OK, I've finally gotten around to comparing my new McIntosh MC-202 200x2 stereo amp to the Anthem MCA 5 170x5 (200wx2) head to head in my system. Here's details on the amps if you're not familiar with them: MC202 vs.MCA5 First of all, the Mac is really heavy. At 68lbs, its the biggest thing on my rack. It has the classic blue watt meters (can be switched off) and is built very solid and finished well. The first thing I noticed with the Mac is the a tremendously more open soundstage. The sweetspot simply spreads open and extends outwards as well past the boundaries of my NHT 2.9s which I consider a very focused speaker and not as open-sounding as most. As you might guess, the Mac has almost effortless power reserves. This amps definitely loves to be turned up and get going to experience its potential. Since the watt meters are very accurate, I could see that moderately loud passages would peak at 20-50 watts. I don't know how in the world you could stand it should the watt meters hit their 200w mark! Another thing I noticed is that I had to recalibrate speaker levels for 5.1 sound. Although I knew this would happen getting a more powerful amp, it turned out that the Mac was putting out less volume than the Anthem and I had to bump levels up by 3 dB for the Left & Right for 5.1 playback. Odd, but this may have to do with the way I connected the Mac. Many McIntosh amps are rated to deliver their consistant watt ratings into 2/4/8 ohm loads. Since my speakers are nominally rated at 6 ohms, I chose to wire the Mac up for a 4 ohm load. By using the black "common" ground for speaker hook-up, you choose your red lead to go to a 2, 4, or 8 ohm terminal on the back. I spoke with McIntosh regarding this, and their theory was for a 6 ohm speaker, you can get more power with the 8 ohm connection, and likely more bass, but the amp would run cooler and work less hard with the 4 ohm connection. Sound right? The Anthem has been a great amp and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. In comparision, I'd say the Anthem is a bit "harder" sounding and the Mac just seems to breathe more with music. I really feel the Mac is letting me get 100% of the sound the NHT 2.9s are capable of. I'm not going to say adding the dedicated 2 channel amp improved things dramatically, but at this stage, I don't know of anything regardless of price that is going to make a night and day difference for stereo listening (other than new speakers ) With a 2 channel amp and continued use the Anthem, I have the perfect amplification set-up for 7.1, as well as getting the most from 2 channel listening.