McIntosh MA252: A Sonic Marvel for Audiophiles


In the world of audio equipment, finding the perfect amplifier is essential for achieving high-quality sound reproduction. Whether you are a music enthusiast or a professional in the audio industry, having an amplifier that delivers exceptional performance is crucial. Today, we will be taking a closer look at the McIntosh MA252 amplifier, a hybrid integrated amplifier that combines the best of both worlds – the classic tube sound and the advantages of solid-state technology.

The McIntosh MA252 is a remarkable addition to the McIntosh catalog, being their first hybrid integrated amplifier. Drawing inspiration from the iconic MC275 tube amplifier, the MA252 preserves the distinctive characteristics of tube amplification while incorporating the benefits of transistor sound. This fusion creates a unique sonic experience that audiophiles and music lovers can appreciate.

With its impressive technical specifications and innovative design, the McIntosh MA252 promises to deliver exceptional audio performance across various applications. Whether you are enjoying your favorite music at home or using it in a professional studio setting, this amplifier aims to provide a captivating listening experience.

In this comprehensive review, we will delve into the technical specifications, design and construction, functionality, sound characteristics, and overall performance of the McIntosh MA252. Join us as we explore the features and capabilities that make this amplifier stand out from the crowd.

Technical Specifications

The McIntosh MA252 amplifier is an integrated amplifier that boasts impressive technical specifications, delivering high-quality audio performance. With its hybrid design, it combines the best of both worlds by incorporating elements of classic tube amplification and solid-state technology.

Featuring a powerful output, the MA252 amplifier can deliver 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms or 160 watts per channel into 4 ohms. This ensures ample power to drive a wide range of speakers and reproduce music with exceptional clarity and dynamics.

When it comes to sound quality, the MA252 amplifier excels with its excellent signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 97 dB. This means that the amplifier effectively minimizes background noise, allowing for a cleaner and more immersive listening experience. Additionally, the low total harmonic distortion (THD) rating of 0.03% ensures accurate reproduction of audio signals without introducing unwanted distortions or colorations.

The amplifier offers a variety of inputs and outputs to cater to different audio setups. It includes two pairs of speaker outputs, allowing for easy connection to multiple sets of speakers. Furthermore, it features three RCA analog inputs, two XLR analog inputs, one balanced input, and a 3.5mm IR input and Data Port. This versatility enables users to connect various audio sources such as CD players, turntables, or streaming devices.

In terms of compatibility, the MA252 amplifier supports a wide frequency response range from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. This ensures that it can faithfully reproduce the entire spectrum of audible frequencies with accuracy and detail. The amplifier is also designed to work with speakers ranging from 4 ohms to 8 ohms impedance, providing flexibility in speaker selection.

Overall, the technical specifications of the McIntosh MA252 amplifier demonstrate its capability to deliver powerful and precise audio performance. With its versatile inputs and outputs, impressive power output, and high signal-to-noise ratio, this amplifier is a reliable choice for audiophiles seeking exceptional sound quality and flexibility in their audio setups.

Design and Construction

The McIntosh MA252 amplifier boasts a sleek and elegant design that is sure to catch the eye of any audio enthusiast. Its robust construction is a testament to McIntosh’s commitment to quality and durability. The amplifier features a solid metal chassis with a brushed aluminum front panel, giving it a premium and luxurious feel.

One notable design feature of the MA252 is its distinctive radiator design, which not only serves as an aesthetic element but also aids in efficient cooling. The radiators are intricately designed to resemble the iconic McIntosh logo, adding a touch of sophistication to the overall appearance of the amplifier.

In terms of materials used, McIntosh has spared no expense. The amplifier is built using high-quality components, ensuring optimal performance and longevity. The connectors and switches are of exceptional quality, providing a solid and reliable connection for your audio devices. The gold-plated outputs further enhance the overall build quality and signal transmission.

To minimize interference and ensure clean audio reproduction, McIntosh has incorporated advanced shielding technology into the design. This helps to reduce any unwanted noise or distortion, allowing for a pristine listening experience.

Overall, the design and construction of the McIntosh MA252 amplifier exude elegance and attention to detail. From its sturdy build to its thoughtful design features, this amplifier is a testament to McIntosh’s commitment to delivering both style and performance in one package.


The McIntosh MA252 amplifier offers a wide range of functionality to cater to different audio sources and preferences. With its versatile connectivity options, you can easily connect various devices such as CD players, computers, smartphones, and more. The amplifier features two pairs of speaker outputs, allowing you to connect multiple sets of speakers for a customized listening experience.

In terms of controls, the MA252 provides balance controls and tone adjustments, giving you the flexibility to fine-tune the sound according to your preferences. Whether you prefer a more bass-heavy or treble-focused sound, the tone adjustments allow you to tailor the audio output to suit your taste.

Additionally, this amplifier offers multiple operating modes to enhance your listening experience. It includes a built-in MM phono input for connecting a turntable directly, allowing you to enjoy the warm and rich sound of vinyl records. The presence of IR and Data Port inputs further expands the connectivity options, making it compatible with various audio systems and accessories.

Moreover, the MA252 features a headphone output on the front panel, allowing you to enjoy private listening sessions without disturbing others. This feature is especially useful when you want to immerse yourself in your favorite music or movies without any distractions.

Overall, the functionality of the McIntosh MA252 amplifier is designed to provide convenience and versatility in connecting different audio sources while offering control options for a personalized listening experience.

Sound Characteristics

The McIntosh MA252 amplifier delivers an exceptional sound quality that is sure to impress even the most discerning audiophiles. The amplifier boasts a remarkable level of detail and clarity, allowing every instrument and nuance to shine through with precision.

One of the standout features of the MA252 is its ability to provide excellent instrument separation. Each instrument is given its own space within the soundstage, creating a three-dimensional and immersive listening experience. Whether you’re listening to a symphony orchestra or a small jazz ensemble, the MA252 ensures that each instrument is distinct and easily discernible.

The bass response of the MA252 is deep, controlled, and impactful. It provides a solid foundation to the music, adding weight and presence without overpowering or muddying the rest of the audio spectrum. The amplifier’s ability to reproduce low frequencies with accuracy and precision allows for an engaging and enjoyable listening experience across various music genres.

The treble clarity of the MA252 is remarkable, offering a level of detail and sparkle that brings out the finest nuances in high-frequency instruments such as cymbals or violins. The amplifier maintains a perfect balance between smoothness and detail, ensuring that the treble remains clear and well-defined without any harshness or sibilance.

In terms of overall sound presentation, the MA252 excels in providing a natural and balanced sound signature. It reproduces music with a sense of realism and authenticity that truly captures the essence of the original recording. Whether you’re listening to classical, rock, jazz, or electronic music, the MA252 showcases each genre with finesse and accuracy.

No matter what type of music you enjoy, the McIntosh MA252 amplifier elevates your listening experience to new heights. Its ability to reproduce sound with exceptional clarity, instrument separation, deep bass response, and treble clarity makes it a versatile option for any music lover.

Sound Performance

The McIntosh MA252 amplifier delivers an exceptional sound performance that will transport you into a world of audio bliss. With its hybrid design, combining the best elements of both tube and solid-state technologies, this amplifier offers a unique sonic experience.

When it comes to faithfully reproducing audio signals, the MA252 excels in every aspect. The clarity it provides is simply remarkable, allowing you to hear every nuance and detail in your music with precision. Whether you’re listening to delicate acoustic melodies or powerful rock anthems, the amplifier ensures that each instrument and vocal is presented with utmost clarity and realism.

The dynamics of the MA252 are equally impressive. It effortlessly captures the ebb and flow of music, bringing out the subtlest changes in volume and intensity. From the softest whispers to the thunderous crescendos, this amplifier maintains control and finesse, creating a captivating listening experience.

One of the standout features of the MA252 is its impeccable tonal balance across different frequency ranges. The lows are rich and deep, providing a solid foundation to the music without overpowering other elements. The mids are lush and vibrant, adding warmth and presence to vocals and instruments. The highs are crisp and detailed, ensuring that every cymbal crash and violin string is rendered with sparkling clarity.

Regardless of genre or musical preference, the McIntosh MA252 amplifier delivers an incredibly satisfying sound performance. It brings your favorite songs to life in a way that will make you fall in love with your music collection all over again.

In conclusion, the sound performance of the McIntosh MA252 amplifier is nothing short of extraordinary. Its ability to faithfully reproduce audio signals with clarity, dynamics, and tonal balance is truly remarkable. Whether you’re an audiophile seeking the ultimate listening experience or a casual listener looking for superior sound quality, this amplifier will exceed your expectations. With its impeccable sound performance, the McIntosh MA252 proves itself as a worthy investment for any music lover.


The McIntosh MA252 amplifier offers several advantages that set it apart from its competitors in the market. Firstly, its hybrid design combines the best of both worlds, incorporating the classic tube sound of the MC275 with the advantages of solid-state technology. This unique combination results in a rich and warm sound that is both detailed and dynamic.

In terms of power, the MA252 delivers an impressive 100 watts per channel at 8 ohms and 160 watts per channel at 4 ohms. This ensures ample power to drive a wide range of speakers, allowing for a truly immersive listening experience.

Another advantage of the MA252 is its versatile connectivity options. With two unbalanced inputs, one balanced input, and one MM phono input, users have the flexibility to connect various audio sources to suit their preferences. The inclusion of gold-plated outputs further enhances the overall audio quality and ensures a secure connection.

Additionally, the MA252 features McIntosh’s PowerGuard technology, which continuously monitors the output signal levels to prevent clipping and distortion that could potentially harm your speakers. This level of protection provides peace of mind and allows users to enjoy their music at high volumes without any worries.

When comparing the MA252 to other models in its price range, it stands out for its exceptional build quality and attention to detail. The McIntosh brand is renowned for its craftsmanship and durability, and the MA252 is no exception. Its robust construction ensures longevity and reliability, making it a worthwhile investment for audio enthusiasts.

Overall, the McIntosh MA252 amplifier offers a compelling combination of performance, versatility, and build quality. Its hybrid design, powerful output, advanced technologies, and meticulous construction make it a top contender in its price range. Whether you are a music lover or an audiophile seeking a high-quality amplifier, the MA252 delivers on all fronts, earning its place among the best amplifiers available today.

Value for Money

The McIntosh MA252 amplifier offers exceptional value for money with its impressive performance, extensive features, and reasonable price.

In terms of performance, the MA252 delivers a powerful and dynamic sound that is sure to satisfy even the most discerning audiophiles. With a power output of 100 watts per channel at 8 ohms and 160 watts per channel at 4 ohms, this amplifier is capable of driving a wide range of speakers with ease. The low distortion level of 0.03% ensures that the audio remains clean and accurate, allowing for an immersive listening experience.

The MA252 also boasts a range of features that enhance its versatility and convenience. It includes two pairs of speaker outputs, allowing users to connect multiple sets of speakers and switch between them effortlessly. Additionally, it offers a 3.5mm trigger output and IR input for seamless integration with other audio equipment. The presence of two XLR inputs, three RCA inputs, and a balanced input further expands the connectivity options, accommodating various audio sources.

Considering its performance and features, the price of the McIntosh MA252 is quite reasonable. While it may not be the most affordable amplifier on the market, it offers exceptional value for the quality it delivers. McIntosh is renowned for its commitment to craftsmanship and durability, ensuring that the MA252 will provide years of reliable service.

Overall, the McIntosh MA252 amplifier provides excellent value for money by offering outstanding performance, extensive features, and reliable construction at a competitive price point. Whether you are an audiophile seeking high-quality sound or a music enthusiast looking to elevate your listening experience, the MA252 is a worthwhile investment that will not disappoint.


In conclusion, the McIntosh MA252 amplifier is a truly impressive piece of audio equipment that combines the best of both tube and solid-state technologies. With its hybrid design and exceptional build quality, it delivers a captivating audio experience that will satisfy even the most discerning audiophiles.

The MA252’s technical specifications showcase its versatility and power. With a power output of 100 watts per channel at 8 ohms and 160 watts per channel at 4 ohms, it has more than enough power to drive a wide range of speakers. The inclusion of two pairs of speaker outputs, as well as multiple analog inputs and a headphone output, further enhances its flexibility.

Design-wise, the MA252 exudes elegance and sophistication. The iconic McIntosh logo on the heat sinks adds a touch of class, while the inclusion of an OLED display provides clear and convenient control over settings. The use of protective covers for the tubes ensures their longevity and adds to the overall aesthetic appeal.

Functionally, the MA252 offers a range of features that enhance its usability. The inclusion of a remote control allows for convenient operation from a distance, while the presence of a tone control allows users to fine-tune the sound to their preferences. The PowerGuard technology ensures that the amplifier operates within safe limits, protecting both the system and the speakers.

When it comes to sound characteristics, the MA252 truly shines. The combination of tube and solid-state elements results in a warm and rich sound signature with excellent detail retrieval. The amplifier excels at reproducing vocals with remarkable clarity and depth, while also delivering tight and controlled bass response.

In terms of sound performance, the MA252 truly impresses. It effortlessly handles complex musical passages, providing a dynamic and engaging listening experience. Whether you are listening to classical music or rocking out to your favorite tracks, this amplifier delivers exceptional clarity and fidelity.

One of the major advantages of the MA252 is its value for money. While it may be considered a high-end amplifier, its performance and features justify the price tag. The build quality, versatility, and exceptional sound make it a worthwhile investment for audio enthusiasts who seek uncompromising performance.

In conclusion, the McIntosh MA252 amplifier is a masterpiece that combines the best of both tube and solid-state technologies. With its exceptional design, functionality, and sound characteristics, it offers an immersive audio experience that is sure to impress. Whether you are a seasoned audiophile or a casual music lover, this amplifier will elevate your listening pleasure to new heights.

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