Anthem MCA 50 amplifier
The Anthem MCA 50 is a perfect example of what audiophiles can get if they’re willing to dispense with needless frippery. The MCA 50 may not have a spit-shine chassis or drop-dead-gorgeous sex appeal, but it amplifies soundwaves with the big boys. It’s an incredibly impressive amplifier that offers high power, transparency, and a very refined top end, all for an extremely reasonable price. What more can you ask for?
The MCA 50’s simple casework hides a heavy-duty power supply and, according to Anthem, circuits that feature a simple yet high-quality topology. Anthem uses two large toroidal transformers, along with 150,000µF of capacitance to supply power to its five amplifier modules. One of the transformers feeds the front two channels, while the other takes care of the center and surround channels. The company points out that each amplifier channel is perfectly matched to the other, which is supposed to ultimately translate into a seamlessly coherent surround-sound image. Coupled to a robust power supply, each amplifier channel reportedly delivers stable power into loads as low as 2 ohms. The MCA 50 is rated to deliver 180W into 8 ohms and a whopping 340W into 2 ohms, with all five channels driven.
What truly distinguished the MCA 50 from other solid-state amplifiers in its price range that I’ve heard was the way it separated elements within its densely populated and expansive soundstage. Instruments and vocals were rock-solid and precise in their placement, but without the artificially razor-sharp positioning presented by some amplifiers. Voices were up front, but not unnaturally augmented in any way.