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McIntosh MC3500 Mk II Vacuum Tube Amp Goes Back to the Future

The $15,000 McIntosh MC3500 MK II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier goes back to the future and it is one mighty beast.

McIntosh MC3500 Mk II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier

If you read between of the lines of our McIntosh Factory Tour article from last week, there are some hints about this. How some of the most celebrated McIntosh products of the past are making a comeback. The media was all excited last week about Jerry Garcia’s McIntosh amplifier being sold and the reintroduction of the McIntosh MC3500 MK II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier is going to make the cult lose its collective minds.

Original McIntosh MC3500 vs. MC3500 Mk II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier
Original McIntosh MC3500 vs. MC3500 Mk II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier

The industrial design is definitely a mixture of old and new and it’s not something that will sit very long at dealers. The demand for it is that great. I definitely saw something at the factory that made me wonder but I didn’t want to ask Mark Christensen or Charlie Randall for the details if it wasn’t really going to happen.

McIntosh has updated the amplifier originally used to power the sound system for Woodstock in 1969 amongst other formative music events. The iconic McIntosh MC3500 (1968-1971) monoblock amp was recreated by McIntosh’s expert team of engineers and designers to include modern upgrades so it can be used with today’s audio components.

McIntosh MC3500 Mk II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier Front Angle

The reimagined McIntosh MC3500 Mk II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier boasts 350 watts of power. As in the original, the MC3500 Mk II uses McIntosh’s Unity Coupled Circuit™ output transformer, allowing the full 350 Watts to be safely delivered to virtually any speaker.

The MC3500 Mk II has a fully balanced driver section that utilizes three 12AX7A and one 12AT7 vacuum tube, while the output is powered by eight EL509S high-power output vacuum tubes specifically chosen due to the similarity to the 6LQ6 “sweep tubes” found in the original MC3500. All the vacuum tubes are located behind the power and output transformers and are covered by a 12-gauge stainless steel wire cage.

McIntosh MC3500 Mk II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier Rear Angle with Cage

The MC3500 Mk II is both modern and retro in its design. As an homage to the original, the Mk II includes U-shaped siderails, a unique feature that provided strength and durability when the original amps were used on the road.

The Mk II also has replicated the black rubber bumpers found in the original amps that allowed them to be temporarily set upright for shows and were big enough to prevent the model from being damaged during setup at concerts.

Original McIntosh MC3500 vs. MC3500 Mk II Tube Power Amplifiers
Original McIntosh MC3500 vs. MC3500 Mk II

The front panel is machined aluminum with a bead blast finish and gold anodizing that emulates the original MC3500. Just as in the original MC3500, the Mk II version includes an output meter, though this version is larger and centered on the front panel rather than offset to the left side as in the previous version.

The meter uses a variation of McIntosh’s DualView™ Power Output Meter design, with the top scale showing the power output in both Watts and decibels, while the bottom scale shows the amplifier warmup time.

McIntosh MC3500 Mk II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier Top Panel Crop
Top Panel

Features

  • McIntosh’s Power Guard Screen Grid Sensor™ (SGS) technology that prevents premature vacuum tube failure
  • Sentry Monitor™ technology to actively observe the output current to ensure operation within safe limits 
  • Balanced and unbalanced input(s) to connect with home audio system and multi-amp configurations 
  • McIntosh’s patented, gold-plated Solid Cinch™ speaker binding posts that easily but securely attach the speaker cables to prevent them from coming loose
McIntosh MC3500 Mk II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier Rear

“At the 50th anniversary of Woodstock in 2019, there was a lot of buzz resurfacing about the McIntosh sound system,” said McIntosh President, Charlie Randall. “This enthusiasm was infectious and inspired me to get our engineering team together to redesign the amp that has obviously resonated with music fans as being a historically significant piece of audio gear. After over two years, we are really proud of the result. The MC3500 Mk II takes its inspiration from the original 1968-71 MC3500 and incorporates all the knowledge we have gained surrounding vacuum tube amplifier design since the 1960’s.”

*Woodstock is a registered trademark of Woodstock Ventures LC.

McIntosh MC3500 Mk II Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier Front Angle Left

Pricing & Availability

Orders for the MC3500 can now be placed with Authorized McIntosh Dealers with shipping expected to begin in December 2021 to the United States and Canada, and to the rest of the world shortly thereafter.

Suggested retail price (VAT, shipping and any customs duties related to current standards of individual countries are excluded): $15,000 USD. 

Ouch but they won’t last long.

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