The 501 is double balanced in the output circuit, where as the 252 is not. McIntosh referes to this circuit as dual differntial in earlier models like the 352. But later models like the 402, 501, 602 are calling it double balanced. I would recommend a 352 or a 402 for that size of room if you are seeking sonic improvement. However I will tell you that I recently traded a 352 in on a 402 and it sounds better. It is not the 50 watts. They did something else, not sure what it is. Also the connections are better on the 402 plus no bulbs.