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  1. #1
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    MA252 Tube Rolling

    The MA252 is a really good amplifier. It has amazed me how good it feels and it sounds very special. Better then I had expected actually.

    I was wondering if anyone has tried tube rolling in this little integrated? I know from past experiences that rolling tubes in the pre-amps I have had was a more subtle difference then in the power amps, but still, has anyone tried.

    I have been thinking about trying some Gold Lion tubes, both the 12AX7 (ECC83) and the 12AT7 (ECC81). Any thoughts or opinions?
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  2. #2
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I think the Gold Lions are a great idea. Not insanely expensive and easy to get. Definitely better than stock in my opinion.

    I’m so happy you love the MA252. When I got one for my brother, we absolutely fell in love with it. I bet the MA352 is awesome too.

    Enjoy!
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  3. #3
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Hey Joe, thanks for your input.

    Yea, I was looking at the MA352, and besides the price I decided it simply had more than I needed.

    Both the MA252 and MA352 use the same pre-amp section, headphone amp, and phono stage from what I have been able to determine.

    The 352 has twice the power, but for me the 252 has plenty. The 352 has one additional xlr and one additional rca inputs. Nice but the 252 has all I need. The 352 has two sub outputs versus one on the 252. One is fine, certainly for now and probably forever. The 352 does have the nice McIntosh blue meters. That would be nice, but not really necessary, and certainly not for $2500 more . Oh yea, the 352 has the five band eq with the five little knobs on the front versus the 252 having just bass and treble. Ok, great, but I have not used tone controls in, forever... so it again will just look cool, but never be used. I actually like that on the 252 you can turn off the tone controls.
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  4. #4
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I just mentioned the MA352 as an endorsement for others seeing this. There’s a handful of McIntosh gear that is simply outstanding. Those are on the list. As you can tell now with the MA252, well deserved accolades.
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  5. #5
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Quote Originally Posted by joeinid View Post
    I just mentioned the MA352 as an endorsement for others seeing this. There’s a handful of McIntosh gear that is simply outstanding. Those are on the list. As you can tell now with the MA252, well deserved accolades.
    Totally agree, and the MA352 is a gorgeous unit. If I could justify the difference it would be sitting on my shelf. I agree the MA252 and MA352 would definitely deserve to be on the list ...
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  6. #6
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I definitely preferred the Gold Lion 12AX7s over the stock tubes back when I had my C2300 preamp. Like Joe said, they're not all that expensive. Give them a try.
    Rance


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  7. #7
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    What are you hoping to gain by tube rolling?
    More bass, warmer, faster, more detail, more sparkle ???
    While 5751's have a slighly lower gain, they have been superior to 12ax7's in everything that I have tried them in.
    Many flavors available in both the tube families that you have mentioned.
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  8. #8
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I haven't tried tube rolling in mine but I have considered it. It should be interesting to see what you think of the Gold Lions in the 252. When the MA352 came out, I tried to justify trading in my 252 but in the end, I realized that I really don't need any more power or features than I already have.

  9. #9
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I will certainly let you know. I probably won't grab any until I sell some other pieces.
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  10. #10
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I have been reading user's reviews (along with a few publish professional reviews). It seems like a vast majority (like 99 out of 100) people who have listened to this amplifier absolutely love it. Many many people have reported that they looked at the amp and had to have one. Every one seems to report back how much they love their MA252!

    One reviewer was talking about pitting it against his $30,000 Pass pre/amps combo. Obviously the MA252 could not match the Pass, but he was amazed at how good it did. So he had to find integrated amps to compare it against. His buddy had a Luxman so he loaned it to him for a while. Comparing the two, while the Luxman excelled in some areas over all the McIntosh proved itself and he very much preferred it. His wife called it silky smooth. His buddy came over (the Luxman owner) to listen to the Mc and they ended up listening for several hours. He was thoroughly impressed! Of course I am paraphrasing here, not quoting his review .

    The point is that most everything I read, and I am talking A LOT of user reviews, it appears as if people love the MA252!!! I definitely can understand why.
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  11. #11
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    My guess is that I don’t think the MA252/352 have conventional autoformers. I believe this gives them a cleaner sound while retaining most of the classic McIntosh musicality.
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  12. #12
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Ahhhh... makes sense although I do not totally understand autoformers. I do know that the MA252 uses ThermalTrak output transistors which is what T+A uses. I assume the MA352 also uses these.

    I also think the tubes in the pre-amp section adds some warmth, or as the one reviewer wrote, his wife said that amp sounds silky smooth!
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  13. #13

    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Quote Originally Posted by joeinid View Post
    My guess is that I don’t think the MA252/352 have conventional autoformers. I believe this gives them a cleaner sound while retaining most of the classic McIntosh musicality.
    It doesn't.
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  14. #14
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Why not a nos Siemens long plate. Clean, clear, balanced and extended. Or there are Mullards with more mid band rich warmth. Amprex are similar to Siemens. They can be found for $120, if you know where to look.

  15. #15
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I have always liked the Gold Lion's and I have heard that they match McIntosh gear very nicely. Think I will give them a try. I also read the Mullards and Gold Lions are very similar, current ones anyway. Don't think I want to go down the NOS rabbit hole again .
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  16. #16

    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Myers View Post
    I have always liked the Gold Lion's and I have heard that they match McIntosh gear very nicely. Think I will give them a try. I also read the Mullards and Gold Lions are very similar, current ones anyway. Don't think I want to go down the NOS rabbit hole again .
    They should be since they are made in the same factory.
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  17. #17
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I wouldn't go nos with kt88 but you cant beat a good nos12ax7 with New Sensor tubes.

  18. #18
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I decided to try some Gold Lions. I liked Gold Lions in other tube gear that I have had and I have read several threads where people talk about Gold Lion tubes working well with McIntosh equipment. After I get them I'll let you know how they work out.
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  19. #19
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    The Gold Lion tubes arrived. Still amazed at how fast Upscale gets them to me.

    A few albums in. Wow, what a difference. Much more detailed, individual instruments are easy to pick out, air around each instrument, easy to listen to subtle background instruments playing.

    Yet, warmer, smoother. Cat Stevens voice was much less grough, smoother for example. Separation and imaging were nicely improved. Base is tighter. I would say the MA252 improved 3-4 notches, in my view. If you have a MA252 you oh it to yourself to try these Gold Lion gold pin tubes!
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  20. #20
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Randy,

    Tubes need about 50+ hours to break in and settle down. Your sound should improve. Congrats!
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  21. #21
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Yea, I thought that they should improve with a bit of time. But, right out of the box the difference was very noticeable! Your brother needs a set of these tubes! Gold Lions all the way around, all four tubes .
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  22. #22
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Boy, this is some exciting news! Right out of the box they sound better!

    Can you tell us which grade and other options you chose to go with?

    Thanks!

  23. #23
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I got them from Upscale Audio. Shipping to me is ridiculously fast. I decided to get the Gold grade. I did not feel it was worth paying extra for the Platinum grade or "Kevin's Stash" since I believe that is more or less just a money maker for them. I personally believe the gold pin version is important (that is all that Upscale sells, other venders sell a lower variety), especially with the McIntosh since the the tube sockets are also gold receptacles.

    First listen last evening it was an instant noticeable improvement to me. Of course, your mileage may vary. For me it was the largest improvement for dollar spent ever in this crazy hobby!
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  24. #24
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Thanks for the helpful info Randy! Kevin's a great guy to deal with and there's never any pressure at his shop. He'll sit you down to audition something and leave the room until you have to go look for him. I like that.

  25. #25

    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    Hmmm I should try with my MC75s and C2500.
    Is Sophia good I wonder?
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  26. #26
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    Re: MA252 Tube Rolling

    I have heard good things about them. I know many times I have heard people say how satisfied they are with the McIntosh and Golden Lion tube combo.
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