I own around 200 SACD discs and buy more every year. For me, I would replace any SACD player if one owns this kind of collection. There are many bargains to be found in the demo/used marketplace.
I have more vinyl than cd's. I have about 10% Hybrid SACD's compared to standard ones. They in most cases they sound better but it depends on the recording. I have the ability to play downloaded HR audio but haven't purchased any. I may in the future due to limited space concerns. I may also look into streaming. Should the SACD player break I would probably repair or replace it. I like having access to the physical media with art work and information about the recordings.
I have a Marantz KI Pearl SACD player and maybe 30 SACDs. I listen to vinyl most of the time, but if I'm honest with myself, the Pearl is the best source I have and most of the SACD's sound gorgeous through it. I'm sure I'd fix it or replace it if I broke. I also have an old Onkyo SACD player that I bought for (relative) peanuts from Japan in one of my secondary systems.
Good answers already. My POV is that some SACDs do indeed sound better than redbook, but the most important factor is the quality of your DAC, whether in a CDP or standalone plus transport. My suggestion would be buy the best-sounding gear you can, and if it also supports SACD, so much the better. But, as already metioned above, your redbook CDs will sound better too. My experience has been the better the gear, the less difference between redbook and SACD.
Hope this is helpful.
Thank you all!
I'm definitely going to give it run and try one. My DAC is wonderful. I pulled out an old Rotel HD CD player today and played a couple of CDs through it, running the signal through the digital out to my DAC. Comparing it to Tidal feeding the DAC on the same music, the Redbook sounds great. It's a close race with the Redbook slightly ahead on clarity of some notes from instruments in the background.
Unquestionably the SACD format is better than CDs, and is in many ways the equal to vinyl in tonality. I would definitely replace a broken SACD player, in fact, I have already done so. My current player is a McIntosh model 600 which is superb. I had a lesser player which skipped terribly.
I have purchased about sixty or seventy SACDs, mostly jazz, with some classical and rock thrown in. I just wish more titles were available.
I have McIntosh MCD-450 and I would say the SACD version usually sounds more alive than redbook. No comment on quality of recordings. My general perception. However, the difficulty in finding SACD I want to listen seems to outweigh the benefit. Not readily available in my local market which I prefer to support. Granted haven't made much of an effort to search online. Have tried but get intimidated by what is SACD and what is not based on the advertising. If there were a site that was easy to navigate, I would love some input on this. In the end however when I compare SACD to my vinyl version, the vinyl is usually more pleasing to my ears.
I use an Esoteric K-01 and hope it does not break. I have found with some albums i prefer the CD version to the SACD. For example Willie Nelsons Stardust i have the Mastersound Gold CD, Japan SACD and K2HD CD, I prefer the K2HD CD by a wide margin. If you like that album i highly recommend the K2HD CD the sound is awesome. So my point is SACD will not always offer the best sound, i now search on the Steve Hoffman forums before i purchase a Disc to get an idea of the best sounding Digital version.
I must say the K-01 is a killer CD player so maybe this has a lot to do with my findings. I believe to get the best out of any CD/SACD player you should look into isolation, i have my Esoteric on a Townshend Seismic Platform and every Disc i play simply sounds so much better. I installed the Platform about a month ago and i am simply enjoying the music so much more.
I would absolutely replace my SACD player if necessary. I only own about 15-20 SACDs but six or eight of them are my favorites (can’t live without). My son streams from Tidal and I’ve tried to share this music with him but much of it just isn’t available on Tidal. So not only is this some of my favorite music, the sonic quality is superb.
I'm in SACD since it started in the early 2000s and own today a collection of over 3500 SACDs - both hybrid and single layer (SACD only). If the player is high end you can notice a difference - more detail, more tonal colours, especially more space. But this you will only experience with a good and expensive machine. I also bought a cheap pioneer D06 SACD - but it is not worth the money. Even with redbook CD my ML 390s shatters it to little pieces. A quite different picture with big Marantz SA-players. In a KI Ruby or an SA10 that old Levinson finds its master.
When you buy an SACD player, keep in mind, that digital out only functions with CD. For SACD data the digital interfaces (koax or optical) are blocked, if you use digital out you will only get redbook data stored on the cd layer. If you play back a single layer SACD, you will get no digital signal at all. Only very few high end player/dac combinations, fe dcs, were using an interface capable of transporting the SACD digital data.
I have 763 CD's of various types including 82 SACD's, all but one of which are hybrid. They are a mix of pop-rock, jazz, classical, etc. I have owned a Marantz SA-8004 SACD player for a couple of years but did not want to be out of luck if it broke, so this spring I bought a Denon DCD-A100. It turned out to be a nice upgrade, but I am keeping the Marantz as backup.
Is SACD worth the effort? Other things being equal, it will offer better sound quality--clarity, detail, and nuance, especially--than redbook CD. But other things are seldom equal. Quality of the recording and mastering come before format. SACD hit its stride in the middle of the loudness wars, and many pop-rock SACD's were mastered louder and with poorer dynamic range than previous redbook CD's of the same titles. Early CD's produced from 1982 to about 1995 tended to more closely resemble what one heard on the LP record, and it is common to see them recommended over a later remaster. I sorted through six versions of Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and set aside five of them to be sold (including the 2003 multichannel SACD) before settling on the one to keep. I have learned to check the online dynamic range database (http://dr.loudness-war.info) and user comments before buying.
Some music lacks the nuance to benefit much from SACD. Reliving my teenage years, I bought all of the Creedence Clearwater Revival albums on SACD. The remastering is consistently very good, but redbook CD would have served just as well.
SACD shines when the music is vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, jazz, or classical. The 2012 SACD remasters of Norah Jones' catalog are a great example, especially in contrast to the infamous 2003 SACD release of "Come Away with Me" that reportedly used a previous redbook CD mastering for its stereo layer. Others are "Count Basie and the Kansas City Seven" and Diana Krall's SACD's. It's a great format when done right.
I was excited to get a highly regarded Oppo for blu ray and SACD, bought some SACDs, especially a series of Oscar Peterson's 'for my friends'. (wonderful in any format!).
What's the difference between CD and SACD? My take is the noise floor is lower, the music comes from 'liquid black' if that makes any sense. Michael Jackson, .... some other excellent recordings to begin with, that is my simple summation.
Is such quiet natural? Is listening for a difference distracting? Is it as involving?
In either case, as with all digital, I think digital does not get the overtones 'as right' as analog does, also my simple summation of why I prefer analog (and tubes).
I decided not to bother with the SACD versions. I listen to a lot of vinyl and R2R tapes, the noise floor is nowhere as low as SACD, but both Analog formats are more involving than either CD or SACD. I still enjoy my CD's, but nearly always go to vinyl or R2R for fully immersive music, and those have been culled for excellent recording quality as well as primary artist and musician's talents and of course the specific selections.
Younger people listen differently than my generation. I am 71, we learned to listen to radio singles and whole albums at home. R2R and Vinyl, I listen to the whole album, in the order that was selected for presentation. CD's, not often, but frequently, I select which tracks. I had a programmable turntable (linear tracking for that). I used it to make tapes of selected tracks, that was great, but when listening to the album, I listened to the whole album as usual. Of course, it wasn't the highest quality, so I reverted to my Thorens/SME/ShureMR and gave the tracking TT to my friend.
The problem with R2R is the format/pre-recorded content stopped, so my most involving format is limited by content.
Gaucho illustrates the ups and downs of the loudness wars. The first round of CD's released in 1984 (Japan for US, US for US, UK Hoffman master) all had excellent dynamic range of 14 or 15. The 2003 multichannel SACD's 5.1 layer had DR15, its stereo layer had a mediocre DR9, and the redbook layer DR8. The 2014 Japanese SHM-SACD (single layer) had DR14. These figures are from the online database I linked to and from my own measurements.
I just upgraded my digital system to an Esoteric DV60. Sounds sublime on redbook and SACD. One thing I considered is whether the transport/sled can be replaced in the event of failure. The Esoteric offers this benefit; unfortunately the older Marantz players do not. Pity as they sound great as well.
Had all my CDs ripped to flac (about 400 including 40 SACDs) and thought I’d no longer listen to the discs. Sold my Marantz Player. But I have a Cambridge universal disc player: DSD output to my Marantz AV 8802a that I use as preamp. I find the DSD files do sound a little better than my flac files ( which I route through a Cambridge 851n). So yes, I would replace, but only with an SACD “transport” that would get me a DSD signal via HDMI.