The Mighty Macs
RMAF was my first chance to hear the new McIntosh MT10 turntable ($9500) that had starred in our 2008 CES blog. But after I had listened to vinyl on the McIntosh system for a whileand very good it sounded, tooRon Cornelius drew my attention to the MCD500 SACD/CD player ($6500) at the top left of the stack shown in the photograph.
Not only does the player have a volume control and digital inputs, allowing it to be used to get the best sound quality from other source components, like the$6000 MS750 music server Wes Phillips reviewed last January (shown here on the right of the photo, with its display on top), it uses a new Sabre DAC chip from ESS. This 8-channel, 24-bit/192kHz chip was developed for use in Blu-ray players, and has been getting good word-of-mouth for its sound quality. In the MCD500, McIntosh uses the 8 channels as two sets (one per channel) of four DACs in paralleled differential mode to squeeze the very last drop of resolution from the part. Data are read from the disc at twice the normal rate and stored in RAM before being clocked out to the DAC chip.
Rest of the system was a pair of the new MC2301 tube power amplifiers ($11,000/pair), the C500C and C500T preamps ($6000 each), and a pair of XRT1K line-source loudspeakers ($35,000/pair).