As streaming replaces physical formats – and as lounge room walls are no longer filled with CD or record collections – there comes a fresh problem: what to look at whilst actively listening to music? The absence of a CD booklet or a record spinning on the other side of the room creates a visual void.

Seemingly made to fill this ocular emptiness are the iconic front panels of McIntosh audio gear where blue LED meters dance from a black glass front panel. And the Binghamton, NY company’s all-new MA5300 integrated super integrated amplifier is no exception: internal DAC, MM phono stage plus loudspeaker and ‘High Drive’ headphone output are all part of the deal. The front panel’s control knobs also allow access to the unit’s tone controls.

Analogue inputs number six: four balanced XLR, one single ended line level and one MM input. On the digital side of the fence, McIntosh’s upgradeable modular DA1 DAC board offers a pair of coaxial, a pair of TOSLINK, one USB (for up to DSD256 and PCM 32bit/384kHz) and a (proprietary) MCT connector should you also have a compatible McIntosh disc transport.

(As per their recently announced MHA50 portable DAC/amp, the DAC chip’s make and model is not specified.)

On loudspeaker output, the MA5300 offers “direct coupled” amplification. 100wpc into 8 Ohms, 160wpc into 4 Ohms – sufficient for the majority of loudspeakers.

From the press release: Included on the MA5300 are our McIntosh Monogrammed Heatsinks™ which are connected to advanced high current output transistors that eliminate warm-up time so the MA5300’s complete sonic capabilities can be enjoyed from the moment it’s turned on. Powerful new control microprocessors have been used to improve overall system operation, along with some of the latest audio-grade circuit components to deliver the best possible sound.”

McIntosh state that their new super integrated (my term) is their smallest to date both in terms of power output and physical dimensions and I have a hunch that this could go on to become one of McIntosh’s best selling products.

With this company’s 65 year pedigree, it’s almost a given that it sounds great. That it looks great is what will draw potential customers closer to find out for themselves. Let’s picture this unit shorn of its front panel LEDs. Does it look as desirable? I reckon not:

In other words, looks matter.

In the US of A, the MA5300 will sell for US$5000. In the UK, consumers can expect to fork out £6750.

Further information: McIntosh