Mc Intosh is famous for more than half a century for its electronics quality. The legend of the American manufacturer particularly arises from the success of its high-end integrated amplifiers over the years. Mc Intosh is also a legend for its products musicality and reliability.
Mc Intosh comes back today with a surprising device and above all very democratic, in view of its possibilities and technologies: the Mc Intosh MA 252 integrated amplifier.
MC INTOSH MA 252: CHASSIS
From the outside there is no doubt, it is a Mc Intosh!
You find a superb chassis that is reminiscent of the profile of the mythic MC 275. Indeed, like this one, it is smartly dressed of huge serigraphs in relief with the brand name.
MC INTOSH MA 252: FRONT PANEL
In this polished stainless steel front panel, you find two multifunction circular buttons. The one on the left selects the sources thanks to its rotation and also allows access to the configuration menu. The one on the right is in charge of the start-up or the putting out by pressure, and the volume by rotation.
These features are of course accessible thanks to the remote control.
The menu access allows various settings and customization. This one is seen on the Oled display visible between the input tubes. It is possible to rename all the inputs and modify their gain, or even “shunter” them. Furthermore, the user has access to a “left/right” balance setting and tone changes (bass and treble).
There is also a standard 6.35 mm Jack headphone output. Thanks to the Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) technology, this one accepts high-impedance headphones.
MC INTOSH MA 252: BACK PANEL
At the back of the MA 252 integrated amp, you find a pair of speaker terminal blocks compatible with Hi-Fi speakers having nominal impedance between 4 and 8 ohms. These terminal blocks accept banana plugs and forks, even bare wire, even if it is not recommended.
Inputs are limited to 4: one MM phono input, two RCA inputs and one symmetrical input (XLR). Designers added one SUB mono output and two Trigger outputs.
The power cable is in IEC format. Of course, it can be upgraded with a better quality cable.
MC INTOSH MA 252: TECHNOLOGY
The major innovation and above all the original aspect of this integrated amplifier, is that it works with a hybrid technology!
The input stage is made up of two 12AX7 and two 12AT7 directly connected to two transistor power circuits. This power stage is completely similar to the one of the Mc Intosh MA 5300 integrated amp. It is made up of 8 Thermal Track On Semiconductor transistors. These bipolar models integrate a diode that removes thermal imbalance and operating latency. These 8 transistors are attached to two big heat dissipaters on each side of the chassis.
The power supply is entrusted with a huge R-Core transformer! It takes most of the available space in the case.
A 18000 µF/80V filtering via two "Made in USA" capacitors is associated to this one.
MC INTOSH MA 252: TEST AND LISTENING
At the beginning, the sound restitution is confusing... The MA 252 integrated amplifier has to run at least 50 hours for it to find its ideal balance.
However, even if it is run-in, it does not sound like an “old” Mc Intosh, or even the integrated amps of the current range. Indeed, the MA 252 demonstrates an uncommon dynamism and transparency with Mc Intosh. Those who reproach a round, soft and colorful listening to the manufacturer, will be conquered by the hybrid amp.
It perfectly associates tubes timbre quality with the neutrality of certain transistors.
The sound restitution is very well balanced and demonstrates a lot of elegance and nuance. The bass is very articulated and punchy. The MA 252 perfectly controls the speakers even the most complicated ones.
The sound stage also shows precision and fullness. The singers are perfectly centered and the various consoles are ideally situated. Even at low volume, this integrated amp fills the room in music with a lot of ease.
The medium seems to be the most impacted by the tubes use. It is present, sensual and does not demonstrate aggressiveness, even with female voice.
This Mc Intosh MA 252 integrated amplifier is a real revelation! It is wonderful, easy to use, multitask, and offers a remarkable musicality. At this price, it only has few (or no) competitors, especially with this reputation...
A long-term investment! Our favorite!
On Top Audio - 2018
Diapason d'Or - 2018 Franck
Power per channel under 8 ohms: 100W
Power per channel under 4 ohms: 160W
Bandwidth: 20hz - 20Khz
Harmonic distortion: 0.03 %
Dynamic range: 1.8 dB
Frequency response at +0/-3 dB: 10hz-100kHz
Phono input: MM >3mV
Signal-to-noise ratio: 80 dB
Signal-to-noise ratio: 97 dB
Signal-to-noise ratio: 110 dB
Damping factor under 8 ohms: >200
Damping factor under 4 ohms: >100
Headphone output: 1 x 6.35 mm Jack
Headphone output impedance: from 20 to 600 ohms
High level RCA input: 2 x RCA stereo
High level XLR input: 1 x XLR stereo
Dimensions: 30.5 x 19.4 x 45.7 cm
Weight: 12.7 kg