MCINTOSH ANNOUNCES MA352, ITS SECOND HYBRID INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER
McIntosh has added a second model to its MA series of integrated amplifiers, and it's called the MA352 and is destined for Australian retailers later this year.
The inaugural MA series model released at the end of last year was the MA252. It proved to be a significant model because in retrospect, it was McIntosh's first hybrid amplifier and, it clearly presaged the brand's intention to extend the MA series with more powerful hybrids.
We knew back in November 2018, when we first wrote about the sumptuous looking MA252 that sooner rather than later McIntosh would up the ante and release a more powerful valve and solid-state integrated amplifier.
With the arrival of the MA352, McIntosh's future direction is all but assured: we'll see more hybrids and each more powerful than the models preceding them.
And powerful is the word that's bound to be chosen to describe McIntosh's hybrids. The previously released MA252 is rated at 100 watts per channel, while the MA352 doubles this amount of output power.
If and when future hybrids get added to the MA series, one thing won't change: each model, like this new MA352, will be hybrids using valves at the preamplifier stage and solid-state at the output stage.
The valves chosen for the MA352 are two 12AX7As and two 12AT7s. Interestingly McIntosh could have gone with the more popular 6922 input valve or even the 6H30 favoured by its cross-country rival, Audio Research.
But it did not.
The 12AX7 and 12AT7 are as far as valves go, a safe pair of hands. They've been used in valve circuits for much more than half a century. Moreover, they're plentiful and affordable if you stick to the vast inventory of 12A7 and 12AT7 valves made in Europe.
Point is, the valve quartet lighting up the top front of the MA352 should last up to 1200-2000 hours because the way McIntosh has implemented them into the MA352's circuit, means they're not being driven hard.
When it comes time to have them replaced the total cost will be under $100. Yet another reason why McIntosh will press on with hybrid amplifiers.
Stylistically, you'd know the MA352 is a McIntosh model even if one were made without the name on the side of the black and chrome chassis.
McIntosh is one of a handful of brands that have managed to make styling as much as a logo as the brand name. Think of Sonus faber speakers and you instantly also think of its lute shaped cabinets.
Starting from the set of large, circular, rotary dials on the front of its superbly finished yet rugged chrome and black chassis speak about reliability and a sound quality befitting its Cadillac class of design and manufacture.
Feature-wise, the MA352 will provide 320 watts per channel to owners with speakers having an average 4-ohm load or 200 watts per channel for speakers with an average 8-ohm load.
While the MA352 won't create any new records for its number of connection options, what it does have pretty much covers what an average music lover needs.
There are two balanced and three unbalanced inputs, along with a built-in moving magnet phono stage. The latter does have adjustable loading, but this doesn't make up for McIntosh's omission of a built-in moving coil cartridge stage.
Elsewhere, the MA252 has a stereo pre output connection that can be used to drive another amplifier or connect to a single or a pair of self-powered subwoofers.
McIntosh loves to give its new amplifiers all of its latest and greatest patented technologies. There are plenty built into the MA352 which receives Power Guard, Sentry Monitor, High Drive headphone amplifier with Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD), 5-band analogue tone control, Home Theatre Pass-Through, Power Control and Data Ports.
While all of the above is sure to please some categories of the MA352's owners, most will wisely focus on the MA352's high-end sound quality, and if they're honest, on their good fortune to possess an amplifier that they'll still be enjoying twenty years hence.
Available later this year, the McIntosh MA352 will sell for $12,995 RRP. New Zealand pricing and availability is not yet known.
For more information, visit McIntosh.
One of the veterans of the Australian HiFi industry, Peter was formerly the Audio-Video Editor of the Herald Sun for over two decades. One of the most-respected audio journalists in Australia, Peter brings his unparalleled experience and a unique story-telling ability to StereoNET.