Relief? The New Digital Players

On a digital note is anyone relieved that the preliminary reports on the new digital format/players are not all that favoring IMO? I keep hearing the word "thin" used to describe the sound, both from this site as well as a few dealers that have attended trade shows. I have wanted a second CD source and have been kind of placed on hold in the interim. Thin would not be the way to go with our current system which I do not wish to change, and in which I had planned on using the new player, and the old one in a second system. If the new format does not sound miles better I do not see the industry changing formats anytime soon. How good are the new players? Are they thin sounding as I have heard to date or is there more to it?
I would be interested in the same answer, if i would to upgrade? So far, i haven't reach the conclusion, that the new format, does sound "miles better" than, the very good CD player! I would probably take Meridian 508-24,(will probably compare with THE best analog front end) over new Sony SACD! Just my taste, or lack of it! Regards!
How are you going to find "THE best" analog (vinyl) front end? If you do, will it be set up to get the most out of it, at a dealer's place? These might be questions without answers...
According to the British audio press the new Marantz SACD player is supposed to be close to the best player ever heard- even with normal CD's. It costs £5000 though! Ben
Ok, maybe one of the best? Martin Logan i believe in "Hilcrest" room at the GN Las Vegas CES '96! Multiple "Votans" and ML "Statement", and i don't remember the T-table! I do think "analog" can sound better than digital, but it is too much work! And when something becomes WORK! I find something else to do
I toiled with this question recently when I was forced out of my high end digital separates. I shopped around and auditioned endlessly for a new digital source. I then, of course, toiled and debated what will happen with the new format. Questions of upgradability to new formats etc. etc. Spending big $$$ on a nice CDP seemed futile until I listened to some that made hum-drum 16 bit discs sound better than I had ever heard them. In the end I decided not to wait for the industry to decide on a format. I believe that most people (certainly most of my friends who are not audiophiles) think that CD's sound great...heck...some of them even feel that MP3 sounds good (ugghhhhh) How can the industry change formats with such limited software titles available and with the exorbinant price of hardware? I can't see the future...but there are some great players now that make standard fare discs sound quite good. Since my software is mostly (almost entirely) 16 bit discs....why even think of waiting??
I just bought a new Sony SCD-777Es for $1545 including shipping. Using all tube equipment this piece is comparable to both my SFCD-1 and ARC CD2 when playing CD's.As for the sound of SACD's there is no doubt more of the music comes through. It is hard for me to describe the sound but it has more palpability especially in the lower midrange and upper bass. Listening to a cello, much more the note is heard. More of the body of the instrument. There is no "thinness" to the sound at all. Now using a SS(pass aleph 5) amp does not convey this music with the same beauty. System using a 300B SET amp sounds absolutely great. System using Pass amp sounds not much better than a CDp. I highly recommend to those who own tube equipment to listen to a SACD player. A new Sony SCD-777ES can be purchased from for $1545 including shipping.By the way, as a Cd player it is almost as good as the Sonic Frontiers and ARC and does not sound thin at all. Jeff
Mfgrep: Your point and the cost now make me think that new CD's would most likely be produced in both new and "old" formats for many many years to come. I was not aware that the new players were that expensive. If they are all that high they are not exactly in a "chicken in every pot" price category. Though like anything else new they would come down in time as R & D expenses are recaptured. I can't believe that my thinking has been so off on this subject, yes I can. I have passed up a few killer deals on used CD players that friends were selling.
Dekay, visit and do a search for SACD in the digital drive forum. Reading the comments there is what led me to take the plunge and buy a player. The most convincing comment came from Steve Hoffman of DCC mastering fame.
For the latest in digital gear you must hear the DAC's and transport that Ric Schultz of EVS has been bringing to market, great digital sound for not much money. So much product for so little money. Get your name on the waiting list for a DAC II. Best DAC for the money and THEN some!! You owe it to yourself to get your name on the waiting list before the list gets longer. Plus when the next less expensive Sony SACD players come out he will be modifying them so they will sound better than the SCD-777. Go to his website and read for yourself before you drop another dime in digital. Or for additional comments I can be emailed at I own EVS's entire digital rig and loving the sound it produces.
Of course with new technology the time to buy is never right but you have to take the plunge sometime. The audio industry is at a crossroads with the new formats-those in the know (inc. Mark Levinson)seem to confirm SACD is the best format.My worry is with DVD players becoming more common that DVD-A may have a long term advantage that will make it the prevalent format. Hopefully there be enough support for SACD to keep it viable but new audio formats have died before. Certainly the amount of titles in either format is limited at the moment. I think the main players will hedge their bets in the audiophile ensuring the new format players are also excellent normal CD players. As I stated earlier the new Marantz SACD player is getting reviews that confirm this approach. I also think built-in upsampling will have a major impact with audiophiles especially once the prices start to come down. Time will tell................. Ben
Jrg: Thanks for the info. and the site. $1500.00 is a real world price for a player. I will probably wait until there are a few more choices available. We are expecting a nice chunk of change and the deal is that I get to spend as much on gear as my wife does on a an English leather club chair. Pretty sweet deal, cause I like the chairs too. I have just been saying no to the purchase out of habit.
Too much premium for so little options in titles.... If they are throwing in better CD reproduction to lure the buyers to SACD for me still not good enough. I'd rather go with an upsampling DAC like Bel Canto or a good single box CD player instead for the moment.
Sony seems like they're trying to shove another format down our throats (when will they give up on the Minidisk?). I'm not saying that SACD isn't better...I don't know...but I don't see how a format with a relatively subtle improvement will ever go over with most consumers. Most people I know wouldn't hear a difference, and wouldn't see the need to upgrade. I think it's always bound to be a specialty item. It's probably Sony's way to sell $30 CDs to a specialty market.
I think it's going to be YEARS before both hardware and software manufactures make a new format widely attractive. So having conviction in this belief, I purchased a Levinson transport and DAC (used, but excellent) early last summer. So far I see NO reason for having any regrets-- this is the best sounding digital music that I have ever heard. Ben; upsampling is the same thing as oversampling, which has routinely been used in CD players for years. The ONLY reason to purchase an outboard upsampling device is if your CD player does not have very good DA Conversion, eg Levinson gear oversamples at about 346kHZ and is excellent, but does it internally. Any good high end CD player should not need an out board upsampler. I can't see that many SACD titles will ever be available. DVD-Audio has the best chance of succeding in a big way because of the success of DVD-Video-- especially those players that also accept CD. But it's going to be a long time before there will be many DVD-A discs available. The "mass market" is going to like CDs for years. And, the presence of DVD-A discs may bring the cost of CDs down which will make them even more attractive? The above is all IMHO. Does it make any sense? Cheers. Craig.
Craig-yes I appreciate the oversampling/upsampling situation-seen the debate on here about it and in the audio press.However my take on is twofold it'll be sold as new technology and in essence it will allow(or at least claim) the Levinson type audio quality at a price acceptable to the average Joe. Likewise if you can kill two birds with two stones by using the DVD/Bel Canto approach then it's potential sales will be (are?)massive. I agree totally with your other comments. I would guess outwith the purists that the audio market is as likely to follow fashion/trends as any other. I expect the label upsampling to be a very fashionable phrase in the next couple of years..... Ben
Dekay - we must be reading different reports on SACD. Reviews I've seen in the audio mags have been mostly positive and often glowing (Stereophile, TAS, Ultimate Audio, etc..). The reason I'm holding off is the tiny number of titles available and the high cost of SACD discs. If Sony continues at the paltry rate of 10 new titles a month at $30 each, the format seems doomed to fail. Another bad sign is that SACD players do not seem to be poplular with Sony dealers. I could only find one shop in the S.F. Bay Area that carries the SCD-1 and they were geared towards selling big screen TVs, not high end audio.
I have heard the SACD format and found it to be quite good - ablbiet it was a sample disc. My feeling is that SACD will fail as a "mass-market" format, while DVD-A will become the "mass-market" format of the future. The price will probably be such (in a couple of years) that it would be a no-brainer for someone who is in the market for a DVD video player to buy a player that has DVD-A capability built-in - esp. if there is not much of a premium in price. My biggest fear, and one I don't see being discussed here oddly enough, is that DVD-A will be mainly used for multi-channel audio - NOT super high quality 2 channel. Everything I have read about DVD-A (in the marketing hype) is that you will get "music" in a 5.1 or 6 channel arrangement - similar to Dolby digital or DTS. I'm sure the recording engineers will be employing this surround technique when they make the software. With this "fear" in mind, I think the SACD format will have a "niche" market for us 2-channel folks. My thinking is that (in the future) I'll have two digital playback systems. One will be for all of my current 16 bit, 2-channel discs and the other will be a DVD-A, where I can watch movies and listen to the newer recording format - presuming bands record that way and (future band's) music is worth a crap! My advice - get the best digital system you can afford today if your in to good 'ol STEREO!
Hi Robert: My first impressions of SACD came from posts at this site and as I mentioned a few dealers (two to be exact). Since then I have been going through the threads at Audio Asylum and have been getting favorable views of the format and a better understanding of the cost of the equipment. I would now be interested in auditioning an SACD player. Unfortunately the $1500.00 Sony looks to be a top loader from the photos that I have viewed. My cats like to sack out on the top of the CD player and a top loader would not be an option for me. My smallest and "best sounding" cat has been nicknamed "Sandbag". I also kind of understand (I think) that many of these will be universal players and will do it all. As long as the one I pick is a step up from my CAL Icon II in musicality when playing standard CD's as well as doing the new format thing as an additional improvement I figure that I can't really lose. The SACD's at $30.00+ would be a treat as apposed to the norm as long as they remain at such prices. Right now as it stands "there are no treats". The views in this thread have helped straighten my thinking on the subject of SACD and hopefully I will be able to curb my fears of the other formats (DVD-A, and any others) mentioned that I know nothing about with added knowledge. By the way the more expensive versions that I have seen on the web are awsome looking players and would really place my cats on a pedestal.
Deakay...I think Robert_sj said it best. "buy the best current 16 bit player that you can afford right now". can even buy a used no.39 Levinson, 508.24 Meridian, Wadia 850, or similar players on Audiogon used! I don't believe in waiting for some futuristic format that my favorite artists are not using in their recordings, and paying inflated prices for new R&D. I'm telling ya...some of the better current players sound damn close to analog..and in some respects better! J
Mfgrep, I agree with that!
The Meridians etc. are more than I would like to pay. My real world favorites have been the Theta Miles and the older Audio Resolution which are still a stretch budget wise even used but are still tempting. If I considered either I would want to compare a cheaper SACD to put my mind at rest. My favorite new inexpensive and "musical" player has been the Audio Refinement which I had for a couple of weeks but ended up giving it to my stepson. It was not any better than my CAL II though. I guess that I will just have to talk myself into spending a little more on the next player.
hi dekay, i know there hsa been some contentiousness about this on another thread, but what preamp are ewe using? it's possible, that upgrading your preamp another $1500 instead of upgrading your cd-player another $1500, might give ewe an overall better sound. added benefit is that it gives ya some time to see how the digital format-wars shake out, & then, when ya upgrade yer digital source, ya *really* got something! meanwhile, w/an upgraded preamp, yer vinyl/tuner/tape/? will also be upgraded, not yust yer digital. one person's opinion. doug
Hi Sedond: I have a bare bones system. A Musical Fidelity X-A1 integrated now with the X-A50 mono blocks on order in Canada that should arrive in a couple of weeks to bi-amp a pair of Castle Isis moniters. The player is a CAL Icon MkII with vibropods and an HT power cord as well as the Monster 2000 power conditioner. Speaker cable is Kimber 4VS which will be addressed when I bi-amp. Interconnects are Homregrown Super Silver's and HT Truthlinks. This is our living room system. I have thought about halting my plans for the MF gear (the power amps will be around $800.00) and going with your suggestion, but I really want to finish this system as it was first imagined. The snag was that the X series power amps were no longer available in the US after I picked up the X-A1. Now that I have located a pair I am compelled to complete what I started out to do in the beginning. I suspect that I will eventually end up with a tube preamp SS amp combo in the living room someway down the line but am having fun with the MF gear and would like to work it to the bone before I go into something else. I have also been unemployed the past year and will wait until I get back on my feet before I drop big bucks into equipment (by big bucks I probably mean half of what most of the people at this site spend on gear). Out of boredom I am planning a little SET system for the spare bedroom that we may move the computer into. This is where I will need a second player and figured that I may as well upgrade the CAL in the living room system when I buy it. The CAL will go into the bedroom system. Curiously enough if I buy Reynaud or Coincident for the SET setup I will have my better speakers in the bedroom which bothers me for some reason. Also of interest are the DIY personal nearfield planar speakers noted at the Decware site which would eliminate the need for expensive speakers in the SET system if the computer goes into that room, you should check them out if you use computer speakers. Anyway I totally agree with your suggestion and hopefully will be able to implement it at a future date. I have a nice little list of tube preamps and their characteristics (prepared from the posts at this site) tucked away for when that time comes. I really enjoy the "Top Ten" threads.
Dekay -- on the "inexpensive" side of the high end CD players.....I experienced the Arcam Alpha 9 last year and was REALLY surprised. I then recently auditioned the Arcam FMJ23 briefly (my local Arcam dealer who is an @%%hole). It was so nice that I seriously considered buying it (but local dealer is such an @%%hole that I couldn't bear to give him my money) I ended up spending considerably more money to get more sound, however, the Arcam is a nice inexpesive high end CDP....well worth an audition...or available used to try out.
Got to agree with Robert, Mfgrep, and Carl above-- buy the best 16 bit rig you can afford NOW. In fact I did exactly that based on the fact(s) that I'm 57 years old and have over 1000 CDs-- and those are just the "keepers". I get rid of CDs I don't like. Craig.
I guess that I stopped auditioning to soon with the Arcam players, they did have the model 9 in stock. The 8SE had more detail than my CAL and almost as much bass, it just did not sound as musical. I do not know how to desrcibe what it missed that I am looking for. I have the same problem with describing cables. Sam at this site once used the word "organic" when reviewing something and that seems like a good word for it. Though I would still be unable to describe in other words what "organic" sounds like. I have noticed that they get a little stressed out at the shops when I end an audition after a cut or two. But at least I know what I am looking for, I just don't know how to desribe it. Craig, we only have around 100 CD's to date 75% of them from flea markets and thrift stores. I buy both music that I am familiar with and like as well as stuff that looks interesting that I do not have a clue about, since the price is right. Yesterday I picked up a Forever Tango CD that turned out to be a "keeper" as you say. I am fortunate in that I am less than an hours drive from Uscale Audio that I read about at this site. I have not gone down there yet, but will do so before I commit to a SET or new player. I get the impression that he has gobs of good used gear on a continuous basis. Anyway I thank you all for your different viewpoints on this subject and now feel much clearer in my perspective. I am certain that you have also helped a lot of lookylous that read but do not write.
dekay, i can unnerstand yer feelings, not wanting to start over. but, if ya do, ya mite wanna try the gnu musical fidelity stuff. while i've not directly heard it, it *has* gotten outstanding press, especially at its price-point. and, ewe *are* familiar w/& obviously like the m-f sound. would those m-f mono amps ewe have on order go w/the gnu m-f integrated amp? retail on it is $1500... regards, doug
Mf claims that the output/input of all their equipment is matched for this purpose. Though I do not know if they are talking inter species - X vs A. I have looked at the A line but cannot stand the appearance. Gold and stainless steel together looks like a cheap and or overpriced watch to me. I have ruled it out because of this. I also believe that it is more neutral sounding which I will admit is not my taste in electonics. I have always preferred tube gear and find the X series to be a compromise that I can live with for now. The midrange of the X gear is very nice.