Stereo power amplifier
Our take on the McIntosh MC152 by Crutchfield's Steve Kindig
An amplifier that blends power and precision
The sonic character of a world-class amplifier like the McIntosh MC152 is often described as an "iron fist in a velvet glove." That requires an amp to have a robust, regulated power supply to tightly control the movement of a speaker's drivers — crucial for tight, accurate bass. It must also be able to react with lightning speed to changes in the music signal. The MC152 delivers all the bass slam you could ask for, serving as the foundation of its big, detailed, involving sound. If you're wondering, "Yeah, but will it rock?" The answer is, "Definitely!" The Grateful Dead's famous Wall of Sound PA system was powered by McIntosh amplifiers.
In addition to state-of-the-art sound quality, this amp stands out from the crowd of generic black boxes with those iconic blue McIntosh power meters.
Inside the classic McIntosh sound
The MC152's speaker connections include taps for 8-, 4-, and 2-ohm speakers, for compatibility with demanding speakers, like many electrostatic models.
The MC152 delivers the effortlessly smooth, warm, non-fatiguing sound that McIntosh amplifiers are known for. One reason is the company's patented output Autoformers. These special output transformers ensure that the MC152 will deliver its full rated power — 150 watts per channel — into any speaker load.
The amp's back panel looks decidedly different than that of most stereo amps, with dedicated connections for speaker impedances of 8, 4, or 2 ohms. It's an expensive way to build an amp, but it means that even exotic, difficult-to-drive high-end speakers will provide optimum sound quality when paired with the MC152.
This amp also employs Power Guard, a waveform comparison circuit that continuously monitors both input and output signals. Power Guard dynamically adjusts the input level to prevent clipping and harsh-sounding distortion.
Praise for the McIntosh MC152 from Hi-Fi World
"It was the combination of power, control and overall coherence that made the McIntosh work so well with seemingly all musical genres… It can be subtle and fleet-of-foot when needed — yet is just at home pounding out deep bass lines, crashing guitar chords or orchestral crescendos. Not just a cut-down version of McIntosh's bigger power amplifiers but a great performer in its own right." Awarded 5 out of 5 globes.
— From Jon Myles' October, 2015 review at hi-fiworld.com
Read the full review
Achieve sonic synergy with a McIntosh preamp
The MC152's clean, dynamic sound will add impact and presence when used with any preamplifier. Of course, an ideal match would be to pair the MC152 with one of McIntosh's preamps — either the digital D150 or the analog/digital C47.
A world-famous audio heritage, made in America
Since its founding in 1949, McIntosh has defined the meaning of high-quality sound reproduction, while setting industry standards for superior performance and reliability. The company is based in Binghamton, New York, where its high-end components and speakers are still individually handcrafted by a team of skilled experts. This uncompromising dedication to quality has made McIntosh one of the most recognized and respected audio manufacturers in the world.
- 150 watts per channel into 8, 4, or 2 ohms, for compatibility with even difficult-to-drive speakers
- stereo balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs
- push-pull complementary Class AB design for signal purity, low crossover distortion, and improved efficiency
- oversized power transformer and extra-large capacitors for stable, noise-free operation
- patented McIntosh output Autoformers ensure every connected speaker receives full power regardless of its impedance
- ThermalTrak output transistors for lower distortion and cool operation
- Power Guard continuously monitors both input and output signals and dynamically adjusts the input level to prevent distortion and clipping
- gold-plated binding post terminals accept bare wire, banana plugs, and spade lugs
- Power Control in/out jacks for use with compatible McIntosh components
- fiber optic illuminated glass front panel
- detachable power cord
- handcrafted at McIntosh's Binghamton, New York factory
- total harmonic distortion: 0.005% at 20-20,000 Hz
- signal-to-noise ratio: 118 dB balanced, 115 dB unbalanced
- frequency response: 10-100,000 Hz (+0, -3dB)
- 17-1/2"W x 6"H x 21"D
- weight: 75 lbs.
- warranty: 3 years
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
What's in the Box:
- Stereo power amplifier
- 6' AC power cord
- Owner's Manual
Always wanted one of these bad boys and finally did it. No regrets, this thing is sweet!
Bryan, Eugene, OR
McIntosh MC152 Reviews
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Features and Specs
|Number of Channels||2|
|Power Output per Channel (8 ohms)||150|
|Power Output per Channel (6 ohms)||---|
|Power Output per Channel (4 ohms)||150|
|Bridged Power per Channel||---|
|Parts Warranty||3 Years|
|Labor Warranty||3 Years|
|Inputs & Outputs|
|Number of Inputs||2|
150W Per Channel Stereo Power Amp w/ Balanced Push-Pull Design: The McIntosh MC152 is solid state stereo amplifier that delivers 150 watts of power into two channels at 2, 4, or 8Ω with less than 0.005% distortion for all frequencies from 20Hz to 20,000Hz. The McIntosh MC152 stereo power amp utilizes a Balanced Push-Pull design from input to output stage. Each channel of the amplifier also contains complimentary balanced circuitry. As a result, the MC152 delivers dynamic sound with low distortion, high efficiency, and high output power.
Exclusive McIntosh Power Assurance System: The McIntosh MC152 employs a collection of technologies that enhance performance and reliability while protecting the amplifier and loudspeakers.
- Output Autoformers: McIntosh output Autoformers ensure every connected speaker receives full power regardless of its impedance. This unique patented McIntosh technology delivers the full-rated amplifier output with the least possible distortion into loudspeaker impedances of 2, 4, or 8Ω; you get all the power you paid for and the freedom to choose any loudspeaker. The Autoformers also provide perfect DC protection for your valuable loudspeakers.
- Power Guard + Power Meters: Power Guard is waveform comparison circuit continuously monitors both input and output signals. Power Guard dynamically adjusts the input level to avoid clipping while preventing harsh sounding distortion. The amp's front-panel LED indicator will flash when Power Guard is activated. The Illuminated power output watt meters on the MC152 are peak responding, and indicates the power output of the amplifier.
- Sentry Monitor: McIntosh Sentry Monitor power output stage protection circuits ensure the MC152 will have a long and trouble-free operating life. Sentry Monitor is a fuse-less short-circuit protection circuit that disengages the output stage before current exceeds safe operating level; resets automatically.
- ThermalTrak & Thermal Protection: The power amplifier uses ThermalTrak output transistors for lower distortion and cool operation. Built-in thermal protection circuits guard against overheating.
Classic McIntosh Design & Specially Designed Power Supply: The MC152 stereo amplifier incorporates classic McIntosh design cues, including a black glass front-panel, rotary knobs, brushed aluminum end-caps, illuminated logo, and a power output watt meter. An oversized power transformer and extra-large capacitors ensure stable noise free operation.
Balanced & Unbalanced Analog Inputs: The McIntosh MC152 amplifier is equipped with one balanced stereo XLR input and one unbalanced stereo RCA input. Balanced connections guard against induced noise and allow long cable runs without compromising sound quality. There is a switch on the back of the amp that allows you to select between the balanced & unbalanced inputs.
Gold-Plated, Binding Post Terminals: McIntosh Patented gold-plated, binding-post speaker terminals deliver high current output to a single pair of loudspeakers. They accept large diameter wire (up to 10AWG), banana plugs (single only), and spade lugs. The power amp's Left & Right speaker channels have separate Positive (+) binding-post terminals, labeled "2Ω"/ "4Ω" / "8Ω". Each Left & Right speaker channel has only one Negative (-) binding-post terminal that is shared ("common") between the positive terminals.
Note: You can connect a single pair of loudspeakers to the Left & Right Positive (+) binding-post terminals along with the shared ground terminals, for a total of three pair of loudspeakers. Make sure the speakers ohm rating matches up with the terminals ohm rating. If you have 6Ω speakers, use the 4Ω output terminals.
Power Control In/Out: The MC152's Power Control Input (3.5mm) receives an On/Off signal from +5 to +12 volts when connected to a McIntosh component. The amplifier's Power Control Output (3.5mm) will in turn provide a +12 volt Output Signal with a total current up to 50mA to turn On/Off a connected McIntosh component.
AC Power Cord + Auto Power Off: The McIntosh MC152 power amp has a detachable AC power cord with 3-pole IEC connector. The MC152 incorporates an Auto Off feature, which automatically places the amplifier into the Power Saving Standby/Off Mode after approximately 30 minutes of no audio signal.
Mounting Options: The McIntosh MC152 can be placed upright on a table or shelf, standing on its four feet. It also can be custom installed in a piece of furniture or cabinet of your choice. The four feet may be removed from the bottom of the MC152 when it is custom installed. Always provide adequate ventilation for your MC152. Allow at least 2" above the top, 2" below the bottom, and 2" on each side of the amplifier, so that airflow is not obstructed.
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Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs
by Video Team
The MC152 stereo power amplifier gives you the warm sound you'd expect from McIntosh, and the amp's output transformer delivers its full rated power to any speaker.
Why did you buy this?
Incredible quality. I've always wanted McIntosh components [ Will Apr 19, 2017 ]
3 questions already asked
Hi James, unfortunately there are no output trims on the c47 to adjust levels between output 1 front and output 2 rear (otherwise known as 2nd room). likewise the mc125 does not have input trims. The c47 is a stereo preamp, not a quadraphonic or surround preamp. Personally I prefer to run all 4 channels at the same level, but I suppose this is highly dependent on your listening room. You may need to build an attenuator for one of the outputs. However this may contaminate the purity of the signal, so be careful. [ Marc Mar 31, 2018 ]
Just wondering why you think having separate amps is the best route I run a pair of Klipschorns (15" woofers) with 1 About all I know other than before purchasing my Mac [ Timothy Mar 29, 2018 ]
All McIntosh amplifiers have 2, 4 and 8 ohms outputs. Connecting your speakers to the 4 ohm tap will be OK. [ Alberto May 27, 2017 ]
You need to check with Crutchfield tech or mac to hook up this massive powerhouse of exquisite beauty [ GALEN May 27, 2017 ]
On page 9 of the owner's manual it states: "If the Loudspeaker's impedance is in-between the available connections, use the nearest lower impedance connection." [ Will May 27, 2017 ]
No. it has balanced and no balanced inputs but it is not a fully balanced design. [ Alberto Feb 06, 2017 ]
I'm not sure what you mean by fully balanced, but it was the right decision for me. I bought the MC152 along with the C47 digital/analog PreAmp so I could play both my analog music (albums) and take advantage of the newer hi-resolution digital music. It was a perfect match for me. The MC152 offers me 150 watts per channel which is more than enough for the room that I placed it in and the quality of music is excellent! Crutchfield was very helpful by answering all my questions and arranging for shipment. I have lifetime tech support through them as well. I couldn't have gotten a better deal anywhere. [ Thomas Feb 06, 2017 ]
There are balanced and unbalanced inputs, but you cannot use them both at the same time. So, basically, yes: if you select the balanced inputs, it's fully balanced. [ James Feb 06, 2017 ]