McIntosh MA252 or Pathos Classic One mkIII

Interested in upgrading my Jolida integrated amp. My initial search finds me
attacked to both the McIntosh ma252 and the Pathos Classic One mkIII.
Looking for recommendations and thoughts on these two options.
Thanks in advance.

I have used and heard the 252, it’s very nice.  Didn’t think I would like it but I do.  
I have been using a  Pathos Classic One MKIII for about 10 years now and have found no reason to change, great amp.
Yes sir, I bought it used and emailed the company with the serial number and it was made in December of 2006. I had a MKII for a short time and found the current one and bought it. The original Classic One was made in 1998. Also, if you change your system or room and need more power there is a switch on the bottom to turn it into a mono block. Just get another amp and both can be controlled by one remote.
I would lean toward the McIntosh.  Personal preference though.  I think that Mc is more musical and engaging.  
That’s exactly the size room that the 252 is designed for. I tried a few different brands and the Macintosh stuff has been awesome. It sounds great if there’s a problem to answer the phone when you call. And it holds it’s value very well I bought almost 3/4 of my stuff used and I’ve never had a problem and paid half what retail was
Thanks raysmtb1, I got a Chance to listen to the 252 this afternoon for about 2 hrs. Very impressive, the mids were lush and the imaging was stellar. So I pulled the trigger on a 252 this 
I get back to you on my impressions with my gear.
In case the OP is still in doubt which amp. Today I auditioned the pathos vs MA252 head to head driving Sonus Faber Olympica 2. The MA252 is more muscular amp having better attack, dynamics, decay, grunt and slightly better timbral accuracy. On the other hand Pathos is more refined, more tube like, deeper soundstage but lacks in bass and treble extension when compared to MA252. Think of the McIntosh like a solid state sound while pathos is more tube like. The pathos may sound more compressed when you directly compare to the MA, but in my opinion it's more neutral and you will appreciate more in long term listening sessions. However, Both are great amplifiers, choose what you like most.     

celestial_sound wrote, "The MA252 is [the] more muscular amp having better attack, dynamics, decay, grunt and slightly better timbral accuracy....The Pathos may sound more compressed when you directly compare to the MA, but in my opinion it's more neutral and you will appreciate more in long term listening sessions."

I'm a bit confused, because those two statements seem to be contradictory in terms of neutrality. Isn't "timbral accuracy" the same as neutral? The way the latter sentence is worded, it refers to the Pathos as being more neutral. I'd love celestial_sound to be able to clarify here, if possible.

I'm chiming in personally because I, too, am trying to figure out which of these might be a better purchase. My situation is that there is a MA252 for me to listen to locally, whereas I would need to order a Pathos Classic One from someplace like Upscale Audio with a return provision in order to try them with my speakers. I can bring my speakers to the local emporium to try the MA252 with them.

Interestingly, I initially listened to the MA252 with a larger Harbeth model and it did not sound good. Bass was really weak. The soundstage was both deep and small, and I heard more transient attack than instrumental or vocal body. The whole presentation was fairly top-tilted and somewhat sterile (It's almost like the speaker cables were reversed with the Harbeth, but this was a notable audio emporium, so I'm doubting that.).

Then we swapped in a pair of small Sonus Faber Minima monitor speakers and the presentation couldn't have been different. The midrange was rich and lovely. Deeper bass was still almost non-existent, and even upper bass didn't have a whole lot of power, but what WAS there was very nice. I do plan to bring my own speakers, Castle Edens (moderate sized monitor-sized speakers, 87dB).

I'm replacing my modded original Unison Research Unico hybrid integrated, so I'm hoping for something that will be close in tonality of the Unico, as well as having the relative power it had once modified (by Chris Johnson at the Parts ConneXion). There's not much within my price range that is a tube hybrid integrated. Going full tube would have me worried about maintenance costs down the line, not to mention the added heat which tubes might bring to my small living room from the power amp stage.

One of the reps at Upscale Audio suggested that with my smallish room (about 12'x12'x11'), I should get enough oomph from the bass output of the Classic One MK III, but I do get concerned reading about the lack of taut and musical bass output, and that it's not consistent with the midrange and treble. And a couple of pro reviewers have suggested careful speaker matching is important with the Classic One (and that seems also important with the MA252, given the above listening experience). Yet many seem to like it here, and like it more when bridged mono (Not an option for me, at least for a long time given my budget).

Any thoughts on the above, and comparing these two hybrid integrated amps, and in my situation?


I have owned both of these Integrated's and in my case the MA252 was gone in 45 days.

Pathos was a much better, more articulate and had very responsive bass.

I have long moved past the hybrids and I am 100% tube with a Qualiton X200.

Will never go back.

Have a great day.


So for those who have compared the two and have preferred one over the other, what about what you heard made you prefer one?