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WARM SOUND

When it comes to high end audio gear, warmth is hot. Warm sound starts with vinyl LPs, but to really bask in it, you'll want to plug your turntable into another piece of retro-tech, tube amplifier. You could scarcely do better than the 50th-anniversary edition of the MC275 from premier audio company McIntosh.

The original design and circuitry remain intact, replicating the balmy audio experience of its predecessor, a legend in the pre-transistor era. But underneath the tribute-worthy gold chassis, you'll find some surprisingly high-tech features.

Like a UFO, this amplifier glass valves first glow amber, then green, as the machine warms up—an effect created by a few strategically placed LED lights. And in the case of a rare malfunction, the MC275 automatically shuts itself down, protecting it from further damage.

Now that the technoids have brought tubes back to life, they should have no trouble with laser-guided steam engines.

By Crystal Kim (March 5, 2012)