The death of the CD has been predicted for some time now, but like its vinyl predecessor, it’s never wise to write off an audio format too soon. High-end US audio brand McIntosh agrees with this cautious principle and has just announced possibly the world’s most expensive CD player on the market right now.

Today McIntosh announced its new flagship disc spinner, the MCD12000 SACD/CD Player. The new player effectively doubles as McIntosh’s reference-level DAC, enabling up to seven digital devices to use its internal ESS digital-to-analog convertors. The unit is Roon Tested, too.

The MCD12000 SACD/CD Player is built around two range-topping ESS SABRE PRO ES9038PRO 32-bit/8-channel DACs (one for each channel), each deploying ESS patented HyperStream II architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator technology.

The seven digital inputs on the MCD1200 include two coaxial, two optical, USB Type-B, AES/EBU and one MCT (SACD) input. Both the coaxial and optical inputs support up to 24-bit/192 kHz data, with the USB input rising to 32-bit/384 kHz PCM, with DSD 512 and DXD 384 kHz playback, too.

Internally, separate digital and analog power supplies keep the power and audio signals free from cross-contamination, plus there’s a specially constructed R-Core power transformer is used to further minimize noise.

The outputs of the CD player are driven by discrete amplifiers or a blend of valves and discrete amplifiers. The solid-state output uses a discrete balanced op-amp and for the hybrid output, 12AT7 and 12AX7A valves are assigned to the left and right audio channels. In addition, coaxial and optical digital outputs offer further flexibility for use with external high-end DACs.

The player’s disc transport uses a precision die-cast aluminum tray for smooth and quiet disc handling, while an advanced digital servo provides fast, quiet and accurate operation. As befits the brand, the player features classic McIntosh styling everywhere with stainless steel and hairline-brushed black titanium. The unit matches the McIntosh C12000 preamp, while the front of the player features the timeless black glass panel, illuminated logo, control knobs and controls, moving meters, plus custom machine-brushed aluminum handles.

The top of the MCD1200 includes a glass panel listing performance specs and a block diagram of the audio signal path. A pair of 60dB output meters show the signal level from the output of each channel, too.

Pricing & availability: Orders for the McIntosh MCD12000 SACD/CD Player can now be placed with Authorized McIntosh dealers with shipping expected to begin in May 2022 (United States and Canada), and the rest of the world, shortly thereafter. The unit costs $12,000 / £13,995.

More info:


  • Reference level Sabre ES9038PRO 32-bit/8-channel DAC.
  • Plays CDs and SACDs.
  • 7 digital inputs.
  • USB input supports up to 32-bit/384kHz, as well as DSD512 and DXD384kHz.
  • Outputs are driven by discrete amplifiers or a blend of vacuum tubes and discrete amplifiers.
  • Balanced & unbalanced analog outputs in both solid-state & vacuum tube configurations.

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