|McIntosh MC252 Power Amplifier|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Stereo Amplifiers|
|Written by Robert Mead|
|Monday, 09 March 2009|
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The room itself is about 15 feet wide, by 17 feet long, with insulated curtains hanging over the sliding-glass entrance way, so the room has a nice, airy feel to it, which brings out the audio clarity of most of the music played through the audio system featured in the “McIntosh Showroom.” The loudspeakers that were primarily used during this demonstration were the Aerial Acoustics Model 7B speakers, and when I first saw how elegant and sophisticated these speakers look, with their wood-grain casing and their two huge woofers located near the bottom of these towering beauties, I felt my excitement level rise as I could not wait for the demonstration to begin.
An audio rack to the left of the room contained the MC252, along with three MC501’s directly underneath the Furman IT-Power Conditioner that all the power amplifiers in the rack were connected to, which ensured that the sheer power of the McIntosh amps never pushed distorted signals to the MX136 Audio Video Control Center that integrated all the showroom’s components together. The Aerial Acoustics speakers were aligned at an 80-degree angle facing the listener, placed at about seven feet apart from each other and about 9 feet away from the chair I was sitting in. The Aerial Acoustics Model 7B speakers consists of two twin towers encasing the two 7” woofers and the 5” midrange as well as the 1” tweeter on top of the towers. These hefty speakers weigh 100 pounds each and the midrange section of the speakers is basically an unshielded variation of Aerial’s CC3-center channel driver that comes with a wool-filled compartment, ensuring that music emanating from this part of the speaker comes out at full impact, with little to no displacement of sound.
A major component of this entire system sits in the middle of the room: the McIntosh MX136 receives all the audio and video signals from the A/V sources and processes those signals into the correct sound/audio modes that best suits the type of input the MX136 receives. This a/v processor contains four HDMI digital video inputs and five Component video inputs, all which are assignable to any source you need to configure to your particular needs. The surround modes included in this model are DTS ES, DTS Neo:6, Dolby Digital, EX and PL Iix. Surprisingly, this component only weighs a light 31 pounds and contains a total harmonic distortion rate of 0.0005% from 20hz to 20khz, which should help to eliminate any power line noise running through most audio systems.
Another element of this a/v configuration was the Marantz BD8002 Blu-Ray player that would be playing all the media during the demonstration for the MC252. This black-metal Blu-Ray/CD player sits roughly 17 inches high and 15 inches long, weighs 23 pounds and contains a dynamic range of 110dbs. The unit also contains 7.1 channel analog connections and will also let you use an HDMI connection for digital processing. It comes already installed with Dolby True HD as well as dts HD Master Audio processing that will handle any Blu-Ray DVD’s audio soundtracks if they are enabled with the latest upgraded surround sound modes that future DVD’s should be including on a regular basis very shortly. It also helps that this Blu-Ray player features advanced D/A converters that produces 24-bit resolution as well as providing a dynamic audio range that exceeds 120 db, almost guaranteeing that every CD I would be putting in the player’s CD tray would get the full push of audio signals that I needed to experience the entire power of the MC252 power amplifier.
Movies and Music
The co-owner of Premiere Home Entertainment, Jim Wicklund, wanted me to hear some very well-engineered esoteric and moody tracks from the band “Depeche Mode” off their 1989 Reprise release, “Violator.” After hearing the intro to the first song off of that CD, “World in My Eyes”, I could see why he wanted me to hear this band’s widely varied collection of keyboard-dominated songs on the CD. The aforementioned song starts out with a weird intro that sounded like an undersea monster rising to the surface of Loch Ness, and then dropping back into the black water without a sound. The keyboards then quickly cut in as the main vocalist, Martin Gore, begins singing in his dark yet captivating voice and the quiet thuds of the drums begins to pick up momentum. The MC252 had no trouble delivering the needed power to bring the concise and clear song structure of this electronic band to fully envelop the showroom in Depeche Mode’s pulsating musical soundstage. Since the first song off of this CD was such a good showcase for proving that the MC252 could manage to refine the sound from such an eclectic band, I could not wait to hear if the next song could also prove the MC252 worthy of carrying the correct amount of power to the entire audio system on display.
“Sweetest Perfection” was the next song on the CD, and it began with the eerie sound of the keyboards delivering a warm and gentle strain of high-pitched treble that cannot be easily described, but the weird tones fit the song’s lyrics about yearning for a woman that you know you should stay away from but find it impossible to accomplish. I turned up the master volume control so I could see if the amplifier lost some amount of compression in the audio range when the song began to feature some low-end emanating from the acoustic bass used on the song. I also listened for the next few minutes to hear any lack of compression in the mid range or any degree of flatness to the tone of the song, and I could not hear either one, definitely a good sign that the MC252 knows exactly how much power to produce at each moment the unit is powered up. It must also be noted that the Aerial Acoustics were able to duplicate “Sweetest Perfection’s” drum sound with no problem, even though the percussion on this airy song is just slightly in the background of the song. But since the Aerial Acoustics thrive on subtlety, they really brought out the invigorating and palpable crisp tones of the drummer’s driving rhythm of this track.