Blu-ray Players

McIntosh MVP881 Universal Blu-ray Player


Design And Setup

The UPS delivery guy was quite impressed to see a piece of McIntosh gear arriving at my house. When I said the massive box he had lugged up the stairs was a Blu-ray player and not an amplifier, he was astonished. The MVP881 is the largest, and heaviest, Blu-ray player that I have used, tipping the scales at over 26 lbs. and over 40 lbs. shipped. As soon as you look at the front panel, you will not mistake it for any other brand. Easily the best looking player I’ve had in my equipment rack, the MVP881 has the classic McIntosh styling with a green logo, blue accents, and that flat, glass black front.

The rear of the player contains virtually any connection you might need for your system: dual HDMI outputs, 7.1 multichannel outputs, separate RCA and Balanced stereo outputs, optical and coaxial audio, Ethernet, RS-232, even 12V and IR inputs. As you’d expect for something of this level, everything is gold plated and incredibly solid. There is also a rather large exhaust fan on the right side of the rear, but I never heard it during use, and since a larger fan can spin slower and more quietly than a smaller fan to move as much air, I imagine it will be quiet for most users as well.

The front panel has the user controls for playback, as well as HDMI options, and an SD card slot. The card slot can be used for playback of audio or picture files, but also must be used with the enclosed SD card to support BD Live. It’s really unfortunate that a player shipping now goes this route instead of having the memory built onto the board, or at least has an alternate slot in the rear for BD Live, leaving the front SD slot open for media. The front controls were a bit strange in that the Open/Close button was next to the Power button, not next to the drive tray as you would expect. Also the HDMI options being set by buttons on the front of the player instead of in the menu system was a bit different than usual, and was a little bit confusing at first.

Setup of the MVP881 was fairly straight forward as it is for most players now. I did hook up both the unbalanced and balanced analog outputs in addition to the HDMI output since the analog section is one of the main highlights of the McIntosh player. The settings in the menus let me assign different colorspaces to each of the HDMI outputs, which was a nice feature to have. Unfortunately, other settings that you would expect to find for those HDMI outputs, like resolution, are adjusted by using the buttons on the front of the unit. Separating out these options, without much reasoning behind why, makes for a bit of a confusing experience. The colorspace option also only mentions “YCbCr” and not which format it uses, but my testing found that it’s 4:4:4 and not 4:2:2.

I didn’t utilize the 7.1 analog outputs from the MVP881 as I prefer to use Audyssey room correction on my multichannel sources, and my processor does not do A-D conversion on the multichannel input. However, the MVP881 does feature full bass management for all 7.1 channels over analog outputs for those people using it in an all-analog system, or that prefer the DACs in the MVP881 to the DACs in their receiver or processor.