McIntosh MA9500 and MA8950

New DAC, better dynamics and less noise.

Published 2022-02-11 - 7:30 am

The McIntosh MA9500 succeeds the already legendary MA9000, but with some important upgrades. If you have to criticize the 300 W powerful, integrated MA9000 for anything, it has to be that the digital converter is a bit outdated.

That is not the case with the new MA9500, which has got McIntosh’ new DA2 DAC module, with the same inputs as before, but now with an HDMI input only for audio. With Audio Return (ARC).

MA9500 Back DA2 Close Up hi res
MA9500 with DA2

The newer DA2 uses an eight-channel 32-bit DAC in a balanced configuration, which should have a wider dynamic range and lower distortion. It also supports DSD512 and is Roon Ready.

We tested the DA2 in the even heftier MA12000 at 350 W per channel, not too long ago.

McIntosh has also increased the capacitor bank by a doubling in capacitance, which should give 50 percent improvement in dynamics, according to McIntosh.

MA9500 Back background hi res

The amplifier has McIntosh autoformers, i.e. transformers connected to the speaker outputs – not unlike a tube amplifier – for better stability independent of speaker load.

The power supply has received an overhaul compared to the MA9000, again for better stability and less noise, and several of the components in the signal path have been upgraded.

MA9500 Angle Right Close Up background Phono hi res
MA9500 front

As you can see, the amplifier also has an eight-band eq available on the front. The EQ can be switched out, and you can adjust ±12 dB in 2 dB steps at 25, 50, 100, 200, 400 Hz, 1, 2.5 and 10 kHz.

The EQ also features the slightly smaller MA8950, but here there are five frequencies available. Otherwise, the MA8950 has an upgraded version of the MA8900, with the same upgrades as the MA9500.

MA8950 Hero USB hi res

The same DA2 DAC module is installed, there are slightly fewer inputs and slightly less power at 200 w per channel, and the cabinet, without rackmount, is slightly nicer.

Otherwise, the technical upgrades are the same on the MA8950, which McIntosh believes sounds even better than its predecessor.

MA8950 Back DA2 Close Up hi res
MA8950 DA2

The two new McIntosh amplifiers will be available in stores in February. The prices are only quoted in USD (12.000 and 9000 USD), which is approximately the same as the predecessors cost.



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