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McIntosh MX180: A USD 30k Audiophile Flagship 8K AV receiver

By Ben Schwarz

Sound is critical to a premium video experience

If you’ve recently upgraded to an 8K TV or intend to soon, you’ll probably want to bring the audio part of the experience to the highest level too. Indeed, even the most incredible video experience will be sub-par if your audio isn’t also great. Studies have even shown for decades that audio has can have an even more significant impact than video on overall experience (as here, for example).

Connectivity

With 8K, one of the challenges that TV and audio vendors face is the sheer volume of data. That means that a device such as an audio-video receiver will need to receive these high volumes and transmit them to the TV. That’s where connectivity comes in. The easiest way to connect consumer devices is to use the lasted HDMI cables. So you’ll be looking for HDMI 2.1 ports. That’s where the MX180 shines as all its seven ports feature the latest standard. The lower-end devices mentioned below will typically have just one or two such connectors.

Passthrough

An AV receiver that can perform 8K video “passthrough” simplifies setup in terms of cabling. With this feature, the A/V receiver allows the video part of the signal to pass unaffected through the receiver to an 8K TV without processing it in any way. Receivers must be HDMI 2.1 compliant to transfer 8K video at 60 frames per second.

McIntoshMX180 8K AV receiver
The McIntosh MX180

McIntosh MX180

The new McIntosh receiver boasts seven HDMI 2.1 ports and up to 16 audio channels! This means you can set up a home cinema with a huge variety of options in terms of input devices and speaker layout. The MX180 is clearly hi-end, some might say top-end, AV kit targeting audiophiles. Indeed, the price of this baby is around USD 30,000, and of course, it supports all the latest audio and video standards. The McIntosh MA8950 and MA9500 offer this for just half the price if you just want the audio part.

McIntosh MA8950

Other 8K AVR options

If you’re looking to access the latest audio capabilities like DTS:X or Dolby Atmos at a more accessible budget, there a many more affordable options. At the medium range, the popular

Marantz AV7706 8K is available for under 2700€ (USD 3025), for example, here.

Marantz AV7706 8K

In a similar range, the Denon AVRX4500HBKE2 9.2 is available for 3700€ (USD 4150) here.

Denon AVRX4500HBKE 9.2

Closer to the entry-level, home theater receiver devices like the Onkyo TX-NR6100 support 7.2-channels and 8K/60 for under 800$ (here). Note that this affordable model is CNET’s best 8K-compatible AV receiver for 2022.

Sound is critical to a premium video experience and whatever your setup, enjoy your 8K content!

Onkyo TX-NR6100 Front
Onkyo TX-NR6100 Back