Is there really a difference?

B

Bob257

Audiophyte
I'm still lusting after a McIntosh for some reason. I have the Yamaha a -s801 that produces 100 watts/channel driving my Focal 1028be speakers. The amps I'm considering are the MA-252 and the MA-352. The first puts out the same 100 watts and the second puts out 200 watts/channel. The second has one more analog input and equalization controls plus the famous blue VU meters. My listening is usually low to mid level and classic rock and jazz. Would I benefit from spending twice as much for the 200 watts over the 100? Would it really be different from the Yamaha?
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Very unlikely that the McIntoshes would sound better or different. Doubling of power only results in 3db more loudness.
 
O

Out-Of-Phase

Audioholic Chief
Hello Bob257,

Forget the blue meters, save your money and enjoy the music through your Yamaha.
 
Stevor

Stevor

Audiophyte
I LOVE the look and feel of Mac, always have, that being said, I have honestly never been able to hear a CLEAR difference between amplifiers of similar measurements. I am of the opinion that most, if not all, high end amps and preamps are more about the self satisfaction of being able to acquire equipment that others covet than actual differences in the real world but I still love those lovely blue meters. I just choose to satisfy myself that I’d rather listen to my system rather than gaze at it’s beauty. I do love design just not willing to pay exorbitantly for the privilege.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
I'll be honest, I didn't even look at the McIntosh web pages when I gave me you my answer. My conclusion now that I have is more positive and more negative on them.

For one thing, these are not power amplifiers, they are integrated amplifiers, and just for audiophile chic appeal they have tube pre-amplifier sections. While McIntosh usually does pretty good with tube designs, a tube pre-amp will have a lot more noise and distortion than an IC-based solid state pre-amp. And tube frequency response measurements are often not as good as solid state designs. Are these degradations - and that's what they are - audible? Given we're talking about McIntosh, probably not. But why pay more for worse performance?

I asked that question because I know the answer. These integrated amps look unique, and they're built like jewelry. I get it. I have numerous friends who wear very expensive watches, and even they know they don't tell time any better. They're just jewelry and works of mechanical art, and there's nothing wrong with that. If that's what they and you want, I say go for it.

The amplifier sections do not have the stupid McIntosh output transformers (Autoformers),so output does increase substantially into 4 ohm loads. And in the bass, where the power is needed, the 1028be is really a 4 ohm speaker. The -s801 is weak into 4 ohm loads, rated only at 120 watts/ch, so if you have a large room and play music with a lot of bass loudly you may indeed hear a difference, especially with the MA-352. But if you have a small to medium size room, say 4000 cubic feet or less, you're still unlikely to hear a difference.

If you really want one of the McIntoshes, if you really want them just because they have a cool look and feel, go for it. What we think doesn't matter.

Edit - I misread the Yamaha specs. The 120 watts/ch is into 6 ohms. They're not even rated into 4 ohms. But I'm still not convinced you'll hear a difference.
 
Truthslayer

Truthslayer

Full Audioholic
If your really insistent on spending some bucks. Find a dealer who carries Hegel.
I have a buddy who had recently got the H590, and I can honestly say. It's the first time listening and scrutinizing an integrated, that all I could say was, Perfect. It has now become my goal to get one, but as usual the funds needed just cant be shelled out at this time. I can still dream though.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
If your really insistent on spending some bucks. Find a dealer who carries Hegel.
I have a buddy who had recently got the H590, and I can honestly say. It's the first time listening and scrutinizing an integrated, that all I could say was, Perfect. It has now become my goal to get one, but as usual the funds needed just cant be shelled out at this time. I can still dream though.
I have auditioned quite a few hegel amps, both power amps and integrated amps. They sounded transparent, just like Bryston and Mc's but no better, not audibly. Nor should they, because why? At that kind of price level, I wouldn't want an amp that won't "amp" the input signal faithfully. And if it does, then the job is done, sound quality would then be bottleneck by something upstream, and/or downstream. Before someone (not you, but the usuals..lol....) say something, I am not saying all amps sound and the same, not even close, and no one around here has said such a thing without qualifications iirc..
 
O

Out-Of-Phase

Audioholic Chief
"But, the A-S801 can drive a 4-ohm load with more ease and finesse than most comparably priced multi-channel AV receivers. This is thanks to lots of heat dissipation provided by dual heatsinks (one for each channel),4 output devices per channel to source more current, a large E-Core transformer to supply the necessary power and 2x12,000uF capacitor bank for reserves."

Keep the Yamaha. More bass? Employ a subwoofer.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
"But, the A-S801 can drive a 4-ohm load with more ease and finesse than most comparably priced multi-channel AV receivers. This is thanks to lots of heat dissipation provided by dual heatsinks (one for each channel),4 output devices per channel to source more current, a large E-Core transformer to supply the necessary power and 2x12,000uF capacitor bank for reserves."

Keep the Yamaha. More bass? Employ a subwoofer.
"Reserves"? Capacitor banks in linear power supplies are for power supply DC smoothing, not "reserves". Whoever wrote that doesn't know what they're talking about. Reminds me of Grimsurfer.
 
O

Out-Of-Phase

Audioholic Chief

Gene will love the comparison to Grimsurfer. ;)

 
HTfreak2004

HTfreak2004

Senior Audioholic
I'm still lusting after a McIntosh for some reason. I have the Yamaha a -s801 that produces 100 watts/channel driving my Focal 1028be speakers. The amps I'm considering are the MA-252 and the MA-352. The first puts out the same 100 watts and the second puts out 200 watts/channel. The second has one more analog input and equalization controls plus the famous blue VU meters. My listening is usually low to mid level and classic rock and jazz. Would I benefit from spending twice as much for the 200 watts over the 100? Would it really be different from the Yamaha?
If your current system level matched and calibrated to reference here’s my suggestion.

Put on some music you know well. Turn the volume to -15 from reference. Than -18 or -12.

Now your 3 db either side of -15. If you can notice a difference that’s “worth” doubling your cost over a 3 db gain (barely audible) then it’s your budget!

In reality though instead of worrying over 3 db headroom get a better pair of speakers with higher efficiency and that 3 db won’t even be a thought anymore! ;)
 
Truthslayer

Truthslayer

Full Audioholic
I have auditioned quite a few hegel amps, both power amps and integrated amps. They sounded transparent, just like Bryston and Mc's but no better, not audibly. Nor should they, because why? At that kind of price level, I wouldn't want an amp that won't "amp" the input signal faithfully. And if it does, then the job is done, sound quality would then be bottleneck by something upstream, and/or downstream. Before someone (not you, but the usuals..lol....) say something, I am not saying all amps sound and the same, not even close, and no one around here has said such a thing without qualifications iirc..
I'm jealous, never had much opportunity to get to audition much Hegel gear. I can really only speak about the H590 and I will admit, I wish it was mine. One thing about many amps or integrated's, some seem to either have a roll of in the top end, or seem a little bright, some seem weak on the bass and some have strong bass. Some seem to have a thin sounding midrange, while some have a nice thick rich midrange etc, etc. Yes a lot probably depends on it's gain structure. And while I might not be explaining it very clearly or accurately, the H590 just seemed (to me ) perfect on all accounts. It just seemed to have a near perfect rendition of the recording, while doing so with complete effortlessness. No thought of needing to add some bass or treble. Needless to say, as you can probably gather, i was very impressed. ( ok, now that I have done free advertising for Hegel ;), send me a unit )
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
I'm jealous, never had much opportunity to get to audition much Hegel gear. I can really only speak about the H590 and I will admit, I wish it was mine. One thing about many amps or integrated's, some seem to either have a roll of in the top end, or seem a little bright, some seem weak on the bass and some have strong bass. Some seem to have a thin sounding midrange, while some have a nice thick rich midrange etc, etc. Yes a lot probably depends on it's gain structure. And while I might not be explaining it very clearly or accurately, the H590 just seemed (to me ) perfect on all accounts. It just seemed to have a near perfect rendition of the recording, while doing so with complete effortlessness. No thought of needing to add some bass or treble. Needless to say, as you can probably gather, i was very impressed. ( ok, now that I have done free advertising for Hegel ;), send me a unit )
So how many times are you testing these power and integrated amps with in any meaningful way? Or just your golden ears?
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
"But, the A-S801 can drive a 4-ohm load with more ease and finesse than most comparably priced multi-channel AV receivers. This is thanks to lots of heat dissipation provided by dual heatsinks (one for each channel),4 output devices per channel to source more current, a large E-Core transformer to supply the necessary power and 2x12,000uF capacitor bank for reserves."

Keep the Yamaha. More bass? Employ a subwoofer.
You may be right about it being able to drive 4 ohm load with more ease than comparably priced mch avrs but I don't think the 4 much smaller output devices vs 2 much larger ones in those AVRs is necessarily an advantage. In fact from what I could gather from the datasheet, it looked quite even to me.

I think for someone who only needs 2 channel without sub, the S700+ext dac or S801 would be a better choice than a RX-A1080. Otherwise it would be tough to beat a $599 (or less) AVR-X3500H, or about the same for the AVR-X3600H (currently on sale in Canada for C$799, or US$599) if one doesn't mind using a multi-channel unit and could take advantage of some of the extra functionality. Based on past measurements, the $599 AVR is only a touch less powerful than the A-S801, about 0.8 dB, that's all..
 
Last edited:
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic General
aw, get the Mac, you know you want it !

on a serious note, all good arguments here but as for hearing a difference ?? well given the topology of the Mac vs the Yammie it's possible you would. It would be best if you could audition side by side.
 
Truthslayer

Truthslayer

Full Audioholic
So how many times are you testing these power and integrated amps with in any meaningful way? Or just your golden ears?
The Hegel, just at a buddys house. I have two dealers here I deal with, and one I probably wont deal with much any more. The other, I have know since childhood. And after my service career, he pretty much let me use (audition ) gear for months at a time. Pretty much at my leisure. Sometimes I may only use things for a month or two and some as long as 6 months.
So I got plenty of enjoyment and he got lots of business sent his way. Plus I usually got unheard of deals.
 
HTfreak2004

HTfreak2004

Senior Audioholic
The Hegel, just at a buddys house. I have two dealers here I deal with, and one I probably wont deal with much any more. The other, I have know since childhood. And after my service career, he pretty much let me use (audition ) gear for months at a time. Pretty much at my leisure. Sometimes I may only use things for a month or two and some as long as 6 months.
So I got plenty of enjoyment and he got lots of business sent his way. Plus I usually got unheard of deals.
Wouldn’t :D that be a dream come true! Audition in home speaker setups for a few months and find what works rather than the dealer showrooms!
 

newsletter
  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis
Top