McIntosh Labs is going back to the heyday of high-fidelity. The iconic audio legends have unveiled a faithful recreation of the 1968-71 MC3500 Amplifier, the signature monoblock amp that was responsible for dishing out the awesome sounds of Woodstock ’69. If you are looking to capture that flaming Jimi Hendrix solo or Joe Cocker’s soulful raspiness, there’s only one option out there.
For fans of that old-school sound, this is one reissue that has been a long-time coming. As one of the most culturally significant events in music folklore, Woodstock ’69 rewrote the history books and McIntosh Labs was a big part of the process. But it wasn’t until 2019, at a 50th Anniversary of Woodstock event that McIntosh President Charlie Randall realised the historical importance of the MC3500. Thus, the idea of bringing it back into production was born, but it was no easy task. Redesigning the 50 years old amplifier took more than two years of development, but finally, it has arrived.
While similar in nature to the iconic amplifier that powered the beleaguered festival, the newly updated MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II does bring a few major upgrades. McIntosh Labs has bolstered the new release with eight EL509S high-power output vacuum tubes, capable of some serious power. According to the brand, the EL509S tube was chosen specifically due to it having many similar qualities and characteristics of the 6LQ6 “sweep tubes” used on the original MC3500.
Originally designed for 1950-60s era TVs, sweep tubes like the original 6LQ6 would ‘sweep’ the cathode ray gun in the picture tube across the phosphor screen. A ‘power-hungry’ process, McIntosh engineers revamped the tech to be stronger and more durable, a feat that has been replicated this time around. “By using the high-power EL509S vacuum tubes, the MC3500 Mk II amplifier remains as faithful as possible to original MC3500 output design,” McIntosh Labs wrote. “In addition, just like in the original MC3500, the MC3500 Mk II uses an additional feedback loop to enhance the linearity of the output tubes.”
Similarly, the audio icon has added next-gen features, such as the Power Guard Screen Grid Sensor technology and Sentry Monitor technology. The MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II also features Solid Cinch speaker binding posts, a fully machined aluminium front panel with a bead blast finishing and gold anodizing, and McIntosh’s DualViewT Power Output Meter design.
“It has been upgraded to modern standards and with modern components to deliver an audio performance worthy of its predecessor and the legacy of their shared model number – all while adhering to the original design as much as possible,” McIntosh Labs wrote. “Like the original MC3500, the MC3500 Mk II uses our Unity Coupled Circuit output transformer, which allows the full 350 Watts to be safely delivered to virtually any speaker regardless if it has 2, 4 or 8-Ohm impedance.”
The McIntosh Labs MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II is available to pre-order now for USD$15,000 with shipping expected to start in December.