McIntosh MX123 AV Processor
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McIntosh MX123 A/V Processor Review

Movies hold a significant position in today’s entertainment landscape, and a crucial prerequisite for the birth of cinema was the improvement in photographic technology.

In 1889, American inventor Thomas Edison, known as the “Wizard of Menlo Park” invented the Kinetoscope, and after five years of experimentation, he created the motion picture camera. He showcased filmed images in New York, causing a sensation in the United States. It is widely believed that Edison pioneered the most primitive form of cinematic presentation, setting the stage for a century of cinematic glory.

In modern cinema, not only is appropriate music an essential component of a film, but the sensory stimulation and emotional rendering brought about by various sound effects accompanying the visuals make movies incredibly immersive. How to reproduce these various sound effects in the best possible way has greatly spurred the enthusiasm of audiovisual equipment manufacturers.

McIntosh MX123 AV Processor

The standards for film scoring continually evolve, leading the way in advancing home surround sound playback technology. Regardless of the changing formats, the ultimate goal is to faithfully convey filmmakers’ creative intent, allowing the audience to immerse themselves better.

For audio and video enthusiasts, understanding these two books will undoubtedly be a great help in calibrating a surround sound system. Of course, this can be entrusted to McIntosh because they have extensive experience in high-end audiovisual equipment and a formidable research and development team. Their pursuit of sound quality has long been a benchmark in the industry.

Facing ever-evolving and increasingly perfect movie sound formats, McIntosh, an American high-end audio brand with a glorious 72-year history, has succeeded by maintaining a forward-looking vision, developing products that keep pace with technological advancements, and providing customers with exceptionally powerful visual and audio playback experiences.

For instance, the flagship model MX123, a multi-channel immersive AV processor currently in production, received industry accolades upon its launch thanks to its powerful features and comprehensive support for surround sound formats. However, McIntosh doesn’t rest on its laurels because its products are popular. Faced with constantly changing video and audio specifications, they continuously release firmware updates to expand functionality and enhance performance.

McIntosh MX123 AV Processor

By incorporating these cutting-edge features, esteemed users can enjoy an immersive experience akin to being in the heart of global television broadcasts and streaming media content.

Features

8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz Video Resolution and Refresh Rate

The MX123 has upgraded from its original compatibility with a 4K/60Hz video display to support Ultra HD 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video resolutions and refresh rates. Its powerful processing capabilities can upscale lower-resolution videos to 8K, delivering an unprecedented ultra-high-definition visual experience on display devices.

Among the 10 HDMI inputs and outputs provided by the MX123, there are 1 input (HDMI 7) and 2 outputs (Monitor 1/2) that support Ultra HD 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz (all HDMI ports support 4K/60Hz). Additionally, it is compatible with other advanced performance features, including Quick Media Switching (QMS), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Quick Frame Transport (QFT), and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR).

8K resolution is 7680×4320, and compared to Full HD (1920×1080), which is known as 1080P, 8K is also referred to as 4320P. Typically, it is called Ultra High Definition 8K or simply 8K. An 8K image has approximately 33 million pixels, four times that of a 4K image. On a 65-inch television, the human eye can hardly perceive any pixelation. It is named 8K because the image has around 8000 pixels in width. Some call it Ultra HD 8K, while others call it 8K Super Hi-Vision.

McIntosh MX123 AV Processor

NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, has been a major driving force behind the development of 8K technology. In 2005, NHK showcased 8K technology at the Aichi Expo. Later that year, NHK used fiber-optic networks and DWDM transmission technology to broadcast UHDTV content over 260 kilometers.

In 2006, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recognized Super Hi-Vision video technology as a draft recommendation for UHDTV, which laid the foundation for 8K technology. By the end of the same year, NHK broadcasted the Red and White Song Battle UHDTV images from Tokyo to Osaka, more than 500 kilometers away, on a 450-inch screen. In 2012, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) under the United Nations recognized the 7,680×4,320 resolution proposed by NHK as the international standard for 8K Super High-Definition Television (Super Hi-Vision-SHV).

In May 2013, NHK introduced the world’s first real-time hardware encoder for H.265/HEVC in 8K format. In 2015, NHK used 8K technology to broadcast the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. During the 2016 Rio Olympics, NHK broadcasted the opening and closing ceremonies and some athletics and swimming events in 8K. In 2017, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” became the world’s first 8K film, offering unprecedented depth and realism, immersing the audience in the visuals and greatly enhancing the immersive experience.

McIntosh MX123 AV Processor

In February 2018, NHK and Japan Radio broadcasted the PyeongChang Winter Olympics using 8K technology. In 2020, NHK broadcasted the Tokyo Olympics in 8K. In sports event broadcasts in 8K, the resolution, 4.3 times that of the human eye, can even perfectly capture sweat on the athletes.

8K brings more detailed visuals and a more stunning visual impact. For IMAX giant screens, 8K presents a better user experience, making using the latest filming techniques and applications in the film market a future direction. Supporting future mainstream video resolutions with foresight, the MX123 ensures long-lasting use without concerns about becoming obsolete.

DTS:X Pro

The MX123, a multi-channel immersive AV processor, originally featured DTS:X audio technology and has now been upgraded to include DTS:X Pro. DTS:X Pro brings an even more immersive sense of sound realism to your home theater, offering an unforgettable experience for movies, music, and games. With DTS:X Pro, you can experience sound from all directions with remarkable precision, creating an immersive audio environment that leaves a lasting impression.

Dolby Atmos Virtual Height Speaker Technology

Building upon its existing support for the Dolby Atmos system, the MX123 has been upgraded to include Virtual Height Speaker technology. This enhancement caters to users who prefer not to (or cannot) set up physical height speakers but still desire the exceptional effects of immersive audio. The technology employs advanced height-impulse filtering and digital signal processing to simulate overhead surround sound.

Therefore, achieving a certain level of height channel effects is possible without physical overhead or reflective speakers. Users without dedicated height speakers can utilize this technology to create a virtual height speaker effect with 2.1, 5.1, or 7.1 speaker systems.

McIntosh MX123 AV Processor

MPEG-H Television Audio System

The MPEG-H Television Audio System is an advanced audio technology for UHD-TV and streaming media. Developed by Fraunhofer IIS and standardized with an open ISO standard, it offers users an immersive experience with the ability to adjust audio details according to their preferences.

Since 2017, the MPEG-H Television Audio System has been broadcast in South Korea on the ATSC 3.0 standard, and it has also been selected as the standard playback mode for the new era in Europe, China, Brazil, and other regions.

Sony 360 Reality Audio

360 Reality Audio is a spatial audio technology developed by Sony that offers users a new immersive music experience. Voices, pianos, guitars, bass, and even the sounds of the live audience are placed within a 360-degree spherical sound field, providing artists and creators with a fresh way to express their creativity.

Listeners are enveloped in a fully immersive musical experience as if they were at a live concert or inside a recording studio with the artists. Users can enjoy content created with 360 Reality Audio through compatible music streaming services and smartphone applications. Adding this feature further underscores McIntosh’s commitment to equipping the MX123 with the latest immersive home theater audio formats, enhancing the value of the MX123.

Convenient Firmware Updates

For users who already own the MX123, adding new features such as DTS:X Pro, Dolby Atmos Virtual Height Speaker technology, MPEG-H Television Audio System, and more to the multi-channel immersive AV processor is a straightforward process through firmware updates.

The specific steps are simple. Users can download the latest firmware from the McIntosh official website, copy it to a USB drive, and then insert the USB drive into the back panel. Users can easily complete the update process by navigating to Setup Menu > General > Firmware with just a few simple steps, ensuring that the MX123 is running on the latest version.

Enjoyment Without Compromise

Following the exhilarating audio and video upgrades, the MX123 is now perfectly equipped to support a wide range of audio and sound effects playback, including 13.2 audio channels, Dolby Atmos (including Dolby Atmos Virtual Height Speaker technology), DTS:X Pro, Auro-3D, Sony 360 Reality Audio, MPEG-H Television Audio System, IMAX Enhanced, eARC/ARC, Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, built-in Spotify streaming, and Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room acoustic correction processing.

McIntosh MX123 AV Processor

In addition, with compatibility for integration into home automation systems like Control 4 and Crestron’s smart home system, the powerful MX123 allows users to experience unparalleled immersive surround sound effects and the convenience of advanced, user-friendly smart technology firsthand.

In addition to its enhanced capabilities, the upgraded MX123 embodies McIntosh’s deep understanding of audio and video effects, building upon the brand’s achievements in high-end audio. The sound quality it reproduces is rich, full-bodied, and balances subtle emotions and explosive power.

With the support of advanced and powerful surround decoding and processing technology, it creates an unprecedented sense of precise sound imaging, a strong sense of presence, and impeccable sound positioning and surround effects that will not disappoint.

If, at any given moment, you want to listen to two-channel music, the MX123 can also meet your ultimate demands for High-end sound quality. With a simple switch using the front panel buttons, you can enjoy the rich sound quality delivered by McIntosh’s renowned stereo preamp.

In response to the immersive 3D audio trend, McIntosh, a veteran American audio brand with over half a century of history, has comprehensively updated its product lineup in the home theater amplifier category. This update caters to audio and video enthusiasts and audiophiles looking to upgrade or build immersive 3D surround sound systems.

McIntosh’s high-end home theater series currently offers three powerful surround sound preamplifiers, all combining outstanding performance with classic aesthetics. These include the flagship MX170 with 15.1 channel processing capability, the mainstay MX123 with 13.2 channel processing capability, and the high-performance MX100 with 11.2 channel processing capability.

McIntosh MX123 AV Processor

McIntosh has announced that the new MX123 fully supports high-spec Ultra HD video signals of 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz, as well as HDMI 2.1 features optimized for gaming, such as QMS, ALLM, QFT, and VRR. Existing users can also complete the upgrade through firmware updates, demonstrating McIntosh’s unwavering pursuit of new technology and its commitment to serving its users responsibly.