tube pre & ss amp integrated

Been tooling around youtube , I know but what else is there now ? Very cautious !

Wife has fallen for  Mcintosh MA352 . I must have  tubes some place in there , she likes ss, seems to be the best of both worlds  for us . 

I am wondering what would compete with mac soundwise?

Will be using Klipsch Forte 4's with it .

Thank you and be safe.


The most important consideration is what sound characteristics you’re looking for.  Are you looking for something more neutral or more in the more traditional warmer tube sound?  What other aspects are important to you?

That said, the MA352 puts out 200Wpc and the Forte doesn’t need anywhere near that much power, and you could also save $$$ and maybe even realize better sound quality by going with a lower-powered amp.  Here’s a quote from the review in Stereophile as an example…

The 20Wpc Shindos were easily, profoundly better with the Forte IVs than the solid state amps had been. The life-affirming jazz swing pumping out of the Fortes had more impact, tonal beauty, force, and weight, and the images were larger. I was floored by the wall of sweet-toned sound coming at me like a warm music wave. With the Shindo/Forte IV pairing, all was flesh and blood, texture and tension. Hank Jones's piano glistened, Tony Williams's drums had terrific tone and weight, and Ron Carter's bass was upfront and present—all rich and first-row palpable.

Yeah, but that’s a $15K tube amp!

@jasonbourne52 That wasn’t the point. The point was that the speakers can thrive on 20 Watts of power and 200 Watts is complete overkill.

If it's gotta be SS, and you love the sound of tubes...Pass Labs. With Fortes, lower power, better design makes sense. XA-30 or XA25 would fit the bill. Cheers,


If it were me, I would buy the McIntosh MA252 with the Klipsch Forte 4’s, more then enough power. 😎


Well , thanks for the suggestions !

I realize that I don't need 200 watts of power ,it's the sound .

ditusa ; I have considered that but prefer the extra knobs on the front...

easier when having senior moments don'tcha know !

We have tried the class 'A' thing and it didn't work for us.

The only hybrids that I know of are from Rogue and Primaluna . Both of 

which have the 'new' tube sound that does not work either .I don't want to role dozens of tubes again as with my Primaluna trying to get the classic sound .

Any other suggestions ?


If I was you I’d seriously consider this hybrid Pathos Classic One Mklll. It has that nice warm tube sound and puts out 70Wpc, which is plenty for the Forte.  And it’s also drop-dead gorgeous to look at. Plus, at $3200 it’s less than half the price of the Mac. Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio has taken over US distribution of Pathos, which is nice because he’s a great resource if you ever want to alter the sound at all with some tube rolling. FWIW, and best of luck.

For the MA352 kind of money, I'd much rather go with an Aesthetix Mimas, also hybrid.

Why do you require integrated? Do you rule out a tube preamp feeding a solid state power amp?


ditusa ; the vinni rossi is a bit too much for us , but thanks 

curiousjim ; a bluesound node into a yamaha integrated . This is a simple living room system for everyday use.

We will check out the Aestheics, Pathos and Vincent suggestions in a bit.

Thank you

The MA352 is a nice unit. Owned one myself for awhile. With different speakers, it might have been a keeper. But my speakers present a difficult load, down to 0.6 ohms, and the direct coupled amp in the MA352 wasn't always up to the task. I would not expect you to have that issue with your Klipsch. All that said, McIntosh tubes don't sound like typical tubes. If you haven't heard it yet, you might want to give it a listen with your speakers, if possible, before you commit.

I’ve been working on a Class A SS amp. Plan is to add a tube front end to it in the same chassis. 

Like the idea of a really good one box solution, and have been wanting to have a hybrid integrated.


The Croft Phono Integrated has been on my wishlist for a while. Simple little one box solution. 



I use Vincent pre / power amplifiers, class A up to 10 watts, however they are no longer available.  The hybrid works for me, Unison Research do some nice ones, better than Mac's, IMO.

You might consider one of the Nelson Pass amps. First Watt SIT - 3, or the Pass XA-25. My favorite is the SIT-3. I understand the F-8 is very good also, but don’t own one.

Post removed 

You might want to check out Rogers High Fidelity. Point to point wired, very high quality integrated tube amp made in western MA. They have a “ used” EFH 200 that comes w/ their full lifetime warranty. I think you can demo it too. I have one & love it. Amongst the very best integrateds available w/ 100 watts /channel in full class A & combines tube magic w/ great power & control. Does get a bit hot. 

I’ve heard the MA252 and it doesn’t sound like it has tubes in it even though it looks cool. it’s a fine amp aside, albeit pricey. 

Other options that would sound good and are affordable to modestly pricey are: Rogue Sphinx 3, Marantz Model 30, Pass INT-25 (pricey), Van Alstine Set 120, LTA Z10 are all integrated (1-box solutions) that either have tube hybrid, (no exposed) tubes, or sound warm with tube like qualities. 

I am with @soix . You don't need 200wpc. Also, I have owned a Vincent SV-226 (Now sold as the SV-227, 100wpc) and truly enjoyed it. I also owned a Pathos Model One MKII (Now sold as MKIII, 70wpc).  I believe either would serve your speakers well. I would lean towards the Pathos, having a slightly more refined midrange if not quite the dynamics. IMO the Pathos is a showcase piece.

I have a similar system , MC452 and Klipsch Cornwall IV's. I purchased a MC70 tube preamp used, but fairly new. What a difference, sound staged doubled in size was very happy with the change and sound . I'm sure there are other tube pre's out there that would suffice. I'm a MC. fan and was lucky to come across the MC70 at a good price . I use basic cables Audioquest interconnects and Knukonceptz twisted speaker 14 ga. wire good luck

Wow ! Lots of things to check out . Thanks.

Checked the Pathos today . That is a nice piece although we don't think that it is quite as musical as the mac. But at half the price it could work as a holdover until the macs get going again.

The Aesthetix was nice too but maybe just a touch behind the Pathos. A bit less musical.

Off to the races.


We have the similar system that doesn't need a lot of power to make the speakers sound good. We choose the Audio Note Cobra. Extremely happy!


   Now that one seems a little tough to hear .Good reputation though !

Thank you. 

Forget the Mac. Get one of the lower powered class A Pass amps. They’re in an entirely different league. Then you could even get away with using a nice SS preamp. 

Mac MA252. It is a more complete offering than most of the others mentioned except the Marantz Model 40. If an 'integrated' amp lacks a phono stage, lacks digital inputs, what exactly has it integrated? Analog input switching and a volume control are not enough. 

I have to agree with SBANK...  The Pass-Labs equipment is terrific, powerful in every form, extremely reliable and articulate...  For the Forte's, I believe the XA25 would be your best choice $$$ for $$$.  Check out 6-Moons review.  

Klipsch Forte 4, nice speakers!  That is if you have a large room.   The Klipsch are very effiecient.  Also you need some volume and time to break in a new speaker before they sound their best. The room is very important.

I know it doesn’t have tubes, but you could take a look at the Swedish Moonriver intergraded amp, gets very good reviews

Had an MA252 and hated it. Gone in 6 weeks. Pathos is the way to go. @panzrwagn integration of the power amp and pre amp. Has nothing to do with digital or phono. 


So… why? What character did you not like. Personally I do not like the character of McIntosh stuff… too little detail. Too much bass. But many people love them.

Just wondering why many people recommend low power amps just

because someone currently owns easy to drive speakers.

What if they want new Wilson, B&W, Magico or some other brand of inefficient speaker. The powerful amp that you like will power whatever you buy in the future

Removing the need of replacing something you already own freeing up additional

Cash to get a better what ever speaker.

I see no problem with saki70's plan at all.


There are many ways to dissect the audio component combinations..

There are big sonic advantages to really stiff, hard to move cones…. They snap back quick, being very accurate… these cones can be very well controlled. But, to move the cones, you need massive power. But big amps are expensive and heavy and tend to be less musical.

There are sonic advantages to real low power amps… say a 300B amp. Wonderful warmth and musicality. But their power output is incredibly low. But there is a big limitation on the kind of speakers you can drive with them. You can see my systems under my UserID. I managed to use a 300B amp for my headphones. But to get similar sound with my Sonus Faber tower speakers (90db)… I needed to put a $34K set of tube monoblocks.

Even worse, electrostatic. I fell in love with these in the late ‘70s. But they need enormous power amps. They are really hard to drive. I brought a pair home and they just sucked my power amp dry and sounded terrible. I had to buy a really expensive amp Threshold s500 (solid state)… $5K… $18K in todays money. I couldn’t afford the speakers after getting the amp.


So, folks try and match strengths with strengths. Efficient speakers with low power amps and visa versa. Both strategies have merit.


If you managed to find an easy to drive speaker that you like better than

Your Sonus Faber speakers ( I know not going to happen ) would your

mono blocks not be up to the task of driving them to their full potential? 

In other words I think your system probably would sound great with

The vast majority of quality speakers regardless of cost. 


It depends. I might have invested $10K or more that was unnecessary. With real inefficient speakers I might need more power. If the speakers were really warm the combo might not be ideal.

Also I know my tastes and what equipment sounds like what and which is compatible with what. MacIntosh equipment has a very specific sound type… and improperly matched with equipment / user taste can be very suboptimal.


I have fifty years of relentless learning and experience. For folks with less experience it can be overwhelming and just make things all too confusing to manage. I am trying to guide down a path most likely to result in a very happy owner.


In listening to some of the Pathos gear ...does anyone notice a mild midrange recess ? It seems to be a trait .

In listening to some of the Pathos gear ...does anyone notice a mild midrange recess ? It seems to be a trait .

I would highly doubt that given reviews I’ve read where the mids are an area of strength for the brand.  What speakers was the Pathos paired with?  Something seems off here if recessed mids is what you heard.