how good is sacd1000 on red book

I bought a Philips sacd1000 but am having second thoughts. I only care about red book discs. Anyone had the chance to a/b this player against something like the Bel Canto DAC-2?
84... my intial impression to my philips sacd1000 on redbook is that it sounded somewhat dark, or compressed, lacking life. that was in comparison to a wadia 860x (MUCH more expensive!)...

the philips has improved with continued playback. it's pretty good i guess, but definitely was disappointing to me as well on redbook.

i think i've been totally spoiled with the Wadia...
I have listened extensively to the Marantz SA-14 and I understand they are very similar. Frankly, it was an impulse buy. I thought I might have it modified or maybe I will just sell it, it is unopened.
If you take the time to break it in, the SACD1000 sound
very good on red book CDs.

I found no lack of detail out of the box, but the high end
sounded closed in/compressed.

Unless you've got a Wadia or a $32K FA Ref/AN DAC-4 Sig combo, it's a great piece of gear for $350.

I plan to pop the hood and work on the power supplies,
analog output stage and applied damping materials that
have worked well on other digital gear.
My unit is 3 days old. Out of the box it bettered the Alchemist Nexus I had been using for Redbook CD. I have used it for SACD in two channel mode, and is better that the cheaper Sony 775, but not as good as a friends SCD777ES. System Mac C100 Mac 352 and Dunlavy SCIVA.
I agree with Kana813 and to a lesser extent, Dennis also. For the record, i listened to a few discs, put in the Ayre Acoustics test disc on repeat and let it run for about 8 hours. I've now got about 5 discs listening time after the initial "break in" with the Ayre Acoustics disc.

I think that the top end is somewhat "closed" and lacks "air" or "space" at this point in time. This is not to say that the treble sounds "muted" or rolled off, just that i think it needs some time on it. Given past experiences, i think that further operation will tend to "open up" the top end a bit due to break-in, but i may have to play with cables to get it to go where i want it to be in this respect. I like a VERY "airy" and "box-less" presentation. Many consider this to be a trait of tubes but it is quite achievable with SS gear also. Needless to say, it does take a LOT of work and experimentation though. What the SACD 1000 is presenting is not "bad" by any means in terms of treble response, it just isn't as "spacious" as i would like.

The lower treble and midrange is VERY "clear" sounding with a complete lack of grain, glare, harsness or sibilance. I find that i can far more easily pick out lyrics that might have been "hiding" with a lesser player in this system. This is not to say it it is "forward" sounding where vocals jump out at you, but that things are less cluttered. This makes it easier to pick out individual passages without straining to do so. Not only is this beneficial when listening to vocal work, it will perform such benefits when watching DVD's and trying to discern what actors are saying on movies that used poor mic placement and / or less than optimum mixing.

The "warmth" or lower midrange / upper bass region seems to be pretty well balanced. Nothing really stands out here as the player does not seem to add any type of "mud" or lean things out. At this point in time, i would say that this specific region is relatively neutral and doesn't bow towards either side of the "tonal dividing line".

Judging by my experience with the SACD 1000, i've found that it has very powerful bottom end with much greater impact and weight than any player i've had in my HT system. It is not over-powering or "bloated" by any means, it simply has more "grunt" with a lot more "slam" now. This is a good thing, especially with movie sound effects, etc.. As a point of reference, i've had several different players in this system, both DVD and CD only. I've also tried quite a few interconnects, ranging from analogue via line level inputs to digital inputs with both coaxial and toslink cables.

With that in mind, I think that Dennis' point of view is probably very valid given his point of reference. Personally, i find Wadia stuff a little bright and lean sounding, so going to a player that is "closed in" on the top end with what appears to be a very potent bottom end might make one think that it was "very dark". Mind you, i'm not passing judgment on Dennis or his personal taste in gear, i'm simply stating that i think i understand where he is coming from in the comments that he made. Much like the contrast between Nordost and Goertz cables, both can have their place within a system depending on the support components and personal preferences.

The overall noise floor is quite low, which is a big improvement over the previous player in this system. I now hear notes emerging from a much blacker background with. This is a good thing to say the least. This may be part of the reason that one is able to better understand lyrics and vocal passages as there is a greater contrast between quiet and loud passages, resulting in less hassle to separate the signals somewhere in-between.

I have to mention that this player has what is a standard removable IEC power cord on it. It is a non-grounded design though, using only two of the three prongs. As such, any cord will fit into the jack but the ground is not electrically connected to the unit. Philips mentions this in the manual and explains how to ground the unit if you choose to do so. Personally, i am running it ungrounded at this point in time. I did not bother hooking up the stock power cord, but instead used a TG Audio HSR-I Generation II. I am not saying that i think that this is the ultimate cord or that i think that this is a good match for this specific component. I simply had it handy and into the system it went. I will say that i would not keep such a cord handy if i did not think it offered benefits to using it. The aftermarket cord may also be another reason that i'm experiencing a lower noise floor than the previous player offered, as it made use of a factory power cord. I simply never got around to changing it.

Given the above comments about the "powerful" bottom end and a reduced noise floor, i had to re-think some past observations that i had made about my HT system. First of all, i had always thought that my Sunfire Signature driving my mains and the Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature driving the center, surrounds and subs were somewhat "rounded" or "soft" in bass impact. Adding this player to the system has changed that. While i do have amps that "slay" the Sunfire's in terms of bass impact and "slam", this tells me that all of my previous "bass softness" was not directly related to the amps.

I also mentioned a reduction in the noise floor. This made me re-think some prior thoughts that i had about the Sunfire Theater Grand II that i am running in that system. I had always thought that this piece was a little noisier than i thought it should have been. Going to balanced cables from Processor to the two amps helped quite a bit, but it was still not what i thought it should have been. I'm not saying that i thought the TG II was loaded with hiss and static, but that i didn't think that it had as black of a background as it should. Changing the front end has somewhat corrected the situation or at least altered my perception as to what the source of "noise" might have been.

Other than that, it seems to be a pretty solid redbook player overall. It had no problems reading and playing a "burned" disc that i had, so that made me happy. As mentioned, i am hoping that the soundstage will fill out a bit and things will get a bit "airier", but to be completely fair, i have spent NO time trying to dial the system in with this player installed. I simply disconnected what was there and stuck this in its' place. As such, what was optimum for the other player probably needs some refining in order to make this player really shine.

Given the pretty solid sonics of the base unit out of the box, i think it would be an excellent candidate for further upgrades and modifications. I personally prefer to start with a solid platform to build upon rather than trying to take a sow's ear and turn it into a silk purse. That can be done, but it is always a lot harder and more costly.

The one thing that i do not like about this player is the loading drawer. It is VERY "plastic" and flimsy to say the least. I can guarantee that i'll be addressing this situation in the very near future with some damping compound.

As far as the video or SACD portion goes, i have not even attempted to use them as of yet. I'm sure that will take place this weekend though. Sean
Thank you Sean for a great post. Anyone had the Stan Warren mod done to the player?
Poster RandyTsuch has a SW modded 1000 and a search here might provide you with some info. Randy is also a regular over at HD where you might find his impressions. The one thing is (if memory serves me right) is that he sent his new stock unit directly to Stan without hearing it in stock form. Randy can confirm.

While my 1000 is still at my buddy's house in CT, I have yet to decide on how to approach this whole mod thing (I've got a "Kerned" 333ES currently)... Do I:

1. Get it home into Western Canada to see how it performs against my Sony. If I don't like it I should have no problem getting my money out it especially since this particular Philips is virtually non-existent in Canada.

2. Get it modded but herein lies the problem. I know first hand the Richard Kern does great work, Stan offers what appears to be a very reasonably priced mod and Dan Wright's "absolute truth" mods in corporating a tube output stage is very intrguing although very pricy.

Decisions, decisions, decisions...
If i have anybody do anything to my SACD 1000, it would probably be either Ric from EVS or Kyle at Reference Audio Mods. I've talked to Ric about this and should probably give Kyle a call to see what he's got up his sleeve. I know that a lot of you folks like Dan Wright, Stan Warren, Joe Curcio, Richard Kern and John Hillig, so it would appear that we've got quite a few qualified and reputable folks to choose from in terms of having them "gut" our brand new units : ) As mentioned in another thread, i would talk to a few different "tweakers" and get a feel for how they operate. From there, you shouldn't have a hard time deciding on who you want to work with. Much like selecting gear, this SHOULD be a personal process. Just because i like something or someone doesn't mean that you will. Sean
Sean, thanks for your detailed report on this player. Please give SACD a shot, and let us know what you think.

I agree with your assessment of the modders. If I ever have my SCD333-ES player done, it will be Ric at EVS who does the work.
Air... yeh, that's what I think I feel like I'm missing from redbook playback on the philips player. BUT, after almost 6 days of continuous playback, the sound has opened up some, and become better integrated within itself.

the midrange is probably it's best trait, the high end needing the most help.

In asking for mods, I'd look for someone who could open up the top end, add some air, and remove some of the overall coloring the unit has... there just seems to be a little bit of a thickness to the sound. I'd also ask to see if the soundstage could be expanded... the sound is full, but doesn't extend far out on either side.

All this said, the unit sounds much better than it originally did, even two days of continuous playback. my ear did hear improvement over time.
Glad that we are basically on the same page Dennis and that you did not take offense to my comments / observations. I'm also glad to hear that the sound is opening up a bit. As i mentioned though, i'm thinking that i'll need to change the interconnects that i'm using in the long run. My initial thoughts are that some Magnan's would work wonderfully here for multiple reasons.

I don't really notice a "thickness" with this unit so much as i do the deep bass standing out. If one were using speakers with smaller woofers, mid-woofers with limited bass extension or a vented system ( especially passive radiator design ), i could see how this could tend to muddy / thicken or "congest" things a bit. Both my woofers and amps are definitely being pushed harder than they have ever been before, so i can see someone with less power and / or bass and power handling capabilities running into problems sooner than later with this player in the system.

With that in mind, i'm wondering what BIG "Hollyweird" explosions are like on DVD via this player ??? Maybe i need a few more watts and woofers : )

Joe: This unit comes with two SACD's, so i'll give them a listen when i get a chance. Is there a good SACD that one can pick up at Best Buy or one of the chain stores that will really let me see what this unit can do in SACD mode ? I know that they might not have the best variety of "audiophile approved" selections, but i don't think that anything that might have "fancy" recordings will be open on Sunday.

I'd also like to mention an idea here. If we can find a disc that is commonly available and use that as a reference for all of us to compare notes with, that would make things a lot simpler with greater potential for useful info being shared. With all of us using a disc or two for reference, we would be able to to compare the resolution and sonic characteristics of any SACD player. As such, we need to hear some suggestions as to what disc(s) are worth using for something like this.

Someone with a good selection of SACD's with a lot of SACD listening experience should start a thread regarding "reference quality SACD's" and let's see what we can come up with. Obviously, musical tastes will come into this, but if we do this strictly as a technical measure for comparison sakes, the doors are wide open. Sean
In this continuing search for truth, justice and great sound
for money, I'd like to add the following....the SACD 1000
as Sean points out has a strong bottom end. I was more
impressed with it's mid bass definition.

I'm glad you folks are hearing the benefits of some break-in.

Having just looked over the circuit diagrams today, I think
the unit's high end signature is due to the large polarized
caps in the analog output stage. These will be my first
targets for upgrade/bypass.

Sean's suggestion to start a thread for reference SACDs recording is a good one. Since there's now a lot of SACD 1000 players in Audiogon systems, I think a thread on mods, both professional and dyi would also be useful.

Funny....84audio who started this excellent thread has his "unopened" SACD 1000 listed for sale.

Mele Kalikimaka.
Sean, I know you are into rock music pretty heavily, but if you have any jazz leanings, I have found that the Charles Mingus "Mingus Ah Um" SACD to be a disc that I really like.

Upright bass is quite realistic; the notes have the correct attack, crescendo, and decay of the instrument, with a believable air around them. Horns have nice bite. The sound of Mingus(him, in particular) on this SACD offers something that I was previously unable to hear through my system through CD.

*** Disclaimer for all the anti SACD fanatics, I HAVE NOT TRIED A $3000+ CD PLAYER IN MY SYSTEM ***

I am not sure if others agree with me being impressed with this disc, but if anyone out there has it, I would appreciate them also chiming in.

This disc might represent something that fans of classical, rock, and jazz might be able to use as a common reference point. It features various instruments, both visceral and delicate, and I find it well recorded despite its age. On the down side, there are no vocals, which I find important and may preclude it from being the Audiogoner reference.

While introducing the Rolling Stones 1960's catalog is big news, I am looking forward to being able to buy whatever I want on SACD. I am more into Led Zep, The Who, The Yardbirds, and a ton of more modern stuff. That's when they'll get my money.

The thing I notice most about SACD is getting the weight of the recording much more correct than CD through just about any CD player I have come across(the elite excepted). That and the "realness" are what sets vinyl most apart from CD to me. And, while I still think that at this point vinyl trumps SACD, SACD represents a definite step closer to what I seek. I think that from the lower midrange on down, SACD makes me happier than CD with its weight and believability. There is also a clarity that SACD recordings seem to possess. I don't have enough experience yet with SACD, but I am holding out hope about the realness.

With each new wave of players, Sony targets the masses. I think that for audiophiles, the best has probably come to us from Sony. I know that my 28 lb 333ES player sounds better to me than any of the 7 lb plastic faceplate stuff that has come since. If SACD will become the future of the high end, companies like Musical Fidelity, Linn, Audio Aero, YBA and the like will need to take us there. Just like it was for CD...

My complaint about SACD is the lack of software, although it seems to be on the upswing. The thing that I don't like about the SACD campaign is the way Sony wages it. They have no idea as to how to market the software. And, Sony does not have the either the intestinal fortitude or brains to fight a format war. Does Sony realize that the real format war may not be with DVD - A, but with CD? Maybe I am crazy, but I think that Sony should stop pressing CDs, and just sell SACD. With the amount of material they control, people will be forced to then buy the hardware, and it will all feed off of itself - others will press SACDs or hybrids. Believe me, people have no adversion to buying hardware(witness DVD, MP3, cell phones, palms, satellite tv and now radio), but you have to make them buy into the software.
Joe: I like all different types of music but listen to rock ( boy, what a BIG "generic" term ) the most. I do have everything from HDCD classical recordings down to a good assortment of jazz and blues with some European folk music thrown in for good measure. While i love the sound of a well recorded upright bass, i agree that vocal reproduction is a very important part of a music system.

As such, i really hope that someone starts a thread on the topic. If someone doesn't ( probably due to being "shy" and / or not wanting to be embarrassed if their selections get "panned" right off the bat ), i'll do it just to get the ball rolling. From there, people can chime in with some of their favorite discs. I guess that they need not be of "reference quality" so long as we have the same discs to compare notes with. Having said that, it would be nice to have a point of reference that was also of excellent qualtiy.

As to your comments about Sony dropping CD and moving to SACD, i sincerely doubt that this thought has ever entered their heads. The problem with this is that they are trying to demonstrate the superiority of SACD while at the same time bump up their profit margin for doing us the "favour" of "giving us" the higher quality recordings.

Since the record industry has run into a brick wall in terms of what people are willing to pay for discs prior to simply pirating music, they would either be forced to bring SACD's down to ( at least ) the price of standard CD's in order to be competitive. Otherwise, most people would reduce the quantity of purchases made even further and find ways to duplicate and distribute amongst their friends. As such, it is such a shame that the average citizen is being pushed to the point of becoming a "criminal" due to the greed of the recording industry as a whole. They simply do not understand that "slightly" reduced prices might open up the flood gates of sales and reduce the problems of pirating. After all, i think that most people would prefer to pay a bit more for a high grade ( HA ! ) factory recording complete with all of the liner notes, artwork, etc... than to have a ( typically ) lower grade boot-legged copy with nothing but the song titles listed on it.

How many of you can remember buying brand new LP's for $3.99 - $4.99 at your local "record store" ??? I can. Then again, i worked at a record store in the 70's. Is the recording industry trying to say it costs 3 - 4 times more to produce and market a CD than it does an LP ? I think not. Besides that, i think that the "defect rate" of LP's was MUCH higher than it is with CD's. As such, their overhead in terms of damaged products has got to be lower. It is pure and simple greed and nothing else.... Sean
I'm listening to my new 1000, they said I got the last one in the system today. All I can say about it for now is that it sounds very good, I can't wait until it get's burned in. I'm waiting for my stereophile discs with the burn track. Otherwise it is a marked improvement in my system & I'm glad to have it.
I really could use a recommendation on some SACD titles as well, the sampler discs are not really my cup of tea. I can say that I really enjoy the SACD sound but would like to hear what some "rock & roll" vocals & amplified instruments sound like.