|McIntosh MC252 Power Amplifier|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Stereo Amplifiers|
|Written by Robert Mead|
|Monday, 09 March 2009|
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The most popular song in Depeche Mode’s entire career, “Personal Jesus” pounded out from the Aerial Acoustics loudspeakers next with a precision and clarity that I had never heard before when listening to this synth-driven power song. Gore’s vocals popped with a cadence and vocal structure that was sent out to the speakers with exceptional gritty fervor. If there were any “hiccups” in the sound engineering of this song, the Aerial Acoustics would have highlighted them with clarity, but I could not discern any minor or major lapses in sonic displacement in the song “Personal Jesus.” A true test for any power amplifier worth its salt is to experiment with sound placement by moving around the room that you are in and seeing if the audio follows you or if it only has one truly “sweet spot” that cannot be easily reproduced. I did just that during this song, and the sound not only followed me to the right corner of the room, it actually sounded more fully solid there than where I was sitting for the last ten minutes of the audio demonstration, another solid sign that the MC252 could deliver power where it’s needed the most, in the entire soundstage of the listening room, not just one or two spots.
To experience the full depth of the MC252’s power, and to witness just how the entire audio system I was listening to would handle a variation of jazz vocals, deep acoustic bass tones and piano, I loaded up Diana Krall’s 1999 release on Impulse! Records entitled “When I Look into Your Eyes.” I skipped to a bouncy jazz number entitled “Popsicle Toes.” This was an excellent song to sample as it highlighted the pure warmth of the MC252, along with the mid-range nuances that the Aerial Acoustics loudspeakers brought into the audio experience. The acoustic bass melody really sprang to life during this song, and you could actually hear the bass player’s fingers snapping against the taut bass strings as the piano player began adding his flourishes to the snappy tune. The main elements that distinguish the MC252 power amplifiers from other power amps in the same price range, is the ability the MC252 has in delivering a much more “natural” sound to music CD’s such as Diana Krall’s 1999 album, as well as bringing the high end of her vocals to new sonic heights without any sound blur or coarse harmonics. The next song up was a very laid-back and slow building tune called “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” I was able to discern how this audio system sounded during the quietist parts of this song and how the MC252 amplifier would convey the emptiness of sound when there was a break in the vocals. The amplifier did a stellar job of eliminating any kind of noise at all during the silent parts, and delivered the perfect touch when it came to allowing the orchestration of this quiet piece to overwhelm the song when needed, but with a laid-back kind of smoothness that was never crude sounding.
While the MC252 brought a natural kind of warm sound to the audio system, it also delivers a bright kind of clarity to the audio configuration that might prove too overwhelming to an audio system that’s not set up with loudspeakers that can handle the range delivered to the speaker’s tweeters. Even though the MC252 did a good job at sending quality mid range and treble tones to the loudspeakers, the bass was just a tad too light for my tastes. Your subwoofer that is currently integrated into your own audio system should be the right match for this power amplifier, otherwise you might be disappointed by the less than stellar low end that the MC252 powers out.
Another negative aspect of this power amplifier is its sheer size and weight. At 95 pounds and standing at ten inches tall and 15 inches wide, your audio rack must be customized to handle such a formidable unit and you really need to use the most reliable and expensive cable wire to get the most clean and concise power from the MC252..
Suffice it to say that the McIntosh MC252 Two-Channel power amplifier does not disappoint when it comes to supplying the exact amount of power needed to drive any high-end audio system on the market today. The amp’s ability to reproduce the full audio spectrum when it comes to intricate musical displays of jazz vocals or the much more electronically-inclined music of synth bands from the 1980’s, you cannot really go wrong by purchasing one of these amplifiers for your own sound system. The engineers at McIntosh have outdone themselves by implementing several new selling points in the design of the MC252, including the exclusive power guard system which protects your loudspeakers and audio system by adjusting the input level at all times, which prevents clipping and sudden drops in sound clarity.
You must have a really good idea if your system at home would be a perfect match for the MC252 before purchasing one. This amplifier has a substantial ability to drive mid-range sounds to any pair of loudspeakers that need it, but since the low-end suffers a bit, I would highly recommend that your audio system features a very fatty subwoofer so that you can still get the low-end signals that you really need, while at the same time you are upgrading your high-end so much that even the old music CD’s you have in your vast musical collection sounds as fresh as the day you bought them. And if you are a genuine fan of the McIntosh label, you will not be disappointed in purchasing at least one of the MC252’s for your system.
Special thanks goes to Premiere Home Entertainment, a Las Vegas based home entertainment company specializing in the design and installation of home theater, home automation, and home integration systems. They are located at 2300 N. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 119 in Las Vegas.