Stereo digital preamplifier
Our take on the McIntosh D150 by Crutchfield's Steve Kindig
A stereo preamp with a digital mind and an analog soul
Even audio components that focus on digital audio, like the McIntosh D150 preamplifier, owe a big part of their sound quality to analog circuitry. And nobody has more experience with high-performance analog design than McIntosh. The D150 brings world-renowned McIntosh sound quality to the latest high-res digital audio formats.
Along with its sonic attributes, the D150 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 what you've been missing from high-res digital files
With 6 audio inputs, the D150 is a versatile digital preamp. Or, you can use it as a high-performance DAC.
An array of inputs give you access to the D150's advanced digital-to-analog converter (DAC). This is an 8-channel DAC chip configured to operate with four channels per stereo channel. All that processing power will provide a revelatory improvement to the sound from your computer, disc player, music streamer, or TV.
The D150's optical and coaxial digital inputs support high-res music files up to 24-bit/192kHz. And its USB input handles even higher-resolution files: up to 32-bit/384kHz for PCM, as well as DSD and DXD formats.
And speaking of DSD, the D150 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 D150's superb DAC for decoding.
A preamp/DAC you can use as a preamp... or a DAC
If your music system is built around digital sources, the D150 is probably all the preamp you need. Just connect the D150's variable-level outputs to your amplifier and you're good to go. You'll use the D150's remote to control volume and other functions, just as you'd expect. But if you also listen to analog sources, and already have a preamp or A/V pre/pro you like, you can still take advantage of the D150's superb DAC section. Connect all your digital music sources to the D150, then use its fixed-level outputs to connect to your preamp. In that situation, volume level is controlled via your preamp.
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.
- stereo preamp with built-in digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and digital inputs
- digital inputs let you connect sources like a computer, disc player, media streamer, or TV and enjoy superior sound
- 8-channel 32-bit/500kHz DAC used in Quad Balanced mode (4 stacked channels per stereo channel)
- accepts and plays high-resolution digital audio sources, including PCM, DSD and DXD files
- asynchronous USB technology 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
- full-size headphone output
- remote control
- fluorescent front-panel display with adjustable brightness
- fiber optic illuminated glass front panel
- handcrafted at McIntosh's Binghamton, New York factory
- variable-level balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs for connecting directly to a power amplifier
- fixed-level balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs for using the D150 as a DAC and connecting to a preamplifier
- 2 Toslink optical digital audio inputs and 2 coaxial digital audio inputs (supports music files up to 24-bit/192kHz)
- USB (Type B) input for connecting a Mac® or Windows® computer (USB driver required for audio playback on Windows computers)
- 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 output for activating an external accessory
- RS-232 port for automated control systems
- IR input for connecting an IR receiver
- data port allows basic remote control of a connected McIntosh source component
- 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
- total harmonic distortion: less than 0.0015%
- signal-to-noise ratio: greater than 110 dB
- 17-1/2"W x 3-7/8"H x 16"D
- weight: 13.5 lbs.
- warranty: 3 years
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
What's in the Box:
- Digital stereo preamplifier
- 6' AC power cord
- Remote control
- Owner's Manual
Features and Specs
|Signal to Noise Ratio||110|
|Number of Inputs|
|USB Connections||Type-B (1)|
|Network Streaming Services||N/A|
|Parts Warranty||3 Years|
|Labor Warranty||3 Years|
Digital Preamplifier: The McIntosh D150 is a solid-state digital preamplifier with 6 total digital inputs for connection of your digital audio source components. Electronic input switching on all inputs provides reliable, noiseless, distortion free switching. There are two different ways the D150 may be used in an audio system -
- as the main audio preamplifier connected directly to a Power Amplifier
- as a digital-to-analog converter with input switching connecting to an analog preamp
Classic McIntosh Design: The D150 digital preamplifier incorporates classic McIntosh design cues, including a black glass front-panel, rotary knobs, illuminated logo, and brushed aluminum end-caps.
Specially-Designed Power Supply: Fully regulated Power Supplies and a special R-Core Power Transformer ensure stable noise free operation even though the power line varies.
32-bit/500kHz DAC: The McIntosh D150 utilizes an 8-channel, 32-bit/500kHz DAC with advanced Quad Balanced, digital-to-analog circuitry for precision, dynamic sound with little distortion. The D150 is capable of handling the finest commercial recordings, assuring the best sound from your digital music collection.
Asynchronous USB-B Input: The McIntosh D150 features a asynchronous USB-B input for playing back music files from your computer. Asynchronous technology allows the digital clock inside the D150's DAC to control the flow of data coming from your computer. This method of communication leads to less jitter (timing errors) for the D150 to deal with which results in clearer more defined sound. The D150 can decode and play back high res PCM & high fidelity DSD files from your Windows PC or Mac computer via its USB-B input. The digital 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. Your Windows PC or Mac computer must meet the following system requirements -
- Windows 7 (SP1), Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10; a Windows PC will require the installation of McIntosh's USB Audio Window Driver (available on the McIntosh website)
- Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later; a Mac computer does not require the installation of an additional USB audio driver
Optical & Coaxial Digital Inputs: The McIntosh D150 Digital Preamplifier is fitted with two optical (toslink) digital inputs and two coaxial (RCA) digital inputs. The optical and coax digital inputs will decode 2ch stereo PCM music files at up to 24-bit/192kHz for high resolution audio playback.
MCT Port: To enjoy the high definition audio found on SACDs (16/24-bit; 32-192kHz), you can connect the D150 to McIntosh's MCT450 SACD/CD Transport (958MCT450, sold separately) via the MCT input on back of the digital preamplifier to create a secure and custom DSD connection.
Fixed/Variable Balanced & Unbalanced Outputs: Balanced and unbalanced connections are available for both variable and fixed volume audio outputs, providing flexibility in setting up and connecting your system. The McIntosh D150 is equipped with a fixed balanced stereo XLR output and fixed unbalanced stereo RCA output, as well as a variable balanced stereo XLR output and variable unbalanced stereo RCA output. The Balanced outputs allow the connection of long cable lengths without a loss in sound quality. You can use Balanced and Unbalanced Outputs simultaneously, connected to different power amplifiers.
Headphone Amp: The D150 offers a front-panel 1/4" headphone jack for connecting a set of low-impedance (20-600Ω), dynamic headphones, so you can enjoy your music in private. You will need to press the "Mute" button to mute the loudspeakers when listening to headphones.
Gold-Plated Connectors: The Input and Output connectors contacts are gold-plated for superior corrosion resistance and high electrical conductivity.
Front-Panel & Remote Control: On the front-panel of the preamplifier are Input & Volume rotary knobs, Setup button, Mute button, and Standby/On button. The McIntosh D150 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.
Fluorescent Display: The D150's front-panel, fluorescent display indicates the Source Selection, Volume Level, Sampling Frequency, and Setup Mode Selections. The display brightness is adjustable.
Custom Integration: The McIntosh D150 offers advanced connectivity and control features often required for custom home integration.
- IR Input: The 3.5mm IR input allows the connection of an external IR receiver. With an external sensor connected to the D150, remote control operation of the system is possible from another room and/or when the D150 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.
- Power Control: The D150 has the ability to automatically switch power on or off to and from source components via the Power Control In/Out connections (3.5mm).
- Data Port: The D150's Data Out Port (3.5mm) sends remote control signals to a McIntosh source component. This Data Port connection allows for the remote operation of basic functions using the D150's remote control.
AC Power Cord + Auto Power Off: The McIntosh D150 digital preamplifier features a detachable AC power cord with 3-pole IEC connector. The D150 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 D150 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 D150 when it is custom installed. Always provide adequate ventilation for your D150. Allow at least 2" above the top, 2" below the bottom, and 1" on each side of the digital preamp, so that airflow is not obstructed.
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McIntosh puts its decades of experience into the D150 digital preamp, giving you the best sound quality for your digital and high-res music.
2 questions already asked
The McIntosh D150 utilizes an 8-channel, 32-bit/500kHz DAC with advanced Quad Balanced, digital-to-analog circuitry. They do not use the same DAC on all of their preamps. I hope that helps. My Bio: https://www.crutchfield.com/Support/Bio.aspx?bio=5 [ Ryan Apr 05, 2017 ] Staff
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 Dec 23, 2016 ] Staff
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