Looking for a McIntosh amp that gives a great example of the “McIntosh Sound”

What is a good vintage or newer amp that has that “McIntosh sound” everyone loves.  My budget is $3k and I want to stay solid state.  I don’t want to debate McIntosh, I am looking specifically for McIntosh.  The amp will be powering JM Lab Mini Utopias.


I recommend the Mc152 which I’ve owned for about 8 years. It definitely has the McIntosh house sound: smooth, good sound stage depth and width, nice imaging, a touch of warmth and always listenable even with a mediocre recording. It sounds very much like my mc402.

I personally have found that the Hegel preamps do better with these Mac power amps than the Mac C47.

I add that the newer quad balanced amps (from 2004 or so) in my view are superior to the 30+ old vintage  ones, which could sound a touch muddy. I owned a 2505. Obosolete.

I've had a dozen McIntosh amps.  I kept the MC152 and MC240.  Even the MC452 wasn't as good as the MC152 - the 152 is really special.  But, if you want the classic McIntosh sound, I don't recommend the ThermalTrak BJT output transistor amps, which includes everything available today going back to the MC402/MA6300 I believe.  The MC352 has the old transistor topology that has that warm creamy sound, but the MC202 sounds even better.  The ThermalTraks have much more of the modern hifi sound than the older amps.  Downside of the MC352/MC202 is that their front panel still uses troublesome bulbs instead of LEDs.

The newer macs do not have the old sound.  They still sound awesome but are more detailed and less bass warmth as witnessed by my MC312.  

The mc252 has the old sound, probably others but that one i can confirm.  


For half the year I get by with a heavily modified 1961 M240… which i witnessed coming in the door circa 1965…

In solid state, i like the MC202… won’t require back surgery or a boy Friday to move…. get the rice grain to led upgrade and as others said… many but not all roads lead to Audio Classics…