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McIntosh MHA150

Headphone amplifier/DAC/integrated amp

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Item # 958MHA150

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Overview

Our take on the McIntosh MHA150

As a headphone guy, I'm thrilled to see McIntosh treat their personal audio pieces with the same gusto as their other gear. And the hand-built McIntosh MHA150 headphone amplifier brings the heat. This stainless steel stallion uses the company's latest generation of Digital-to-Analog converters (DACs) to squeeze every musical detail from your favorite songs or albums. Plus it has enough power to double as a stereo integrated amp and accepts all types of analog and digital sources.

McIntosh MHA150 headphone amp

The McIntosh MHA150 is designed to deliver smooth, detailed sound through high-performance headphones like their MHP1000 over-ears.

A powerful, versatile amp for serious headphone buffs

As a headphone guy, I'm thrilled to see McIntosh treat their personal audio pieces with the same gusto as their other gear. And the hand-built McIntosh MHA150 headphone amplifier brings the heat. This stainless steel stallion uses the company's latest generation of Digital-to-Analog converters (DACs) to squeeze every musical detail from your favorite songs or albums. Plus it has enough power to double as a stereo integrated amp and accepts all types of analog and digital sources.

McIntosh's conversation-piece style

The MHA150 sits just under a foot wide, weighs over 26 pounds, and sports the classic McIntosh look — black glass front panel, green logo, and trademark blue output meters. So yeah, it makes a strong visual statement displayed in your office, listening room, or study. But connect a pair of high-performance headphones or a pair of bookshelf speakers, and this amp will do more than just grab your attention.

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

McIntosh designed the MHA150 to get the bestfrom all your music sources. The back-panel offers digital and analog inputs, including balanced XLR, optical and coaxial digital, and even a USB input. That means you can connect everything from disc players, streaming audio devices, a computer, and more. The built-in advanced DAC handles high-resolution files up to 32-bit/192kHz – including Direct Stream Digital (DSD).

In fact, there's a special, proprietary “MCT” input that allows you to connect the McIntosh MCT450 SACD player.  

Headphones can sound like a roomful of speakers

What's your headphone ritual? Reclined, drink in-hand, eyes closed, with a set of over-ear cans on? A nice pair of in-ears shutting out the world while you sip coffee and work? The MHA150's impedance switch ensures that the special hand-wound Autoformers deliver just the right amount of power to any set of headphones. There's three impedance settings to match up to your 'phones — ranges of 8-40, 40-150, or 150-600 ohms.

Back of the McIntosh MHA150 headphone amp

The McIntosh MHA150 offers a plethora of analog and digital inputs, and includes gold-plated speaker binding posts.

The sound is refined and detailed. There's a five-step bass boost for tailoring low-end to your taste. And McIntosh's Headphone Crossfeed Director adds spaciousness to emulate the listening experience of speakers.

Add a pair of speakers for 2-channel bliss

See those gold-plated binding posts on the back panel? The MHA150 can deliver clean power to pair of speakers, too. This could be a super centerpiece of a stereo setup in a bedroom or living room. And though it's smaller than most of the company's components, this amp still packs plenty of McIntosh muscle — 50-watts per channel.

And if you need more bass? There are preamp outputs for connecting a separate powered subwoofer.

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:
    • hybrid high-output headphone amp and stereo integrated amp
    • rock-solid stainless steel chassis and illuminated glass front panel
    • analog and digital inputs to handle a variety of music sources
    • advanced digital-to-analog conversion using a series of upgraded built-in DACs
      • 32-bit/192kHz decoding for enjoying high-resolution digital music files
      • plays DSD files at 2.8MHz or 5.6MHz
    • full-size headphone output with selectable impedance to match your headphones
      • choose between three impedance ranges: 8-40 ohms, 40-150 ohms, and 150-600 ohms
      • McIntosh's Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®) circuitry adds spaciousness and depth
    • stereo integrated amplifier
      • 50 watts x 2 into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.005% THD with two channels driven
    • Power Guard® circuitry protects speakers and headphones from damaging volume spikes
    • 5-step bass boost control allows custom tone shaping
    • uses a special version of McIntosh's patented Autoformers to ensure stable operation
    • ThermalTrak™ output transistors for low distortion and cool operation
    • fiber optic illuminated glass front panel and mirror-finish stainless steel chassis for a beautiful appearance and long-term durability
    • display and meter backlight can be turned off
    • handcrafted at McIntosh's Binghamton, New York factory
    Connections:
    • USB (Type B) input for connecting a computer
      • dedicated McIntosh USB audio driver required for playback on a Windows® PC (free download available from McIntosh)
    • one Toslink optical digital audio inputs and one coaxial digital audio input (supports music files up to 24-bit/192kHz)
    • set of balanced stereo XLR inputs
    • set of unbalanced stereo RCA inputs
      • no phono input — to connect a turntable you'll need to add a phono preamp
    • proprietary "MCT" input for connecting McIntosh MCT450 stereo SACD/CD player
    • 1/4" headphone output
    • gold-plated speaker binding posts
    • stereo preamp outputs for connection to an external power amp or powered subwoofer
    • detachable power cable
    Specifications:
    • total harmonic distortion: less than 0.005%
    • signal-to-noise ratio: 105 dB
    • frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz (±0.5dB)
    • display and meter backlight can be turned off
    • remote control is compatible with other McIntosh components
    • 11-1/2"W x 5-7/8"H x 18"D
    • weight: 26.5 lbs.
    • warranty: 3 years
    • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

    What's in the Box:

    • Headphone amplifier
    • 6' AC power cord
    • Owner's Manual
    Reviews

    McIntosh MHA150 Reviews

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    (1 Review)
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    Product Research

    Features

    Headphone Amplifier: The McIntosh MHA150 headphone amplifier is designed to give you the best possible personal listening experience available. The MHA150 offers a wide variety of balanced and unbalanced analog and digital inputs, as well as headphone and speaker outputs. You can select a High or Low headphone output level, as well as a headphone impedance range to give you the best performance. The MHA150 has a more compact chassis than other McIntosh amplifiers, giving you more installation options.

    Front-Panel: The headphone amplifier's front-panel features a multi-function OLED display to indicate source selection, volume levels, trim settings, and setup functions. Dual illuminated Power Output Meters indicate the output of the amplifier, and respond to peaks in the output.

    Power Supply: The MHA150 utilizes a large power transformer, multiple large filter capacitors, and a regulated power supply. The power supply responds to variations in the power line voltages to provide rock solid power to the amplifier.

    Protection Circuits: The unit is protected by four forms of protection. McIntosh Sentry Monitor power output stage protection circuits protect the headphone amp and the headphones in case there is an impedance mismatch. The unit also has Thermal Protection circuits to protect the unit from overheating, while Direct Current Detection and Protection is also provided for the amp and headphones. To prevent overheating, at least 6" of air space should be provided above, and 2" on each side of the unit.

    Analog Inputs: The MHA150 headphone amplifier will accept both balanced and unbalanced analog inputs. A pair of female XLR inputs on the rear panel accept a high level signal from a source with a balanced output. A pair of stereo RCA jacks is provided to connect a source with an unbalanced output.

    Digital Inputs: The MHA150 has four Digital Audio Inputs to decode PCM Signals. When the Coaxial, Optical and MCT Inputs receive a PCM Signal, the MHA150 upsamples the Digital Signal to 192kHz with 24Bit resolution before the Digital to Analog process begins. The Digital MCT Input Circuitry directly decodes SACD/CD signals from an external Transport component (958MCT450, sold separately). The USB-B Input for streaming audio, processes Digital Signals up to 384kHz with 32Bit resolution, decodes up to DSD256 Digital Signals and DXD 24Bit with a sampling rate up to 384kHz.

    • Optical: 16-bit/24-bit, 32kHz to 192 kHz
    • Coaxial: 16-bit/24-bit, 32kHz to 192 kHz
    • MCT: 16-bit/24-bit, 32kHz to 192 kHz
    • USB-B: 16-bit/24-bit/32-bit, 32kHz to 384 kHz

    USB Compatibility: The MHA150's USB input allows you to play music from a computer when connected via a USB cable. The USB input is compatible with PCs using Windows Vista (SP2), Windows 7 (SP1), and Windows 8/8.1 (SP1), and Windows 10. It is also compatible with Apple Macintosh computers using OS X 10.9 Mavericks or later. You may be required to download a USB Windows driver to your PC before you connect it to the headphone amp.

    Headphone Output: The McIntosh MHA150 headphone amplifier is equipped with a high quality 1/4" (6.3mm) headphone output.

    • Headphone Power Output: 1 watt (High); 250 mW (Normal)
    • Headphone Load Impedance: 8-40 ohms; 40-150 ohms, 150-600 ohms

    HXD: The built-in Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) circuitry provides the same spatial soundstage in your headphones that you would normally hear when listening to conventional loudspeakers. The HXD circuitry achieves this by improving the sound localization and directionality of the sound coming through your headphones. You can turn HXD on or off as you desire by momentarily pressing the volume control on the front panel. The HXD icon above the headphone jack will illuminate when activated.

    Speaker Outputs: In addition to the headphone output, the MHA150 has a 50 watts per channel stereo power amplifier. McIntosh's patented gold-plated binding post speaker terminals will accept large diameter speaker wire, spade lugs, and banana plugs. The speaker outputs are rated for 8 ohm loudspeakers.

    • Loudspeaker Power Output: 50 watts per channel (minimum sine wave continuous average power output, both channels operating)
    • Loudspeaker Load Impedance: 8 ohms
    Note: When headphones are plugged into the front panel 1/4" output, the loudspeakers are automatically switched off.

    Output Control: The MHA150 uses a specially-designed Autoformer for Headphones technology that gives you three selectable impedance ranges, as well as a low and high output level for best headphone performance. Using the Output Control dial, you can select from the following outputs:

    Listening Device Impedance Power Level Output
    Loudspeakers 8 ohms --- 50 watts
    Headphones 8 to 40 ohms Normal 250 mW
    Headphones 40 to 150 ohms Normal 250 mW
    Headphones 150 to 600 ohms Normal 250 mW
    Headphones 8 to 40 ohms High 1 Watt
    Headphones 40 to 150 ohms High 1 Watt
    Headphones 150 to 600 ohms High 1 Watt

    Preamp Outputs: The MHA150 provides a pair of RCA preamp output jacks that allow you to connect a separate power amplifier or a powered subwoofer. There are two Subwoofer Mode settings: the Disabled setting provides a stereo signal at the preamp output jacks, while the Enabled setting combines the left and right channel signals into a monaural signal at both preamp output jacks.

    Power Control Jacks: The 3.5mm Power Control Input jack receives +12V DC power on/off signals when the headphone amp is connected to another McIntosh component. The 3.5mm Power Control Output jack sends +12V DC power on/off signal to other McIntosh components. Stereo 3.5mm miniplug cables are used for connection to the Power Control jacks.

    Trim: The MHA150's Trim Functions allows you to make several adjustments to the audio and display. Trim functions include Bass Boost (0 to +12.5dB @ 40Hz), Balance, Level (input trim), Mono/Stereo, Meter Backlight, Display (information), and Digital Audio (display information). The Bass Boost, Balance, Level (input trim), and Mono/Stereo Trim Settings are stored independently for each input selected. The other Trim Settings are the same for all inputs. Trim adjustments can be made on the front panel or the included remote control.

    Profiles: You can set and store up to five different Profile settings for headphone listening, each with an assigned custom name. Each profile setting includes the stored selections for Headphone Impedance Range, Power Level, HXD (On or Off), and Bass Boost (0 to +12.5 dB). Profiles can be recalled by turning the ring around the volume control knob.

    Remote Control: A wireless remote control (HR079) is supplied with the MHA150, allowing you to power on/off the headphone amplifier, as well as perform other functions. You can control volume, mute, select inputs, and select and adjust Trim functions. The remote can also select preset stations on many McIntosh tuners.

    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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    Q & A

    Customer Q&A

    Crutchfield asked  
    Why did you buy this?

    McIntosh has outstanding quality. McIntosh products are very expensive but they hold their resale value very well. The added digital facility makes the analog holdout product integrable with modern systems as well. The high performance, extremely low distortion, 50W/ch amp is a perfect match for a highly efficient pair of Klipsch RF-7 II Loudpeakers. [ JOHN  Mar 25, 2017 ]
    Wanted to experience the finest sound available! [ J  Feb 17, 2017 ]

    3 questions already asked

    I'm afraid we don't have any details about the McIntosh MHA50 in our product database at this time. While we don't have any definitive information on that today, that may change in the future--I would recommend checking back with us periodically going forward for any updates. Feel free to contact an Advisor directly by phone (888.955.6000) or online chat to discuss further. Thanks! [ Larry  Oct 10, 2017 ]  Staff
    I'm afraid the McIntosh MHA150 does not have any inputs/connections for an iPad--if you'd like to explore something else that allows connection of an iPad, please feel free to contact an Advisor directly by phone (888.955.6000) or online chat. [ Larry  Apr 05, 2017 ]  Staff
    The only equipment needed is the MHA150 and a pair of headphones of your choosing, preferably with a standard 1/4 inch plug in termination for connection. If your headphones have a 1/8 termination, adapters are readily evailable. The MHA150 is extremely flexible in terms of the type of headphones to be powered. In addition, it can easily power a pair of speakers. Finally, if you plan to connect the MHA150 to a computer you will need a USB type B audio cable. [ Warren  Dec 16, 2016 ]
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