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This review first appeared in the February 2014 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of McIntosh
in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or McIntosh - Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Analog: VPI Scout II, VPI JMW 9T, Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, Shelter 201, Zu Audio DL-103, BMC Audio MCCI, SAC Gamma Sym
Digital: Luxman D-05, Logitech Touch, Readynas Duo NAS-Server, HP Notebook, M2Tech Hiface, Benchmark DAC1 USB
Preamp: Octave HP300 with MC phono
Integrated amp: Denon PMA-2010AE
Power amps: Musical Fidelity M8 700m
Loudspeakers: Dynamikks Monitor 8.12, Thiel SCS4
Equipment rack: Creaktiv Trend 3
Power delivery: fis Audio filter, power bar and power cords
Interconnects: Ecosse, Vovox, Mundorf Cable
Speaker cables: Ascendo tri-wire set, Dynamikks Speakerlink, Ecosse ES 2.3, Zu Audio Libtec
Review component retail in Europe: €5'500

Small or Big Mac? Even with packaging learning never quits. As soon as I got ready to lift today's small new McIntosh MA5200AC integrated out of its shipping carton, the cardboard base followed suit. Shaking didn't help. The thing came with. Strange. I eventually figured it out. Our Yankees had bolted an MDF base sized perfectly to fit the box to their amp. That was news but effective since it really did prevent any internal displacement during transport.

But small our bad boy wasn't. Quite the opposite. At 48 x 15.1 x 44.3cm WxHxD its depth exceeds many a competitor and even width gets a bit more. 17 kilos of fighting weight won't bother anyone whilst €5'500 to enter the world of McIntosh amps could perhaps. That depends of course. Price is always relative. Only after an audition do we appreciate whether a component is worth its sticker or not.

On design the MA5200 is Mac to the bone. The gleaming black fascia stares at us with two blue eyes and the logo shines a proud green. Should you wonder why the display below it runs a different shade of green, the predictable answer is "we've done so for decades and now it's a matter of cult!" Which aren't porkies. Few brands are this associated with a trademark look to rule out any and all modernizing facelifts. Workmanship struck me as fine but I would call it very American – solid yet far from subtle. I was a bit surprised by the left and right level and source selectors. For my tastes those could run with more resistive class. Even though it's no technical or functional concern, it would promote the illusion of luxury better.

These controls don't just turn by the way, they can be pressed or clicked to enter and navigate the user menu. Here items like home-theatre throughput or coax/optical S/PDIF inputs may be activated. Yes, you've read that right, the McIntosh MA5200 arrives with a built-in DAC. Cool, uh? Aside from the ubiquitous Windows driver, USB creates instant access to this converter whilst the S/PDIF options await Prince Charming's waking kiss. For each such activating menu smoocher one of the five line-level inputs (4x RCA, 1 x XLR or RCA) gets deactivated. To complete our socketry options there's MM phono and a pre-out/main-out loop with stock metal jumpers plus a 6.3mm headfi port on the front. The speaker terminals are standard not multi-tapped.