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McIntosh MHA50

Portable decoding headphone amplifier/DAC

Item # 958MHA50

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Overview

Our take on the McIntosh MHA50

I find the warm, blue glow from the meters of a McIntosh component reassuring. It lets me know that the music I'm hearing is sounding its best. The blue trim of the McIntosh MHA50 portable headphone amp gives me that same feeling — and comes with the same uncompromising sound quality.

Portable high-res power to drive your headphones

McIntosh MHA50

Made for high-performance headphones like the McIntosh MHP1000 (not included).

I find the warm, blue glow from the meters of a McIntosh component reassuring. It lets me know that the music I'm hearing is sounding its best. The blue trim of the McIntosh MHA50 portable headphone amp gives me that same feeling — and comes with the same uncompromising sound quality.

Designed for high-performance headphones, the MHA50's built-in DAC (digital to analog converter) can decode high-res PCM and DSD files. And Bluetooth aptX® wireless streaming lets you enjoy richly detailed sound on the go.

True high-resolution audio

The MHA50 can play back high-res PCM audio sources up to 32-bit/192kHz, and DSD audio at 2.8MHz or 5.6MHz, providing better-than-CD sound quality. It also supports DXD audio (Digital eXtreme Definition) at 352.8kHz/384kHz for SACD-quality sound.

Asynchronous USB data transfer ensures reduced timing jitter and better sound. And with high-performance headphones such as the McIntosh MHP1000, those details matter.

Digital connections to almost any device

McIntosh includes a variety of USB cables so you can use the MHA50 with just about any portable device — and non-portables as well. These digital connections let the MHA50 bypass the device's low-quality DAC. Instead, the data goes straight to the MHA50's high-performance DAC, preserving all the detail of your music.

Included is a Lightning® connector cable for your Apple® iPhone® or iPad®, a micro USB cable for Android™ smartphones, and a USB-A cable for laptops. There's even a USB-A OTG cable for flash drives. However your high-res digital music is stored, you can connect it to the MHA50.

Ready for travel

The MHA50 delivers up to 6 hours of Bluetooth wireless playback, and even more through a wired connection. The slender headphone amp comes with its own leather carry case and slips easily into your pocket. Its extruded aluminum body holds up under rough-and-tumble travel conditions. 

Product Highlights:

  • battery-powered portable headphone amplifier with built-in DAC
  • 32-bit/192kHz decoding for enjoying high-resolution digital music files
    • plays DSD files at 2.8MHz (DSD64) or 5.6MHz (DSD128)
    • plays DXD files at 352.2kHz or 384kHz
  • asynchronous USB data transfer for reduced timing jitter and better sound
  • McIntosh's Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®) circuitry adds spaciousness and depth
  • built-in Bluetooth receiver with support for aptX, so you can wirelessly stream music from a compatible device
  • built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery provides up to 6 hours playback with Bluetooth connection; longer with wired connections.
  • extruded aluminum body with blue illumination
  • touch-sensitive control knob
  • two gain settings for use with a wide variety of headphones, from in-ear models to large over-the-ear designs
  • recommended headphone impedance: 8-600 ohms
  • distortion: less than 0.005% (1kHz)
  • frequency response: 20-50,000 Hz (± 0.5dB)
  • 3.5mm stereo minijack output
  • leather carrying case
  • included cables:
    • Lightning connector to USB-A cable for Apple®
    • USB micro-B to USB micro-B cable for Android™ phones
    • USB micro-B to USB-C OTG cable
    • USB micro-B to USB-A for computers
  • USB wall charger
  • 2-13/16"W x 6-3/16"H x 5/8"D
  • weight: 8 oz.
  • warranty: 3 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • Portable USB DAC/headphone amplifier
  • USB/AC power adapter
  • 12" Lightning-to-USB cable
  • 11" microUSB-to-USB cable
  • 11" microUSB cable
  • Leather pouch
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Features

Portable Decoding Amplifier: The McIntosh MHA50 Portable Decoding Amplifier combines a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and headphone amplifier into one portable device. The built-in DAC is designed for decoding 2-channel PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) and DSD (Digital Stream Digital) digital audio signals from your Windows PC or Mac computer with USB 2.0, as well as your Apple Lightning iOS or Android OTG mobile device. The power headphone amp can drive a wide variety of headphones (with impedances ranging from 8-600 ohms) to a high-level of performance.

32-Bit DAC: Featuring a high-performance 32-bit DAC (digital-to-analog converter), it decodes music files from almost any digital source and outputs audio that is superior to what your device alone can produce. It supports 32-bit/192kHz hi-res audio, DSD64 / DSD128 / DXD352.8 / DXD384 files, and asynchronous USB audio.

USB Inputs: The MHA50 is outfitted with one USB-A input and one microUSB input that provide a digital audio input signal path for your Apple Lightning iOS or Android OTG mobile device, as well as your Windows PC or Mac computer.

  • Apple iOS USB-A Input: The MHA50's USB-A input is designed specifically for Apple iOS devices with a Lightning connector (not compatible with 30-pin Apple device). A 12" Lightning-to-USB cable is included.
  • Multi-Function microUSB Input: The multi-function microUSB input provides connection to an Android OTG mobile device, a Windows PC, or Mac computer.  The multi-function microUSB input is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 (Windows requires a special McIntosh USB audio driver); as well as Mac OS x 10.6.8 or later (Mac requires no special USB driver). A 11" microUSB cable is included for Android devices, while a 11" microUSB-to-USB cable is included for Windows PC and Mac computers.

Note: There is a digital audio input selector switch that lets you select between using the iOS USB-A input or the multi-function microUSB input. The switch can also be set to Off when the MHA50 is not in use.

Bluetooth Receiver: In addition to USB connectivity, the McIntosh MHA50 is equipped with a built-in Bluetooth 4.1 receiver with support for A2DP and aptX. You'll be able to stream your stored music library and music apps on your Bluetooth source device to the MHA50. Support for aptX technology ensures you receive "CD-like" (44.1kHz/16-bit) sound quality from your Bluetooth source device (aptX is compatible with most Android devices; not compatible with Apple iOS). Music control and song/artist/album information are not supported by the MHA50; you will continue to use your Bluetooth source device for these features.

Notes:
  • The unit's digital audio input selector switch can be set to either iOS USB-A or multi-function microUSB (it should not be set to off).
  • The MHA50 only has a Bluetooth receiver to receive audio from a Bluetooth source device. It does not offer a Bluetooth transmitter and cannot wirelessly stream audio to Bluetooth-enabled headphones or speakers.

Gold-Plated 3.5mm Headphone Output: All audio is output via a gold-plated 3.5mm jack that connects the MHA50 to your headphones. This jack can also connect to a pair of powered desktop speakers, allowing the MHA50 to serve as a desktop DAC.

Two Gain Settings: Two gain settings allow the MHA50 to work with all types of headphones from small in-ear models to large over-ear studio type designs. It can drive headphones with impedances ranging from 8-600 ohms.

Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD): Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) brings added dimension to your music in a natural sounding way and can be easily turned on and off depending on your preferences. 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.

Durable Extruded Aluminum Construction: The MHA50 is built primarily from durable extruded aluminum, which also has some inherent noise shielding properties to help block external interference.

Front-Panel Controls & Indicator:  The MHA50 features a glass front-panel with a touch sensitive volume control knob inspired by the classic knobs found on countless McIntosh products. There is also a front-panel multi-color LED which indicates the operation mode.

Rechargeable Battery: The built-in, rechargeable lithium battery (3000mAh) provides up to 6 hours of playback on a single charge when connected to a source device via Bluetooth; playback can last even longer when using the wired connections. The internal battery can be charged using the included USB/AC power adapter, the included microUSB cable, and the MHA50' microUSB port.

Portable Design: Comparably sized to smartphones, the MHA50 is compact and lightweight for easy portability with a beveled case that fits comfortably in your hand or pocket. A leather pouch is also included for added protection.

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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