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windswept's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: May 27 2022 - 2:44pm
McIntosh MA252 is underwhelming. Am I wrong?

I recently purchased an MA252 after several months of waiting for my unit to come in. I was very excited to receive it for office use, where it was replacing an MA5300 (now in my home). Sadly, the MA252 is nowhere near as powerful as my 5300 despite identical output stats. I know there are more variables, some even go unpublished, but it's a very noticeable difference.

252 clips all the time above 80% volume, but I only have to go that high because nothing happens until 60% and the sweet spot is a like 65-85% including clipping on the high end. It's insane. Sounds terrible.

On the other hand, my 5300 sings at 40% and even when I really want to feel the music in my gut I rarely have to go over 75%. And that is LOUD. I mean really loud. Also, if I bring it up to 90% or higher, yes, it clips I guess, but it's a more musical clipping or at least it's covered up better somehow. Whereas the 252 just sounds like it's shredding my speakers.

I have removed all variables in the testing of this equipment. I'm using bookshelf Elac Uni Fi Bs and a Marantz TT-etc turntable (the acrylic one). Speaker wire is Rocket 33s.

I am way outside of my return window with Best Buy (Magnolia) so I'll probably sell it locally or on Ebay or something. Would floor standing speakers solve my volume and "oomph" issue? Because right now the MA252 has got NOTHING.

Not to mention, the 252 often sounds tight and boxy and stressed out at high volumes, while the 5300 sounds open and airy like it's up for any challenge whatsoever. I reached out to McIntosh and they almost seemed to deny that this could be the case because the units supposedly have identical output specs. I know they're different units, therefore they can sound very different from one another, but still... the difference is pretty vast.

Mr. Widget
Mr. Widget's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 week ago
Joined: May 15 2022 - 11:50am
I assume you are using the

I assume you are using the same speakers in the same room for your comparisons. When you discuss volume percentage, have you measured the output or are you talking about the rotation of the volume knob?

I am not familiar with these two integrated amps, but taking a cursory look they appear to have the same amplifier with only the line stage, a few options, and the cosmetics being different.

I would suggest you take your MA5300 to your office and swap between the two amps and measure the output with an inexpensive SPL meter. Even using an SPL app on your phone will give you data that is more conclusive than memory or degrees of volume knob rotation.

If after testing the two amps with an SPL meter, one has significantly greater output, you have a defective piece of gear and need to have it serviced.

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