I suspect you'd be splitting hairs with these two and we in this hobby are good at making more of something than need be. That said, one thing comes to mind, does the MC352 use the newer optics for lighting or the older bulbs? This may seem trivial to some, but not having ro concern oneselves with bulbs may mean more to some than others. Contact Audio Classics, they seem well informed on both amps.
You may also want to consider the MC252. This amp is also thought well of; I believe some feel it is sonically the same as the 402 just less powerful.
Better value is obviously the 352. The 402 has a bit more dynamics and detail compared to the 352 - but you will only hear this difference if the rest of your system is resolving enough....
The 352 uses light bulbs which will need replacement every couple years. No big deal IMO - I have always rebulbed my McIntoshes myself, and the amps are the easiest ones to do.
MC352 with the led light kit from Audio Classics is the better bang for the buck. Give Ernie a call and he will help you determine what will fit your needs.
352/402-both are fully balanced-352 bulbs-402 led's
252-not fully balanced-led's
IMO the 402 is the way to go...on the used market the extra $800-$1000 is well worth the added detail and dynamics you will hear.Also when it comes time to move on the 402 is an easier sale and always will be...
I can appreciate the LED approach but my MA 6100 still has the original bulbs and they all still work after at least 30 years. I leave it on all night long and a good part of the day. Of course after saying this they'll probably all go out tonight.
If you buy the MC352 the money you save from not buying the MC402 could buy you a pair of Thiel 2.4's. These are way better than the 1.6's. Just something to consider.
The MC402 outclasses every piece of associated gear you listed. It is considered by many to be a reference amp. I would only buy it if you plan on upgrading your current equipment to the level of the 402. You will NEVER hear what that amp can do with getting better gear. That being said, it will make a wonderful anchor for a very good sounding system. You need to be prepared to keep it long enough to do it justice. If not, you will be out of it and miss out on a wonderful amp. For reference I own the amp along with the Mac C2300 pre.
Sorry, make that without getting better gear, instead of with. I hate that!:)
The 402 is faster and more open sounding compared to the 352. I think the extra cost of the 402 is worth it plus is get a much better looking amp with the lights and 3d glass. To be honest I would choose the 252 over the 352 for the same reason's. I was not a big fan of the 352 when it came to sound quality.
I agree with Mtdking. Unless you are driving inefficient speakers and/or a very large size room, the MC252 has more than enough power. Save some money on the amp and start upgrading the CDP, preamp and speakers.
I have compared the MC252, MC352 and MC402. I prefer the MC252 over the MC352. I could not tell too much difference between the MC252 and MC402. If you had a fully balanced system, you would hear the benefits of the MC402.
The McIntosh MC402 is the way to go. Tremedous resolution and great smooth top end. Has very natural midrange and explosive bass dynamics. True the MC252 is smaller brother to the MC402 but it's just like having more Horse Power. It's always a good thing when you never know one day the extra current will come in handy if changing to a more inefficient speaker.
Regardless what you may hear, the MC352 is older technology in comparison to the MC402 & MC252 amps. I have talked with the McIntosh rep and called up Binghamton to set the record straight. I had listened to the MC352 several years ago at a dealer and was not impressed. Once I heard the MC402, I was sold immediately. It ended my personal search for a great power amp. I prefer the MC402 over the MC501 monos and many much more expensive amps that I had owned over $20K range,
The Absolute Sound has recently highly recommeded the McIntosh MC402 power amp in there Editor's Choice issue : October , 2008.
The McIntosh MC402 is a bargain in today standards, sure to be a classic short term and long term.
I own and love the MC402s and could see myself keeping them for 10 years. Having said that, I'm suprised to see someone preferring them to the MC501s. I would assume that the mono's would have a number of sonic advantages.
I own an MC402 with the c2300 (tube). I can't imagine it sounding "harsh in the mids to highs" with anything. I had the harsh highs problem for years and the 402 solved that problem. The majority of my recordings sound very good on it. I've run my DAC straight into the 402 as well with no harshness there.
I run the MCs on Aerial 7Bs - not the most efficient speaker at 86 dB spl. I wouldn't go any less power if the Thiels are in that range.
Lastly IMO and IME, if you're worried about harsh highs you should run not walk away from Thiels.
quick question to you McIntosh gurus:
Is the Amp section of the MA-6900 at all comparable to the 252 power amp, topology wise (i know there is ~50 wrms pwr diff)
I'd look to the new integrateds from McIntosh to match the MC252, such as the MA6600 and MA7000.
Mcintosh will sell you the service manuals for their amplifiers and they are inexpensive. The manuals consist of parts lists and schematics, but that is the best way to compare the different models, other than testing them yourself.
I have a MC252 and a MC352 - the MC352 is meant to be run balanced, and when used as such, is hands down a better amplifier over the MC252. That being said, the MC402 is supposedly a fantastic amplifier, but you can get 2 NOS MC352's from Audio Classics for the same price as 1 New MC402. 1 MC352 per speaker will out perform the MC402, without question.