McIntosh preamplifier C46 2-Channel Solid State Audio Control Center


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Introduction and Performance Features Introduction

The new McIntosh C46 Audio Control Center offers a highly refined combination of useful operating features with totally transparent electronic performance. For example you can take advantage of the eight-band equalizer to achieve the finest possible reproduction of digital source music as well as valuable music from earlier recording technology. Combine a C46 with a McIntosh Power Amplifier and you will enjoy a system of unparalleled performance. Performance Features

• Balanced Inputs and Outputs One balanced high level Input and three balanced Outputs are provided. 

• Precision Tracking Volume Control Volume levels are controlled by a new Multi-Stage Precision Digitally Controlled Attenuator System with a tracking accuracy of 0.1dB. Levels change in 214 individual 0.5dB steps.

• Variable Rate Volume and Balance Control Selection The C46 Control Center’s Volume and Balance Control Circuitry provides an ideal rate of change with control rotation. • Eight Tone Controls with Assignable Bypass The Tone Controls provide 12dB of boost or cut at center frequencies of 20, 35, 70, 150, 300, 600, 1200 and 4000Hz. When a Tone Control is in the center or flat position, all Tone Circuit Components are removed from the Signal Path of any selected input.

• Alphanumeric Fluorescent Display The Multifunction Front Panel Display indicates the Source Selection, Volume and Balance Levels. Setup Mode Selections and Adjustments are also displayed. The display intensity is fully adjustable.

• Electromagnetic Input Switching Digital Logic integrated circuits drive Electromagnetic Switches on all Inputs and operating functions for reliable, noiseless, distortion free switching.

• Input Level Trim Adjustment All eight Inputs on the C46 can be matched in level, so there are no abrupt changes in volume levels between the different Inputs.

• Record Monitor Function There is a Record Monitor Function for checking the progress of a recording from any of the eight inputs.

• Title Reassignment Any of the eight Inputs can have their Input Title reassigned to match the sources in the system.

• Two Signal Processor Loops Separate front panel switched Signal Processor Loops are provided for the listen and record circuits.

• Precision Parts Only the finest precision 1% tolerance resistors are used throughout.

• Low Distortion Distortion levels of all types are less than 0.002%. Music is amplified with total transparency and accuracy.

• Moving Magnet Phono Input There is a Precision Phono Preamplifier for Moving Magnet Cartridges.

• Remote Control The C46 includes a Remote Control that allows remote operation of the Front Panel Controls and Push-buttons.

• Optional External Sensor Input There are provisions for connecting External Sensors, which allow for enjoyment of your McIntosh System from other room(s) in your home via the Remote Control.

• Output Switching Front panel Output Push-buttons control two Switched Outputs that allow sending signals to two separate Power Amplifiers.

 • Fiber Optic Solid State Front Panel Illumination The Illumination of the Front Panel Nomenclature is accomplished by the combination of custom designed Fiber Optic Light Diffusers and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). This provides even Front Panel Illumination, together with the extremely long life LEDs.

How to Operate the C46 The McIntosh C46 Audio Control Center has been factory configured for operating settings that allow immediate enjoyment of superb high fidelity audio without the need for further adjustments. If you wish to make changes to the factory default settings, refer to the SETUP Section of this Owner’s Manual. Power On and Off Press the POWER switch to ON, the Red LED above the STANDBY/ON Push-button lights to indicate the C46 is in Standby Mode. To Switch On the C46 press the STANDBY/ON Push-button. Refer to figures 19 and 27. Notes: For normal operation, switch the C46 On and Off with the Standby/On Push-button. You may also turn On the C46 by simply pressing the Power Pushbutton on the Remote Control. If the Audio Control Center is not going to be used for an extended period of time, turn Off all AC Power with the Power Switch. Figure 19 Source Selection Select the desired Listening Source with the LISTEN Control and the Tape Output Source with the RECORD Switch. Refer to figures 20, 26 and 27. Figure 20 Volume Control Adjust the VOLUME control for the desired listening level. Refer to figures 26 and 27. Volume Display The Setup Volume Display Feature allows for the Front Panel Alphanumeric Display to indicate either Decibels (dB) or as an Percentage of the total volume. The dB readings range from  -92dB to +15dB, in 0.5dB steps. Refer to figure 21. The % volume display reads from 0 to 100. Refer to figure 22. To change the Volume Display refer to page 15. Figure 21 Figure 22 Mute Press the MUTE Push-button to mute audio in all Listen Outputs and the Front Panel Alphanumeric Display will indicate MUTE in place of the actual volume setting. Refer to figure 23. Figure 23 Balance Control Adjust the BALANCE Control as needed to achieve approximately equal listening volume levels in each Loudspeaker. Rotate the BALANCE Control clockwise to emphasize the Right Channel by reducing the volume level of the Left Channel. Rotate the BALANCE Control counterclockwise to de-emphasize the Right Channel until equal Balance of both Channels is achieved. As soon as the BALANCE control is turned, the Volume Display reads the balance change from 1 to 107 in one dB steps. Refer to figure 24. Figure 24 After approximately 3 seconds the Volume Display returns to the Volume and Input Source indications. The C46 Front Panel “L” or “R” nomenclature located on either side of the Balance Control will illuminate red to indicate which channel has been emphasized by the BALANCE control. Refer to figure 25. It is perfectly natural for the BALANCE control to be off the center to achieve the correct listening volume from each Loudspeaker in many listening rooms. Listening balance can also vary with different program sources, room acoustics and listening positions relative to the Loudspeakers. To verify the balance setting without changing it, move the control one detent in either direction.

How to Operate the C46, con’t How To Make A Tape Recording The separate RECORD and LISTEN Controls allow you to make a tape recording from one program source while listening to another. You can also listen (monitor) to the recorded signal off the tape, a fraction of a second later, during recording when a three head tape recorder is used. You can also listen to the signal being fed to the tape recorder by pressing the REC MONITOR Push-button. Refer to figure 28. 1. Select the desired program source to record with the Front Panel RECORD Control. 2. Adjust the record level using the Recorder Volume Control. 3. To listen to the signal being fed to the recorder, press the REC (Record) MONITOR Push-button. 4. To listen to the tape playback of the program source just recorded, rotate the LISTEN Control to the desired input. Note: The C46 RECORD OUTPUTS are not affected by the VOLUME or BALANCE controls. To listen to a different program source while recording, rotate the LISTEN Control to the desired source. The recording process will not be affected and will continue. Reset of Microprocessors In the event that the controls of the C46 stop functioning, switch the POWER Switch to the Off Position and wait about three minutes. Press the POWER Switch to the ON position and press the STANDBY/ON Push-button. This will reset the C46 microprocessors. Note: The above condition is usually caused by either interruptions in AC power and/or major changes in voltage. Default Settings To restore the C46 to Factory Default Settings perform the following. Press and hold the LISten Push-button together with the OUTPUTS 2 Push-button. Refer to figure 28. Approximately 5 seconds after holding in the two Front Panel Push-buttons together, the Front Panel Alphanumeric DisFigure 29 play will indicate MASTER RESET. Refer to figure 29. Release both Push-buttons and the Front Panel Alphanumeric Display will now indicate -- CLEARED - - and the Figure 30 C46 will switch Off. Refer to figure 30. Press the STANDBY/ON Push-button on the C46 and proceed to the Setup on page 13 to re-enter the custom settings that have been previously made. Figure 2

Specifications and Performance Chart Specifications Frequency Response +0, -0.5dB from 20Hz to 20,000Hz Total Harmonic Distortion 0.002% maximum from 20Hz to 20,000Hz Signal To Noise Ratio Phono: 86dB (A Weighted) High Level: 97dB (A Weighted) Rated Output Voltage 2.5Vrms Unbalanced (Main and Outputs 1 and 2) 5Vrms Balanced (Main and Outputs 1 and 2) Maximum Voltage Output 10Vrms Unbalanced (Main and Outputs 1 and 2) 20Vrms Balanced (Main and Outputs 1 and 2) Output Impedance 240 ohms Unbalanced 480 ohms Balanced Input Impedance Phono: 47K ohms, 65pf High Level: 22K ohms Unbalanced 47K ohms Balanced Sensitivity Phono: 4.5mV for rated output Performance Chart High Level: 450mV for rated output Unbalanced 900mV for rated output Balanced Maximum Input Signal Phono: 50mV High Level: 5V Unbalanced 5V Balanced Voltage Gain Phono to Tape Out: High Level to Tape Out: 40dB 0dB High Level to Main Out: 15dB Power Requirements 100 Volts 50/60Hz, 50 watts 110 Volts 50/60Hz, 50 watts 120 Volts 50/60Hz, 50 watts 220 Volts 50/60Hz, 50 watts 230 Volts 50/60Hz, 50 watts 240 Volts 50/60Hz, 50 watts Note: Refer to the rear panel of the C46 for the correct voltage. Overall Dimensions 17-1/2 inches (44.45cm) W, 5-3/8 inches (13.69cm) H, 19 inches (48.26cm) D, including clearance for connectors Weight 26 pounds (11.79 kg) net, 40.4 pounds (18.33 kg) in shipping carton Tone Controls Frequency Response +15 +10 +5 dB (Decibel) +0-5-10-15 20 50 100 200 500 Hz (Hertz)


McIntosh Laboratory, Inc.
Binghamton, NY
web address:

in excellent condition.


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