McIntosh C42 Analog Preamplifier With Exclusive 8-Band Equalizer and Phono


If you like bit of EQ in your system this might be your best option.

The C42 is a super quiet and feature loaded preamp featuring a "McIntosh Exclusive" 8-band EQ allowing you to get the most out of your speakers.

Plus the display is big and bright and easy to read from across the room.

This example is in perfect working condition and was fully tested in our lab. We performed a light service and then tested it in our listening lab with success throughout over a good period of time.

Overall cosmetics are good with the faceplate being near perfect. Some wear on the cover is visible. 

The original and quite rare HR100 remote control is not included and unfortunately McIntosh does not have a new universal replacement available at this time.

Click below to add our recommended matching cables from Kimber Kable, all brand new as SkyFi is an official Kimber dealer.

Kimber Kable - RCA Interconnects - Better

Kimber Kable - RCA Interconnects - Best

Kimber Kable - XLR Interconnects - Better

Kimber Kable - XLR Interconnects - Best

Kimber Kable - Phono Interconnects - Better

Kimber Kable - Flagship Tonearm Interconnects - Best

Kimber Kable - Power Cords

The SkyFi Testing Process for Preamplifiers:
We start with a visual inspection of all internal components to make sure there are no signs of stress or aging. Capacitors are checked for telltale sings of bulging or leaking, resistors are checked for signs of overheating or cracking, and transistors are checked for signs of stress or damage. Special attention is paid to the power supply which is the most common source of failure for preamps. We then power up the unit and run a simple 1k sine wave while monitoring the low voltage output on an oscilloscope for signs of distortion or noise to get a baseline.

At this point we will lubricate and clean all switches and potentiometers (that are not sealed) with a high quality contact cleaner, and then re-test all functions for any signs of noise or scratching.

Final testing involves putting actual music through the preamplifier. We have learned over time that some issues are only noticeable to a trained ear while listening to a familiar source material. Our test bench has reference vintage KEF speakers that we are super familiar with which will quickly reveal any discrepancies. Some preamps will then move into the listening room where they will be tested with our in-house reference system.



Original Box

Not Included


Online Only


Not Included


Yes - Power Only

Physical Condition

8 / 10

Working Condition

10 / 10

More from McIntosh - C42 Audio Control Center:

Featured Technologies
The equalizer provides 12dB of boost or cut at center frequencies of 20, 35, 70, 150, 300, 600, 1200, and 4000Hz. Notice that the center frequencies are clustered at the lower end of the spectrum where room correction is most often needed. When an equalizer control is in the center or flat position, its circuit components are completely removed from the signal path.

In a conventional preamp, an input signal travels to a switch, and then travels to the input circuitry. Unfortunately, the farther a signal must travel, the more distorted it becomes. And this says nothing of what detritus a dirty switch can add to the signal. McIntosh Silent Electromagnetic Switching literally brings the switch to the input. The distortion-free switch consists of a glass tube containing oxygen-free gas and two signal leads separated by mere thousandths of an inch. The tube sits in a multilayer copper coil and the entire assembly is encased in shock-absorbent plastic. When DC voltage is applied to the coil in response to a switching command, current flow creates a magnetic field that causes the leads to bend and contact one another, completing the circuit. The inert gas eliminates corrosion of the contacts, ensuring a low-resistance, distortion-free switch that never needs cleaning. Another benefit is that non-selected inputs are truly “off,” eliminating potential sources of interference.

If McIntosh electromagnetic switching brings the switch to the input, then the C42’s volume control brings the attenuator to the input. The volume knob actually operates an optical rotary encoder with 128 steps; it sends instructions at the speed of light to the digitally controlled attenuator located near the inputs. Together they provide 0.5dB resolution with 0.05dB accuracy.

A traditional McIntosh feature that allows matching the output levels of different source components, source trim in the C42 establishes new standards for audio purity and operating convenience. Instead of adjusting individual potentiometers, the trim for each input is stored electronically as a volume offset, using the tuner level as the standard.

Extra-wide dynamic range
Ultra-low distortion
Exclusive McIntosh 8-band equalizer
Silent electromagnetic switching
Precision, optically regulated volume control with digital readout in decibels or percent
Programmable source trim
9 source selections including MM phono
Balanced input
3 balanced outputs (Main, Line 1, Line 2)
Independent listen and record selection
Dual processor loops
Control data output for source components
Remote power control (1 main, 1 accessory, 2 switched)
Separate electronic regulators for each preamplifier section
Polyester coupling capacitors
Low-noise 1% metal film resistors throughout
Ultra-precision (.5%) metal film resistors and 1% polypropylene capacitors for phono equalization
Gold-plated input and output jacks
Modular construction with steel chassis
Glass front panel with illuminated nomenclature Infrared remote control
Connector for external IR sensor
Headphone jack

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