McIntosh MA5200


I haven't seen too much written about this integrated amp. Any opinions out there?
jimmymac
I like the blue meters.
A very serious bit of kit. About $5000 with as many as 9 inputs and rated at 100WPC into 8 Ohms, evidently measures higher at around 130 into 8 Ohm and A German Hi Fi Mag. Stereoplay found 206WPC into 4 Ohm. McIntosh does not provide a 4Ohm measure.
A German Hi Fi Mag. Stereoplay found 206WPC into 4 Ohm. McIntosh does not provide a 4Ohm measure.
And that is one the reasons why I did not buy this amp and went with my Marantz reference unit instead. Anyone know the reason why McIntosh does not give this model a 4 Ohm rating? Especially if it supposedly tested as such?
"Anyone know the reason why McIntosh does not give this model a 4 Ohm rating? Especially if it supposedly tested as such?"

My best guess would be that McIntosh is known to be one of those brands you turn to if you need something very powerful, kind of like a Bryston or Krell. 100 McIntosh watts should be comparable to just about any other brand. But that's just a guess on my part. I agree with you in that they should have listed a 4 ohm rating. It can't hurt them.
McIntosh uses auto transformers which makes the power output the same into 4,8 & 16 ohm speakers.
"06-05-15: Stereo5
McIntosh uses auto transformers which makes the power output the same into 4,8 & 16 ohm speakers."

That's true on most of their amps, but the MA5200 doesn't have them.

That may be the answer to your question Paraneer. Maybe they don't post anything other than 8 ohm's so the amp doesn't stand out as being different. I bet a lot of people assume like Stereo5, that their amps all have autoformers.
It always surprises me when people don't check the manufacturer's documentation that is available online at no cost. The manual for MA5200 clearly states in three places that the MA5200 is designed for speakers with an impedance rating of 8 ohms. The German magazine found exactly what would be expected for output into a 4 ohm load, but because Mc doesn't explicitly state output values into 4 or 2 ohms as they do for other products, the amp section likely becomes unstable those average loads. In short, it will work but will get hot and eventually distort the signal. Mc makes a terrific product line, but this is their entry-level integrated. Depending on the rest of your system, a different model might be a better choice. An excellent source for advice would be Audio Classics in Vestal NY. Highly recommended.

Good luck and happy listening!
Thanks for the responses. I have 4ohm speakers so it doesn't look like this will work.
"06-05-15: Effischer
It always surprises me when people don't check the manufacturer's documentation that is available online at no cost. The manual for MA5200 clearly states in three places that the MA5200 is designed for speakers with an impedance rating of 8 ohms."

Actually, I did check the manual before posting. Regardless, you're not taking all of the variables into consideration, as well as guessing yourself.

An 8 ohm rating for a pair of speakers doesn't tell the whole story. 8 ohms is an average rating. That means a speaker can present loads to an amp that are higher, and lower than 8 ohms. Many speakers can easily drop down to 4 ohms and below under normal use, even though they are rated for 8. So the reality is, you can have 2 pairs of speakers both rated at 8 ohms, and one may be difficult to drive, and the other easy.

"The German magazine found exactly what would be expected for output into a 4 ohm load, but because Mc doesn't explicitly state output values into 4 or 2 ohms as they do for other products, the amp section likely becomes unstable those average loads. In short, it will work but will get hot and eventually distort the signal. Mc makes a terrific product line, but this is their entry-level integrated."

Given that information, I think the opposite is most likely true. First, you have the German magazine that found the amp does double its power under a 4 ohm load. Most amps can't do that and still have a clean signal with low distortion. Second, McIntosh states the amp is rated for an 8 ohms speaker, and that's it. No restrictions are listed. They know full well that most 8 ohm speakers, at times, will drop down to 4 ohms and below. That implies the amp will be able to drive any 8 ohm speaker, even the difficult ones. You can even have a situation where an 8 ohm speaker is more difficult to drive than a 4 ohm speaker.

Jimmymac,

What kind of speakers do you have? Maybe one of us has some experience with them.
I have Dynaudio Special 25's.
Those speakers are easy to drive. If anything, you can make the case that the MA5200 is overkill. The combo should sound fine. I heard the Special 25's several times, and in every case they were paired with an amp that was less powerful than the Mac.
Thanks!
After the above conversation, I decided to check out Dynaudio's web site to see what they currently offer. I did a search and happened to come across a Stereophile review of your speakers. Normally, I don't read reviews, but I just wanted to see what they were using to power the speakers. This is a section from the measurements portion of the review.

"Sidebar 3: Measurements

I estimated the Special Twenty-Five's voltage sensitivity at 89.3dB(B)/2.83V/m, 1dB higher than the specified 88dB. The speaker is specified as a 4 ohm load, but as its impedance plot (fig.1) reveals, it drops to this figure for only a small range of frequencies in the lower midrange. The impedance actually stays above 6 ohms for most of the audioband, which, in conjunction with the generally modest electrical phase angle and the higher-than-average sensitivity, suggests that the Special Twenty-Five is a fairly easy amplifier load."

The only real choice here is if you like the sound of the MA5200. Having enough power for your speakers won't be an issue. Personally, I think it will sound very good. Especially with the built in dac.
@ ZD542: Of course speakers don't have a uniform impedance. 8, 6 or 4 are merely nominal ratings and very few companies ever explicitly state the range. One exception is Martin Logan, where their manuals do state a minimum impedance. A friend who recently purchased a pair of ESL EFX found that they can go down to 1.6 ohms @ 18+ kHz. His Hegel H70 wasn't up to the task even though they state they are stable down to 2 ohms.

The reality is that the MA5200 is designed for an 8 ohm nominal load, not 4. Given how well make Mc is, it won't fail, but it is safe to predict that it won't sound its best either. I have learned from hard experience over many years of listening that matching the transducers to the electronics is about half science, 25% personal preference and 25% blind luck. Some stuff that should sound good doesn't, other stuff is the opposite and sometimes very minor tweaks can make major differences. That's one reason why Mc puts 8, 6 and 4 ohm terminals on their higher end models and publishes stability ranges.

BTW, I have a MC7100, and the manual rates it for 8 and 4 ohms nominal only, with 100 W into 8 and 150 into 4, which is a very different result from the MA5200. I run it bridged, where it's rated for 8 ohms only into a B&W HTM 62 that's 8 ohm nominal with 4.3 minimum. Works beautifully.

Ultimately, Jimmymac will have to make up his own mind, but I tend to be conservative where this kind of money is involved. I don't like do-overs. Go with something rated for the load.
" I don't like do-overs. Go with something rated for the load."

There's only 1 load here and it has nothing to do with the speakers or the amp.

"The reality is that the MA5200 is designed for an 8 ohm nominal load, not 4. Given how well make Mc is, it won't fail, but it is safe to predict that it won't sound its best either."

And how do you come up with this? You're just guessing because you don't want to be wrong. Most 8 ohm speakers can and do drop down to 4 and below. If you look at this from a common sense standpoint, it eliminates most speakers on the market. Unless the customer wants to get into horns, or some other type of unusual design, what are you going to pair it with? You're implying that a Sony receiver in Best Buy rated for a 4 ohm load will be able to handle the OP's speakers better than the 5200. Does that make sense?

" Some stuff that should sound good doesn't, other stuff is the opposite and sometimes very minor tweaks can make major differences. That's one reason why Mc puts 8, 6 and 4 ohm terminals on their higher end models and publishes stability ranges."

That's not true either. They do it because they have to. Its the nature of the design. EVERY amp that uses autoformers/output transformers has to list the specs of the different taps they put on the amp. And yes, you can point out that some transformer amps only have 1 set of taps, like some of CJ's. True, but they still list it as an 8 or 4 ohm tap, and you can open it up and change the setting to 8 or 4 ohms. So those type of amps still conform.

Why don't you do your homework and see if McIntosh will back your arguments. I'm willing to bet they won't, unless you don't give them all the facts. The OP doesn't have an old pair of ML's or B&W theater speakers, he has the Special 25's. Although, not to get too far off point, I've owned both of those speakers, and unless the OP has a very large room and/or demands very high volumes, the MA5200 will have no problems driving them as well. But lets just stick with the OP's speakers, because thats reality. You may just find out that your experiences are not the only experiences that exist in the world.
The reality is that the MA5200 is designed for an 8 ohm nominal load, not 4. Given how well make Mc is, it won't fail, but it is safe to predict that it won't sound its best either.
Well said. This is exactly why I stayed away from this amp as I have 4 Ohm nominal speakers. If it was stable into a 4 Ohm load, surely McIntosh would have published the specs. They did not and even went so far as to stamp 8 Ohms only on the back panel by the speaker terminals.

I am willing to bet if McIntosh was contacted, they would not provide a 4 Ohm rating. If they did, then again, why not say so out of the gate like they do for their higher level products. As for the stereo mags review that was sited, well IMO you have to take those with a grain of salt.

Again, I strongly considered this amp and auditioned it with a pair of Sonus Faber Cremonas, a 4 Ohm speaker. And while the MA5200 did drive them, the Marantz PM15S2 (90 wpc into 8 & 140 wpc into 4) did a much better job. So much so that this is the amp I went with to drive my VA's and have no regrets. I would suggest to anyone with 4 Ohm speakers to be leery of this particular Mac product.
Jimmymac,

I have to apologize. I got caught up in all of this bickering and didn't realize what was going on. Quite a few people on this web site don't like me. I tend to speak my mind, not trust reviews and use listening as my primary method for component selection, even if what I hear contradicts the specs on a piece equipment. When I read Parneer's post, the first thing I said to myself is that I must be in the Twilight Zone. And then it hit me. I had to offend them in another thread. Its the only way that I can explain their posts.

Parneer,

Your last post is unbelievable. And I mean that literally. I don't believe you. In your first post you say this.

“06-05-15: Paraneer
A German Hi Fi Mag. Stereoplay found 206WPC into 4 Ohm. McIntosh does not provide a 4Ohm measure.
And that is one the reasons why I did not buy this amp and went with my Marantz reference unit instead”
Now, in your last post you say this.
“Again, I strongly considered this amp and auditioned it with a pair of Sonus Faber Cremonas, a 4 Ohm speaker. And while the MA5200 did drive them, the Marantz PM15S2 (90 wpc into 8 & 140 wpc into 4) did a much better job. So much so that this is the amp I went with to drive my VA's and have no regrets. I would suggest to anyone with 4 Ohm speakers to be leery of this particular Mac product. “

That's a lie. You did no such thing. If you really compared them side by side, you would have said that in your first post. Its the most relevant piece on information you have to offer, and you're just bringing it up now, after the fact? What's even more remarkable is that even presented with facts about the 5200, you ignore them, but you do quote them. Under ideal circumstances an amps power should double as resistance is halved. The McIntosh clearly does this in the specs you reference from the German magazine that tested the amp. Your Marantz, however, does not. For 90 watts at 8 ohms, you only get 140 at 4 ohms. The McIntosh clearly out performs it. The Marantz is a toy. The only thing it has going for it is that its made in Japan, not China.

In the future, if you have an issue with me, come to me with it. You high jack a thread where the OP is just looking for some good advice and twist everything around just to be spiteful. You end up looking like the fool that you are.
@ ZD - You ARE a cranky one, aren't you? I couldn't care less about you personally and have no interest in bickering, although it appears you do. You may wish to note that I implied absolutely nothing other than if one is dropping $5K+, one might be better served with something rated accordingly. I publicly list my system, most of which is newer Mc if you care to check it out. I know what Mc can do and what Frank Gow, Gordon Gow and Roger Russell all helped to make it do because I lived there for decades. That's why I suggested Jimmymac get in touch with Audio Classics. Steve Rowell has forgotten more about what should be a good match for the OP than any of the rest of us will ever learn.
Effischer,

My last post was directed to Paraneer. I thought I addressed the comments to him. If I didn't, it was an error on my part. But looking at your other posts, I really didn't see the relevance in talking about the B&W's and ML's, when we already know the OP's speakers and they aren't anything like the 2 you list. Also, this whole thing with the 4 ohms is silly. The tests confirmed the amp doubles its output at 4 ohms. What more do you want? To suggest the MA5200 won't have enough power in the OP's application is ridiculous. If you don't want to argue, thats fine with me. But when you post confusing stuff that can't help the OP at all because its not in context, its kind of hard to stand by and say nothing.
tend to speak my mind, not trust reviews and use listening as my primary method for component selection.

I had to offend them in another thread. Its the only way that I can explain their posts.

In the future, if you have an issue with me, come to me with it. You high jack a thread where the OP is just looking for some good advice and twist everything around just to be spiteful. You end up looking like the fool that you are.

Huh? Where did this come from???

I agree with another poster, Effischer and you think this is some kind of attack on you? I wasn't even addressing you Zd.

Looking at the more salient points of your rant, IMO the only one who looks like a fool is you. Not to mention paranoid. Or maybe just narcissistic. In fact, in my post nothing was about you. It was addressing the OP to assist him in deciding if this is truly the best amp for his speakers. Based on past experiences with this amp in auditions, I happen to think its not. I believe there are others who think this way too. In others words, yours isn't the last word pal.

I have to laugh about your accusations. Both my posts collaborate with each other - first post I said I did not buy it and the second I elaborated why. Also, how can I be hijacking anything when my original post was the 4th in this thread?

I do agree with you about one thing though...I don't trust reviews either which I why I auditioned it. What I can't figure out is why you are advocating this model if you don't trust reviews either? Unless, you have you actually heard it like I did? Did you?

Oh yeah, learn to use markup tags too and you may start writing more coherent posts.
This is getting old.

" I believe there are others who think this way too. In others words, yours isn't the last word pal."

You're right. Its not about me or you, its about the OP.

"What I can't figure out is why you are advocating this model if you don't trust reviews either?"

Once again, its not about me advocating anything, its about the OP. I don't really care for McIntosh myself, but the amp isn't for me. Also, I'm not trusting any reviews. A review is an opinion. I just quoted the specs. They don't support your argument, so you don't count them as valid. If the same exact specs supported your argument, they would be fine. You're only concern is to win the argument, and in doing so you missed the point of the discussion. And that is to determine if the MA5200 will have enough power to drive the OP's speakers properly. Given everything we looked at, the answer is yes. In this application, it won't lack for power.

I still don't believe for a second that you actually tested both amps, side by side. If you did, it would have been in your first post. Pure BS on your part.
Also, I'm not trusting any reviews. A review is an opinion. I just quoted the specs. They don't support your argument, so you don't count them as valid. If the same exact specs supported your argument, they would be fine.
You're only concern is to win the argument, and in doing so you missed the point of the discussion. And that is to determine if the MA5200 will have enough power to drive the OP's speakers properly. Given everything we looked at, the answer is yes. In this application, it won't lack for power.
The above quote is yours. And it is absolutely senseless.

You don't trust reviews and then you say you quoted specs. Whose specs? The ones from the review? If so, they rate the amp into 4 Ohms. But you don't trust them. So did you quote McIntosh's specs? If so, these are clearly expressed into 8 Ohms. You know the OP has 4 Ohm speakers, yet you say this amp will be OK. You even continue this assertion in your most recent post above. Do you even understand what your writing?

I have no idea who the hell you are other than someone with a weird compulsion to comment on just about every post on this website. I really don't care either. But I do care when you lash out against someone simply because they don't agree with your position. In this case that someone was me so do me a favor - mind your business, OK? I know you will be disappointed in knowing this but again - I was not even addressing you. My post that invoked your confused ire had nothing to do with you.

Finally, I could care less whether you believe that I auditioned the amp or not. To an intelligent person, the continuity of my two preceding posts suggests that I do.

Now, just like a child would do, go ahead and get in the last word. I'm bored with this.

To Jimmymac, follow your initial instincts and be leery of this model. Don't listen to me but do take Effischer's advice seriously - he is a Mac owner and doesn't recommend it. Good luck to you Jimmymac.
"To Jimmymac, follow your initial instincts and be leery of this model. Don't listen to me but do take Effischer's advice seriously - he is a Mac owner and doesn't recommend it. Good luck to you Jimmymac."

Now does that really make sense? You're proving my point that you just want to be right at any cost. Why take Effischer's advice seriously, but not yours? You just happen to offer the same advice. The way I see it, no one has to take anyones advice. We have the OP's speakers and specs, as well the info on the potential amp. The match seemed questionable so we have Stereophiles review of the speakers that includes measurements. JA's measurements show the speakers to be an easy load for just about any amp. We have the measurements on the amp from the German magazine showing the amp is fully capable driving a 4 ohm load. So what more do you want? Its a relatively simple call. You're just pissed because you wanted to be the spec guy and you turned out to be wrong. You made the call without knowing the OP's speakers and you turned out to be wrong. Better luck next time.

I'll bring this up one last time. Over and over you say I don't trust reviews. You're correct. I don't trust reviews. Its too hard for someone to put into words exactly how something sounds. Factor in their personal taste, experience and equipment, and you have an equation that I don't feel you can rely on. At no point in this discussion did I reference a review. Measurements are not reviews. Its not the reviewers opinion that the Mac amp put out 200 watts into a 4 ohm load. He took a measurement, and those were the results.

You may have the last word on this. I don't have anything else to say on the matter that I didn't already say several times. The only thing I'll add it to Effischer. In the first part of my post, I mentioned you. It wasn't meant to be an insult or anything similar. I was just making the point that with all the info the OP has, he doesn't need to take anyones advice on this matter.
Hi folks. Thanks for the input. I contacted McIntosh via email and Chuck Hinton replied that the 5200 would work just fine with 4ohm speakers. I need to go and listen and hear for myself. Again, I appreciate the feedback. I'm the type of Audiogoner who like high end sound but doesn't always understand a lot of the science behind the specs. :)
"I'm the type of Audiogoner who like high end sound but doesn't always understand a lot of the science behind the specs. :)"

Its like my dead grandmother always said: "You don't have to be a scientist to listen to music."
jimmymac - your Special 25s are very special. Don't you work for McIntosh filling the tar pots?

I've run a MA5200 with Legacy Audio Signature SE 4 ohm speakers now for 6 months. This was with McIntosh supports blessing that it would drive them or I would not have purchased it. It runs super cool, never hot, almost no heat at all. I hooked up a MA7900 and the volume knob percentage number is exactly the same . That tells me that it is putting out 200wpc at 4 ohms. The MA5200 sounds better to me than the autoformer unit. Nice mellow sound, not over done at the top but very clear and musical, it sounds like a Mc. I preferred it over the MAC6700 also with these speakers. I think they like the direct connect more than the autoformer. McIntosh does not want to put it in competition with their other 200wpc and more expensive units in my opinion so no ratings other than 8ohms.