McIntosh MCD201 SACD/CD Player

I have 2 questions regarding this Player. 1) Is it as good as other current $3K>$4K SACD/CD Players? 2) Does it sound best when connected "balanced" directly into the Amplifier (in this case an MC252)? I've been getting mixed feedback about this Player, though it has been well reviewed (what component isn't these days), If it sonically hangs with other Players in its price range, and has the advantage of direct-to-amp connection, then I'd be willing to buy-and-try my first Mc CD Player. thanks