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McIntosh MCD201 SACD Player

Part II

January, 2007

John E. Johnson, Jr.

 

The Sound

I tested the MCD201 with a BAT VK-5i preamplifier (XLR), McIntosh MC1201 power amplifiers, and Carver Amazing Mark IV ribbon speakers. Cables were Nordost.

This is a new Telarc SACD release, called The Big Picture (Telarc  SACD-60437). It is a compilation of movie themes.

All of the tracks are wonderful, but in particular, I loved the detail that I could hear in the Apollo 13 takeoff. The engine sounds have very sharp transients (it is liquid oxygen and fuel essentially exploding).

 

 

Another new Telarc SACD release, Russian Nights (Telarc SACD-60657) has some thunderous classical music from the likes of Borodin, Moussorgsky, and Tchaikovsky.

In "Procession of the Sardar", from Caucasian Sketches (Prokofiev), flute and oboe were easily distinguishable, even with cymbals going in the background.

"Polovisian Dances", from Prince Igor (Borodin), also had some sections with oboe and clarinet, and with harp and violins, all of which were distinguishable.

"Alborada", from Capriccio Expagnol, Opus 34 (Rimsky-Korsakov) has full orchestra, with triangle - delicate but discernible - in the background. Tough to do, but McIntosh can do.

"Scena e canto gitano", also from Capriccio, has drum roll with brass. There was no midrange congestion. Again, a difficult sequence.

 

What I listened for in this SACD (Telarc SACD-60658) were the choir voices when the violins were playing ("Sequence: Dies Irae"). The vocalizations were not muddied by the strings. Perfect.

In Marche Funebre, full orchestra was playing, with a huge gong and kettle drum introduction. All were clearly delineated.

The lack of midrange congestion is, to me, one of the best features of high resolution audio.

 

Ah! One of my favorite Telarc discs, now in SACD form (transcoded from 50 kHz original).

The Copland Fanfare for the Common Man is just about the toughest music I know. It is not compressed at all, and the bass drum and gong they used were huge.

Brass instruments could be heard, and individually distinguished, with all that crashing and booming in the background. I used my McIntosh MC1201 power amplifiers here (1200 watt RMS output into 8 ohms), and, for the first time, it was loud enough to satisfy me without clipping (it reached 1200 watts output during the transients).

Overall, the MCD201 delivers some of the smoothest audio I have ever heard from a disc player.

Click Here to Go to Part III.

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