McIntosh C53


Following the digital audio precedent set in their current solid state integrated amplifiers, the C53 stereo preamplifier features an upgradeable digital audio module

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McIntosh C53

The McIntosh C53 Preamplifier is ready to serve in your home audio system for many years – even decades – all while delivering unmatched audio quality.

McIntosh C53

Following the digital audio precedent set in their current solid state integrated amplifiers, the C53 stereo preamplifier features an upgradeable digital audio module.

But unlike their integrated amplifiers that use r DA1 Digital Audio Module, the C53 is the first to use our new, more advanced DA2 Digital Audio Module.

The DA2 builds upon the DA1 with an expanded set of capabilities.

In addition to having all the same connections as the DA1 (2 coaxial, 2 optical, 1 USB and 1 proprietary MCT for use with our MCT series of SACD/CD Transports), a new audio-only HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC)1 connection is included on the DA2.

This allows it to be connected to TVs with a compatible HDMI (ARC) output to bring your TV sound to a new level of audio performance by listening to it through your home stereo system.

Popular multi-channel audio formats from Dolby® and DTS® are supported and will be expertly converted to 2-channel audio for proper playback through the C53.

When CEC communication is enabled in both the C53 and your TV, your TV remote can control the power and volume of the C53.

Additionally, the DA2’s USB input can support native playback of up to DSD512, surpassing the DSD256 limit of the DA1.

This increased DSD playback support is thanks to the next generation, Quad Balanced, 8-channel, 32-bit Digital-to-Analogue Converter (DAC) that powers the DA2.

This audiophile-grade DAC is highlighted by both an improved dynamic range and total harmonic distortion compared to the DA1.

The USB input also supports DXD up to 384kHz.

The coax and optical inputs can decode digital music up to 24-bit/192kHz for high resolution audio playback.

Rounding out the DA2 is an MCT input that offers a secure, custom DSD connection for playback of the high definition audio found on SACDs when paired with their MCT series of SACD/CD Transports to produce the best possible sound quality from your SACD collection.

In addition to the 7 digital inputs found in the DA2 module, the C53 also has 9 analogue inputs, giving it a nearly inexhaustible number of 16 total inputs for connecting all your music sources.

The analogue inputs consist of 3 balanced and 4 unbalanced connections, plus 1 Moving Coil and 1 Moving Magnet phono inputs for plugging in your trusted turntable.

Outputs include 3 variable balanced and unbalanced connections along with 1 fixed unbalanced connection.

Tone controls include an 8-band analogue equalizer; each band can be adjusted ± 12dB so you can fine tune your music just the way you like.

Their High Drive Headphone Amplifier can power virtually any pair of headphones, while Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®) can bring an added dimension to your music.

Home Theater Pass Through lets the C53 be seamlessly integrated into your home theater system.

Power Control ports let you easily turn other connected McIntosh components on and off, while the Data Ports can send remote control commands to connected source components.


The C53 is one of many McIntosh products to receive Roon Tested designation from Roon Labs.

It has been profiled and tested by both Roon and McIntosh for maximum compatibility.

Roon will recognise it and send it audio optimised for its capabilities.

No fiddling with checkboxes or dropdowns, Roon Tested devices are automatically identified and configured out of the box for a superior customer experience.

All this audio technology is packaged inside the C53’s classic McIntosh design featuring a black glass front panel backlit by direct LED lighting, blue meters, rotary knobs, an illuminated logo and aluminum end caps.

An attractive polished stainless steel chassis finishes the distinguished look.

It can be paired with an assortment of amplifiers, CD players, turntables, tuners, media streamers, room correction devices and speakers to complete your home audio system

Specification McIntosh C53

Specification McIntosh C53
  • Number of Channels


  • Total Harmonic Distortion


  • Frequency Response

+0, -0.5dB from 20Hz to 20kHz
+0, -3dB from 15Hz to 100kHz

  • Maximum Volts Out (Balanced / Unbalanced)

16V RMS / 8V RMS

  • Sensitivity High Level (Balanced / Unbalanced)

900mV / 450mV

  • Sensitivity Phono (Moving Coil)


  • Sensitivity Phono (Moving Magnet)


  • Signal To Noise Ratio (High Level)


  • Signal To Noise Ratio (Moving Coil)


  • Signal To Noise Ratio (Moving Magnet)


  • Voltage Gain (High Level)


  • Voltage Gain (Moving Coil)


  • Voltage Gain (Moving Magnet)


  • Input Impedance (Balanced / Unbalanced)

44K ohm, 22K ohm


  • Balanced Input


  • Unbalanced Input


  • Phono Input Moving Coil

1 (adjustable)

  • Phono Input Moving Magnet

1 (adjustable)

  • Upgradeable Digital Audio Module

Yes: DA2

  • Digital Coaxial Input


  • Digital Optical Input


  • Digital MCT (DIN) Input


  • Digital USB Input


  • HDMI (ARC) Input


  • Digital AES/EBU Input


  • Balanced Fixed Output


  • Balanced Variable Output


  • Unbalanced Fixed Output


  • Unbalanced Variable Output


  • Headphone Output

1/4″ High Drive with Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®)

  • Input Level Match

Yes, +/- 6dB

  • Home Theater PassThru


  • Unbalanced Analog Connector Type

Premium gold-plated solid brass

  • Service Port



  • Tone Controls

8 band (each band adjustable ± 12dB )

  • Tone Bypass and Input Assign


  • RS232 Control Input


  • Power Control Output

1 Main, 4 Trigger

  • Rear Panel Data Port


  • Rear Panel IR Sensor Input



  • Multi-Chassis or Single

Single, two layer

  • Output Meters


  • Vacuum Tube or Solid State

Solid State

  • Power Consumption (On)

30 Watts


  • Unit Dimensions (W x H x D)

17.5″ (44.45cm) x 7.6″ (19.37cm) x 18″ (45.72cm)

  • Unit Weight

28 lbs (12.5 kg)

  • Shipping Weight

43.5 lbs (19.7 kg)



McIntosh Heritage Founded in 1949 by Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow McIntosh is known for offering distinguished home audio systems that deliver the ultimate experience in music and film. Offering products for two-channel stereo sound systems and multi-channel home theaters with surround sound, McIntosh continues to define the ultimate home audio entertainment experience for discriminating listeners around the world. Their iconic blue Watt output meter is globally recognised as a symbol of quality home audio. With a McIntosh home stereo system or home theater, listeners have the ability to create their own luxury audio experience – and truly live their music. McIntosh products are designed and handcrafted at their Binghamton, NY factory by their dedicated employees who share a passion for music and the McIntosh heritage. Since their inception, McIntosh has been powering some of the most important moments in music history and pop culture. From President Lyndon Johnson's inauguration speech to Woodstock to the famous Grateful Dead "Wall of Sound," McIntosh has not only witnessed history, they have shaped it.

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