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McIntosh releases DA2 Digital Audio Module Upgrade Kit

Latest plugin gives a new lease of audio life

by Andy Bassett
Hi-Fi News

1

McIntosh releases DA2 Digital Audio Module Upgrade Kit

Taking advantage of new advances in digital audio can be tricky if your hardware is stuck in a technological rut but McIntosh may have the answer, for at least some of their DAC equipped products, with the arrival of the DA2 Digital Audio Module.

There’s no doubt about it, audio technology advances quickly and committing to expensive hardware that might only have a limited lifespan is the bane of an AV fan’s wallet.

To address this McIntosh, purveyors of top end audio amplifiers, processors and receivers, provides plugin modules that add new hardware or processing to some of their products - imparting additional functionality, longer lifespan and some might argue, greater value for money.

The DA2 module is their latest Digital Audio Module and it allows McIntosh customers to benefit from the newest Hi-Res digital audio advances by offering a next-generation DAC upgrade. It’s the company’s most advanced device for processing high-resolution digital audio and will be swappable with some products that currently sport the DA2’s predecessor, the DA1.
Included in the DA2’s new set of audio tools is a new audio-only HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC), enabling an upgrade in (compatible) TV sound quality when listening through a connected home stereo system. Volume control and lip-syncing functions are additional benefits provided by the ARC two-way communication between the DA2-equipped McIntosh unit and the TV. Plus, if the TV’s remote control is compatible, it can also be used to control the power and volume of the connected McIntosh unit via Consumer Electronics Control (CES) communication, which is included with the DA2.

Multichannel audio formats from Dolby and DTS are also supported and will be properly converted to two-channel audio for correct playback through any DA2-equipped unit.
The DA2 uses a next-generation, Quad Balanced, eight-channel, 32-bit digital-to-analogue converter (DAC). This audiophile-grade DAC offers both an improved dynamic range and lower total harmonic distortion compared to the DA1. It also exceeds the DSD256 limit of the DA1 by improving the DA2’s native playback up to DSD512 (plus DXD up to 384kHz) via the USB input.

The DA2 offers the same connections as the DA1, two coaxial, two optical, one USB and one proprietary MCT. The coaxial and optical inputs can decode digital music up to 24-bit/192kHz for Hi-Res audio playback while the MCT port is designed to be paired with McIntosh's MCT series of SACD/CD transports so it can provide a custom DSD connection for playback of high-definition audio found on Super Audio CDs.

The McIntosh models that can be upgraded include the MA9000, MA8900, MA7200 and MA5300 integrated amplifiers, the MAC7200 receiver and the C49 preamplifier, which will continue to be made available with the DA1 inside, so there does not appear to be a plan to factory install the DA2. Instead, the DA2 is an optional upgrade that has to be carried out by an Authorised McIntosh Dealer or Authorised McIntosh Service Agency.

In the UK, details of approved agencies can be obtained from McIntosh’s UK distributor, Jordan Acoustics.

The DA2 Digital Audio Module upgrade kit costs £1,295 and pre-orders can be placed now. Shipping is expected in December for the UK and November for the US.

Source: Press release
Image Source: McIntosh
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