Behind the blue: The making of McIntosh’s iconic amplifiers

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Inside McIntosh Labs.

With their iconic blue-panelled power meters and logo, McIntosh amplifiers are among the most visually recognisable in the world, garnering something of a cult following unusual in the world of high-end audio.

So much so, The Grateful Dead’s “Wall of Sound” is said to have used forty-eight 300-watt-per-channel McIntosh MC 2300 solid state amplifiers to give it 28,800 watts of continuous power.

A few years ago, James Murphy and 2ManyDJs followed suit, packing the eight 11-ft speaker stacks of their Despacio sound system, with forty-eight McIntosh amplifiers for close to 50,000 watts of power that averaged 100db on the dancefloor. Needless to say, the fluorescent, industrio-gothic amps were as much of an attraction as the DJs.

Highly coveted for the authority and clarity of their sound as much as the striking nature of its design, McIntosh’s amplifiers also boasts a rich history, dating back over seventy years.

Having visited the factories where Rega turntables and Bowers & Wilkins speakers are made, we continue our series of behind-the-scenes tours at McIntosh in Binghamton, New York, to see how the iconic amplifiers are assembled, from the soldering of the electrics, to the hand-wound output transformers.

Filmed by Jonathan Karam and edited by Lucas Lobe.

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