For best CD playback is SACD needed?


I’m looking to significantly upgrade my stereo. I am planning to use CDs as my only source and I listen primarily to Classical and Jazz. Should my CD player have SACD capability?

I ask this for two reasons.
1. SACD seems to be fading away. Many new high end players (like the Nagra CD player) don’t support it. Most new music releases are NOT in SACD, in fact it seems that the number of new SACD discs is on the decline.

2. Some would argue that even though SACD clearly has better numbers on paper, that in the real world it is impossible even for experienced listeners to hear a difference. I’m referring here to the September 2007 issue of the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society (Volume 55, Number 9).
hdomke
Hdomke:

If you don't already own any SACD's, now would not be the time to start acquiring a collection. You can hear the differences between Redbook CD and SACD, it's just whether the difference is big enough or important enough to matter to you.

From my comments, it's may seem obvious that I own a SACD collection and a player that what was "A" rated by Stereophile five years ago. The format never really got traction and I find myself buying SACD's more because I own a SACD player, than any other reason. I listen to a lot of opera and there are few SACD offerings.

Buy the best Redbook CD that you can afford and forget about SACD.

Regards,

Rich
Rich,
"You can hear the differences between Redbook CD and SACD"
Are you sure?
If so, the difference does matter to me (and probably most others on this forum). But some research raises doubts.

Audio Critic wrote: "“In the September 2007 issue of the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society (Volume 55, Number 9), …a breakthrough paper that contradicts all previous inputs by the engineering community. They prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, with literally hundreds of double-blind listening tests at matched levels, conducted over a period of more than a year, that there’s no audible difference between the original CD standard (“Red Book”) and 24-bit/192-kHz PCM or 1-bit/2.8442-MHz DSD.”
Yes, if you are interested in some of the vintage Jazz that were recorded in 3 track takes and are now being issued in hybird SACD. I think the best one is Miles/Blue, which was recorded mono, three tracks. I have all the others, vinyl, red book and regular SACD. The three channel sounds the best. I understand that Columbia will issue more of these, 3 channel, in the future. Of course they will only be the classic sessions. So, the only way to get a multi channel CD is SACD. The imaging is unbelieveable.
Hdomke why ask the question since you appear to have made up your mind.

My experience with most if not all of these engineering societies is that they have also made up their minds and will go through any gymnastics to prove their conclusion.

I have many of my favorite recordings on redbook, SACD, vinyl, and better vinyl pressings. I have had many non-audiophiles over and gone through the series playing the same track in the order already mentioned, and seen the shock on people faces. They thought SACD sounded better than redbook, but every vinyl source was so much better that people were on many occasions speechless.

Enjoy your conclusions!

O

o

.
some of the xrcd's are incredible esp jazz at the pawn shop better than red book or sacd--rich
Hdomke:

You ask for feedback. You get it. Then, you question my truthfulness and/or my ability to make distinctions. It's been awhile since I have been treated like a 3rd grader. Thanks pal.

So, why not just listen for yourself? If you like, compare the Redbook CD and SACD only versions of the following titles and see if you can hear differences and if those differences are important to you.

1. Mark O Connor "Hot Swing Trio"
2. Blood, Sweat, & Tears - 2nd Album
3. Louis Armstrong Plays Fats Waller
4. Louis Armstrong plays W.C. Handy
5. Byrds' Greatest Hits

Have fun,

Rich
sacd has a lot more sweeter sound it is better so it depends if you can find what you want on it
See my response on your other thread. I'm too lazy to duplicate it.
Rich,
You ask for feedback. You get it. Then, you question my truthfulness and/or my ability to make distinctions. It's been awhile since I have been treated like a 3rd grader. Thanks pal.
Please forgive me if my post came across that way, that was not my intention. It's just that I am naturally skeptical, I'm from Missouri, the "Show Me" State.

So, why not just listen for yourself?
Actually, I have been trying. I got an SACD copy of "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis to compare to the Redbook Version. So far, I can't hear much of a difference, and I fear some of the differences may be due re-mastering.

I am a novice at this. You have more experience, that is why I am asking for opinions.
You say you listen primarily to classical and jazz. As far as classical releases go, the marketplace still seems to be supporting a fair number of sacd releases. I'm thinking of the European "boutique" labels like BIS, Channel Classics, Pentatone, and several others -- they continue to put out new, multichannel DSD recordings and are getting acclaim for their musicality and good sound. There are many more new issues every month than I can afford to buy.

I have a player that combines upsampling CD, multi-ch SACD, and HDCD capabilities, and I'm glad I have all three. True DSD recordings are indeed sweeter and more characterful. But I think the multi-ch also contributes significantly to the difference, and the US audiophile audience has largely not gone there. So that might be a factor for you. Also, I find that the upsampled CDs are much, much closer to DSD than what you could hear even from the best players ten years ago.

My classical listening is mainly instrumental: piano, chamber music, and symphonies. (Some of the Living Stereo reissues have been revelatory.) But in terms of vocal, it is possible that the new hi-rez dvd formats will largely supplant all sorts of audio-only playback. That is, we'll all be *watching* opera with TruHD or other enhanced audio tracks (again, multi-ch capable) in future. So you may want to wait a while to see if that takes off (not much sign of it yet -- the first HD-DVD opera dvds are just now being released.)
If you cannot hear much of a difference, then I would ask what are you listening through? Looking at your system link, my guess is that you are basing your conclusions from a $200 Onkyo receiver and MB quart speakers. Sorry to be blunt but I don't think that that gear will be able to show you the differences between SACD and CD.

Forget what the journals say - higher resolution sources will be clearly evident through better equipment and will go a long way to change your perspective. I recommend you audition different players and setups at a dealer and see for yourself.
Hiend Sony SACD is Stereophile Class A and can be brought to level with a $5-6K outlay with purchase and then modification from folks like Dan Wright that make the equivalent to $20K offerings from Linn,Meridian,etc.
Sony,Marantz,and Denon are all good stock performers at reasonable prices.And all three have a number of hot rodders.Now you have to think about some "HD" obsolescence.
But ones Red Book CD,and SACD's still sit thier so if your ready to go do it and it another type of discs sticks (SACD seems to be cooling off and may be dropped as have so many other formats.
Cheers
Chazz
Hi-end Sony SACD is Stereophile Class A and can be brought to level with a $5-6K outlay with purchase and then modification from folks like Dan Wright that make the equivalent to $20K offerings from Linn,Meridian,etc.
Sony,Marantz,and Denon are all good stock performers at reasonable prices.And all three have a number of hot rodders.Now you have to think about some "HD" obsolescence.
But ones Red Book CD,and SACD's still sit thier so if your ready to go do it and it another type of discs sticks (SACD seems to be cooling off and may be dropped as have so many other formats.
Cheers
Chazz
It sounds as if you want the answer to be no, SACD would not be practical. However, I would say yes to SACD for two reasons. First of all you say you want to significantly upgrade your stereo AND digital is your only source. Secondly, you listen primarily to Classical and Jazz.

Well it just so happens that SACD is sonically superior and the easy (re: cheap) way to significantly upgrade your stereo. By cheap I mean to say that a $500 SACD player will sound better on SACD than a $5000 redbook player will sound with the same RBCD. You can never recover information that isn't there in the first place. You can also choose to listen with your mind, and let the scientist/engineers tell you what you can and cannot hear, or you can listen with your soul and KNOW what you hear/feel.

Also, though SACD new releases are diminishing, Classical and Jazz represent roughly 73% of the current SACD catalog. I would also estimate that these two genres represent roughly 90% of the new releases.

Cheers,
John

BTW, vinyl is my preffered source, SACD second, and RBCD third.
I recommend SACD even at this date because even if you can't hear a difference between a Stereo SACD program and its redbook counterpart (I can hear a big difference, by the way), you surely can detect a monumental difference between a multichannel SACD program and a stereo redbook version, if you're willing to set up a multichannel playback system. Amazon.com has thousands of used SACDs available at a fraction of their list prices. I have bought hundreds of them and have enjoyed them immensely.
An article by Kal Rubinson in the current Stereophile suggests HDMI may be a solution to multichannel without the mass of cables. Adding 3 more cables has been holding me back. I enjoy mostly classical, baroque, and jazz, and an occasional large orchestral work, especially Mahler, and find a ready supply of superb SACDs.

db
If you primarily plan to listen to CDs, then you don't need an SACD player. Any time one makes a machine capable of playing multiple formats, COMPROMISES to both have to be made. The idea of upsampling CD to DSD as an improvement is dubious.

I used to own a Sony SCD-1 (I gave it away to a friend) and replaced it with a very, very good CD player. Given the vastly greater availability of CD material, really topnotch CD reproduction was much more important to me (the better SACD and DVD-A machines did not do much for me as CD players). But, I actually find that a surprising amount of good classical releases are on double layer SACDs, so, a classical listener can find quite a bit on SACD (I've actually bought more SACDs during the time I did not own an SACD machine than during the time I had the Sony).

As for whether the difference between the two can be heard, to me, the difference is easy to hear on machines with dual capability and usually in favor of SACD. But, when a really good SACD player is matched against a really good dedicated CD player, the strengths of the particular CD player can outweigh the inherent advantages of the SACD format.
But, when a really good SACD player is matched against a really good dedicated CD player, the strengths of the particular CD player can outweigh the inherent advantages of the SACD format.
Larryi

Well I would have to disagree with this statement. I will admit that one could tweak, or alter a analog output stage to tailor the sound that one person may find more suitable. Just as one may find an amplifier that suits one's taste. However, when you start with a superior format in SACD, you will need to do some real magic in the rest of the player to make up for the poor start, because you are squarely behind the 8-ball when starting with redbook cd's.
Yes, if you are comparing a stock Japanese SACD player to a highly tweaked redbook cd player, the analog stage of the redbook cd player may be tweaked in such a way that it can hide the inherent flaws of the medium and sound better. However, if you were to use a similar analog stage, the SACD player will sound better.

If you did not use the words "really good" in front of "SACD player", I would find your statement more believeable. Yes, I will admit that a "really good" redbook player can sound better than a SACD player, but not better than a "really good" SACD player.

I still feel that many inexpensive stock SACD players using a SACD disc will out perform a much more expensive redbook only cd player. I will admit that it is possible (and costly) to find a redbook player that can outperform a SACD player, I just haven't heard one yet. I can't say that I've listened to many $10K+ redbook only players though.

FWIW, I went in the other direction. I sold my $8000 redbook cd player for a SACD player that sold for less than half the price. On redbook I would say the older $8000 cd player had a slight edge, on SACD's the cheaper unit far surpassed anything the more expensive redbook player was capable of.

Now I've never been a big digital proponent. I much prefer vinyl, but I find that SACD makes it much easier for me to listen to digital without grinding my teeth.

Cheers,
John
I have a good CD/SACD player (Trivista) and they key is how few SACD's are released as you mentioned. I have plenty of good redbook CD's that sound better than almost all of my SACD's. It goes back to the recording itself and how well it was done not its final format.

ET

Hi John,

I have not heard that many cost-is-no-object SACD or DVD-A players, primarily because there just aren't that many around. The Meitner gear I heard and the Esoteric weren't to my taste. I did not like the somewhat lean and analytical sound, but, this quality was not format specific, which means I just did not like the particular voicing of these particular lines of gear. The full DCS stack I heard was in a system I was not familiar with, but, the sound did remind me of a CD-only dcs stack I heard in a friend's system (smooth, musical, but a touch laid back in terms of dynamics).

What I have concluded is that the superiority of SACD and DVD-A as formats is not so great as to make brand-to-brand and model-to-model implementation insignificant as a factor in the overall sound. I happen to like what Audionote does with CD sound, and I like what Naim does in its top two models (CDS3 and CD555) -- this superior implementation of CD sound means more to me than what I can get out of the few great sounding SACDs I have heard.