Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

McIntosh’s MB25 adds Bluetooth to any hi-fi setup for $600

McIntosh MB25 Bluetooth transceiver stacked on top of a vintage McIntosh amp.
McIntosh

It should come as no surprise that when McIntosh releases a new product, there are already tons of far less expensive devices that do more or less the same thing. But it’s also the case that when McIntosh releases a new product, it’s designed and engineered to the kind of specifications and tolerances that have earned the American hi-fi brand such a loyal following among die-hard audiophiles. Such is the case with the company’s latest gadget, the MB25, a $600 Bluetooth transceiver (a transmitter and a receiver in one device) that can connect to a vast array of hi-fi components.

McIntosh MB25 Bluetooth transceiver back panel.
McIntosh

What sets the MB25 apart from the mass of $60 to $100 Bluetooth transceivers on Amazon is its comprehensive set of connections. Whether you’re sending audio to the MB25 over Bluetooth, or receiving audio via Bluetooth from the device, you run those connections over analog unbalanced stereo RCA, balanced stereo XLR, or two flavors of digital: optical and coaxial.

This arrangement gives you lot of choice over how incoming Bluetooth signals are sent to the rest of your setup. If you have an existing digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that you love, use one of the MB25’s digital outputs. If you prefer to use the MB25’s built-in DAC, you can switch to one of the analog outputs. All four outputs are active when the MB25 is in receive mode, so theoretically, you could use them all and switch between them using your other gear.

McIntosh MB25 Bluetooth transceiver front panel.
McIntosh

When transmitting, you’ll need to select which connection is to be used, which is done via the front panel’s input button. That glass front panel (the biggest change from the McIntosh MB20 transceiver) is also where you’ll get a visual confirmation of the Bluetooth codec being used (the MB25 supports SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, and aptX LL), as well as the sample rate of your digital music if you’re using optical or coax as your input.

Unfortunately, the MB25 can’t transmit and receive Bluetooth simultaneously — you choose which mode you want using a switch on the rear panel — and you’ll also need to select between standard Bluetooth codecs (SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD) and aptX LL (low latency), again with a switch on the back.

An integrated power trigger interface lets the MB25 receive power on/off commands from any compatible McIntosh component.

The MB25 can handle digital inputs up to 24-bit/192kHz and will output hi-res audio at 24-bit/96kHz, however, you may never get to realize the full benefit of these specs. AptX HD — the highest-quality Bluetooth codec supported by the transceiver — always operates at a lossy 24-bit/48kHz. We’re a bit surprised at the absence of Sony’s LDAC codec, which can support up to 24-bit/96kHz when Bluetooth conditions are optimal.

I’m also a bit surprised that, considering the price, that McIntosh doesn’t include a remote for switching inputs, or at the very least, an built-in infrared receiver for use with universal remotes. Perhaps that will be added on the MB30.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
Spotify’s HiFi tier was MIA in 2021. Will 2022 be any different?
Spotify app icon on iPhone.

Spotify announced almost a year ago that it would launch a new subscription tier for its Premium members called Spotify HiFi before the end of 2021. As the name suggests, Spotify said the new, more expensive tier would distinguish itself by offering "lossless CD-quality" audio -- a significant step up in quality over the company's current maximum streaming quality, which is still based on a lossy compression system. But 2021 is now in our collective rearview mirror and, so far, there's still no sign of Spotify HiFi.

And concerns are growing that even Spotify can't say for sure when or if it will actually launch the new tier. Now, 9to5Mac has spotted a message from the company on its community support site that doesn't exactly fill us with confidence:
Hey folks,

Read more
Spotify could launch its HiFi lossless audio tier any day now
Spotify app and earbud.

In February, Spotify announced its ambitions to join the increasingly popular lossless audio space with a new subscription tier called Spotify HiFi. At the time, the streaming music company was silent regarding pricing or the potential timing for the new tier's debut, but a recently spotted video suggests it could happen imminently.

Late last week, Reddit user Nickx000x posted a video to the Spotify subreddit that appears to show an introductory animation for Spotify HiFi. The video -- spotted first by WhatHiFi? -- looks like it's designed to take Spotify mobile app users through the quick process of understanding what Spotify HiFi is, how it works, and how to know if they're actually getting the higher-quality lossless audio stream on their device.

Read more
McIntosh brings huge, 24-channel sound to 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
McIntosh in-car audio system inside the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Despite the fact that the ongoing pandemic means more of us are leaving our cars parked at home, there appears to be a surge in partnerships between audio companies and carmakers. Yesterday brought the unexpected news that Sonos will make its automotive debut in the 2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron, and today, legendary audio brand, McIntosh, has announced its return to the automotive world with new systems that will appear in the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer.

McIntosh has a reputation for building some of the most powerful and precise hi-fi amplifiers and speakers for discerning audiophiles, and its new MX1375 Reference Entertainment System -- a Jeep Grand Wagoneer exclusive -- sounds like it will do for car audio what McIntosh has done for home audio.

Read more