Short answer: Don't hold your breath. The transition cannot begin until all new pop recordings are released in a new format. Format changes are driven by software, not hardware.
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The general public is still not really aware that the CD format is being superceded. For most people, when their CD player breaks or they need a new one for a student, they go to the store and are then taught about SACD and DVD-A. They have to be won over one at a time. When more players are introduced at lower price points later this year, people will hopefully come in to upgrade their digital source in addition to replacing a broken one or adding a player. You will get a better price/performance value then.
Customer: "Which should I get, SACD or DVD-A?" Salesman: "They're both better than CD. SACD has more software out but DVD-A says they're on the way." Customer: "OK then, which one is cheaper?"
In one way the transition had already begun-players of both formats have been available for a while and some people are already enjoying SACD and DVDA.
Multi-format machines are appearing now,also.
However as Bomarc points out the stumbling block is software which still seems incredibly slow taking off.
I stay in the third biggest city in the UK and you can't buy a SACD or a DVDA disc anywhere,not even in the mega-stores or more unbelievably the local Sony Centre..
SACD and DVD - A fit the analogy, "All dressed up with nowhere to go."
I don't care if Sony started selling SACD players for $99, unless and until there is software to play in the machine, it is like having a screen door on a submarine. No, it doesn't hurt anything, but neither does it provide anything.
The Best Buys and Circuit Citys of the world sell SACD. But, normally just one player. They are quite often located on an end cap opposite Bose. And, it has always been my experience that the salesman tried to steer me toward Bose when I was trying to give a listen to SACD. "Well, that's OK, but if you REALLY want to hear something totally awesome, check out this Bose HT rig."
Mass market consumers are not interested in going beyond CD since they still feel it is "Perfect Sound, Forever." Audiophiles are not into it because 99% of their software will not sound as good in a $299 Sony player as it does in their Arcam, Audio Aero, Cambridge, Electrocompaniet, Linn, Musical Fidelity, Music Hall, Rega, or Rotel.
As there is no software, what is the point of buying an Audio Aero SACD player? How many discs will the average person be able to play in it? 10, at the most? We won't just buy a title because it is in a new format, the MUSIC(remember that?!?) has to appeal to us as well.
Sony should be pushing software before the hardware, that is THE only route to creating demand for the machines. 2002 was to be the coming out party for SACD titles. That's what Sony said, with the hardware now accessible, they would flood the market with their vast libraries in the new format. Has it happened? Not in the least. Here we are at the threshold of April and is the buzz for high resolution discs any higher than it was in 1999? Maybe I am alone, but I don't see it. In 1999, I was foaming at the mouth to jump into the new formats. Last week, I bought a new player, a CD player...
Will I embrace high resolution digital? I think so. But, I now see it as something that would happen if they survive in the first place, and when I find that the racks at my record store start to give ANY appreciable space to them, as opposed to CD, or even vinyl.
All good post above, but in addition, one thing I am also finding is that the SACD titles that are available as a rule sound significantly better than redbook cd's on a redbook cdp. To be more specific just this last week I received an order of three SACD's from Music Direct, Jacitha's Here's to Ben Webster, the Delo recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and WAter Lily's Mumtaz Mahal, and quite frankly all of these recordings are to my ears significantly better and more musical sounding than most of the audiophile grade conventional cd's. Here's the real kicker my CDP is a Wadia 16i which although it has been extensively modified by Steve Huntley at GNSC is old technology with only 20 bit/44.1 khz resolution, yet much of what is advantaged in the SACD format comes across even on this machine.
I agree with the others that more titles have to be released and by now there really is no excuse as to why they are not. I would love to hear the Steely Dans Two Against Nature on SACD, what a kick that would be.
Just my two cents worth.
Another important factor is to get interesting titles that are not copies of PCM recordings.In my experience I have found just the opposite, that audiophile redbook will and usualy does sound better and good CPs than the SACD counterparts that have been transfered from PCM.On the other hand,a true DSD recording is without question superior.
I fully agree with the many good points mentioned about
the lack of SACD & DVD-A software. I think it should also
be mentioned, that many of the SACD discs I see for sale
are priced upwards of $20.00. And many are priced in some
of the catalogs at $25.00 & $30.00.
I love my music as much as anyone - but I'm not about
to rush out and replace my 400+ CDs with SACDs at $20.00
or more a pop.
As the owner of a commercial media duplication company,
I would also like to point out that the actual manufacturing
costs to produce a CD are well below $1.00. And SACDs are
not a great deal more expensive to manufacture.
Tony, What many people non't realize is that a good SACD player will greatly improve the sound of your regular CDs. There are now between 300 to 400 SACD disks released so far. Some good and soom not. As you wait for more SACD releases, just sit back and listen to the improvement in sound in your old CDs. To get more information on this, please read Kalman Rubinson's review of the Sony SCD-XA777ES SACD/CD player in the January, 2002 issue of "Stereophile" magazine.
I guess all you doubters have pretty short memories and don't remember when CD was the new format. I recall visiting my local music retailer every week, wad of cash in sweaty hands, ready to pounce on ANY new arrival of decent CD's. At first, all the CD's were kept in something just larger than a SHOEBOX on the front counter. People would stop and regard them with curiosity, then move on to the cassette tape and vinyl section of the store. I would implore the always sympathetic owner to find more CD's for me to buy. It took a couple years to get a reasonable library of favorite recordings, and nearly a decade to get most of the stuff I owned on vinyl. SACD is not as revolutionarty a format change as CD was from vinyl--it is more of a refinement than a totally new medium. However, it is better--there is no arguement against that. I don't care how super your CD player is--SACD is better. Almost every recording in every style of music simply sounds better. Sony will eventually clear the considerable bottlenecks of SACD production (imagine the amount of equipment needed to remaster and reproduce discs all over the world), the software will flow, prices will drop, players will be sold, and you cynics will need to find something else about which to gripe!
Madisonears, why were you so hyped on CD when they first came out? The early CDs & players sounded dreadful! SACD & DVD Audio are only as good as the rest of your system. If someone is to own a $500 Sony receiver and some JBL mini monitors what's the point? IMHO if everything else is up to the task and the material was recorded in DSD then SACD has a chance of being the highest fidelity format yet. Until then, my Classic Records "Kind of Blue" and "Time Out" still smoke their SACD versions.