McIntosh MA252 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier: Review Roundup

The McIntosh MA252 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier is a remarkable convergence of time-honored vacuum tube technology and cutting-edge solid-state innovation. As a groundbreaking addition to McIntosh’s prestigious line of audio equipment, the MA252 introduces a hybrid design that seamlessly marries the best of both worlds. Evoking nostalgia with a nod to its iconic predecessors like the MC240 and MC275 power amplifiers, the MA252 introduces a captivating modern twist that appeals to audiophiles seeking the perfect balance between vintage charm and contemporary excellence. This integrated amplifier delivers a compelling performance that entices audiophiles and music enthusiasts alike. It presents a meticulously crafted design, a wealth of modern features, and a price that is surprisingly accessible for those aspiring to own a piece of McIntosh’s legacy. With its integrated design, the MA252 minimizes complexity and offers a smooth interface during operation, making it an attractive option for both seasoned audiophiles and newcomers to the world of high-fidelity sound.

Design, Aesthetics, and Construction

McIntosh MA252 Engraved Name

The McIntosh MA252 is a visual and tactile masterpiece that captures the essence of classic industrial design while exuding an air of understated elegance. The polished stainless steel chassis, a hallmark of McIntosh’s commitment to quality, presents a lustrous canvas that reflects both its heritage and forward-thinking engineering. One of the most captivating features is the exquisitely engraved model number “McIntosh 252” adorning the chassis—a nostalgic tribute to the brand’s storied past. This deliberate design choice evokes the spirit of classic tube amplifiers, immediately invoking a sense of reverence and respect for audio traditions. The MA252’s design is not only aesthetically pleasing but also purposeful. The integration of modern features is seamlessly incorporated into the vintage-inspired chassis. The bright green LEDs that illuminate the vacuum tubes from their bases provide both functional feedback and a captivating visual spectacle during operation. The integration of a blue OLED display adds a modern touch, ensuring that the amplifier harmoniously blends the best of both eras. The physical construction of the MA252 is a testament to McIntosh’s unwavering commitment to durability and longevity. The combination of shiny-polished metal and monogrammed heatsinks not only evokes nostalgia but also conveys a sense of robustness. The attention to detail extends to the internal components, ensuring optimal heat dissipation and reliability even during prolonged use.

Main Features

McIntosh MA252 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier Lifestyle side shotThe MA252’s hybrid design is the cornerstone of its appeal, seamlessly integrating vacuum tubes and solid-state circuitry. The preamplifier stage, boasting two 12AX7 and two 12AT7 vacuum tubes, synergizes with a solid-state power amplifier stage capable of delivering either 100 watts per channel into eight-ohm loudspeakers or an impressive 160 watts into four-ohm configurations. The marriage of tube and solid-state technologies is complemented by intelligent features such as “Power Guard” and “Sentry Monitor.” “Power Guard” technology prevents speaker clipping, ensuring distortion-free playback even during dynamic peaks. “Sentry Monitor” acts as a vigilant guardian, activating to prevent potential damage caused by accidental shorts in speaker cables. Beyond its sonic prowess, the MA252 accommodates various audio sources. It boasts four analog inputs, including balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA connections, alongside a dedicated MM phono input for vinyl enthusiasts. The user-customizable input names add a touch of personalization to the experience.

List of Features

  • Hybrid tube/solid-state design with vacuum tubes (12AX7 and 12AT7) in the preamp stage.
  • Solid-state power amplifier stage delivering 100 watts per channel into eight-ohm loudspeakers or 160 watts into four-ohm ones.
  • “Power Guard” technology to prevent speaker clipping.
  • “Sentry Monitor” for protection against accidental shorts in speaker cables.
  • Four analog inputs: three line-level via XLR and two unbalanced pairs of RCA jacks, plus an MM phono input.
  • User-customizable input names for convenience.
  • Two sets of solid loudspeaker binding posts and a mono RCA jack for connecting a subwoofer.
  • Onboard microprocessors for remembering balance and tone control settings for each input.
  • Built-in headphone amplifier for private listening.

All Those Reviewer Thoughts…

McIntosh MA252 Front View

Multiple reviewers have all expressed admiration for the McIntosh MA252 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier, applauding its smooth and alluring sound. The amplifier exhibits a slight midrange emphasis, particularly pleasing for pop and jazz vocals, and complements instruments like horns and violins, creating a flattering musical experience. Additionally, it impresses with its vinyl playback capabilities through its own capable MM phono stage, avoiding sogginess or congestion often associated with hybrid designs. The MA252’s combination of tube warmth and solid-state resolution allows it to transcend traditional boundaries and appeal to both tube enthusiasts and solid-state purists. Its competitive price makes it an attractive option for those seeking to explore the world of high-end audio without breaking the bank. When compared to more expensive tube/solid-state combo systems, the MA252 may not match the extreme levels of resolution, dynamic reach, or weight, but it manages to deliver commendable performance at its price point. Some all-tube setups may provide a closer connection to the soul of the music, while all-solid-state systems may excel in exceptional detail and bass slam. Nonetheless, the MA252’s fusion of tube and solid-state technologies is deemed a minor miracle, delivering a taste of high-end audio at a reasonable price.

McIntosh MA252 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier Review Roundup

Below is the consolidation of many MA252 reviews.  Due to the sheer volume of reviews, we’ve split this into 4 parts:

Dealer Video Reviews and Unboxing

Video Comparisons and Bench Tests

Eye Candy Videos and Sound Demos

Written Reviews

McIntosh Official Information

McIntosh MA252 Official Webpage Information

Pricing and How to Purchase:

The McIntosh MA252 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier sits at a price point that represents a minor departure from the brand’s traditionally aspirational products. While still a premium audio component, the MA252 offers an attractive value proposition for audiophiles seeking McIntosh’s renowned sound without reaching stratospheric price tags.  We realize that “stratospheric” price tags are certainly relative so take that into account when comparing this to other Mcintosh models. The amplifier can be purchased through authorized:

Full Specifications:

  • Amplifier Type: Hybrid tube/solid-state
  • Vacuum Tube Complement: 2 x 12AX7, 2 x 12AT7
  • Output Power: 100W per channel into 8 ohms, 160W per channel into 4 ohms
  • Inputs: 2 x RCA (unbalanced), 2 x XLR (balanced), 1 x MM phono
  • Outputs: 2 pairs of speaker binding posts, 1 x mono RCA for subwoofer, 1 x headphone output
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz (+0, -0.5dB)
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 98dB
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 12.1″ x 7.5″ x 18″
  • Weight: 28 lbs (12.7 kg)

McIntosh MC252 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier Rear View

Is This the Right Integrated Amplifier for You

The McIntosh MA252 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier serves as an ideal choice for audiophiles who seek a seamless blend of nostalgia and innovation. If you cherish the warmth of tubes and the precision of solid-state amplification, the MA252’s hybrid design offers a sonic journey that caters to a wide range of musical tastes. Its versatile connectivity options, including the MM phono stage, make it an attractive solution for vinyl enthusiasts yearning for rich, textured playback. While audiophiles seeking the utmost resolution, dynamic range, and features might explore higher-end models (like the MA352 for instance), the MA252’s distinctive character and affordability render it an exceptional value proposition. Its compact form factor and thoughtfully designed user interface ensure that it seamlessly integrates into any audio setup.

In the End

The McIntosh MA252 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier emerges as a harmonious symphony of past and present, uniting vintage charm with contemporary brilliance. Its distinctive design pays homage to McIntosh’s legacy while embracing modern technologies, resulting in an audio masterpiece that captivates both the ears and the eyes. With its lush tonal palette, precision engineering, and versatile feature set, the MA252 invites audiophiles to immerse themselves in a sonic experience that transcends conventional boundaries. Whether you revel in the richness of vinyl or indulge in digital delights, the MA252 stands as a testament to McIntosh’s commitment to craftsmanship and musicality.  In an audio landscape brimming with options, the McIntosh MA252 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier stands tall as an emblem of timeless elegance and sonic prowess.

McIntosh MA252 Angle Right

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