McIntosh MC302 Power Amp Review


I purchased a McIntosh MC302 power amp to drive my Focal 1028 speakers. Prior to this I was using the Accuphase E450 integrated amp which I am currently using as a preamp to drive the Mc.

The Accuphase is rather at 180W x 2 at 8ohms and 260W at 4 ohms where as the Mc is rated at 300W at 8/4/2 as it is a transformer coupled design. Changing to the Mc was a night and day difference. When I purchased the Accuphase I thought that it would be more than enough for my speakers as this was the biggest amp Accuphase made. However moving to the Mc changed my perspective on the same.

The Accuphase has a beautiful tonal signature. It is lush, warm yet extends cleanly. It draws you into the music. However I did feel that the soundstage fell apart if I pushed the amp a bit. So in came the Mc.

The sound with the MC302 is big, extremely stable and lush. The amp handles the speaker as if it was a toy. Instruments at the edge of the soundstage remain stable and hold their place. Earlier the soundstage would collapse if I pushed the setup via the Accuphase. With the Mc in the chain it remains stable and broad.

The beauty of the Mc is that even if driven hard it doesn't compress the music. It just lets the music flow. I guess this is due to the transformer coupling. If I had to describe the sound of the Mc it would be warm, sweet and huge.
The bass is well delineated and improves in definition with certain power cables like DHLabs Red Wave or Shunyata's. This amp is almost tube like in terms of its mid range. Very sweet and beautiful. It does tend to hold back a bit on the top end. I wouldn't call it rolled off as such but it does make the top seem a bit dark.

One of the finest purchases I have made during my Hifi hobby. Buy it without a doubt if you want a broad soundstage and excellent control over your speakers.


Sounds like nice upgrade for your system! Congratulations!
Really enjoyed the review of the McIntosh MC302. If you want to add some texture and liquidity, air and space with more rise and decay, look into a proper tube based pre amp next. IMHO.

Matt M
Thanks for sharing your experience.  It tracks very closely to mine.  I did find that going from RCA to the balanced inputs made a substantial difference.  The noise floor is so low now that every note rides on a background of absolute black silence.

Matt has good advice about the preamp, too.  I had originally paired my amp with a C2300 and was hugely impressed.  I ended up having to go back to a SS preamp for a couple of specific requirements in my application, but that C2300 was one sweet unit.

Have fun & happy listening!

Hi  sberamji
What kind of  CD player are you using now ?

Very happy you found a nice improvement!

I'm on my second stack of McIntosh electronics and I find they sound really "musical", compared with the other brands I've auditioned.  They are also a really good match for Focals, and their "unforgiving" tweeters (I have a pair of Focals as well).

Congrats!  Enjoy!