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There is no consistency you can hang your hat 🎩 on for much of anything. Redbook CD, 20 bit CD, SBM CD, SACD, even Japan SHM CD and SACD. It depends on the recording engineer and the mastering engineer. Too many variables. Some sound great with terrific dynamic range but it’s getter harder to find the early uncompressed stuff. Everyone and his brother is dumping overly compressed CDs and SACDs like crazy on eBay, in thrift stores, dumping them as fast as they can get them out of the house. Including your humble narrator.
I agree that it depends on recording and mastering. As an example, I have Norah Jones - Come Away With Me SACD hybrid and vinyl, but later I found out the SACD version I have was mastered from redbook (wrongly done by Sony engineers) - that's why the SACD layer sounds horrible. I then downloaded the correct version where the SACD layer was converted from analog master - it sounds so good just like vinyl.
I have many other SACDs which sound good, especially when played with my Marantz SA-10. Right now my preferred format for digital music purchase is DSD, up to DSD 4x, as it sounds so good.
The OP does not mention budget. My suggestion is to consider SACD players which has USB Audio input (that means possible to use the SACD player as a DAC) and/or USB external drive input. This will allow you to purchase and play high-res digital music with the player.
One of the feature SACD is 5.0 multi-channel (full frequency, not Dolby surround). If you have a 5-channel amp and 5 full-range speakers and large enough listening room, you are going to create a music hall in your house. I did this and the music image and sound stage is unmatched by 2-channel system. Yes, if you could do SACD, just do it.
about mastering, compression and those things but that is another story. I was
talking about comparing the same production as Red Book and as SACD (in my case
hybrid SACD discs).
For 3k budget, I recommend consider the Marantz SA-KI Ruby. You can then use the Ruby as transport for redbook CD playback into your existing R2R DAC. You can use the Ruby for SACD and high-res music playback.
To posters who hate high res audio, try download free samplers from Blue Coast and Native DSD (and many others) where studio performance were recorded straight to DSD without going thru PCM conversion or upsampling. Normally they have 44.1k & 96k WAV and DSD 2x and 4x versions in the same download folder. If you can't hear any difference, then something is really wrong.
I have no idea what Elizabeth is talking about. I have about 200 SACDs. Some have room ambience, some don’t. Same with Red Book. It depends what is in the original recording...
I have owned several SACD players but get my best playback using either an Oppo 105 or Sony 9000ES as transports into my Bryston DAC3, which has 4 HDMI inputs. Both the players output DSD over HDMI.
To answer the question....how much $....the Bryston DAC goes for around 3-4 K. current Sony Universal Players also are supporting output DSD over HDMI and can be had for $20o new.
I have been thinking of what Elizabeth wrote (what happened with her post?) and Steve Guttenberg's video and I’ve decided to skip the SACD player and instead do as I intended to do in the first place; buy a transport for about 1k. The extra 2k (max for a SACD player was 3k) I will use for something else in my rig. Yes, it had been nice to hear the SACD Hybrid Discs at their best, but today they actually doesn't count for more than a fraction of my "silver disc" collection. So it's only logical to upgrade something else in the chain that all the "silver discs" will benefit from.
But thank you very much for your thoughts.