I too had lusted after mcintosh gear for atleast the last 10 years and finally 6 months ago bought my first mac amp, an mc452.
there are many reasons i bought it over other amps:
1) power-I never wanted to run out of power. ever. this amp gave me that. the amp can go up to 1800wpc at 2 ohms. I do see the watt meters going up to ~50-60watts when i 'rock out' so its probably overkill--but I only know that because of the meters. i have heard my speakers (B&W 802Diamonds) are faily efficient (compared to past versions) as well as that they are very inefficient compared to other speakers. the manufacturer recommended 500wpc amps so I wanted to get as close to that as my budget allowed. my last amp (90wpc) would get very hot at extended playing at loud levels and would shut down. i never ever wanted that. the mc452 barely gets warm
2) meters-because of my constant worry about above I wanted amps that gave an indication of load. very few amps did this. pass labs was one of them however the amp from pass labs that was off a similar price (x150.5) and in my budget was too big for my rack. didn't want to buy a new rack--i like my rack
. even though pass labs had a power meter, the mcintosh meters are way better looking. call me shallow but looks do matter to me.
3) looks--i cared about the build quality and fit and finish--and nothing came close to the jewerly like looks and dreadnaught like quality of the mac. every thing from the heatsinks along the side to the speaker terminals at the back was just on a different league then anything else in my budget.
4) value--yes i could buy an 8k amp use it for a year or two and sell for 80pc of the price. i could use for 5 years and still get probably 60pc of the price. i could use for 10 years and probably still get 40pc of the price. to me that is real value i.e. you need to factor in depreciation no other brand of amps hold value like mcintosh gear. the above depreciation is the worst case scenario--i take great care of my toys and i would probably get way more then that. if you don't belive me, look at 5-10 or even 20 yrs old mcintosh amps in audigon and compare to their list price. if you buy used, then the equation is even better--you can buy and use for a few years and probably only use 10pc of purchase price!
5) good ole made in USA--i would pay a bit more to get something not made by exploited employees in china. this is a broad generalization but i know it costs more to make something in USA and to me that matters.
6) all amps over 1k sound good and it goes without saying this amp sounds great. does it sound a lot better than a 1k amp? who knows i never did comparisons at home using same speakers/cables/preamp/source. I did compare the mc302 with mc452 and even though i was all set on buying the mc302 ended up getting the mc452 as it seemed to sound a bit better. however, this was the least of my priorities as both amps sounded 'good enough'.
i also knew that if i bought something else i would keep thinking about the mcintosh amp that didn't get. i just had to own one alteast for a while till i tired of it. n