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McIntosh Labs MB100 connects cloud services to local libraries

A blue glow and dancing VU meters set against a high gloss black fascia have been synonymous with McIntosh Labs for over sixty years. The look is unmistakable – a real draw card for those who dig the retro-futurist aesthetic. I know I do.

In late 2012, McIntosh Labs was acquired by Italy’s Fine Sounds group to sit alongside Wadia, Sonus Faber and Audio Research. Esteemed company. And a new owner means new, more forward-thinking products. Products that remain hand-made at McIntosh’s factory in Binghamton, NY.

McIntosh has embraced the world of digital streaming with their MB100 Media Bridge, finally arriving down under after debuting at CES in January.

The MB100 packs 64Gb internal SSD (for OS and music buffering) and a 1TB hard drive for music storage. Insufficient? Four USB ports and a single eSATA port out back allow for storage expansion via external HDDs and flash drives.

Balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs connect the M100 direct to your amplifier whilst S/PDIF outputs present for those who’d prefer to bring their own D/A conversion to the party. DVi and HDMI outputs allow for connection to a TV or computer monitor.

MB100_rear

Playback and navigation of the locally hosted song library can be controlled via a host of options: iOS/Android app, web browser and TV. The M100 supports PCM playback up to and including 24bit/192kHz.

The MB100 can also stream music from the cloud. Support for Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, TuneIn and SiriusXM come pre-configured whilst remaining territory and subscription dependent.

However, the smarts arrive with McIntosh’s patented TuneBridge which bi-directionally connects streaming services to your local music library and to each other. TuneBridge allows you to start a Pandora radio station from a single track in your library or, if you discover a killer new tune on Pandora, serve up the entire album via Spotify. That’s something we’ve not seen before.

The MB100 Media Bridge sells for US$6500 in the USA. In Australia it’s AU$8800.

Further information: McIntosh Labs

Written by John H. Darko

John is the editor/publisher of DAR from which he derives an income from its ad revenues. John is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and lives in Berlin, Germany.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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4 Comments

  1. Looks like a tasty bit of kit JD. Not too sure about the fan venting on top of the unit – seems a bit of a dust trap. Also, why the overkill on the inputs and outputs (including legacy junk like SPDIF) but no connection to attach an external clock?

    In any event, I’m enjoying this new wave of “computers as components” and would love to hear McIntosh’s take on the genre.

    • Hey Alistair – S/PDIF is anything but legacy junk in the context of modern DACs; nearly all pack corresponding inputs. However, I do see what you’re driving at when you consider the AURALiC Aries adds USB to its output options. That said, the Aries can’t connect to a display unit and keeps cloud services and local libraries separate. As always, it’s a game of swings and roundabouts.

  2. Thanks for this preview. Nice finding !

    1- I am just concern of the SQ of those low bitrate streaming. I enjoy So much the Flac 16/44 STREAMING from my Qobuz hifi subscription that I am anxious about the sound quality of sportfy, pandora and other loosy streaming.

    2-Also, i have to admit that I did not understand how the connections work between the cloud and the local librairie. I read several Time your following paragraph but could not figure out how it works. Could you elaborate please ?

    ” However, the smarts arrive with McIntosh’s patented TuneBridge which bi-directionally connects streaming services to your local music library and to each other. TuneBridge allows you to start a Pandora radio station from a single track in your library or, if you discover a killer new tune on Pandora, serve up the entire album via Spotify. “. ?????

    Thanks.

    Ps: i was indeed considering buying the ARIES. I need to understand what is the advantage of this 4x more expensive device ( beside local storage that soon Will BE available through USB on the ARIES)

    • Hey Bertrand. It works like this. Say Pandora plays Neil Young’s Heart of Gold as part of its playlist and you think ‘Wow, this is a TUNE. I want to hear the album’. TuneBridge allows you to click ‘something’ (I don’t know what exactly) and the streamer will the immediately switch to Spotify and play Harvest. At least, that’s the way I understand it.

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