I believe you're quite right in thinking that redbook played on a very good CD player will sound better than an SACD played on a lesser unit. My first experience came in comparing a Naim CD5x to a Music Hall Maverick playing SACD. I've owned the Sony XA 9000ES and, IMO, the SACD section does full justice to the medium. I've recently compared it to the new 5400, but unfortunately, the demo conditions were poor, so it was hard to hear a difference. I would say purchase a used 9000, but you can buy a new 5400 for the same or less.
I'm currently using a $169 Oppo for video and it does a credible job on hi-res discs, but it in no way approaches my redbood player. All in all, IMO, either Sony is a very safe bet if you want to hear what SACD sounds like without spending a fortune. Assuming you have room for another big box of course.
In Kal Rubinson's recent review of the Sony 5400 in
Stereophile he states that the 5400 was the clear victor
when compared to his then reference Sony 9000. The review
closes with "I have yet to hear a better SACD/CD player".
I'm not sure if Kal's comments were directed to connection through the analog output stage or multi-channel over HDMI. They can be very different. I agree that the 5400 looks like a very exciting product.
Kal says he has the 5400 9000 & 777 and prefers the 5400
A medium price SACD player like the Marantz SA 7003 or SA 8003 (about US$600-900) will vastly outperform ANY CD player on the market.
CD is a low-rez format. You can buy expensive CD players that cost $10000 ... but however much you pay, it is always limited to low-resolution 16 bit 44 kHz sound. Can't escape that. Can't make quality out of thin air. That's why serious audiophile companies like Mark Levinson and Krell no longer sell CD players - they've moved to SACD. Similarly, Sony, Marantz and Yamaha basically no longer sell standalone CD players - they are moving their entire line-ups to SACD.
CD as an audiophile concept is finished. The mass market is going downloads. Audiophile market is going hi-rez. Smell the flowers.
the flowers everywhere but around the batmobile ;-)
are either in vinyl or blu ray
will the high res companies deliver quality blu ray discs?
neil young is better his early farm on it
blu-ray discs are not backwards compatible, forget it!
if a customer buys Neil Young disc, and then he or she will find out that it can't be played in a car for example the disc will be returned to the store!
CD must be more than "low-rez" if reviewers are putting it on equal grounds with (true) hi-rez !! This would include John Atkinson's (recent) review of Meridian's 808.2 CD player.
Let's not forget that (audiophile) recording labels record at *20 bits* along with higher-than-44 kHz sampling rates since the early 1990's. This helped overcome the production losses which occured when recording right at 16. By this, I mean the "headroom" needed for signal processing. Engineers also use dither to remove the low-level quantization noise, if present, for the consumer copy.
I don't know which of these two techniques is more effective - but 16 bits by itself captures 25db more dynamic range than a symphony orchestra produces. Most audiophiles don't know this...or for that matter, how dither works......
"CD must be more than "low-rez"
unfortunately CD is low-rez, nothing less nothing more
just look at available audio formats
I have the sony 5400 player and it does a great job on SACD. It is also very good on CD with terrific base and mid range. It's better than any Marantz I've heard.
SACD sounds much better than CD.
Listned to a lot of players and until you move into very high $ like Esoteric P-03 D-03 SACD it is not substantially better.
The 5400 has nice solid build which is a good foundation for sound.
According to Kal Rubinson's May review, (Redbook) CD processing on the XA5400 is done in such a way that results in a 2.8MHz signal-sampling frequency - the same as DSD. That, plus comments here and on other boards that say it raises the difference between Redbook to SACD to near indiscernible, puts this machine on my must-audition list.
There is still a substantial difference between SACD and CD on my XA5400. There is simply more information on a SACD than a CD. Multiply the CD information up to SACD doesn't add the missing data. Just look at the sampling rates for CD on higher frequencies.
If Wadia and others spend as much time improving SACD playback as they have on CD we would have "analog" quality and better.
The CD playback on the 5400 is great but not as good as a Wadia 581. SACD is better for much less $.
Audioholik: These higher rates don't mean much if they don't sound better. Most reviewers these days are struggling to put SACD ahead of CD. That's a fact. But it doesn't mean that a lower-priced unit ($500-1500) can't outperform CD. At these price points, SACD usually does. It's over $1500 where CD shines...and this is where some folks put CD *ahead* of SACD - myself included. Red Book playback is improving rapidly.
And JA states that Meridian's CD is virtually as good as 24-bit/88kHz audio. All this means that higher-bit and sample rates were a farce - as far as playback is concerned. High-bit capture, as I've stated above, was certainly helpful in production.....
Get a good Denon 3910. You get excellent play from all formats. Plus you get video and HDCD as a plus. They have been on A-gon for about $400-500. A good deal.