What is stereo?

There are now two system of high fidelity, monophonic (monaural) and stereophonic. Monophonic is a system that starts from one microphone and is fed through a single high fidelity set. Stereophonic is a double system. Two separate microphones are placed at different sides of the orchestra and two different systems are used to keep the two signals or channels separated. Two separate speakers are used, placed on different sides of you room. Stereo is much like 3-D photography, two slightly different sound reach your ears giving you a new dimension in sound.

H.H. Scott '59

McIntosh MCD 301

The CD/SACD player from McIntosh is constructed in a very solid way. Typical for McIntosh the front panel is made of glass with aluminum side strips, all the other sides of the enclosure are made from aluminum sheets. Central place of the front is occupied by the disc drawer, above it is a green lit logo, below it a blue display, divided in two sections. The left one displays the track number or time (depending on the chose configuration), and the right one displays the current volume on the variable output port. On both sides of the drawer two big, black knobs were placed, with an aluminum edge – the left one is used to skip forward and back, the right one controls the output volume. Below there are two rows of buttons used to access other functions of the drive, we can also select the layer of a hybrid SACD disc (we can play the CD and SACD stereo layer, the SACD MCh is not available), as well as place the player in standby. There is also a headphone socket available.
The back panel is also well equipped. There are two sets of analog RCA outputs and two XLR – one balanced and one unbalanced set are with fixed output voltage, the other variable. Unfortunately the RCA sockets are close together, what can prevent installation of cables with not typical plugs, or very thick ones. There are also digital outputs provided, a coaxial S/PDIF and optical TOSLINK (the digital signal is available only when playing a CD or CD layer from a hybrid disc). Besides those, there are also four sockets for Mac’s system bus and an IEC socket.

Interesting solutions are also to be found inside. The central place is taken by the drive, taken from Denon (a brand from the same financial group as McIntosh), closed inside protective shielding and placed on special support pillars. The audio circuitry is placed on one L-shaped PCB. The digital to analog conversion is done in the Burr-Brown DSD 1792 DAC chip. The output circuits are balanced and doubled – one complete set, with the addition of an integrated resistor ladder, is there for the variable output and the other handles the fixed set. The power supply has a separate PCB and split in many sections, powering the analog section, digital section and drive separately. It is worth noticing, that two unusual solution were applied there – the IEC socket is blocked with a mains filter, a not very common solution, but really recommended, and there is also the possibility to change the mains voltage by simply re-plugging a special plug connected to the primary windings of the R-core transformer to a different socket.
Simple, yet effective.

MCD 301 Technical data:
- RCA and XLR sockets with a fixed level
- RCA and XLR sockets with variable level
- High class headphone amplifier
- Optical and coaxial digital output
- Double laser for CD and SACD read
Played formats:
Analog sockets:
RCA fixed 2VRMS
XLR fixed 4VRMS
RCA variable 6VRMS
XLR variable 12VRMS
Frequency response: SACD 4HZ-40kHZ +0.5dB/-2dB; CD 4HZ-20kHZ +/-0.5dB
S/N ratio: 110dB
Dynamics: 100dB
THD: SACD 0.002%; CD 0.003%
Power consumption: 35 W
Dimensions: (WxSxG) 15 x 45 x 40 cm.
Weight: 12.8 kg

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