McIntosh MC 452 – High End Stereo Equipment We Buy

McIntosh is one of the most dependable brand names when it comes to high-end audio systems. For years the brand has been recognized by audiophiles throughout the world as equipment that delivers clear and consistent quality in music. McIntosh is probably best known for its amplifiers and preamps, but the company produces many other components and parts for stereo and home theatre.

What are the specs for the McIntosh MC 452?

Power Output per Channel:
450 Watts @ 2, 4 or 8 Ohms
Number of Channels:
2
Total Harmonic Distortion:
0.005%
S/N below rated output:
122dB
Dynamic Headroom:
1.8dB
Damping Factor:
>40 Wideband
Rated Power Band:
20Hz to 20kHz
Frequency Response:
+0, -0.25dB from 20Hz to 20,000Hz, +0, -3.0dB from 10Hz to 100,000Hz Dimensions (W x H x D), 17-1/2"" (44.45cm) x 9-7/16"" (23.97cm) (including feet) x 22"" (55.88cm) (including front panel, handles and cables)
Weight:
110 lbs (49.9 kg)
Shipping Weight:
143 lbs (64.9 kg)

What else to know about the McIntosh MC 452?

"Two words: fast and smooth. The latter is probably somewhat predictable, the former definitely not. Nonetheless, those were the words that came to mind after my first hours of listening to the MC452 in my system. I’m not sure if the new ThermalTrak transistors account for a sense of speed that I’d never heard from a McIntosh amplifier before, or if the Mac Labs engineers have successfully refined the circuitry in some other way, but the MC452’s sound was the antithesis of tubby and slow. It was as deft and agile in my system as an elite athlete at the NFL Combine. But don’t think Spectral-fast here -- for better or worse, depending on your perspective, the MC452 didn’t have that type of sound -- but it was quick and responsive, precisely tracking micro- and macrodynamic swings. In that respect, it did not in the least sound “tube-like” (as some call it).

It was also smooth as silk throughout the entire audioband. I had the MC452 paired with a set of the original EgglestonWorks Andra loudspeakers, which are known as smooth operators -- more so than the resolution monsters I’ve had in the Music Vault the past few years. Still, that Dynaudio Esotar tweeter in the Eggs is a very revealing drive-unit that can fully expose a strident-sounding amp. But no matter what type of music I threw at it, I could never get the MC452 to sound strident or stressed. I could still hear the flaws in bad recordings, but I had to be deliberately listening for the tiniest of these details to make them register in my mind as flaws. What I heard with the best recordings was at once detailed and smooth, never icy or sterile or hyper-revealing. For instance, Ola Gjeilo’s acoustic piano in his “North Country II” (TWBAS 2012 Hi-Rez Demo, 24-bit/176.4kHz FLAC, 2L/SoundStage! Recordings), was at once beautiful in tone and smoothly rendered, but I could also hear deep into the soundstage. When the other instruments enter, the MC452 kept all the players distinct and delineated in a purposeful manner. The MC452’s sound is a really nice balance of detail and smoothness that I think will suit most loudspeakers well.

Speaking of suiting most loudspeakers, the MC452’s power rating of 450Wpc should be taken very seriously. I could never stress the MC452, no matter how loud I played my music. McIntosh makes monoblocks rated to deliver more than three times the MC452’s power output, but it’s hard to imagine needing more watts than the MC452 can produce -- unless you have the biggest speakers in the biggest room. With the Andras in my 23’6”W x 20’1”L x 9’H listening room, I never reached the MC452’s power-output limits. In fact, rarely did I see its meters (when set to Hold) move past the 45Wpc output level -- a mere 10% of the amp’s continuous power rating! The MC452’s power-producing capability really seems to be in the super-amp category. For a reviewer like me, it’s a joy to have on hand an amplifier that can squeeze out so much clean juice. For the great majority of audio systems, I can’t imagine the MC452 being a limiting factor.

The control the MC452 exercised over the Andras’ bass was just short of the iron-fisted variety you might hear from a much-more-expensive Gryphon or Vitus amp. Then again, the Andra’s bass reproduction is slightly more round and plummy than that of, say, a Rockport Technologies speaker. So that was a bit hard for me to judge. There was never any truncation of bass depth, however, and that made for a powerful sound. There were times when the MC452 astounded me with the way it made my music sound huge and enveloping, fully pressurizing my room for sustained periods. I never tired of listening to large-scale music or bass-laden tracks. For instance, “Low,” from solo electric bassist Jonas Hellborg’s The Silent Life (16/44.1 ALAC, Day Eight Music), was visceral and room-flexing, and at the same time deftly agile and textured. The bass wasn’t overdamped, but full of expression and feeling. I could easily hear the sonic fluctuations of Hellborg’s bass.

I mentioned that the MC452 could sound big and powerful, mimicking the way it will look sitting between your speakers. It could also pinpoint a lead female singer on the soundstage as well as almost anything I’ve had in my system. But I wouldn’t call the MC452 hyper-precise; again, it struck a nicely balanced perspective in most sonic parameters on which audiophiles might judge it. But don’t mistake that balance for ambiguity, or detail gone missing in action. The MC452 wasn’t a laser pointer, but it let me map the soundstage with large, round images." - SoundStage Ultra: Performance

Brief History of McIntosh

Long mapped-to Binghamton New York – the current headquarters and manufacturing center for McIntosh Labs – not many people know the brand was originally launched outside of the Nation’s Capital in Silver Spring Maryland, in 1949. In 1956, the brand built their original facility in New York, according to the official brand website.

Other McIntosh Products We Often Buy

Typically, StereoBuyers purchases mostly used amplifiers, especially the vintage amps and high-end McIntosh models such as the MC202 or MC252, and the C220 preamp, for example. We have also purchased many pre-owned tuners from McIntosh over the recent years, including the MR67 and MR78 models, for example.

StereoBuyers has purchased tens of thousands worth McIntosh brand equipment since 2014, with individual buys ranging from $100 to well over $50,000. If you are moving, ready to upgrade, or have McIntosh equipment you do not or will not be using, why not contact us today to find out if it is worth good money?

If you are interested in selling your used McIntosh equipment to us in the greater NYC area or Colorado, please click here to fill out a Free Quote Form and we will get back to you. If we agree on terms, we come to meet you where you want, and pay cash.

The following images show actual McIntosh equipment purchased by StereoBuyers.