After all the hoopla about the DVD-Audio and SACD format wars for the past 5 years, it seems to me that the format war may have existed perhaps only as a figment of a few corporations' imagination. (Kinda' like THX certification by LucasFilm)
I've never listened to a dvd-audio disc, but I do have a handful of SACD discs. Nor have I ever listened to DVD-A or SACD via a multi-channel system nor do I have a hankering to do so.
I thoroughly enjoy a few of the SACD's for their warmth, resolution, and anolog-like presentation, but still cannot see myself rushing out to buy more. Except for perhaps the Red Rose Sampler SACD which contains a few tracks providing a wonderful illustration of what SACD can do.
Don't get me wrong about the benefits of SACD. But I've experienced far greater enjoyment listening to my much older and even newer 'Redbook' cd recordings through component upgrades and through acoustical, electrical, rack designs, and vibration-transferring tweaks than with any SACD formatted enhancements.
Speaking honestly, SACD and DVD-A have held very little interest for me. I don't think that either of these formats is a dramatic improvement over LP', so when I want to listen to REALLY good sound quality, I delve into my LP collection. The other two factors that cool my enthusiasm for SACD and DVD-A are cost and inventory. The releases to date on both SACD and DVD-A contain almost no new material, and the prices are too high to have mass-market appeal. Some of the newer digital recording technologies that are in the development pipeline have real promise, and I'm going to wait and see what is available in the next few years.
I really enjoy SACD but like Sd the prices keep my purchases to a minimum. I am glad BMG has started carrying the Dylan SACD's and I can get some brand new Dylan titiles for under eight dollars delivered. I will probably get the Patricia Barber catalog on SACD and King Crimson "Court of the Crimson King" but I also own and enjoy vinyl so I will be looking to records for the bargains.
I'm right behind Super Audio CD. More than 600 SACDs at this point in time. I have a 2-channel system, and am not interested in multichannel reproduction. I don't have a vinyl system in the USA (I have one in storage in Australia) and SACD satisfies me in a way that many CDs could not.
I just became a participant inthe "format war". I purchased an Arcam DV-89 relly for the CD and DVD performance (DVD-A was a throw-in). Although I borrowed mom's "Sinatra at the Sands" and bought The Beach Boys "Pet Sound", my wife and I are really enjoying the large CD collection like I've never heard them before. Reading about both formats, I believe that DVD-A has more possiblities in the HT arena, SACD on the run (CD in cars, personal Mini Players). If neither format "won" I don't think there would be any consumer suicides because CD playback has gotten that much better.
My SACD collection is at 100+ and I eagerly await new releases. I've put CD buying in a holding pattern because I'd much rather have an SACD than CD and new releases are just around the corner. To my ears, there's no way CD can compete with SACD. When I listen to SACD for an extended period and then switch to CD, the air goes out of the sonic balloon, the cream turns back into milk. To me, it isn't logical to spend so much money on the rest of the system in an effort to improve resolution only to doom the entire enterprise to lower resolution with my choice of music format -- especially when a higher resolution format is available. To buy $12,000 amplifiers, for example, and then balk at paying a few extra bucks for SACD or at replacing a CD with an SACD version? That just doesn't make sense to me in the scheme of things. I'd rather feed my high resolution system with high resolution SACD's.
Alas, here we go again. I define the problem by investment and availability. Redbook covers everything and this is where my investment is. I also shudder at the thought of again replacing my favorite albums with yet another format. I refuse to purchase my favorite albums in SACD, having already bought them first in vinyl, then cassette and now in CD. My direction is with the best upsampling Redbook CD player I can find which in my case is the Audio Aero Capitole.
I am bi-amping from from it and it takes feeds from my DVD player, Over The Air(OTA) HDTV, and also from my Satellite Receiver. I have built my system around this one and I really don't want to waste a ba-zillion dollars on yet another format.
I did purchase a few DVD-As which I also on occasion run through my AA from my rather average DVD player. They sound nice. Kind of a good curiosity.
Perhaps, in a few years I might change my mind. I do understand the limitations of Redbook but, for now these limitations don't exceed my desire for musicality nirvana.
I do not care to invest the thousands of dollars that new hardware/software would demand of me as I am one of those fellow who does believe that if it is worth doing, then it is worth overdoing!
Then again, I recently visited the Audio Aero Home Page and they just came out with a SACD player..........
Great system you have, I have all the new formats. My opinion is not important..I try to keep an open mind to all things audio. My ear tells me that their are some VERY GOOD pre-pros out there that audiophiles don't want to agree to.
Same thing with SACD players....means very little to me but my other personality won't let it slide so I just had to comment!!!!
About 1.5 yrs ago I was caught up in this debate... Since then I decided to focus on buying the music I like instead of the format I thought was better. Since then I've found few occasions that I've even had a choice (I'm not looking to replace music I already have) I probably buy a little over 100 titles per year and I've enjoyed every one.
Good responses Dave and Sogood. I was hoping someone would post the # of dvd-a titles. I was in BB the other day;seemd to me they had more sacd titles.(than dvd-a) The younger gen. doesn't have 1,000 lps nor cds. (As a generalization) So their veiwpoint is different.
Given the sound quality I'm now getting out of redbook via an Audio Note transport and DAC, I feel no pull whatever from the new formats or even from vinyl. However, I'm keeping my eye on the new computer-based playback systems, perhaps using a USB link to the DAC. That looks to me like it might have some serious practical and sonic advantages over any process using silver coasters.
I am at a loss to understand what people are talking about when they say redbook has improved so much. I know it has improved over the last twenty year, now it's almost listenable for something other than background noise. It still isn't very good. SACD on the other hand approaches the quality of vinyl and is a great format for those too lazy to set up a turntable.
Bad SACD sounds better than redbook, but neither of them are as lifelike and full as vinyl. I will continue to buy SACDs since many of the new releases are not available in SACD, but I will only buy redbook as a last resort. If it is not available in any good format then... okay redbook it is!
My system is better than your (just because it's mine) and redbook sounds like listening to music reflected off of a sheet of glass. SACD sounds like vinyl on a TT that needs to be tweaked. Vinyl sounds like music.
MY rationalization: Part of being an audiophile is playing the percentages. Many of us have our systems tweaked enought that any small change (isolation platforms, power conditioning, new cables, room treatments, etc.) alters the sound of our systems in an appreciable manner. We'll spend big money on a pair of cables or isolation cones if we think we are going to get 5-10% more enjoyment out of our system.
So, when I was confronted with the opportunity to get a significant improvement out of the music I love, I decided to give SACD a try. Sure, I'll bite. You tell me 'Kind of Blue' is going to sound better.....you tell me you made the Police, Stones, Peter Gabriel, and Dylan sound better than my current versions........you bet i'm gonna roll the dice and check that out.......hey, i'm willing to have my whole damn stereo on pointed cones just to eek out an extra 5% worth of improvement. I'll fill the bottom of my speakers with sand to eek out a little more base control......why the heck wouldn't I take a shot that there is a better recording of the music I love?
I own and XA777ES and about 60 SACD's. I have re-purchased every available Peter Gabriel, Police, half of the available Dylan, half of the available Stones, most of the available Miles Davis, and a bunch of other single discs by artists I love. Will I re-purchase every one of the 600 discs I own? No way, only the stuff I love. I would say that all of the SACD's I have purchased sound atleast 15% better than the other versions I have and that is the bottom of the scale. Most of them sound better than that -- some as high as 40% better! In my experience the only alterations one can make to a system that will guarantee a 15-40% improvement are a new source or a new set of speakers. Every stereo benefits from a good recording!!!
I am too lazy to tweak a good a analog front-end. As I have said in othe threads, a very high-quality well-tweaked analog front end can deliver all the music you need. But in a game of percentages, where many of us are willing to invest the time, money, and effort needed to exact even the smallest percentage of performace, I'll put my money down for a almost guaranteed minimum 15% improvement.
I love music and since I bought my SACD player I have spent almost all my time buying new music. For me, in my system and room, SACD has been great. Enjoy!
What matters is how much FUN YOU HAVE with this hobby & the MUSIC! I have an all McIntosh, Magnepan system with Pro-ject Prespective & Sumiko Blackbird. I love playing records and CD's through the McIntosh player.
Well for fun I bought the inexpensive but well reviewed Sony Scd-775 SACD used for 125$. I have bought about 30 SACD's so far. They are excellent.
Here is MY EXPERIMENT. I have Brubeck Take-5, Billy Joel 52nd Street, Elton John Yellow Brick, Patricia Barber all on Vinyl, SACD, Redbook CD. I carefully played each and made notes all at the same volume level.
Results: I liked vinyl the best, however certain SACD cuts were not far behind. Redbook CD was not as good (McIntosh MVP-841).
I'll keep obtaining these 3 same formats and continue to study and keep you posted.
SACD is good! I wonder if a really top player will take me noticeably further?
The answer is yes -- a top SACD player will take you much further. I started with a Yamaha s2300 Universal Player that I bough new for $1,000. Sounded pretty good on SACD, but then I moved up to a Sony SCD XA777ES which I bought used for $1,600 and it was another world. You will see a huge difference if you move up the SACD player food chain. I'm sure the SCD XA777ES would blow your current SACD player away.
It's not the format quality "edge" that decided it for me, it's the availability of the musical artists I enjoy on said format. I've got about 80 SACDs, and as much as I enjoyed them, I felt the audio quality was only marginally better in some areas, and marginally less in certain aspects, than the redbook version. My last attempt at finding a player that did both redbook and SACD well was the Sony XA9000ES, and as much as that player was good at both...after hearing the Audiomeca Mephisto II.X CD player, the Sony was gone, and so were all of my single layer SACDs. I don't think I'll be missing the format...there just isn't enough on SACD to warrant a high end SACD player. I much perfer having a player that can access a musical library in the millions, than one that has a limited existing library, and releases that number in only the handfuls per month. I may return to SACD one day, but for now I'm extremely content and excited with what I'm hearing on the Mephisto player.
Sadly the failure of the format to capture some Audiophiles imagination is also a testament to how badly SACD has been marketed.
Even today here in the UK I doubt you could find more than 3 hi-fi dealers who could sell you a serious SACD machine. Simply put you couldn't demo a machine probably to save your life I know I couldn't. Tough some say and I stay in the 2nd biggest city in the UK for hi-fi.
Even more so of the approx.300-500 CD's I've bought in the time since SACD became available I would say less than a handful of good new releases have been released on SACD. As an avid fan of new releases this is no use to me. The SACD hybrids have been remastered on the CD layer so I'm still winning.
Of course those with serious dollars to spend are in a win win situation-the likes of Emms Labs probably gives world class performance in both formats but most of us do not have that cash to spend.
The war has been lost in my eyes because many audiophiles have already walked away from SACD so there is no chance now imho it can or will catch on in a wider sense.
It will survive in all likelihood as I have always said as a niche Audiophille format which will be great for those who enjoy but even they will arguably come across great music that again imho will never be released on SACD.