Are You Happy With 2 Channel SACD?

Fellow Audio Lovers,
For those of you who own SACD equipment "specifically, two channel" machines do you wish you had purchased a multichannel unit instead.? I am looking at purchasing possibly a Marantz SA12... however I have recieved comments from "friends" that, I should buy a multi channel unit because they say 2 channel SACD "is just plain blah... and I shouldn't bother with it unless I go the multi route.... any thoughts?
On some recordings I must admit I am curious as to how the multi-channel version sounds. I don't regret going 2 channel because most discs I listen to are stereo only, of my 200+ SACD's there are only about 5 multi-channel discs in heavy rotation. I believe that less then 40% of my collection is multi-channel.
I actually had a multi-channel (Sony DVP-N900V) and traded it in for a stereo one (Sony DVP-S9000ES). While I can't claim that I listen to SACD much (software limitations), there was something about the multi-channel sound that seemed strange to me. I don't really know how to explain it, but stereo just seems more relaxed and 'normal' to me. Maybe it is as some say, that when you attend a concert, the performers are in front of you, not all around you. I really have no further intentions for any multi-channel music listening.

BTW, vinyl is still my preffered source.
I like both.Most surround has ambient info in rear anyway so 2 channel only is fine.I think with surround less is more.Dark Side of the Moon is Fun in Surround for showing off system.My main SACD/CD player is 2 channel.JD
I agree with jmcgrogan two ears two speakers. I have a Marantz DV8400 and it is OK with the multichannel stuff. But I feel 5 speakers playing all at once is a fun listening session. When I want to do serious listening it is always stereo. I want to find a good SACD/CD player but haven't found one yet that does redbook at a level I like.
I have a multichannel Marantz8260, but I have a 2 speaker stereo set-up and have no intentions of buying additional speakers. All my new software I'm trying to buy in SACD format, and only if it's not available in SACD I'd buy a redboook CD.
Just my 2c.
Thanks Everyone !!!!!!!!!
I want to clarify my original post... I am leaning toward the Marantz SA-14 not the Sa-12. That said, I find it interesting that no one so far who has a 2 channel only unit has traded it for a multi. I am all ears if anyoneone has more thoughts.
Again My Thanks!!!
I actually purchased a multi-channel player (SONY SCD C555 ES) knowing that it would only be used in 2 channel mode. The dealer gave me a great price on the unit and the connections in the back support a 2 channel only mode. Quite frankly, I was never interested in multi-channel reproduction. I don't want to be surrounded ... it's too distracting ... I prefer the music in front of me.

Regards, Rich
I read in Sterophie that SOnNY has "hinted at stopping releases of multichannel SACDS. Many artists do not want their works remastered and remixed in multi sound--one comes to mind, RUSH! And I was praying that they would remix those classic recordings, but hopes are gone as the band memebrs agree that they will not partiicpate.
With my XA777ES, I listen in stereo mode 95% of the time. But it's fun to have the MC capability for the other 5%.
I have tried both 2 and multi channel sa-cd whith equal speakers and I am left whith surround speakers that are overkill for HT.

The only surround sa-cd sonics that were not gimicky sounding were DSOTM and Allison Krauss Live were the surrounds were used mainly for ambience.

Having said that, I never preffered any music in surround and listen to 99% of hi rez music in 2 channel.

I think multi channel surround hi rez appeals to people who were raised on DD/DTS and have never had a setup/speakers that create an accurate soundstage.....anyone who has will most likely not care for multi channel hi rez.

On a barely related note, I am looking to pick up a DVD/SACD player (Sony DSP-NS999ES), and I am wondering if two channel SACD is also going to necessitate analog interconnects, or if it can be processed by most pre/pro's.

Thanks, Tom.
You need a pre-pro with analog pass-thru. Yes, analog interconnects required.


I always thought that using the digital optical connections meant that you were going the multi-channel route. If you want two channel only, you need to use the analog outs. The back panel of the SONY 999 has two digital outs (coax & optical) and two analog two channel outs and an analog 5 channel out. SONY 999 back panel . If I am mistaken, my apologies for giving out bad info.

Regards, Rich
I had a Sony SCD-C555ES SACD 5 disc multi-channel player and sold it (plus a few speakers) to focus on 2-channel only. I have now had my Marantz SA-14 for about 9 months now and am very happy with the purchase. My main reason for selling my "multi-channel" setup was because to enjoy what the multi-channel discs truly had to offer, one must be in the center of all the speakers. I could not do that the majority of the time (a walking 1 year old boy, let alone the 6 year old boy). I felt that I although I am not as often in the optimum seat for my stereo listening, at least when I am relatively far away, the speakers are firing in my general direction.
I have a multichannel SACD player (Sony XA777ES) but I have a 2-channel system. I am enjoying it thoroughly!
Thanks, Ed and Rich. This is what I suspected, which is why I have ordered a pair of Cardas Neutral Reference interconnects for the main L/R, and three pairs of Quadlink 5C for the multi-channel (wanted to go all Neutral Ref, but then I have way more than the player is worth in cables!). Most of my listening will be in 2-channel, I suspect, so I wanted my cabling to be up to snuff on the 2-channel stuff.

digital output doesn't work for sacd 2 or multi-channel. you need analog ic's and analog pass through if using receiver.

i prefer 2 channel for almost all sacd, although i must say that pink floyd dsotm is awesome in multi channel. most multi channel sacd's use rears for ambience. some use it for gimmicks that distract me more than impress.

aloha keith
wow. A thread with total agreement. Not to be sarcastic, but.....WOW!
I also prefer two channel even though I have a mutli-channel unit (modded philips SA963).
I bought my two channel Sony SCD-C333ES at a fantastic price, due to the fact that it had been replaced by the multichannel 555. I had and still have absolutely no interest in multichannel sound, so the whole thing has worked out splendidly for me.

And not to get back into the whole argument, but SACD is definitely a good thing. My only problem(huge problem, actually) with the format is lack of software.
I hope Sony is reading this thread and realease more high end 2-ch SACD player instead of putting money in multi channel. I am hanging on to my Sony SCD-777ES for a few more years.
I have a multi-channel SACD player. I bought it because EMM Labs released their multi-channel players first and I wanted mine sooner rather than later.
But, I listen to it in two-channel. I have 100+ SACD's and I listen to them all
in two channel whether they have a multi-channel layer, or not. I am as happy as a clam with SACD in two channel. IMO, two channels are enough to experience the difference between redbook and SACD. I listen to SACD's for days in a row. When I throw on a redbook CD, even super duper remasters, I can tell something is missing compared to SACD and I'm eager to get back to my SACD's. If I were buying today and I had my choice between the two-channel Emm Labs player and the multi-channel, I'd go with the two-channel.
Thanks Again for the Responses !!!!!!!
Those of you who have a multichannel unit is the performance in stereo on par with a 2 channel unit only? Example Marantz SA14 "2 channel" vs Marantz SA12 "multi channel"? I often wondered this, there was a review once stating that in Marantz's case the lower the number the better the unit.. another example Marantz SA1.
I have the SA-14 ver. 2 And I'm very happy with it. That said, I got a chance to hear an SACD surround system and the "football stadium" ambience was undeniably fun. (The SACD was Telarc's Firebird Suite with Jarvi/Cinn.) But--SACD two channel is spectacular enough in its own way, and if you're trying to keep the quality of your system high all the way around, imagine multiplying cable and speaker costs five times over. Yikes! (I tip my hat to those who can afford it though.)
>>digital output doesn't work for sacd<<

That's no longer true. There *are* now SACD players and Universal Players which out output both DVD-A and SACD in digital. In the coming months,
you will see a bunch of high rez players on the market with digital outputs
and receivers are coming out with Digital Inputs to receive High Rez signals
in digital. The Emm Labs SACD player has a digital output. The Pioneer
DV-59 AVi also has a digital output, which synchs up with their receivers,
the TXi's, which have the corresponding input. And more like this are on the horizon. It's happening, folks.
One should note that Sony is not very happy with EMM Labs as the digital output from their SACD player relays the pure DSD stream-- they get away with it because they are a pro audio company. It should also be noted that in current conditions that the digital output is an aftermarket add-on.
I am happy with 2 channel SACD reproduction. I am unhappy with the record companies refusal to release great performances from their back catalogs in 2 channel. Telarc is a good example. Their early digital Soundstream recordings are excellent, but they stopped re-releasing them in 2 channel SACD when the surround bandwagon started rolling. There is so much good stuff that was recorded in excellent 2 channel in the vaults of all the major companies. Why can't they release these excellent recordings in hybrid two channel?
Irishdog: I was under the impression the any SACD release, even multichannel one's, have to include a two-channel DSD layer as well. They may not be hybrids that can play on redbookonly CD players but I was lead to believe (in a previous thread here) that Sony insists that all SACD's have a two-channel DSD layer even is they have a multichannel DSD layer. So far that has been the case with all the discs I have seen or purchased. Can anyone else shed some light on this?
I've never seen a SACD that didn't have a two-channel layer.
Wow, like unclejeff said ‘Total unanimity’, and that doesn’t happen here very often. Tempted to be the chef who spoiled the soup… No, just kidding. Seriously, I too agree that two channels is the way to go with. Even if the surround channels are used for ambience information, to me it still feels weird. Just that feeling of “something ain’t right”

I was told that SACD format was never meant to be multi channel, but to get the average Joe’s attention Sony succumbed to it. For he who doesn’t hear the extra resolution, at least more noise was needed! Well, coming from all the sides.

I am breaking in a Xindak SCD-2 and couldn’t be happier with SACD format. In fact an avid proponent of multi channel who owns a XA-777ES listened to some of his favourite SACDs in my two-channel system and now eating crows !!
Multi-channel is great for movie veiwing. 2-channel does it for me for serious listening. Just my 2 cents.
Thanks Again !!
jdaniel.. If $$$$ were no object would you go multi.. The extra cables, speakers etc....?
I think I would just buy an Eastern European Orchestra. Seriously: Sure, but my main priority was taming harshness, (SACD does that for me at least); surround is fun--it may even be better--but I've reached the "I like what I've got" plateau. (How does that old saying go about finding the right lover? You know there's always going to be younger, newer, better, out there, but it just doesn't matter anymore?) I found the whole upgrade thing fun but kind of nerve-racking. I'm really ready to pop open the wine and just do some LISTENING again. I hasten to add--I'm not an audiophile, having sampled a small slice of the equipment out there. My humble advice is to make a list of what your priorities are and go from there.
I believe some of you missed my point. I was not suggesting that multi-channel SACD's do not have a 2 channel DSD layer. I was saying that the record companies are so fixated on surround that they no longer issue SACD's derived from the many great 2 channel masters. I think the forthcoming RCA and Mercury living stereo and living presence SACD releases will be the first SACD's derived from 2 channel masters to become available in some time. Let's hope for more!
Well spoken, to be content is "PRICELESS" as they say.....
yes and #$$^&**@# yes.

it is a very good 'Revealing' format and better when recorded well even in the 2 channel mode.

i use a marantz sa-8260 and i like it alot... you use to have to spend big $$$$$$$ to get this level of sound quality.

the drawback to the format is lack of software.


If you look in general, most of our systems are set up in two channel mode.In the surround sound mode, you are not going to see 5 SET amps all feeding into I don't know what kind of processor. If I set up surround sound, It would be through a SS state multichannel amp or a good reciever. One does not set up multi channel systems to do real critical listening. I am more impressed with two channel SACD than with multichannel SACD. This may seem very old fashioned, but so are tube amps.
Mikesinger and Surfgod THANK YOU !!!! BTW ironically today I ran into the saleman from the local "high end shop" and he is still trying to get me to purchase a SA12 over the SA14.. but it seems to me by way of the responses I've gotten that maybe he "the salesman" may be in the minority as far as choice of unit... You don't thing commission might have something to do with his choice??? NEVER.......
I am having a VERY hard time hearing the difference between the CD and the stereo SACD layers of my classical Hybrid discs played on my Philips 963sa. My hearing is fine (I am a professional musician), but my pre-amp is admittedly lower-mid-fi, a Yamaha dsp-e492.
If there really is a huge difference between the two, shouldn't I be able to detect it even on modest equipment?

In all candor, in this hobby, just about every "huge difference" that someone claims that they can hear is typically nothing more than something that is casually discernable and a function of how much they let it bother them. With that said, I find that the difference between the redbook and hybrid levels may be discernable, but is not "huge" on first listen. With hybrids/SACD, I find that the overall sound is less fatiguing over time and I can listen to my system for longer.

Regards, Rich
I think part of the problem is that it takes awhile for the SACD player to break in, but a lot of the time, when people buy a CD/SACD player, they don't have any SACD's to play, so they buy one or two, A/B the SACD layer against the CD track, have a hard time telling the difference, and give up. If you listen to SACD's for awhile, let your player break in, then go back to redbook CD's, I would bet you'll miss the air, the natural-ness of the detail, the lack of digital glare, the increased dynamic range, and the ambient information of the SACD. CD will sound slightly compressed after you get used to SACD. They *do* need to open the floodgates on SACD releases, though -- that would help.

I bought a Sony XA777ES a couple of years ago as an upgrade to my year-old Sony 333ES. I was so uninterested in the multichannel capabilities of the new player that when Ric Schultz was about to do his magic on it and he told me that it would not be able to play m/c discs after the mods, I said go ahead. That was a $2000 player I castrated - no loss, in my opinion.

A couple of years ago I bought really good speakers for the rear and a Sony XA9000ES this spring. Eventually I'll get a pre-pro with analog bypass that will allow me to listen to MC. However, in the mean time I'm perfectly happy to listen in 2ch via my SF Line 3 SE pre-amp.

I've listened to a couple DVD-As (the DD/DTS layers) and they don't really thrill me with the insturments all around. I think ambient sound field information would be a whole lot more convincing. Rememeber how long it took recording engineers to get over the ping-pong effect when stereo first was introduced?
Thanks for the response........Remember Quadrophonic? "discreet 4 channel" I believe it was billed.
I have only a dozen or so SACDs, and the only one that I listen to in multi-channel Is Dark Side of the Moon. The rest of them sound much better,IMHO, in two channel. Although it's possible that they will mix the multi tracks better in the future.
Thanks Sonny!!!!!!! Good Old Pink Floyd!!!
That is one of my favorites... Are there many rear channel effects on it??? so much so that a 2 channel machine would "rob you" and wouldn't do it justice? Enough to warrant buying a SACD with multi channels vs stereo... Example Marantz SA-14 versus SA-12 or even the DV8400 universal machine...?

But it's not buying a multi-channel SACD player that is the problem, it's really the additional amps, speakers, stands; etc. that go with it. ... right? So, the worst that happens is that you buy a multi-channel munit and only use it in 2 channel mode. I was listening to a buddy's stereo and he was playing some multi-channel DVD's and I just found that having the music coming from behind me a little disconcerting ... not really that enjoyable. What could work nicely is 3 channel sound, where music would be coming from a 60 degree arc ( \ ^^^/ ) or a wall of sound ( I ^^^ I ) in front of you, so to speak . But accomplishing that could run into some nice cash too ... I would still need a surround sound processor, etc.

As an aside, for those of us old enough to remember, quadrophonic was actually OK, because the speakers were designed to be placed in the four corners and provide the room with an all enveloping sound. The key was to having a room big enough to benefit from this type of speaker placement, which quite frankly most people did not have. At the time, you needed 15' to 20' of wall distance for quad to work at its best. Also, a format war between SONY and the rest of the industry didn't help matters much.

Regards, Rich