Home Theater Review


McIntosh MVP851 DVD Player Reviewed

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McIntosh Labs has always marched to the beat of a different drummer. Although now owned by Clarion Audio, the parent company has wisely allowed them to continue making virtually hand-made products in upstate New York.

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To take a look at their audio products is to think that they are still stylistically stuck in the 60s. Blue meter dials, twist knobs, toggle switches, and backlit labels abound, and the incorrect presumption might be made that they might also have 60s technology inside. Such an assumption would be very far from the truth as demonstrated by the new $3,500 MVP851 DVD video/audio progressive-scan player.

Unique Features
This player follows the familiar stylistic theme with a black glass plate front, backlit green labels for the buttons, and retro push-button switches. The centrally placed McIntosh label is also backlit in green, adding a further bit of retro charm to this player. It is said that the shade of green used on the McIntosh is similar to one that denotes success in Japan, and this has helped McIntosh to become very successful in that country. Although the look may be polarizing, it rapidly grew on me and, within a few days, I went from somewhat apathetic to considering it absolutely beautiful. The player is well built, weighing in at a solid 20 lbs.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
The MVP851 starts out with a Panasonic transport and video section, namely that of the well-received RP91. McIntosh built their own audio section around this, and also added their own remote control. One look at the back panel confirms the serious audio breeding of this product. Among the various connectors for video, digital audio, and multi-channel outs, there are a pair of balanced analog outputs for 2-channel playback. This is a feature usually found on high-end CD players to eliminate any noise created through the cables in-between the player and the preamp/processor. The Krell Showcase processor I had on hand happened to have a set of balanced inputs which I connected with AudioQuest Python XLR cables. The 5.1 outputs were connected with single-ended Python cables, and Tributaries component and S-Video cables were used for video. Digital audio duties were handled by an AudioQuest VSD-4 silver digital coaxial cable. Associated equipment was my B&W Nautilus 804/805/HTM2 system, Pioneer Elite 520 television, Classê CAV-150, and REL Strata III subwoofer. Setup was fairly straightforward as the MVP851 has the same easy to use menus of the RP91. All speakers were set to large.

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