Blu-ray Players

McIntosh MVP881 Universal Blu-ray Player


In Use

After admiring the MVP881 and setting it up, it was finally time to use it. I began by testing out the CD and SACD playback of the McIntosh using its analog outputs. In comparison to my reference Oppo players (83SE, 95), the soundstage of the McIntosh was perhaps a touch narrower, though it was only noticeable with extensive A-B comparisons. The highs from the McIntosh were a bit mellower and relaxed on the MVP881, with the bass being a big tighter as well. Going back and forth between the players while listening to REM’s Automatic for the People, I really could not pick a favorite between the two. While this is good since the Oppo players are very well regarded for their CD playback capabilities, it’s also underwhelming as the McIntosh has a retail price far beyond the Oppo, so you would hope it would distinguish itself more.

McIntosh MVP881 Universal Blu-ray player

On SACD playback with Bob Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks”, the differences were even more minute, and I’d be hard pressed to find a difference between the two. When comparing the CD layer to the SACD layer, everything was better detailed, with far more definition and air around the instruments, and a more defined soundstage. If you blindfolded me and asked me to distinguish between the two players for SACD playback, I’m fairly certain that I’d score no better than 50% on the test.

Moving onto Blu-ray performance, the first impression that the MVP881 makes is that it’s a bit slow compared to other current players. Load times for most discs that I tested were often a minute or more behind other players, and menu navigation was pokey as well. Once a film started then everything was fine, but it just took a while to get there compared to other players.

I made the great mistake recently of seeing if my son would watch any movies with me, starting with Cars. Since then, Cars has become almost a daily habit for him and I, but at least he picked something of reference quality to watch. On the MVP881 the image was sharp and clear, as you’d expect from a Pixar title on Blu-ray, and the lossless soundtrack exploded from the speakers, bringing you inside the racecars on the track. Aside from the loading time, films looked and sounded fantastic on the MVP881.