MA252 Front Top

Description

The MA252 Integrated Amplifier is the first hybrid integrated amplifier from McIntosh. Taking retro design cues from the legendary McIntosh MC275 Vacuum Tube Amplifier, the MA252 combines the best of vacuum tube and solid state circuit design to create an amplifier that’s both visually and sonically stunning.

The MA252 features our McIntosh Monogrammed Heatsinks™ which are connected to advanced high current output transistors. These transistors eliminate the typical amplifier warm-up time so that the MA252 is in peak operating condition from the moment it’s turned on. A powerful control microprocessor is used for smooth system operation, along with some of the latest audio-grade circuit components that deliver the best possible sound.

Thanks to its solid state output, the MA252 is our first product containing vacuum tubes to include our patented Power Guard® technology. Power Guard monitors the output signal for signs of over driving and makes real time micro adjustments to the input signal to prevent harsh sounding clipping that could potentially damage your speakers. If Power Guard is activated, the 2 vacuum tubes connected to the affected audio channel(s) will flash an amber color; they will return to their normal green color when the clipping has stopped.

Specifications

  • Power Output per Channel              100 Watts into 8 Ohms
    160 Watts into 4 Ohms
  • Number of Channels                          2
  • Speaker Impedance                           4 or 8 Ohms
  • Rated Power Band                             20Hz to 20kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion               0.03%
  • Dynamic Headroom                          1.8dB
  • Frequency Response +0,-0.5dB        20Hz to 20kHz
  • Frequency Response, +0, -3dB         10Hz to 100kHz
  • Sensitivity Phono (Moving Coil)      N/A
  • Sensitivity Phono (Moving Magnet) 3.0mV
  • Sensitivity High Level (Balanced / Unbalanced)   0.6V/0.3V
  • Sensitivity (Power Amp input)         N/A
  • Signal To Noise Ratio (Moving Coil) N/A
  • Signal To Noise Ratio (Moving Magnet) 80dB
  • Signal To Noise Ratio (High Level)    97dB
  • Signal To Noise Ratio (Power Amp input) N/A
  • Input Impedance (Balanced / Unbalanced) 20K/20K
  • Damping Factor                             8 Ohms: >200    4 Ohms: >100
  • Maximum Output (Balanced / Unbalanced)  8V Unbalanced

Reviews

Conclusions

The McIntosh MA252 offers an alluring combination of tube romanticism and solid-state resolution and authority. Any shortcomings are relatively minor and mainly found at the extremes of its frequency range. It also has a slight midrange emphasis that is pleasing on pop and jazz vocals, combined with an overall smoothness that is flattering to instruments like horns and violins in particular and CDs in general. Still, this integrated also plays vinyl with aplomb — using its own very capable MM phono stage — and avoids any sogginess or congestion that can result from having too much of a good thing.

To be sure, the MA252 didn’t have the resolution, dynamic reach or weight of the much more expensive tube/solid-state combo (separates) I heard in LA. Some all-tube rigs can get you even closer to the soul of the music and other all-solid-state systems will have exceptional detail and bass slam. Still, the fact that McIntosh was able to achieve the MA252’s own commendable level of performance for $3,500 is a minor miracle.

With many Part-Time Audiophile readers increasingly expressing frustration over the ever-climbing price tags in this hobby, the MA252 offers an attractive option to serve as the heart of a reasonably priced system. Additionally, since it’s an integrated, buyers will have one fewer pair of interconnects to shell out for. And they won’t need an external phono stage or headphone amp.

Apart from being tough and cost-effective, though, the most laudable attribute of the McIntosh MA252 is that sonically it brings its owner more than a taste of what much loftier-priced high-end audio promises. The ability to connect the listener to the music makes this tube-solid state integrated a special component by any standard. I could happily listen to the MA252 for a long, long time.

If anything can, the hybrid McIntosh MA252 is the kind of “best of both worlds” product that could convince its two tribes to live together in peace. Highly recommended.                                READ MORE