Is there an SACD that can play cds well?

I've read through the threads and read the Stereophile reviews. They all seem to say that high end SACD units playing SACDs are superior to similar CD units playing cds.

I have a Resolution Audio 55 playing cds into ML380S and ML335 and Dunlavy SCIV. Very, very good. But, no, I want better.

Now help me.

What specific SACD units in YOUR EXPERIENCE will play cds in equal detail and depth to the RA55/ML39/EMC-1?
With no experience, with your gear i would say the new accuphase sacd player wood work,but cost mucho bucks.Have you tried the top sonys?
I've put my new Sony DVP-9000ES up against my Meridian 508.24. In SACD mode, the Sony nearly chased the Meridian out of the room, and that was before I broke it in fully. I'm too scared to try it now that I've had the player for a while. I'm worried that once I hear it I'll sell the Meridian buy the best SACD player out there. But, in regular CD mode the sony is severely lacking. I've heard that players like the SCD-1 and 777 make up for this.
The question may be "Does cheaper SACD players sounds as good in SACD mode?" Sony has and is coming out with some inexpensive ones. You could pick one up a cheaper one for SACD and keep your existing player for regular CDs since you seem to be happy with it.
I got one of the early Sony SCD-1 to play SACDs. Also had the Levinson 31.5 which I sold because the Sony, in my system was more musical for regular CDs. So I sold the Levinson. The Sony is a pleasure to use but is quite slow. Hope you can find one to audition. It's well worth the price...even the original $5500. The current price, it's a steal! Good luck.
There is something strange about the Sony SCD-1: the more you use it, the better it seems to get on CD playback. I have a Levinson 37-dCS Purcell-Elgar combo, and in the beginning it was light years ahead of the SONY on CD playback. Then I started to use the SONY's filters, and really liked the result on some less than state of the art CDs. (Yes, the Purcell has similar filters, but they're harder to use.) Now the Purcell has been away for several weeks, and the SONY is really playing beautifully. I'm curious to A-B them when the Purcell gets back. If you can stand the slowness of the SCD-1's windup to play, you really might consider buying one before they disappear.
Hey Mgottlieb. You could be the missing link in most of the threads on this topic. So far no one has adequately (in my humble opinion) compared the top of the line Sony SACD player, with CD playback, to a state (or near) of the art CD only system. I'll bet I speak for many listeners out there when I say that I will never actually replace my CDs with SACDs of the same titles, but would like to begin purchasing new titles in SACD format. So, I too will need a system that can play both, whether that means one box or several.

So, "you're the man". Do us a big favor and report back when you have your Purcell back and compare the 2 in CD mode. Thanks in advance!!
I related my experience in a different thread( SACD dominates rec. list), so cliff notes version is: I A/B'd the 777 redbook against Theta Jade transport/ dCS Delius/Purcell. I thought the Sony sounded at least as good, maybe better. Sold the dCS pieces. There are few CD players out there that are clearly better than the Sony on redbook. They're out there, but clearly better is a key phrase. And they're typically boatloads more$$ than the$1500-1600 you could possibly pick-up a 777 for. Slightly more for the SCD-1, less for the 9000es. Not a bad deal in this day and age of inflated audio prices.
With no experience, with your gear i would say the new accuphase sacd player wood work,but cost mucho bucks.Have you tried the top sonys?
I recently had a two piece Levinson ( transport + D/A converter ) here for one of our listening sessions. My Sony 9000 ES had barely one hundred and fifty hours on it, and with a selection of redbook CD's, the Sony won so overwhelmingly that the owner sold his gear the next week. I suspect that money was a consideration, but I also have no doubt that in this particular test, ( no SACD involved ), the Sony did a far superior job. The $1075. for the Sony makes it a great choice, even if only stopgap to avoid sitting on a high end piece that is diminishing in value. For all I know, one of the new Sony's that sell for even less than mine may do as good a job, that would make it an unbeatable value.
No not yet. Frankly, I was living in audio nirvana(my myopic view) when I awakened to realize that SACD with SACD's was likely the way to go now if I could get equal results with my cd's. I am not prepared to spend $20+K for a unit though. Generally, I'm cheap, but flush. So, my way is to buy used in the $2K to $5K range.

I am trying to learn on everyone else's tab if the media and units other than the $20+k bunch really can produce the depth, detail and lushness of $3K-$8K cd units in cd. If so, then it's only which unit to buy decision. If not, then it's an add on not a replacement and that changes which unit to consider.

I appreciate the help. Thanks all.

Bill E.
Albert, that is quite a statement about the 9000ES. I must have missed your feedback on it before. I have only listened to the 777 model which was not run in at the time, and did not sound very good to me. I cannot use a top loader anyway, even with the new setup that I am putting together. The problem is that I also need a unit that plays CDR's (I am purchasing a burner to transfer our many tapes to CD and would like to be able to play them on the main system). Has anyone heard if any of the upcoming models will play CDR's?
Hi Albert, Whew! thats quite a testimonial. Wish I could have put my Pioneer DV-37 up for evaluation along with the Levinson and the Sony for redbook CD playback.
I have a sony SCD777ES. At first, Redbook playback was good, but nothing special. Trick with these is they need a solid 400+ hours of break-in. Now I feel the Redbook side is near equal with my BAT VKD5. Still have more break-in to go however. You may want to check out AudioAsylum, the whole enchilada with the Sony SACD players has been covered in their "hi-rez" forum.

Second option, and one that many have taken, is use a high quality outboard DAC with the Sony, and enjoy. It would appear from my reading that the Dodson currently appears to be the DAC of choice. Regardless, I bought my 777 early last fall, and at a price at which I could practically double if I wanted to sell it today! I now have 30+ SACD's, and growing, ands I love the format.

Hi Dekay and Bmpnyc, I am basically an analog only guy, but I feel pretty good about the 9000 ES, especially when there are enough break in hours on it. Tonight was music night, and along with my usual four or five visitors, a couple that occasionally comes (man and wife) also dropped in, bringing SACD titles that I do not own. The Audioquest sampler with Mighty Sam McClain and Robert Lucas was among them, and we played our favorite cuts, all the while, I was thinking that it sounded very good. Afterward for comparison, I pulled the two LP copies of these artists and played the same two songs on my analog rig. I can certainly say that the LP won the contest, but at no time since I have ever owned digital, has it ever been closer. I must confess at this point, that my SACD player is plugged into a Clear Image from Audio Prism, has Purist Dominus RLS power cord and Dominus RLS RCA interconnect. In addition, it is sitting on roller blocks and those are sitting on a special isolation base built by Purist Audio currently only sold in Japan.

All that being said, the player and all the extras attached to it still cost less than my phono cartridge. Consideration should be made on behalf of cost, and this unit is worth the money. The bad news is on the subject of CDR's, mine will not play any that I have attempted, not even the very highest quality ones I recently burned at 1 to 1 with the new Que!Fire firewire CD burner.

I too wish that Bmpnyc could visit and bring his Pioneer DV-37. I have no experience with any other players, except the Levinson that was brought here for that one test. That contest was so lopsided, I considered the Levinson could have been defective. When I ask about the possibility, the owner said it had just been returned from the factory where some mod was done. Perhaps break in on the Levinson could have been a factor. In any event, when the owner heard the comparison, he put his on the market the next day.

I don't want to influence any of you to buy the Sony and wind up disappointed. I was just jived that it worked so well, played my DVD movies and did an excellent job with both Redbook and SACD. I hope that others will make additional comparisons and post here. If something is better than what I have, I am not opposed to an upgrade, provided the cost is proportional.

Last thing. The couple that brought the SACD titles purchased a Sony 777 over a year ago, and when (tonight) I brought up the topic of break in on my 9000 ES, needing at least 200 hours, they laughed. They said that twice they threatened to return their unit and still later tried to sell it because of terrible sound. The performance only came at over 500 hours (their quote), and now they are so totally pleased with it, they would not give it up for anything. I hear this story over and over, so there must be something radical that happens to these players in the long term.

I am hoping that sometime soon, I can borrow their Sony 777 for one of our music sessions. This would provide an opportunity to do a comparison between it and my 9000. They want to borrow my Wolcott amps to try on their Maggies, so I have a little leverage :~). I will try to remember to post results if we manage the test.
I've said it before, and will say it again. My SCD-1 is better on redbook cd's than any unit I've ever owned, including the Levinson combo. I have well over 1000 hours on it and this past winter, after finding "the perfect power cord" for my system, I have never once found myself wanting for something better. Then I play the SACD and I remember how much more there is. I have never once regretted my decision to buy this machine, and will be quite content waiting for the third generation to develop.
I was listening to redbook cd's on a Marantz SACD with Rowland amps and Talon Khorus speakers at a dealer showroom.
My initial impression was that it was overly bright, and very thin sounding.When he switched in a Spectral transport/DAC it was night and day.
I also listen mainly to vinyl, but I have nearly 1200 cds and 30 sacds. So, when digital spins I prefer to get the best this system can give . Prior to a demo of the Sony SCD-1, I drove a Sony DVD S7000, d/a Timbre Tech, with much satisfaction. The Sony dealer, pushing his product played SACD's exclusively. Although, I was quite impressed with the improved staging, and inner detail with less grain delivered by the sacd's, going over the list of available titles demanded that regular cds also play well. The dealer allowed me a home audition, and within minutes the sale was made. I bought the 777ES ( I have no need for balanced) back in mid-summer, with no regrets. Check out the Sony, preferably in your system.
Marantz SA-1 thin and bright???? I beg to differ with you Czapp. I just bought my Marantz
SA-1 SACD player last week and have been doing some heavy listening and comparing. This Marantz player is Gorgeous and plays redbook CDs accurate , detailed with full rich sound . It blows my over $10K Wadia digital front end. Now when playing SACDs, well all I can say is SACD is superior by a long shot to any redbook CD sound. I Love my Marantz SA-1 ! Go out and buy one with your Tax refund.
Perhaps the Marantz that Czapp auditioned was not fully broken in? The Marantz SACD I heard was excellent, and if I had to ascribe a quality to it I would say if was very detailed with a clear, resolved bass without bloom, but I would not call it thin.
Albert, I look forward to hearing the results of the 777 vs.9000ES face-off, should that happen. I am considering a switch to a 9000ES and would appreciate any feedback in comparison to other SACD players. To date I have heard the Sony SACD-1, 777, 9000ES and the Marantz SACD player. All were excellent, but it was when listening to the 9000ES that I had the strongest reaction, the SACD 1 was next. Of course this is not a valid comparison as they were heard at different times and on different systems, with different material, and may not have been broken in yet, but my curiosity was certainly aroused. Also I remember being impressed when comparing the same disc's redbook playback to it's SACD playback on the 9000ES. The redbook playback was really smooth, but not dull, and held its' own against SACD, even though it was clearly inferior. Anyone have any idea why the break in on the SACD players seems to be so crucial?
I've A-B the Marantz SA-1 and Perpetual P1A/P3A/Monolithic with regular CDs for over one month and must honestly state that the Marantz is better both in sonic virtue and value. Sonically, the Perpetual has a tiny bit more air but lacks the bass definition. By it I don't mean quantity but quality. Considering that I paid less than $4K for my Marantz and over $1800 for Perpetual for D/A only, I must say Marantz is a far better buy even if you use it to play noththing but CDs. With its SACD capability, the Marantz is a steal. The only strike against the Marantz is that it doesn't support HDCD.
Rdr4b, you are correct sir. When you consider what's out there, the Marantz SA/1 is a great machine for both today and tomorrow's use. I am sure Levinson, Wadia, Krell are going to have there SACD machines but from whom's technology. Then they double or triple the tag or quadruple like Accuphase and advertise the hell out of it and get the magazine reviews. My Wadia two piece digital front end which I paid over $10K 2yrs ago and retailed for $16K is no match in sonics to the Marantz SA/1. Let's give both Marantz and Sony some credit for both having worthwhile machines and great values. I built my recent reference audio system on simply value and quality products without taking the shortcuts. At the same time, I cancelled my TAS & Stereophile subscriptions.
The audition that I mentioned wanting to conduct ( posting of April 10 ) happened yesterday. My friend and his wife brought their Sony 777 ES for a test against my Sony 9000 ES. Part of this session included a regular from my Tuesday night group who dropped by and listened with us for about an hour.

I was surprised that the 777 ES was so much heavier and more professional in it's overall construction than my 9000 ES. I noticed a significant difference, even in the quality of the RCA output jacks on the rear panel. The top load mechanism is beautifully designed and the small brass stabilizer that sits atop the software appears to have been precision machined from solid brass, as opposed to a polished casting.

We listened to my 9000 on several SACD and redbook CDs, before playing the same material on the 777. The session went pretty much non stop for more than three and a half hours before any of us made a decision. Even at that, I feel that my limited exposure to these two machines is in no way conclusive, and should not be used as an absolute basis for judgement.

The bottom line is that neither player won in every category. Certain types of recordings, such as material from the Audioquest SACD sampler, was tighter and went slightly deeper in the bass with the 777. The 9000 presented deep bass with slightly more bloom, and a much livelier and larger soundstage on both voices and string instruments. The 777's rock solid image had a very slightly compressed sound around the midrange and mid bass frequencies, and the vocals imaged very near the front face of my speaker. The 9000 presented vocals about two feet in front of my speakers, almost the exact spot they are rendered by my LP rig. The total depth of the presentation from both of these players was otherwise fairly equal, with neither of them having the absolute space, width and height that the LP version has.

The preference in which player sounded better was literally split between two cuts from Stevie Ray Vaughn's SACD version of "Couldn't Stand the Weather." The Sony 777 played "Cold Shot," maintaining absolute control over all the guitar work ( with its purposeful distortions ), even at very high sound pressure levels. The next track, "Tin Pan Alley, " is a much cleaner recording and almost perfectly balanced sonically. In that situation, the 777 lacked the sweeping presence and depth of Stevie's guitar licks and his up front vocals. The 9000 got both of these correct, and balanced ( within its own sound ) much like the LP version I am so familiar with. However, as mentioned, the heavily modulated cut, "Cold Shot" that the 777 dealt with so easily, tended to become glassy and hard if pressed to high volume levels on the 9000.

The 777 had an option not found on the 9000. You may switch redbook CD's to one of four different filter selections. We began with number one, which is called standard, and worked our way up through the selection. At first, I thought the standard sounded best, then later decided that filter setting three was preferable. The odd thing is that different CD's seem to effect my preference for the settings. The Loreena McKennitt redbook, "Book of Secrets" was slightly rolled off in the extreme high frequencies with the 777 in the standard setting, while setting two caused a slight notch or phase shift between Loreena's lower register and the mid bass. Setting three in some ways felt almost like SACD in bandwidth, but with a decided sense of loss after coming from the best of that material.

The redbook CD sound on the 9000 was surprisingly like the 777 at it's standard setting. The exception being again, that the 9000 seemed somewhat more lively and dynamic, and the 777 had the option to select the filter that matches the requirements of your own taste and system balance.

We touched on the subject of break in after the music session, and my friend claimed his 777 required many more months of break in than he had anticipated. Mind you, this is not a guy that lets his unit sit around, there are probably (by his estimate) well over 2000 hours on this player. He said that the ultimate smoothing in the extreme highs was one of the last tonal balance issues to resolve itself in this process.

One last variable, his 777 had to make a long trip for the test, and was therefore without power for over one hour. Phil commented that 24 hours of steady on seemed to be the magic number for the 777. In that respect, it was working at a disadvantage against my 9000. On the other hand, based on his comments concerning break in, I am certain that the 9000 needs many more hours of additional run in, before it reaches it's full potential.

Just for reference, both players were tested with and without Symposium Roller blocks. Both were plugged into the Audioprism Clear Image power station, with AC connection to the players through Purist Audio Dominus power cord. The same interconnect was used for both players, Dominus Rev B, and both were tested in exactly the same location, sitting on top of the new Purist isolation base. In the end, both players showed common strengths and weaknesses, with the weaknesses being quite small.
Thanks Albert.
Excellant review Albert, I've found on my SCD-1 that the filters make a very distinct difference. I set-up by musical type, small jazz and vocal on filter 2 (my favorite) Classical on standard, large jazz on 4, rock on 1 or 4. My biggest problem is I'll forget to check and halfway into a disk I begin losing interest, if I figure it out the whole presentation becomes pleasing again once I switch filters. I'm glad you mentioned the filters, I know when I first began using with my player, it was the filters that I felt were the breakthrough in technology, and hopefully more choices become avalible or at least studied. Thanks again for the great job! J.D.
Many thanks to Albert and others here, for the efforts they have put in to sharing their very valuable insights with these players. I suspect many of us will now be able to act with more confidence on the new SACD players.
do we need a DAC with SCD-1? and does sony has its own DAC or we need to add external DAC?
Dynamics, to answer your question in short - No. However, both Sony's SCD-1 (or Marantz's SA-1) has two digital outputs in RCA and TOSLINK. However, these outputs are for PCM only which means that you can only play redbook CDs with them. Accuphase uses a proprietary standard to connect their own SACD drive and DAC and I doubt if anyone else would support it. My conclusion is, if you buy the SCD-1 or SA-1, you don't really want to use a DAC since the built-in DAC are quite good. But then, no one would stop you if you insist on buying a dCS Purcell/Elgar combo.
I find it funny that no one has mentioned the relatively dismal quality of the Sony SCD-1's analogue output stage. Compared with the rest of the player, the components used for this stage are surprisingly pedestrian. I have the Marantz SA-1, because I felt it had slightly more transparency and tonal accuracy compared to the SCD-1, but a friend had his SCD-1's analogue output stage replaced with high grade components and I don't think I've ever heard anything sound so real.

For the good of the order, could you mention who did the upgrade of your friends SCD-1? I have heard from other sources that such an upgrade does, indeed, improve CD playback.
Now both of you have me interested, I just hope you are not going to tell me that the upgrade cost more than the original price of the player.
My friend lives in London and he had the work done by a company called audiocom (, which is a company founded by former Trichord people. . It isn't expensive just to replace the analogue stage (my friend paid $500 I think), but apparently even an SCD-1 can use some component upgrades to make it sound better, although the gains in performance are subtle compared to the analogue stage upgrade.
Albert, since you expressed an interest, there are some additional upgrades around to improve the analog stages of these players which have been discussed in various threads-- Stan Warren does some for the 9000ES which Simontju had done (not sure if his player is back yet), and Jerry Ozment has a mod where he bypasses the Sony's analog stage completely and attaches a box to the side with his Audio Logic tubed analog stage (separate power supply for the analog stage as well), which I have had done to my 777ES and think is superb, but costs about $1450 these days, probably more than you paid for the 9000ES. I'm sure there are others available as well. If you don't care about voiding the warranty, there is probably plenty of room for improvement in the analog stages and power supplies of these units. The nice thing is, as is evident from the posts, even in stock form Sony appears to have come up with a decent sounding product.
Hi all,

I've learned enough to justify the purchase of a Sony SCD-1 today. Your comments have clarified for me that indeed equivalent redbook playback is possible.

Thanks for your advice and experience.

Bill E.
You will be very happy with the SCD-1. It is superb on Redbook CD playback. SACD is a bonus. It surpassed, easily, the top Wadia in my system. The bottom line for me is the enjoyment of the music. Now, I can enjoy my large selection of LPs regular CDs and SACDs without worrying about the technology. The SCD-1 at $3000 is a great bargain, providing world class performance in the Redbook CD mode coupled with excellent SACD capability.