McIntosh MCD500 vs Marantz SA7S1

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few hours with each the Mac MCD301 and MCD500, both were excellent performers, with the MCD500 being a bit fuller with a hint more detail.

I also listened to the Marantz SA7S1 a little while back, thought it was a very good player as well, but definitely not as smooth or musical to my ears as the Macs.

I'd be interested in others opinions on these players, especially if you have any extended listening experience.
I am in the market for a new CDP and want something with a preamp section so I can eliminate one piece of gear from the system. Since I already have McIntosh monoblocks I am looking at either the MCD500 or using a lesser transport with a MDA1000 DAC.

I had a chance a few weekends ago to listen to some of my own music thru a MDA1000 (with the MVP871 as transport) and it was truely impressive. Problem is it was piped through a C1000T preamp so I didn't get a real idea of what the sound would be like going direct to the amps.

They have a MCD500 on order for demo and I'll be definately spending some time listening to it. In fact, with as good as the MVP871 feeding the MDA1000 would be actually cheaper to first buy the MCD500 and then use it as a transport (and SACD player) should the MDA1000 sound better than the MCD500 on redbook alone...The MCD1000 transport is more expensive than the MCD500.

Let us know, know. With the MCD500's digital in, Sacd, pre abilities and newer production it will be very interesting to hear how it compares with the MDA1000
Any news? I'm curious to hear about the mcd500 too.
The MCD500 is still on order with no definite ship date...
Dealer just called to tell me it's in.

Going in this weekend to give a listen
Know Talent,
Any updates on the MCD 500?
I have both in my home and I prefer the marantz by a wide margin. The mac seams to mask some things.
I had previously spent some time with all of the Mac CD/SACD players, albeit the time was very limited.

Just spent the entire weekend with the MCD201 on loan - initially ran it through my Sonic Frontiers Line 2 SE+, but after a couple of hours I decided to try it driving my Bryston 14B SST....WOW!!!

I'm going today to order either the 301, or hopefully the 500 - either way I will be running without a pre in the future. I have been auditioning CD/SACD players for a while now, tried the Marantz SA7S1 and the Ayre 5xe among a few others....I honestly believe the Mac 201 beats them when run direct, I hope to know soon just how much better the 301 or 500 sounds when run direct.

Really surprised at the previous comment that the Mac masks things, I would comment that the Marantz is missing some details, and that the Ayre is artificial.

Anyway, I'm having a BIG MAC attack!!

Go listen.
Being somewhat familiar with both brands digital equipment I tend to credit more Mtdking comment.
Running direct or not is another matter. If you prefer running direct it usually indicates to weakness in preamplifier. In this case a good passive like TVC may help a lot.
Actually, regardless of the preamp the ideal would be to feed directly - anything you can remove from the path the signal has to follow has to be an improvement.

The pre in question is a Sonic Frontiers Line 2 SE that was just back to Parts Connexion for a once over - all was perfect - so....again, removing something from the signal path is better.

In direct comparison between the SA7S1 and the MCD301 the Mac improved the width and depth of the image in front of me, and the sound was definitely fuller. Bass was tighter and deeper with the Mac, and the highs were smooth and very focussed.

When I heard the MCD500 I noted these qualities as well, albeit that particular audition was not in my own system.

My home speakers are Monitor Audio PL300's with the ribbon tweeter; everything in front of these speakers is scrutinized at a very high level.

It always boils down to personal preference, but the only way to have that preference is through spending some reasonable period of time listening.

I only suggest that buyers get out and hear the new MCD500 or the MCD301....and make your decision based on what you hear.

I assume that in your direct comparison between SA7S1 and
MCD301 both players were connected through same preamp?

Your previous post is somewhat inconsistent with your last comments.

"I honestly believe the Mac 201 beats them when run
direct, I hope to know soon just how much better the 301
or 500 sounds when run direct."

By the way very good speaker choice. I have listened to new Monitor Audio Platinum series and these are great speakers. The PL300 that I listened had really good imaging and nice sonics.
Absolutely, I didn't think to run direct while I had the 301, but sure wish I had. The SA7S1 was plugged into XLR1 and the 301 was plugged into XLR2, the SA7S1 was in my system for far longer than the Mac, but my preference for the Mac really began when I listened to the Corrs. I love Andrea Corrs voice, the Mac seemed to capture it the way it was live, whereas the Marantz seemed to try and add something....specifically what I don't know. But in a nutshell I felt the Mac was more honest than other players, and whether I was listening to CD or SACD, the music was great.

Love my PL300's, but they often reveal things I don't want to know. Poor recordings are now unlistenable, but good recordings are so well resolved that I just sit back and enjoy.

Back to the digital players, regardless of the selection, be it the Mac, the Marantz, or even the Ayre, I don't think anyone can go just really boils down to system goals and personal preference.

The reason you like the Mac better is because of the Monitor Audio. The reason I like the Marantz better is because I run Vandersteen 5A. This all makes sense now.