You don't say what you're using for speakers, so that is a tough call to make. I can say I love my MC302. Lots of depth, punch, beautiful imaging and silent. Good luck & happy listening!
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I owned a 352 before I traded for the 402, and I can say the 402 sounds better. So my theory is that McIntosh would make improvements as they introduced new products. I had looked at the 300 before buying the 352 but never really listened to it. I am quite sure that they introduced the dual balanced circuitry with the 352 which made for a quieter noise floor. You may do some research or call the folks at audioclassics.com, they are very knowledgeable about Mc gear and have a passion for the brand and live to help. They also offer a LED light kit for the 352 if you decide when the bulbs burn out that you don't want to deal with changing them again.
I guess my vote is for the 352!
Have you tried a tube amp? I know this is not what you asked, but I have oftentimes gotten good input here that came from the left field.
Paul Bolin had a review on these speakers for Stereophile back in 2004. He loved them matched with his 80 Watts per channel Lamm ML1.1. This is also consistent with your comment about not needing the additional power the 352 would provide.
FWIW, a few years back I was looking for an amp. I listened extensively at an all McIntosh system with CD player, C2200 pre, and 275 amp as well as 252 amp, driving B&W 804S (my speakers), which are 91 dB/W efficient (vs yours at 96). B&W are known to be power hungry, but I liked the tube amp better, even with 75 Wpc vs 250 Wpc for the 252. And I have never looked back!
I understand the 302 is an improved 252, with 50 more Watts you might not need...think about it. BTW, my 275 needs almost no maintenance.
Furthermore, eventually I was looking for a preamp to match my Mc 275. Of course the McIntosh preamps were at the top of the list, at least initially. I ended up buying a Lamm LL2, which to me was far superior sonically.
So my suggestion is to think about tubes. A McIntosh MC275 if you want to stick with Mc. Or a used Lamm ML1.1. If I were to change amp the ML1.1 would be one of the models at the top of my list.