Are Sony SACD Machine Owners Crazy??

I am sorry about the "tabloid" title..but another
post I did got little response on what, I think, is a real
question. Ie:.. many people have stated that the playback
of standard format cd's (16/44) on these SACD machines is
very good...indeed beyond things like Levinson..etc. The
question is this age of "upsampling" 24/96..and beyond, how can these one bit/bit-stream (in "redbook" format) units
be so good? This is asking the owners of the model 1, 777,
9000..etc. Sony can this be so. I had owned
the Xa-7es at one time, and thought that the excellent
playback was the FET analog stage...these new SACD machines
are all using OP-AMPS....not very "high-end". The concern
I have is that while we all hope for a format that will give
us analog sound in a digital format, the near-term concern
is what any unit...SCAD or DVD-A will do with my collection
of standard CD's?
I own a Resolution Audio 55 and a SCD-1. I don't think that the SCD-1 is as good as the RA55. I do think that it's bass biased response is very good. I listen to both. I have decided to sell my RA55, but I intend to have the Sony upgraded by an aftermarket shop. Then the open sounding sound stage and detailing may be the same.

I have extremely mixed views about SACD recordings. I find them fairly dark and closed sounding. Yes, they seem to have greater detail, but at the cost of the soundstaging.

Bill E.
I wonder if that's SACD per se or just the sound of the Sony units. Art Dudley in Listener has commented that he hears almost no difference between the SACD playback of the several units he's reviewed, but I find it hard to imagine that there would not be a large difference, just as there is between CD players. When (if) we start seeing more high-end SACD players, I suspect we will hear a different SACD sound.

Sorry for the topic drift ...
If you cannot hear the difference between CD's and SACD's, please do not spent too much money on expensive equipment. Completely take off your shopping list, speaker cables and IC's and forget power conditioners. Their have been several post addressing this issue. It is not up for debate, SACD sounds substantially better, period, end of discussion. I have read that some people say there is no difference. They either have never truley listened to SACD CD comparison (which makes them a liar!) or they have no music listening ability. Every comparison that I have done makes the music simply comes alive! This is not an option this is fact. The only problem with SACD is that all music is not recorded in SACD.
Yes we are all "nuts"! I personally hear voices that tell me to kill people. I hope these new drugs will help, what? Shut up man... I'm talking! Oh hell, I think I'll just go enjoy my SCD-1 and wonder why people think I'm nuts when there the ones with standard cd players.
What prompted those last two posts? Out of left field...
I've yet to audition SACD at home, and don't intend to do so until the format is a proven "keeper". But in regards to the post.... I have friends who swear they can't hear the difference between an MP3 and audio CD. This is regardless of the quality of the digital front end or the associated electronics. Those who can't tell the difference might be better off purchasing 8-tracks on ebay, and buying a new car rather than upgrading their systems. Hey... You can RECORD at home with the 8-track format. Try that with SACD!
Whatjd, I think several people might be responding to the delta between CD and SACD formats and not necessarily to your question. I believe you are asking about an SACD’s playback of Redbook CDs, so I'll throw in my $0.02.

From my listening experience, which is admittedly limited, I would have to agree with LFR that Redbook CD playback is not on par with mid to hi quality CD players. Many a post espousing SACD playback quality has further stated that perhaps a good outboard DAC for Redbook playback is a better option than straight out of the SACD player (Several folks have talked about the output stage quality being questionable on the 777 and SCD-1). I have seen this written more on the SCD-1 and 777 than on the Marantz SA-1 (not even sure if it was written about the SA-1), which I have never auditioned. The outboard option has intrigued me, but the expense of an SACD player and quality outboard DAC has prevented me from going this route, as of yet anyway.

My opinion, for what it’s worth.
Hifiho, just a follow-up. I believe I read somewhere that Sony and I think it was Tascam are working on a recordable SACD. For all of us analogue buffs out there does this mean that some day our rare, precious copies of vinyl can be archived on SACD format? Regarding MP3 vs cd sound quality this worries me. If the future music lovers become content with under achiveing MP3 what will the future hold for the hi-end? Where do we find our new converts for hifi? Just rambling, sorry about drifting off target. Cheers, Bluenose
Depends on what you want. I have not jumped to SACD because I care much much more about the quality of the musical performance, than a lesser performance that might sound better. In other words, I listen to music not sound. I keep looking at what's available on SACD and I do not see much of anything that could replace what I have on Redbook and LP in the performance department.
I think the 2 questions you posed, 1)how can the units be so good, and 2) what will they do with your standard CD's are essentially rhetorical and theoretical, and whatever answers posed will be subjective from a given individuals perspective. Listen for yourself. You like Key Lime pie and I like Apple. Who's right? Who cares- you like what you like and so do I. Your reasons are your reasons, mine are mine. These threads are great as a springboard for further exploration, however in the final analysis it's what yanks yer crank when sitting in your room with your favorite music that counts. SS/tube, vinyl/CD/SACD etc etc, the debates will always rage on. I appreciate all the info I glean from this site including that which disagrees with me, but when it's gametime, what sounds best to me, regardless of format and your opinion of my gear and it's measurements, is what ultimately counts.If I like it, I like it. Right or wrong don't even enter into it. 1 bit or 50, if you like it better or not, YOU like it better or not. What a piece of gear does on paper or how it measures or what you think of it is inconsequential when the rubber meets the road at listening time.
This crazy had his 777's audio board and power supply caps and resistors upgraded (no circuit modification) for $480 and moved his modified 24/96 DAC to a secondary system after determining that the upgraded 777 did Red Book noticeably better. On a side note, the more I listen, the more I'm convinced that the three most critical contributors to superior CD (and SACD) reproduction are transport, transport, transport.
Oh, and owning a SACD player or not has nothing to do with my being crazy. I think it was something in the water where I grew up, yea, yea, the water,and my parents, and the school system, and my brother, yea my brother, that's the ticket.....
I bought a (demo) 777 as a way of killing 2 birds with one stone - get a fairly high-end redbook player and be able to play sacd. There's the added benefit that it's an excellent transport (for redbook) but that wasn't my objective. At any rate, I agree that the available catalog of sacds is pathetic. I have an LP12 so I don't need to rebuy "Tapestry". That being said, I had to at least go rebuy something just to hear what sacd can do, so I got "Sketches of Spain", and the difference is not subtle - it is pretty much on a par with good analog. Supposedly the 777 can be mod-ed to improve its sound a good bit for about $450 - maybe when the warranty runs out - but in the meantime let us pray that the 'format war' results in sacd being a new standard because it kills redbook. And if not, I'll have a great transport.....
Thanks guys...I think? Sorry if some of you may have
thought I was questioning SACD...I'm not. Both SACD and
DVD-A have real merit. The question was talking about
the 1-bit type of D/A and the use of OP-AMPS rather than
discrete components for the audio section. When Sony made
the XA-7ES they were very verbal about the Class A discrete
FET audio section...and now all of their units are using
OP-AMPS. I don't recall there being people offering
mods for the XA-7ES..and now there are several people
offering mods for the Sony SACD units. I have stated this
is threads before..that if OP-AMPS were so great..shouldn't
ARC, Conrad Johnson, Krell, Levinson...etc be using these
"great" OP-AMPS in their pre-amps? The reason people are
doing these that the audio section of these units
are not where they should be. Nothing wrong with OP-AMPS in
and entry level SACD changer...but in the $5000.00 reference
So.....what I was questioning was the 1-bit/redbook side of
these players...where most high-end units have gone to 24/96
upsampling...and the audio section being OP-AMPS...and
OP-AMPS generally not being thought of as "State-of-the-Art"
for audio amplification.
Can't say I know why, but the redbook CD playback on my Sony 9000-ES is certainly of a high caliber. I haven't made direct comparisons myself yet, but some very respected members have, and they are satisfied that the Sony CD playback is good enough to lead them to selling their high end CD rig. Without paying a lot of extra cash for upsamplers, outboard dac's, etc. the cd playback of my 9000-ES gives me just about as much as the CD format allows. I think that perhaps it has been wishful thinking on my part in regards to SACD being the next format. Both DVD-A, and SACD represent a refinement of an existing format, and not a true innovation, like the Walkman or the compact disc itself. People that have a decent, if not high end system will hear a subtle improvement in sound quality, but nothing so fantastic as to make them run to the store and buy one. DVD was an obvious winner, CD convenience for video playback, but I suspect that SACD will become the digital format of choice for audiophiles, and not the general public, unless every record company releases all their titles with both CD and SACD capability, for maybe a dollar more than current prices.
everything is trash unless you use an elgar plus and purcell or greig, thats the end of the story.
Whatjd, I think the real question here is, As good as the performance of the Sony SACD player is now, How much better would it be WITHOUT the use of $1.00 OP-AMPS?
This company has always been this way. You get all this great mechanical construction, great everything, and then the el cheapo op-amps. How is it possible, that this giant mfr, cannot see this?..........Frank
Frap......thank you! You are so right, and this has been
my point. We may be able to buy great pre-amps, power amps,
cables...and speakers, but without great source components
much of our efforts are lost. Why labor over choices
in the rest of our systems..and debate the tube vs. solid-
state, CJ vs. ARC, Krell vs. Levinson..etc., if we are
placing a $1.00 OP-AMP in the chain? An OP-AMP is a kind
way of saying..big IC chip..integrated circuit. Even the
best are not up to real tube and real transistors..they
are a cost saving device...and until we start getting
source components with excellent audio sections...we are
running in circles.
How can we debate formats, tube vs. transistor, dynamic
vs planer/electrostat..etc...when somewhere in the path of
the signal we place a one or two buck OP-AMP?
According to Robert Harley in isssue 120 of The Absolute Sound the SCD-1 and 777ES DO NOT use op-amps.

To quote RH directly:
"Commendably, the analog output stage is an all-discrete design(no op-amps)."
Issue 120, p. 36.
An additional quote may help clear up some misconceptions:

"Two transformers supply power to the unit, one for the analog circuits, one for everything else. The SCD-1 has more power supply regulation than I've seen in a Japanese product, and even uses discrete regulation rather than IC regulators. Moreover, the analog output stage has additional on-board discrete regulation and power-supply filtering right next to the audio circuits. This a decidedly High End design technique"

"This is clearly an engineering-driven product designed to show the SACD format in its best light, not a product dictated by the marketing department. In fact. the SCD-1 is perhaps the tweakiest product I've seen from a large Japanese company."

The Absolute Sound, Issue 120, pp. 36-37
According to Robert Harley in isssue 120 of The Absolute Sound the SCD-1 and 777ES DO NOT use op-amps.

To quote RH directly:
"Commendably, the analog output stage is an all-discrete design(no op-amps)."
Issue 120, p. 36.
One thing that's very obvious from looking at the current high-end audio landscape is that there is a distinct lack of agreement as to what constitutes a good design. Tube vs. solid state, planar vs. dynamic drivers, no feedback vs. high feedback gain stages, cloth vs. metal dome tweeters, minimalist straight wire with gain vs. massive DSP based circuits -- the list goes on. Talented equipment designers are able to make superb sounding equipment based upon any of these design principals. As witnessed by a recent article in Stereophile and some of the above posts, there is a bias against op-amps in audiophile oriented equipment. However, Boulder, a high-end company if there ever was one, makes extensive use of op-amps. Should we dismiss the validity of Boulder designs because of this? I think not! As listeners, maybe we should pay less attention to circuit design and more to sound quality. I wonder how many of us are truly qualified to discuss the intricacies of circuit design?

BTW, I have a Sony SACD player and for normal CD playback I use an outboard DAC.
Thanks for all the above posts and comments. This site
does help us all learn and share.
Jshrimp, anyone, what about the Sony 9000ES?
Everyone has different standards. I had a 10 year old $500 Sony CD and a Sony 300 CD/DVD player that had similar CD audio. I bought a $500 Panasonic DVD-A player and $600 JVC DVD-A player. CD quality was no better. DVD-A was slightly better. I then bought a Sony 9000ES. CD play was better than DVD-A on the Panasonic and JVC. SACD was a step up. I returned the Panasonic and JVC.

Still, I'm sure that my S9000ES is not as good as a $2,000 plus transport/DAC combo.
I find the sound quality of SACDs on the SCD-1 decidedly seductive, with great subtlety of detail, but with a very slight euphonic glaze on all disks--an artifact of the medium?--that is maybe a little too pretty to be true. However, CDs on the SCD-1 sound thin & lifeless compared to my Sonic Frontiers T3-P3 combo. My wife noticed the difference in 2 seconds.
I recently purchased a 9000es to replace my Adcom gcd 750 with intentions to modify later on. The stock sony is nowhere near as good as the adcom in the areas of high frequency air, dynamics and soundstage especially. The mids are more musical, however on the sony. Boy, was I disappointed, hope the mods help
Guys, did the units mentioned have enough break in time? You really need to listen after 4-500 hours. I'm not kidding.