McIntosh MX160 on display at Maximum Audio Video!
The highly anticipated McIntosh MX160 A/V processor has finally arrived in our showroom. At first glance this unit doesn’t look a whole lot different than its predecessor, the MX 151. However, looks can be deceiving. McIntosh has built this unit from the ground up. No sharing technology with a sub-$3000 Marantz pre-amplifier any longer. The MX160 has 16 (no that is not a typo) balanced outputs that can be interchangeably assigned depending on how this processor is going to be used. The input stage also includes includes a pair of balanced analogue XLR inputs, a moving magnet phono input, 4 Toslink, 3 digital coaxial and an AES/EBU XLR input as well as a microphone input for Room Perfect (which is built into this unit). With all of the inputs lined up on this unit you would think that McIntosh would skimp on the video processing but that is just not the case. The HDMI input section has 8 inputs (all are HDCP 2.2), 4 HDMI (HDCP 2.2) outputs and an HDBaseT output for long-distance HDMI runs. It may seem odd that this unit has 4 HDMI outputs but the word on the street is that in future updates the 4 HDMI outputs can be used in a tiling configuration to get a 4-way split screen image from the inputs on the MX160. This feature usually costs about $11,000 to achieve without any of the legendary McIntosh audio processing circuitry. The input section is rounded out with a USB DAC with broadcast quality 24-bit/192kHz Asynchronous processing which all but eliminates the need for an external DAC.
To install the MX160 we removed the MX121 we had on display for about 18 months. We fired up Pacific Rim in our MVP891 Blu Ray player connected through Earth series XLR cables and Vodka series HDMI cables from AudioQuest. The rest of the McIntosh stack is comprised of the MC302 2-channel amplifier, MC303 3-channel amplifier and MPC1500 power controller. The largest and most noticeable difference is the audio level output from the McIntosh. The change from the unbalanced MX121 to balanced outputs on the MX160 not only lowers the noise floor but it also allows cleaner high frequencies to shine through where they were somewhat subdued on the MX121. We are lucky enough to have a JL Audio F112 on display in our theater so we were able to use the balanced subwoofer output from the MX160. Unfortunately for some sub woofer owners there is not an optional unbalanced RCA output so you will need to purchase and XLR to RCA adapter to use your unbalanced LFE input. At the end of the day words on a screen doesn’t do the MX160 any justice. For an blow your hair back experience visit our showroom Monday through Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and we can take you through and in-depth tour of all the features of the McIntosh MX160.