Hi-Fi News reviewed and tested the C1100 two-channel vacuum tube preamplifier. Their lab report finds its "distortion is very low indeed at just 0.00009 - 0.0005%" at 1V output for the 20Hz-20kHz frequency range. They also note that while some tube preamps can alter a recording's sound to where it can be practically unrecognizable, "the C1100 remains one of the more neutral of such designs" they've heard. "It manages to reproduce large amounts of detail and unlock complex recordings when called upon so to do." Get your copy of the magazine for the full C1100 review.
(by Nick Tate and Paul Miller / Hi-Fi News / March 2016)
The C1100 preamplifier brings a new level of performance and luxury to McIntosh’s heralded preamplifier offerings – evidenced by its high level inputs having the lowest noise of any McIntosh preamplifier ever produced. It utilizes a two-chassis design where the control and power sections are completely separate from the audio section. Absolute isolation of a preamplifier’s two main functions – control and sound – is achieved by this unusual but effective design and will provide you with the purest sound reproduction possible for generations of listening enjoyment.
Winner of prestigious Grand Prix Award for its "rich and accurate body of sound." - Stereo Sound
The C1100 is comprised of the C1100 Controller and the C1100 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier. Inside each, the left and right channels are electrically and mechanically isolated from each other to allow true dual mono operation - resulting in the ultimate stereo separation and sonic purity. The two units are connected together via a pair of specially designed, high performance umbilical cables that are shielded to prevent outside noise from leaking into the audio signal. While they are two separate units, when connected they act as one and are easy to control and operate from the included remote control or the C1100 Controller front panel. Both units’ chassis are comprised of polished stainless steel and hairline brushed black Titanium stainless steel, offering a new degree of richness and refinement.
"Distortion is very low indeed at just 0.00009 - 0.0005%." - Hi-Fi News
All power control, data ports and external control connections are located in the C1100 Controller; the introduction of a dual microprocessor allows for an improved robustness of the control system. The C1100 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier houses the audio connections and circuitry, featuring a total of 12 analog inputs: 6 balanced, 4 unbalanced, plus adjustable loading Moving Magnet and Moving Coil phono inputs. For outputs, 2 sets of balanced and 2 sets of unbalanced connections provide flexibility in connecting to your amplifier. Twelve vacuum tubes (6 each of 12AX7a and 12AT7) power the tube preamplifier. Compared to the C1000 preamplifier which had 8 tubes, the additional 4 tubes in the C1100 lowers its dependency on any solid-state support. The amplifier circuit has much higher common mode rejection, so any noise introduced by interconnect cables is significantly reduced. For personal listening, the headphone jack features a higher output than any of our other preamplifiers, while Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®) brings a new depth and spatiality to your music. The Home Theater Pass Through feature allows for seamless integration into your existing multi-channel home theater system.
The C1100 preamplifier employs fully balanced circuitry to match the level of performance achieved in any of our Quad Balanced amplifiers. With classic McIntosh black glass front panels, blue meters, knobs, stainless steel chassis, illuminated logos and custom machined brushed aluminum end caps, the C1100 makes a visual statement in addition to its audio prowess. It can be paired with a variety of McIntosh amplifiers, speakers, room correction devices, CD players, turntables, tuners and other source components to make a complete home audio system.