You have got it in a nutshell. If it cannot be played on the move either Pod, walkman, or car it will not make it into the mainstream not that high end people want it to. More hybrid discs might be the keep it going answer but Sony doesn't seem to care about that and we are coming to find out because a disc is SACD doesn't make it better - case in point -the Stones collection.
Although both formats can be sonically excellent, I do believe that SACD is gaining a significant advantage over DVD-A for a number of reasons. The larger variety of Super Audio software may be the biggest factor. However, SACD is also more user-freindly and in many ways less annoying than DVD-A. No distracting video display is required to easily navigate the disk with SACD, and more SACD titles are geared toward stereo rather than multichannel audio performance. No matter how much the manufacturers want us to believe to the contrary, most consumers do not have (or probably want for that matter) a dedicated multichannel home theater with five or more speakers to support multichannel audio. Other properties of DVD-A that detract from the listening experience are the often silly and unrealistic surround mixes, painfully slow track access times and an inability to numerically select a track with the keypad on the remote control. Most of the DVD-A titles seem to try to "imbed" the listener in the music, but I (and I expect many others) find musicians suddenly playing behind me to be distracting, not pleasurable. I also believe that almost everyone who has used a CD player is accustomed to being able to select a track from a disk easily from the remote, but that is simply not the case with DVD-A players. While it is "possible" to navigate a DVD-A disk without a video display, it is not "convenient" unless you are willing to watch TV when you want to listen to music or you can tolerate repetitively pecking at the track forward button on the remote while watching a tiny display across the room! As for compatability with mobile listening, look for the next generation of computer soundcards to support both DSD and MLP. I suspect that Sony will also incorporate DSD/SACD capability in future Walkman and car audio products, and that could be the "death blow" for DVD-A.
I'd say SACD definitely has a leg up on DVD-A right now, largely because of the hybrid disks (like the Stones remasters) that are being sold as regular CDs to unsuspecting non-audiophiles. As manufacturing capacity increases, we'll see more of these, including (eventually) new releases.
But even if we get to the day when all disks are SACD hybrids, most people will probably listen to the CD layer, at least most of the time, simply because they'll be listening on a blaster or phones that are only 2-channel.
I agree with most of Thsalmon's points, although I would note that bad multichannel mixes are not unique to DVD-A. As we get more multichannel SACDs, especially from non-audiophile labels, I'm sure we'll see plenty of incompetent mastering jobs. Over time, as recording engineers get better at it, there will probably be some improvement.
"Over time, as recording engineers get better at it, there will probably be some improvement."
Well there has already been marked improvement. With the recent release of Darkside Of The Moon, the multichannel music bar has been set.
The two channel mix is a superb remastering job, and I believe one of the best SACDs out, but the multichannel mix is simply something to behold. I dont think I will ever be able to enjoy the two channel mix again.
So maybe to take this to another aspect... is SACD really worth it of 2 channel? I have 2 differnt systems 1 tube base 2 channel... the room will not allow for a proper multi channel. And another set up for HT with a very good 7.1 setup... This fall I will pick up a universal of some sort for the HT room. My problem is that my 2 channel CD player is acting up and driving me crazy. Do I just buy a good redback player or is SACD worth it. Note: I don't upgrade very often but when I do I buy good stuff and keep it for some time. I'm likely to spend 2-3K for a 2 ch player. I was blown away my the MF SACD that I listened to on a really good system. It is still unclear if It was great SACD player I was hearing or was it just a great system (~$50K). Regardless the MF piece is way beyond what I'm willing to spend. I don't really think it is the best out there but I'm currently trying to decided between the Shanling T100 and T200. I can get a demo T100 for $1500 but a T200 will be another $1K. It may not be the *best* sounding but it is fairly good and it is one of the best looking..
Still no software I care to buy in either format....
So they are both still headed to being losers in my book...
My system is solely 2 channel. There is an obvious sonic difference between CD and some SACD releases. Not all SACD releases sound significantly better than CDs, but the ones that do are well worth it. I would not hold back on SACD simply because you don't have a multichannel setup.
This is why I bought a Sony SCD-1. The redbook playback is very good, it rivals, if not surpasses most of the CD only systems I have heard (Resolution Audio Opus 21, Linn Ikemi, Rega Jupiter, among others). But on SACD, it is at least equal to many of the quality turntable setups I have heard.
I only own around 10 or so SACDs, but it looks as if more and more or being released. With the SCD-1, even if they never release another SACD I am more than pleased with the redbook playback qualities, and I haven't even modded it or added a DAC.
Plus, an SCD-1 looks great, and can be had for 3k new shipped with a five year warranty.
I also have a two-channel SACD system (please see my "system" link for details). I'm very happy with it, and to be perfectly honest...9 out of 10 multichannel mixes that I've heard sound a little "gimmicky" to me. They have a tendency to throw random sounds around the room, almost as if the engineers were seeking the cheap thrill of multichannel for the sake of multichannel. I'm sure there are plenty of SACDs that use multichannel in a musically sound and proper manner, and I'm equally convinced that more high-quality multichannel SACDs are on the way. But for now, I think it's very much worth it to have a 2-channel SACD system, as even discs intended for a 5-channel mix (i.e., Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon) sound far more convincing and engaging on a 2-speaker SACD setup than on mere redbook.
Hard to say at this stage which is winning and I think it's impossible to call the future at this present time.
I also think it depends what you've invested in-if you bought into SACD seriously then you'll be pro-SACD-if like me you have lightly invested in it -a Sony NPVS900 DVD/SACD player and decided against investing further in it-(I've just spent heavily on 2 channel stereo with an Ayre CX-7 and Ayre AX-7)-then like me you may harbour serious doubts about the format.
I have no interest (at this stage)in multi-channel though I have heard some great stuff already on both formats in a friend's system-I'm sure DSOM is truly excellent in 5 channel.
I think SACD may very well survive as a true Audiophile format but not in the mainstream-I think the discs available reflect this-much of which I have no interest in-other more interesting SACD releases by artists such as Bowie,Beck and Gabriel are probably individuals interested in both technology and audio reproduction and I would guess there's not too many of those around pushing the format -but I buy tons of music-I like to experiment-there's no new music out there on SACD or next to nothing.
Of course it's getting better but the hybrids are a double edge sword (no pun intended) because I can hear very little difference on either layer of The Stones,Police and indeed DSOM SACD's I own.
I'm sure if you have the MF or a high end Sony the superiority of SACD shines through but the lack of a noticeable difference at the mass market end is extremely damaging imho.
Also the hybrids are being remastered-guess what?- the CD layers sound improved to their previous releases-therefore proving more is available from CD-so why should you invest in a new player for the new formats?
The killer to me is that you (and I haven't heard it yet) need to spend serious bucks to hear what SACD can do.
The cheap universal players are damaging to the stereo aspects of both formats because I doubt very much if they exhibit any clear improvement on CD.
I also have SACD's which are not hybrids and the best of these Bowie's Heathen and In A Silent Way (M.Davis)were arguably slightly better in my system before I got the Ayre equipment-now on a quick listen to Bowie today it's quite a way back in comparison to the CD version-I need to check IASW at a later date.
Of course I'm not comparing like with like but that's because intially I was pro-SACD but the lack of players to audition and software to buy made my mind up to not invest further in it.
I wanted to believe in SACD but too many things were against it and I'm absolutely delighted with the descision I made.
BEn--You really couldn't hear much difference in the Police SACDs? because the difference I heard was profound, especially in "The Classics." It would seem, to be honest, that a lot of reviewers agree with my assessment. Of course, it's all about your gear and your ear...
Thedautch-I only have Sychronicity-I will recheck it tomorrow I didn't give it more than a cursory A/B on which my gut reaction was more of the same i.e not much between the layers but I really haven't listened in detail-I was actually quite disappointed overall with the disc.
I didn't think the remastering was that startling from the previous release but I listened to it a lot more at the time when it came out-on vinyl!
I'll get back to you on it...........
When I've done a A/B test of 2 ch SACD vs a good multi channel I did think the multi sounded better.. it was just not memorable. It was a classical recording where they basically just added some hall ambience to the recording. The front sound stang was different... but I'm not sure it was better. I was planning to just wait and see but my dying CD player on my 2 channel system is forcing me to act sooner. I will do a multi channel SACD in my HT room but it will most likely be a changer in order to keep my kids from handling the DVDs. Sony is releasing a 400 disk DVD/SACD in Sept for something like $400 and maybe they will have a ES version but it will be just a mid-fi player at best.
Thedautch did a quick check of the Sychronicity SACD hybrid today.
Part of the problem is the original sound of the recording the production has not particularly stood the test of time that well-at least half of the tracks veer towards thin sounding and lack weight-although some other tracks have a less flat sound and more substance and sound a whole lot better.
However that aside I stand by my statement perhaps on the odd track on SACD may exhibit a little of the smoothness I associate with the format but it's very marginal to my ears the difference between that and the CD layer-this is indicative of what I found with all the hybrids I've heard.
I with Jposs on this one. I listen mostly to LPs. I bought an SCD-1 (3k) because I wanted to get into SACD and also to upgrade my CD player. Well, I LOVE the SCD-1. I think it is execellent on regular CDs, though I coudln't compare it to super expensive "state of the art" red book players.
The SACD sounds has me very excited though. In particular, the total silence combined with sound of extremely natural presence and nuance it stunning. I sure hope SACD continues and thrives. This is a really MUSICAL format.
It reminds me of a fight between two reluctant participants. Neither one wants to deliver a real punch and both seem unwilling to really commit. SACD (Sony) seems to be in a little better shape because the DVDA "coalition" can't seem to get their act together.
Based on what I've seen in the market, SACD is beginning to significantly outpace DVD-Audio in popularity. To my ears, both formats are essentially equivalent in potential; A poorly engineered SACD recording will sound worse than a well engineered DVD-A disk, and vice versa. If only one format is fated to survive, my money's on SACD prevailing due primarily to the marketing power of Sony and Philips. They pioneered (sorry for the pun) the CD format, and they have that experience to draw upon. Also, Sony has a huge catalog of music software available for conversion/remastering to SACD. Lastly, and most importantly, we're talking folks with deep pockets here (I mean really deep). The biggest potential problem I see on the horizion is that insufficient demand might result in the recording industry eventually abandoning both formats. I think that would be a *&$# shame, so I humbly urge my fellow audio enthusiasts to support the hi-rez digital format of their choice both by buying the stuff and talking it up with people they know. Thanks to all participants, and happy listening.
In my opinion there are two key issues that have to be handled cleverly. This is from examining the tipping points that caused winners to emerge in past standards battles. The first is that the winner will need to use catalogue very cunningly to drive people to the new format. I tend to agree that Sony/Phillips have a better understanding of this issue and importantly a better ability to coordinate how they carry out such a strategy than a consortium of competitors. The second is that any new standard has to offer some kind of "gadget" value or convenience value, if it is not offering lower cost. Since there is very little to be seen in cost or convenience in the new standards then the key issue is "gadget" value. Since it is just another electronics box then I think they have already identified the only available "gadget" value which is surround sound and leveraging the investment that many already have in surround sound systems. That is a level playing field between the competing standards so no obvious winner from that angle.
Looking at what is distinctively different between the two technologies, the only thing significant is the backward compatibility of dual layer SACDs. This will be an advantage for SACD, but I think it will be small, and not compelling.
Therefore I conclude it is the clever use of catalogue that will probably be pivotal. The next question is what market will be pivotal. Perhaps it will be the Japanese market, and so I suspect we should be watching for Sony to begin some big bets in that market that are leveraged off mass popularity content that they own.
Redkiwi brings up a point that many may be overlooking, compatibility. I recently went to a local Best Buy to pick up the Police SACD (the classics). They have a new section titled "SACD & DVD-audio". Not shopping for DVD-A's before, I was shocked to see the jewel cases are of an irregular shape, not as small as a "standard" CD jewel case or as large as a DVD - somewhere in the middle. Not easy to store, I think - STRIKE 1 for DVDA. I next see that most of the SACD's are hybrid and can be played on regular CD players. Not only that but the hybrid, redbook layer sounds pretty darn good on a standard CD player. It doesn't appear that a standard DVDA can play on a regular CD player, maybe a DVD with DTS capability but not a "regular" CD player. STRIKE 2 for DVDA. I am also thinking that some folks out there who listen to the redbook layer of an SACD and find it improved (dramatically in some cases) might wonder just how much better it may sound played on an SACD player, perhaps leading to a purchase of a player???. In short, I see 2 strikes against DVDA already and wouldn't want to bank on a "strike 3" not happening.
DVD-A has 4 things going for it:
1. DVDs have a greater capacity than cds in storing data for future formats as well as current ones.
2. They can also include other surround sound formats like DD and dts (including dts 96/24, IMHO the cleanest sound yet; check out Queens video hits- Boheimian Rhapsody;spelling?!) as well as stereo.
3. DVD-A can also display video stills (e.g. song tracks and lyrics)
4. IMHO a cheap dvd player is a better cd transport than a cheap cd player.
However, (1)they need to include all formats on each album release (a lot of them don't have both DD and dts.), (2) use the standard cd jewel cases ( like the DADs),(3) they need to push the hardware development (including high end) that also includes car dvd players and (4) and a plus for HDCD decoding.
This would allow playback on any dvd player (stereo) and any dvd player equipped with dts/DD for multi channel. With the right marketing, they could make the cd obsolete in all future recordings. Bottom line: the dvd has a lot more potential than the cd.
For multi channel the verdict is still out, but for 2 channel I think SACD is winning for me.. I just picked up a few hybrid discs to conduct my search for a SACD player. I'm still trying to decide if SACD is worthwhile for 2 channel over a good redbook player. I will also be doing some type of universal player when my HT room is done in another few months but this is not a system of the same caliber as my tube gear. Since I'm still on the fence, I wanted a disc that I could get really familiar with at home on my current CD player. Since I'll be looking at both CD and SACD I wanted something I could take to the store and listen to in multiple players. Finding the same disc in CD and DVD-A seemed almost impossible. For me the hybrid thing may be the biggest factor. Being able to play music in the car(s), bedroom, etc is also important. Maybe I'm just cheap but I hate having multiple copies of the same disc. I'd rather buy more music.
The other issue I see is I've heard that most DVD-A players need a video monitor to navigate the tracks and perform setup. For setup I can hook up a little display I have but it is not something I want as part of the 2 channel setup.
Over time more and more good multi channel recording will be made but I think 2 channel recordings will outnumber them by a huge ratio. My biggest fear is that the future will be dominated by MP-3..