Mcintosh MC252 vs. MC402

Has anyone auditioned both of these amps? Is the MC402 worth the extra money?
I auditioned both in the same exact system. The speakers were 802D, the source was a top-loading Oracle cd player (forget the model but expensive), and the preamp was a C46. We played around for a long time with this gear.

They sounded very very similar. It seemed like on electronic music with lots of bass that the 402 had larger soundstaging and at high levels in general, it had perhaps a smidge more clarity. But the 252 truly held its own and in a blind test at reasonable levels, I don't know that I would be able to reliably tell them apart. It will depend on how difficult your speakers are to drive and how large your room is as to which is better sound-wise.

But as far as aesthetics, I feel the MC402 looks much better. I didn't care for the "stubby" look of the 252. The 402 looks the part. Are the looks worth the extra $$$ though? That is for you and your budget to decide. Having said that, the 252 is unquestionably the higher-value amplifier.

I left the lengthy audition extremely impressed. These new amps are among the very finest I have ever heard. The music flowed so effortlessly and yet all the detail one could want was there. Poor recordings sounded like they were made that way but the music came through nevertheless. If I ever need to go back to a solid-state amp, these amps will top my short list.

I had a 402 which I sold to buy an ARC Ref 110. I knew I really liked the 402, but thought the new Ref 110 would take my mind off it. But I really missed it a lot, as it is the best sounding solid state amp I have heard, including many of the recently rave reviewed mega amps from the top brands. I tried a 252, to save some cash, as I am still keeping my Ref 110 also, but it was just not the same in my system. The 252 was good, very good even, but not with the clarity of the 402. I am using it with a Ref 3, which is a bit of a microscope on these things. If you cannot swing the 402, then the 252 is a fine amp. But the the 402 is "just right". I have heard the 501's are even better, but that they are a little warmer sounding. That is enough for me to stay clear of them. I literally would not change the sound of the 402 in any way at all. Totally transparent, powerful, involving, and revealing.
Comparison would very much depend on your speaker requirements. That said,I agree with Aball's comments with the exception of the looks, my prerefence being the shorter MC252. They are similar in proportion to the MC501's & easier to manage.

I have not heard both in the same system so cannot comment. I have previously owned a MC352 & now own a MC252 in the same system. I prefer the 252, which to me sounds more real. Another comment I have read is the 252 is more similar in sound to a 501 than a 402.

I would urge you to visit the Audiokarma McIntosh forum (if you haven't already) and read comments made by Ron C. on the MC252. Sometime you have to read between the lines :).

Also in my experience, using a Mac Pre with a Mac power makes all the diffence.
Good luck!