbalanced stereo RCA inputs
  • USB port for firmware updates
    • also compatible with Ethernet-to-USB adapter (sold separately) for a hardwired connection to your home network
Other Specifications:
  • 802.11g/n Wi-Fi router required for multi-room streaming
    • works with 2.4GHz or 5.0GHz routers
  • total harmonic distortion: 0.005%
  • signal-to-noise ratio: 100 dB
  • 11-1/2"W x 3-1/2"H x 15-1/2"D
  • weight: 8.5 lbs.
  • warranty: 3 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • requires high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi router

What's in the Box:

  • Network streaming audio player
  • 6' AC power adapter
  • AC power cord
  • 2 WLAN antennas
  • Remote control
  • Owner's Manual

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Reviews

McIntosh MB50 Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(9 Reviews)

McIntosh MB-50 DAC/Preamp... OK at best.

Mike from Flagstaff, AZ. on 1/27/2018

I just purchased a new MB-50. Running my CD player into the RCA inputs gave me an immediate improvement in my sound quality. That alone justified the purchase. But the Ethernet or WIFI setup is for the birds. Poor documentation and as of this review, no connection yet! I'll have to call McIntosh (as is advised in the Owner's Manual page discussing network connectivity! Really??). There's a few ergonomic oversights regarding this DAC/Preamp: 1) The manual is poorly written. It looks impressive..., until you read it. Then it's like, "What?" 2) There's no Ethernet port. You must purchase a USB-to-Ethernet Adapter to hardwire to your network (which runs smoother than WIFI for DSD Audio). 3) The front panel Input selector is a multi-push type to select Optical, RCA or Digital. But each press only displays a Green, Blue, or White color. The rear panel doesn't assign a color to the input. So it's a guess to know which color means which input. Lastly, there's no speaker-level balance. I know, purists say it degrades the sound. But, my room layout requires a mild correction due to the physical placement of my speakers. So... now what? If I could, I'd return it. Not because it didn't sound great (at least for my CD input), but because there are better designed DAC/Preamps at this price point.

Pros: CD input provided a noticeable improvement over my old preamp. Looks like a nice unit.

Cons: Poor manual Difficult to connect to Wifi or Ethernet Frontpanel "Input" button's colors are color-coordinated with rear panel inputs, so each color shown is a 'guess' as to which input is selected. No speaker-level balance control (which may not be important to some).

McIntosh MB50

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

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

After using for a couple days. Its amazing product. Sound is awesome

Pros: User friendly ,American made

Cons: non

McIntosh MB50

Anonymous from Memphis, TN on 9/10/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I live it. Great McIntosh quality and beautiful connectivity.

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Cons:

Excellent substitute for Vinyl and SACD

Herb from Bath County, VA on 8/27/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I've had the MB50 for about a month. This unit is located in a second home in rural Virginia, I took the advice of a previous reviewer by purchasing a power conditioner at the same time. Initially I was not pleased, all I have available for Internet is DSL, I kept losing the connection, after doing some research, I decided to replace my wireless router with a Linksys Velop, that's when the MB50 came alive. I have not lost the connection since the switch. Matched with an old Mac MA6100 integrated Amp and XR50 Speakers, I'm very pleased. Play-fi is not the friendliest app, but I'm getting used to it.

Pros: Sounds Great, McIntosh Quality, Great for an office or second home.

Cons: WiFi network needs to be better than average. The MB50 deserves five stars. Play-fi earns 3.5

McIntosh MB50 streaming audio player

Vincent from Toms River, NJ on 8/23/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I have my MB50 for about 2 days now and have yet to hear a single note out of it. Constant issues between the play fi app and my network. I even tried a wired connection with the same end result. Crutchfield has been great with their customer support and has put me in touch with McIntosh, so let's see where this goes. I did give it one star because it's a pretty looking unit, and it looks great with the just of my McIntosh gear. Hopefully it eventually works and I won't have to return it.

Pros: Looks great!

Cons: Connecting it and actually getting to use it.

McIntosh MB50

Anonymous from West Hills, CA on 4/16/2017

You need to have a power conditioner in order to maintain a good connection. Initially I was having drop issues and I was getting ready to dump it. When i switch the from the AC wall plug to my Shunyata Hydra power conditioner, everything became perfect. No more drops!

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mcintosh MB-50

Randy from Niagara Falls on 2/10/2017

I just purchased this Mcintosh product @ my local retail store. Set up took me 20 min. Typical experience with most new products. I couldn't wait to get it up and running. Once I did I had no connectivity issues. FM radio sounded ok. But, when I used Play fi to listen to music downloads I was blown away! Sounds crystal clear with great sound stage. I will not be spending any more money on vinyl. And it looks perfect under my MXA-70. Couldn't be happier.

Pros: Not spending money on vinyl. Size fits perfectly and multi additional input/outputs looks awesome.

Cons: Price, but it's cheap for a Mcintosh product.

McIntosh MB50

Anonymous from Willoughby, OH on 1/24/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Sounds good when it works, I have a very strong Wi-Fi signal but it continues to cut out.

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Cons:

Crutchfield response on 1/25/2017 Whenever you are not completely satisfied with anything you purchase from Crutchfield, please contact our Customer Support team. Purchases from Crutchfield can be returned or exchanged within 60 days of the purchase.

McIntosh MB50

Anonymous from Dixon, CA on 11/15/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

When it works it is awesome but it almost never works. It plays for about 30 seconds and then stops playing. For some reason, the MB50 I have "thinks" that it is set up via optical even though it is not. No cables are attached to any optical output and after spending more than an hour with a technician we could not figure out how to fix it. I even tried connecting via Optical and that did not work. It also didn't help that the MB50 came with an incorrect power chord and so I needed to have the correct one mailed to me. Fortunately I will be swapping out the current MB50 for a new one and I'm hoping that will solve the problem.

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Details

Hands-on research

Product Research

Features

Network Streaming Audio Player: Transform your home's existing audio system into a wireless audio system with the McIntosh MB50 Network Streaming Audio Player. Simply connect it to your home audio system and Wi-Fi network and then control it from your Apple iOS device, Android smartphone/tablet, or Windows PC. The MB50 features DTS Play-Fi technology to give you the freedom and flexibility to wirelessly play your music at home over your existing Wi-Fi network. Analog and digital outputs let you to connect it to your existing home audio system. Plus, analog and digital inputs let  you connect other audio components to the MB50, allowing it to act as a mini-preamp.

Built-In WiFi: The McIntosh MB50 features built-in WiFi and dual WLAN antennas to connect to your home's existing wireless WiFi network to give you access to Internet Radio, select online music services, and the music libraries on your smartphone/tablet or laptop/computer.

  • 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Dual Band 2.4GHz / 5.0 GHz
  • WPS (WiFi Protected Setup)

Note: The unit's USB (type-A) port is used exclusively to connect the MB50 to a wired network using a USB-to-Ethernet adapter (sold separately - not available at Crutchfield).

DTS Play-Fi Wireless Technology: The McIntosh MB50 network streaming audio player employ DTS Play-Fi wireless technology for wireless sound that is reliable and high-quality. DTS Play-Fi combines DTS audio and WiFi wireless technology to wirelessly stream high-definition "lossless" audio with no impact on sound quality. DTS Play-Fi will stream pure, bit-for-bit, lossless audio, for uncompromised quality sound; up to 16-bit/48kHz. DTS Play-Fi has a range of up to 100' from your wireless router.

Note: All DTS Play-Fi enabled products work seamlessly together, so there's no hassle adding more speakers, or choosing more than one audio brand (like McIntosh, MartinLogan, Definitive Technology, Polk, Paradigm, Phorus, Wren, etc..) in your home.

DTS Play-Fi App: Download the free DTS Play-Fi App onto your Apple iOS (6.0+) device, Android (2.2+) smartphone/tablet, or Windows (7/8) PC for easy and convenient management of your music from your mobile device or computer. From the app you can initially set up the McIntosh MB50 network streaming audio player, as well as add, link, and control all your DTS Play-Fi components. You'll be able stream music directly from the system's built-in music online services, or music on your mobile device or PC to multiple DTS Play-Fi enabled products throughout your home. The app lets you browse your music by artist, album, genre, or title; and provides album art. You can choose to play the same music in each zone or a different song in each room.

Variety Of Sources: The McIntosh MB50 network streaming audio player & DTS Play-Fi supports a variety of music sources.

  • Mobile Device (Apple iOS & Android): You are able to wirelessly stream your music files from your music library on your Apple iOS (6.0+) or Android (2.2+) device to the PW800 through the free DTS Play-Fi app.
  • Online Music Services: From the free DTS Play-Fi app on your mobile device or computer, you can share and listen to TIDAL, Amazon MusicRhapsody, and Internet Radio. *Pandora, *Spotify Connect, & *SiriusXM will be available the later part of 2016 via a Firmware Update.
  • Computer Audio: The McIntosh MB50 is DLNA compliant for playback of various music files stored on your Windows PC (7/8) or DLNA-certified NAS drives connected to your home network. MAC OSX computers and laptops require third party software to be visible on the network (Twonky, Plex, Servio etc.) as they do not support DLNA. Use the free DTS Play-Fi app on your mobile device or computer to access these music files.

Supported Music Files: The MB50 network streaming audio player and DTS Play-Fi support music formats such as MP3, AAC, FLAC, and WAV. The system will recognize music files up to 24-bit/192kHz and wirelessly stream these files at up to 16-bit/48kHz (CD quality sound). Some down-sampling may occur to ensure virtually lossless distribution throughout a home network.

Critical Listening Mode: For those who wish to hear high resolution audio as originally intended, Critical Listening mode will enable native rendering of high resolution files up to 24-bit/96kHz, with no down-sampling or network synchronization adjustment. In this way, audio files retain their original audio integrity. Critical Listening Mode is only available on one DTS Play-Fi device and not supported for multiroom audio distribution.

Maximum Number of Rooms/Zones Supported: You can play the same source in each zone or a different song in each room. Eight separate wireless source devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.), each with its own source, are supported simultaneously and any wireless source device can stream to eight DTS Play-Fi playback devices. Due to the bandwidth limitations of most wireless networks, no more than 16 wireless DTS Play-Fi products on a single WiFi network at one given time is recommended.

Balanced & Unbalanced Analog Outputs: The MB50 is fitted with both balanced & unbalanced analog outputs to connect the network stream audio player to your home audio system. There is a balanced stereo XLR output and an unbalanced stereo RCA output. Balanced connections guard against induced noise and allow long cable runs without compromising sound quality.

Digital Outputs: The McIntosh MB50 is also equipped with an optical (toslink) digital output and a coax (RCA) digital output for connection of the network streaming audio player to your home audio system.

Analog & Digital Inputs: The MB50 features analog & digital inputs to connect external audio devices through the MB50, allowing the network streaming audio player to act as a preamp or DAC. There is one analog stereo RCA input, a optical (toslink) digital input, and a coax (RCA) digital input. The digital inputs support 2ch stereo PCM audio signals up to 24-bit/192kHz.

Note: The analog & digital inputs can only be played back from the MB50's balanced/unbalanced analog outputs and headphone jack; these input sources cannot be streamed to other DTS Play-Fi devices.

1/4" Headphone Jack: The network streaming audio player features a front-panel 1/4" headphone jack for private listening.

Classic McIntosh Design: The McIntosh MB50 network streaming audio player incorporates classic McIntosh design cues, including a black glass front-panel, brushed aluminum end-caps, & illuminated logo.

Front-Panel & Remote Control: The network streaming audio player features the following front-panel controls - Standby/On, Volume, Input, and WiFi/Net. The included IR remote provides wireless operation of the MB50. Remote controls include Power, Input, Volume, Mute, Play/Pause, Stop, Previous/Next Track & Menu Navigation.

Trigger In/Out: The MB50 network streaming audio player has the ability to automatically switch power on or off to and from source components via the Trigger In/Out connections (3.5mm).

AC Power + Auto Power Off: The McIntosh MB50 features an external AC power adapter & detachable AC power cord. The MB50 incorporates an Auto Off feature, which automatically places the network streaming audio player into the Power Saving Standby/Off Mode after approximately 2 hours of inactivity or no audio signal.

Mounting Options: The McIntosh MB50 can be placed upright on a table or shelf, standing on its four feet. It also can be installed in a piece of furniture or cabinet of your choice. Always provide adequate ventilation for your MB50. Allow at least 1" above the top, 1" below the bottom, and 1" on each side of the preamplifier, so that airflow is not obstructed.

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

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Crutchfield asked  
Why did you buy this?

To use as a Tidal streaming source with my McIntosh integrated amplifier [ Vincent  Aug 21, 2017 ]
Have the MB 100 [ OSCAR  Jun 07, 2016 ]

4 questions already asked

Thanks for your question. For information on comparing two or more models I would recommend reaching out to an Advisor by phone (1-800-324-9695) or online chat. They will be able to help determine the differences and help you make the best choice for your system and your budget. [ Kenny  Jun 05, 2017 ]  Staff
Yes, this is the reason that I purchased the MB50 and McIntosh wi-fi speaker.. You can download the McIntosh app and use your Music from ITunes on your I-Pad or I-Phone to control MB-50. I am a huge McIntosh fan and these two units are amazing. Oscar [ OSCAR  Aug 08, 2016 ]
The McIntosh MB50 network streaming audio player does not support DSD playback. Along with the built-in Play-Fi technology, it supports music formats such as MP3, AAC, FLAC, and WAV. The system will recognize music files up to 24-bit/192kHz and wirelessly stream these files at up to 16-bit/48kHz (CD quality sound). I hope that helps. My Bio: http://www.crutchfield.com/Support/Bio.aspx?bio=159 [ Larry  Jul 20, 2016 ]  Staff
Quite a bit actually. The McIntosh is designed to be part of a multi-room distributed audio system and supports DTS Play Fi to work with other DTS Play Fi devices: http://www.crutchfield.com/learn/introducing-play-fi-wireless-audio.html?search=DTS It offers digital, analog and even XLR outputs for the best connection options to your /pre-amp/receiver/amplifier. The Marantz offers plenty of streaming options & services, but is made to be a single source that cannot be shared/output to other speakers/players on the same network. So, if you do not want/need the multi-room capabilities of DTS PlayFi, you can get the great streaming services and digital audio playback through your sound system, at a fraction of the cost, with the Marantz. I hope that helps. My Bio: http://www.crutchfield.com/Support/Bio.aspx?bio=5 [ Ryan  May 14, 2016 ]  Staff
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