New McIntosh MA252


Wondering if anyone has listened to the new MA252. I have an MA6500 pushing 200 watts into my SF Olympica llls which I think sound great. Question - would the tube preamp on the new MA252 add noticeable warmth, richness, sound stage presence? Thanks. 

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I have an MA6500 as well which I can use in another location and I too am intrigued with the new MA252.  Love the old school looks.  Can wait to hear some reviews.
Heard one today at Magnolia in Dallas, but there was way too much extraneous noise in the area to tell anything. They had it set up out in the general area of the store.
Also have an MA6500 and am intrigued by this amp. I’ve not had great experiences with tube amps but I did love the sound when I was able to get them dialed in. Have a lot of NOS tubes of the MA252’s variety lying around and I think a hybrid amp could be the perfect solution. Price seems good even with the slight loss of power.
I'm interested in this also as this will be just the ticket for my Klipsch Bell's. This will be my first & last high end audio purchase (I have four vintage receivers) and it's simplicity appeals to me. I want something easy enough for my wife & daughter to go over press one button and Google play and start listening.
I think the new MA252 is very strange gear although it’s an hybrid the SS section doesn’t include the famous output autoformers Mcintosh is knowing for also its low weight is ringing a bell here ,I certainly think the MC275 is much better option if you prefer tube or MC152 +D150 if SS .
I received mine last week after a two and a half month wait. It's had about twenty hours of burn in time and I like the sound very much. The tone controls come in handy as I have a large CD collection dating back from the present to some thirty years ago and those equalizations are all over the place.

The integrated amp uses the same power amp section as the MA5200 with the distinction that output transistors have been upgraded to a higher current rating.
The really exciting design feature is the new tubed preamp which captures tonal color and smoothness of presentation in voice and acoustic instruments with charm and verve. Lots of triode magic there.

I've done some tube rolling, replacing the stock JJ Tesla 12AX7 with Gold Lion
B759 drop in type. Detail, smoothness and transparency are first rate. I have some NOS Mullard 12AT7 coming in along with the Gold Lion equivalent this week. I'll report on those soon.

Interestingly, the phono and headphone sections are solid state. There is no
power amp input or preamp output, nor is there a home theatre pass through. Other than these omissions the MA252 has everything I could possibly need.
Build quality is excellent and the very basic remote is a joy to use.


But there is a sub out ;) 
It seems to use the SS amp section of the MA6300 w/ a tube preamp 
I can't compare it to any other mac gear but I thought it sounded great connected to a pair of Sonus Faber Vener's (I believe they were). My friend who owns a shop told me that the MA252 is really hard to get your hands on right now. It's such a gorgeous amp you find yourself standing close to it for a bit. He had me sit in the sweet spot while he played some Peter Gabriel for me and I could easily live with it. I don't know any specs and was just dropping by to say hello and price an Accuphase CD player. I think it's going to be a huge seller for McIntosh. It's a great entry into the higher end and if I owned one and wanted to upgrade I would not sell but move to another room or cottage.

I just received mine yesterday, using it in my office rig.  I am very impressed with build and sound quality.  When I get around to it, I will compare it with my PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium integrated. 
Can you tell us how long you had to wait for it?

I'm asking because I gave my dealer a deposit for one on Wednesday and he placed my order that day.
I’m most interested In your comparison to a ss amp. Maybe you were prev using a ss amp in your office. I’m using a MA-6500 that produces about 160 watts at 4 ohms and wonder if the preamp tunes in MA-252 produce a fuller warmer richer more detailed sound.  That’s not asking too much, right? 
I got a used one. It looks new though so no wait!  I sold my Accuphase E-600 as it was overkill for an office rig.  

The tube front end certainly creates some warmth and magic compared to 100% ss.  

I purchased a Plinius 980 last week as well (I had committed to purchase it literally hours before the call came in that a used 252 had arrived) so I compared the two.  The 252 was much more enjoyable. 
Congrats on finding one on the used market already!

I thought it would have been years before we saw any preowned MA252s for sale.
I guess I was lucky walking into Overture Audio in Wilmington, DE and walking out with one. They just had 5 delivered and by noon on that Saturday they already sold 3. That was early February.

As for the sound and looks, I am quite happy with it! 
For the price and features, it’s going to be hard to beat.  Smart move on the part of McIntosh as this unit will serve as a great entry point for folks to get hooked on the brand. 
I’ve owned an MA6500 used with Olympica I’s and it was an excellent combination. Not sure I’d use the MA252 with the Olympica III’s, at least not without some major demo time at a dealer. I’m currently running the MA252 (and a PS Audio DSD) with a pair of B&W 706 S2s and a Sumiko S.5 sub. Again, an excellent combination. The hybrid design of the integrated has been beautifully executed by Mac, and the build quality is classic Mac as well. I first experienced a hybrid design in the PS Audio BHK250 power amp whose performance is truly amazing!! But at 82 lbs., it was a problem for my 68 year old back. Nevertheless, refusing to admit my limitations, I was about to add the PS Audio tube preamp to my system when Mac introduced the 252 integrated. Influenced by pain (or pain pills), I decided to give it a go. While I LOVED the BHK250, I have had no regrets going to a less powerful amp. I’m still getting tube goodness in my system and at only 27 lbs. As with any piece of gear, matching is critical. Cheers.
The MA-252 is an intriguing option, no question. At $3500 it is tempting since I’ve been having issues finding an appropriately priced balanced preamp for my Merrill Audio Thor amps which power my inefficient but incredibly revealing ATC SCM 19v2’s.

For those that have used the MA-252, are the 100watts/ch the typical conservatively rated watts one hears about from McIntosh? I’m not against stepping down in watts as I rarely listen above 85-90dB as it isn’t townhouse neighbor friendly to do so. Rogue Audio’s RH-5 fits my price point to add in front of the Thor’s, so that’s the competition. I have a fair offer on the Thors, so the MA-252 is in the ballpark of affordability for me too.

Regardless of what I do, I think it’s a lovely integrated, one I think would have high WAF as well in even the most discerning of homes.


Greginnh-
How do you think the MA-252 compares to the PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium?
Thanks
@returnmusic - that's a real tough question.  I have the MA252 in my office and the PrimaLuna in my living room at home so it would difficult to declare a winner.  

Thus far, they are both very much at the same level of sonic performance.  Perhaps I will bring the MA252 home one day for a shoot-out.  

You cannot go wrong with either one!
 I realize it’s more complicated than I assumed, and involves transporting & maneuvering a 64lb chunk into your setup. 
You just got the MA 252!
Please let us know if you ompare them down the road.
Thanks for sharing your experience with the new amp- it looks to be a very high sonic value and a beauty to boot.
Placed my new MA-252 into service last week.
Extremely nice integrated amp.
I had a Prima Luna Dialogue Premium HP, and although both are fine sounding integrated, I prefer the MA-252.  
The Prima Luna had NOS Mullard tubes - with the stock tubes, I preferred the Mc even greater.
The bass is tighter and fuller with the Mc, and the overall sound a bit more balanced. 
Plenty of detail, without sounding analytical. Vocals sound "human" - you feel the emotion of the artist. The Mc pulls you into the music. Before you realize it, you are toe tapping and humming along - pure enjoyment, but not for someone looking to analyze every last detail.
Produces significantly less heat than the Prima Luna.
Enough power for my Maggie .7s  


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Auditioned the MA252 driving a pair of Harbeth 3.1s (wish they would have set them up with the 3.2s) at Overture in DE and it was delightful. My best description would be that the combination was very musical and got the RP&T near perfect. On complex orchestral music the speakers got a bit congested in the lower-mids (the reason I wish they would have set up with a pair of 3.2s). Next step is find a way to audition at home. At least it is small enough that dragging one home to try won't dislocate a shoulder.
I have been using a Counterpoint SA 3.1 preamp/Adcom GFA-555 power amp combination in my system since the late 80's (!!) and was long overdo for an upgrade. I recently purchased an MA252 and for me, the improvement is a revelation. I can finally understand what reviewers mean when they describe things such as hearing "space around the instruments" and there being a "black background."  This integrated amp is so much more musical than what I've been listening to (or suffering with) for all these years. 
Has anybody compared the 252 to any of the “top dog” solid state integrateds from Mc, such as the MA8900 or 7900 or 8000, etc.? Not features-wise, as I realize the 252 does not have a Dac, HT passthrough, etc., but exclusively sound-wise.
Have had my MA 252 since February (my 50th birthday gift!) As an audiophile with discerning taste I will say that my baby blows most other integrated amps away with its pure clean analogue...to say this little amp with it’s beautiful green glowing tubes is worth every penny and is a beautiful addition to our audio gear is an understatement...nicely paired with Focal 836s, Chord Qutest DAC, Rega p6 with Hana EL cart (using a Rega MC phono but the on board phono stage is terrific....have done some reference testing with MM) and RB 330 arm, Cambridge CXN, lovely Nordost Silver Shadow IC...nice to look at, beautiful sound
Any other folks have updates here? The MA6500 has been a great amp and I’ve no need to move on from it, but that tube glow is calling to me..
I was curious about the MM Phono Input. I currently am running a Hegel amp, Pro-Ject Debut, and new B&W 707 S2's.

I wanted to upgrade my turntable to a Rega P6 with the Ania MC cartridge. But I noticed the MA252 has a MM Phono Preamp.

Should I get a P6 with MM cartridge instead then? Otherwise I have to buy a whole other MC phono preamp. And why didn't McIntosh build this in? I noticed the McIntosh MT2 & MT5 are MC, so you can't even connect those out of the box to the MA252.

"Has anybody compared the 252 to any of the “top dog” solid state integrateds from Mc, such as the MA8900 or 7900 or 8000, etc.?"

I went from an MA252 to a MAC7200(200wpc).

The increase in power really creates a more realistic listening experience, IMO. Bass and drums now have a "weight" to them that I didn't have with my MA252. Also, the three-dimensional imagery is now equal or better.

I loved the MA252. Fantastic piece for the money. MANY recording playbacks were "best-ever-in-room" and previous integrateds include the Bat VK3000se and a Cary 300SEI among others.

I did have a hard time finding a speaker match for the MA252. I did not like Focal 1028BEs (way sharp, probably the be tweeters), and the amp could not drive McIntosh or ATC offerings without a lot of "orange" (clipping) happening. It loved my current speakers, JBL4429 monitors.

Ultimately, if the MA6500 behaves similarly to the MAC7200, you (OP)really won't be in a better world from a warmth, richness, sound stage presence standpoint. But it does look cool!

Well, I did it. Bought the MA252 on 12/26/18 at full retail. Saved $500 on the Jan 1, 2019 price hike. 

I’m currently just listening to my Sonus Fabrer Olympica l’s (just moved to a new house and the lll’s are still in boxes in the garage). 

I do have a new old favorite Neil Young album “Live at Massey Hall” recorded circa 1971. This album played through my SONY 300 CD player sounded really,  really good with my just returned refurbished MA6500 straight from Binghamton. (Need plenty of shuffled choices from Beatles to Stones to Tull to Nilsson to Russell to Pink Martini, to classical, jazz, Sinatra, Cole, Martin, Nina Simone and have no patience to change discs constantly.) 

Well - the MA252 grabbed Neil and his guitar out of somewhere in the room and off the stage and set him down right in front of me, couldn’t have been more than 6 feet away. 

The difference in clarity, presence, high frequencies, and bass response with all tone controls set flat is not to be believed. I normally always kept the MA6500 “Loud” button on at low to moderate volume levels to fill out the sound in the room. Absolutely not needed with the MA252. 

Now, I’ll have to wonder if it’s those little tubes or simply 20+ years of newer technology. 

Nevermind, after no more than ten minutes listening to the MA252, I’ll never look back. Look for the refurbished MA6500 for sale on this site soon. 

PS - the new MA252 almost seems a little too bright, too near. I’ll get use to it!

teboerio

I've heard the MA252 a few times and really enjoyed it each time. I know this doesn't matter but talk about eye candy. To have a piece of audio jewelry sound that good is a win win IMHO. I've always wanted a second integrated amp and this would be a serious contender. Congratulations.

Hey donjr,

yes, simple and elegant. But I’m gonna miss those big baby blues and a separate button or knob for each function. But overall, incredible sounding, like they figured out how to put more music in there than the original recording. Actually, just great to hear so much fullness and clarity from the same Music you’ve heard so many times!! 

teboerio
I did  research/read many posts and reviews about ma252 on internet including this forum.
Finally I just brought one home last Friday. Only I can say is 'Wow'.
It's paired with B&W 805 with sub. It makes perfect harmony with my speakers and fill my listening room with beautiful sound. Its sound is definitely different from full solid state/tube amp, but it matches with my sound preference with my rest of system. 
Thank you so much for all comments on this thread. It helped me a lot. 

Congrats on taking the plunge! I've been living with my MA252 for almost a year now and I couldn't be happier with it.
New member and first post.  

I've had mine for a month or so and I'm so impressed with it.  I sold a Musical Fidelity A5.5, which I really enjoyed, and I have no regrets.  Originally I was using a pair of Tannoy Precision 6.2 LE (mass loaded), which sounded wonderful but I just upgraded to a pair of Focal Aria 926.  Wow, I'm blown away.  I have no complaints.  The Arias have such a balanced sound, a little more than the Tannoys. I find the Tannoys needed a precise seating position to get that sweet spot and the Arias don't demand this.  The main difference, imho, is the bass. The Tannoys impressed me with its bass, when I first go them, but with the Arias there is simply no comparison.  Lower and tighter... Jazz bass lines wound so authentic, and this is coming from a musician for over 30 years.

For those who own the MA252, I have a question.  My Cardas cross speaker cables have spades that are too narrow to fit onto the Mac's posts.  So I purchased Cardas locking banana plugs, which work wonderfully.  What quality!  But in order to use the banana plugs I had to follow the MAC instructions which states you need to: finger tighten the post, then using the MAC wrench turn another 1/4 turn.. or 90 degrees.  I did this for all 4 posts, however one of them seemed to have "let go".  What I mean is that now when I want to loosen the post, the entire post is coming out, which will no longer allow spade use.  The other posts work like they're suppose to.  I've tested the speakers, one side with the other, and I don't hear any difference.  Is there something that I can do if I pop the cover off?  It doesn't affect the speaker so I guess I can leave it that way, but it is really bothering me.  

Any constructive thoughts?  Thanks everyone.
I remember reading in the MA252 manual about giving the speaker terminal nut an extra quarter turn after snugging it up but I didn't want to force it, so I left it like that. If I were in your shoes and it bothered me that much, I'd contact McIntosh to see if they've dealt with this before. The only issue I would wonder about is if the terminal needs to be tightly bonded to the chassis for grounding purposes.
Thanks for the input route-66.  I contacted McIntosh and they directed me to a local technician.  I was going to call him but decided to take a peek under the hood.  It was simple.  The nut that should have been "squishing" the lock washer, was almost at the end of the bolt.  Probably another rotation and a half and the nut would have fallen off.  So a 9mm ratchet did the trick.  All is good.
I was going to suggest that you pop the top off yourself but I didn't know if you'd be comfortable doing that. I'm glad that you were able to take care of it yourself and won't be losing sleep over it tonight. :-D
I tried it with Focal Kanta 2's.  It's all solid state sound.  Even the dealer said he thinks they just put the tubes in there for looks.