Connecting my McIntosh MCT500 SACD Transport up.. two ways ok?

So I will be adding a MCT500 transport to my MA9000 Integrated Amp, and I also will be running my new DirectStream DAC… The only way to play SACD is via the DIN cable that comes with the Transport and that will be connecting directly to the DA-2 DAC on the MA9000…

However, my question is, will it cause any interference or harm if I also connect a digital coax cable from the MCT500 Transport into the DirectStream so as to play FLAC/WAV/DSD and CD via the other DAC just to compare and contrast the sound? I’m already leaning towards the smoothness of the DirectStream DAC for my listening taste, but I have no choice but to use the McIntosh DAC for the SACD due to the lack of support under Sony copyright for digital coax for SACD.

Also, if the SACD disk I buy is a “Hybrid” and has DSD printed on the label, can I play that via the Coax to the DirectStream as a DSD disk?

I suppose you are concerned about creating a loop. It’s not powered and the data is one-day, so can’t see a problem.

Anyway, the transport has Layer button, presumably that sends CD to coax and optical and DSD to the MCT output. So I doubt it is sending a signal to both digital outputs at the same time.

The Coax will only be 16/44 PCM. As I think you appreciate, MCT is the required proprietary link to a Mackintosh decoder so as not to breach copyright, in the same way as I2S is used by PS Audio and dual AES/EBU by dCS.

Right, so what if I were to buy a DSD recording online, not an SACD, and burn it to a disk… same would happen? it would be routed to the MCT connection and not the coax? I assumed SACD (which I know uses DSD) was the proprietary version and that pure DSD recorded audio would just go where you end it…

I would call Mackintosh. The manual refers to using Folder Mode and does not specify.

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Good question, I have been wondering about the “special” DSD logo’s that some SACD’s have and some don’t. When you buy SACD’s on line, dealers make these distinctions.

All I know is that you are treading in a can of worms. The chances that you will be able to play DSD from the McTransoort through the PS Audio DAC via Coax and Toslink from a disc are very slim. Most likely you’ll get the PCM CD quality layer. Three criteria apply to make the DSD transmission work, DSD is usually supported on USB and I2S, rarely via coax or Toslink:

  1. the Particular outputs of the SACD Transport that you have in mind need to support DSD, regardless of being extracted from a SACD layer or from a DVD non encrypted layer
  2. the question if the DSD logo on the disc means that the disc has a non encrypted DSD layer
  3. the particular inputs on the PS Audio DAC need to be capable of handling DSD too

The interface information is available int the technical specification part of the manual. Anything that is not mentioned is typically non existing.

If you want to listen to DSD through the PS Audio DAC it may be easier to buy DSD Audio files from for example Blue Coast Records (very good recordings by the way) download them on your DSD capable music server (which may be your computer with a DSD enabled software player) via USB.

Regarding your set-up:
Why did you buy a McIntosh SACD Transport + you are planning to buy a PS DAC? While you could have returned the McIntosh preamp and go all PS Audio up till and including the pre amp?
BHK Pre Amp, Direct Stream DAC and Perfect Wave SACD Transport. Financially it could have been a draw while you would have gotten the smoothness and warmth of the PS Audio, high res PCM and DSD all without any hassle.

That technical synergy and the visual synergy, is why I prefer to stick to one brand where possible. Each component may look cool by itself and have great specs, but you will only get to hear what the system lets through. Making a switch to another brand behind the DAC is often a least limiting factor if you have desire to listen to SACD’s and DSD files. And if the DAC that you don’t like is integral to the pre amp, than return the pre amp and get the PS Audio combo. I trust the BHK Pre can handle the McIntosh Power Amp.

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I got the MCT500 for about $2500 in like new condition… or about 50% of the normal price… It was a deal I couldn’t pass up… the PS Audio transport is $7000 or so… I have no issues playing the MCT500 thru the DA-2 DAC on the MA9000… I was just thinking it would sound nicer on certain recordings (for example Leopold Stokowski works) thru the PS DAC… that said, I can still listen to PCM that way, so nothing I can’t live with.

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I trust your McIntosh gear is very good and it’s synergetic. I’d be a happy chap even without the seemingly redundant PS Audio DAC which is also in the US$ 6000 range.

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Sounds like a great deal.

If you want to find out how good the DAC is in the MA9000, I would just download some top notch files in 24/192 from Linn and DSD from wherever and play them off a usb stick in your new transport.

Rachel Podger in DSD256 costs more than I paid to hear her play last night.

As you listen to baroque, you’ll like this great recording. It was recorded at St. Judes, a walk from where I live, I recently put up a few pictures from a recent outdoor prom.


Nice. Did the music fit the theme of the sky? Impressive in any way.

@Rudolf_Appel you might want to help out the folks at PS Audio if they are being kicked in the rear on their $6800 DAC by an off shelf ESS $1000 DAC card sold by McIntosh… :wink: … which btw, I got as a freebie when I paid $11K for the MA9000…

@stevensegal Anyway… Yes, I did grab some of Rachel Podger recordings today… not my favorite interpretation of Bach, but seems like all of my favorites are not available as SACD… I am however interested in the SF Symphony’s recordings of Beethoven, namely the 5th and 9th that they are publishing as DSD… which I guess I will have to enjoy on the MA9000’s DAC…

The music was as dull as a wet November. The recorded sound in that church is excellent, but live (they do a Proms season in June) it is a bit too reverberant for my taste.

Hi Sam,

I am not comparing the DSD DAC to the ESS.

You asked about DSD and SACD, that is what won’t work well between the two different brands.

Do CD I do hope that the PS Audio Direct Stream DAC outperforms the ESS, but that is when you play CD’s and if that improvement in sound is worth the extra US$ 6000 for you you should go ahead and buy it.

I just said that having spent all that money on the McIntosh I’d be enjoying that to the fullest.
I’d then safe up for a new higher SQ system rather than a single component. But that is clearly just me, and I hope that you enjoy the PS Audio DAC very much with the McIntosh. Neither are poor choices.

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I did not find the sky in the picture dull, rather dramatic. For outside performances you miss a lot of acoustics and if there is a little wind it’s not improving. But, the ambiance is nice and that is part of life performances.

Part of the problem with the music was that it was very quiet and there were a couple of guys thrashing it out on a tennis court nearby.

@Rudolf_Appel Well, I will report back on whether the upsampling of the PSA DAC is all they crack it up to be… Either Paul is a brilliant marketer and full of doodoo or I am going to be one very happy guy soon…

I regard him as a brilliant marketeer and friendly person. Everybody has his strength and weakness.

I look forward reading your observations, hopefully non colored by any of our comments.


I will be totally honest, because I have 30 days to return it if this DSD conversion doesn’t translate into the sound difference I expect for $6899

If I were an Eskimo, he’d be my ice supplier.