I think you may have made a mistake with your choice of upgrades. I know the Oppo is a good sounding universal player but its not an Ayre 7. SACD is better but that doesn't mean that you can just disregard the player. Listening to redbook through a unit like the Ayre can easily outclass a lesser SACD player in many areas. If you have a local Ayre dealer, I would recommend listening to an Ayre 5 with both CD and SACD. Doing it that way will allow you to hear the differences in the formats and not the players.
Ben, I agree with you in most cases the sacd version is a little rolled off in comparison to the redbook. People may feel this is warmer and closer to analog, but I don't agree. It should give you more resolution and dynamics. I think the best format is XRCD2 JVC which one can hear more information and dynamics than their counterpoints. I have a modright tube modded 105 and can tell you this player can be put up against the best.
I would agree with you Ben that SACD's are smoother sounding and not the best for rock. That is probably why I only have a couple of rock SACD's. Most of my SACD's are jazz/vocal/orchestral performances, recordings where the slight smoothing SACD presents makes digital more listenable.
Of course my tube modified Marantz is pretty smooth on regular cd's too, which is why I have kept it for so long. I'd prefer a CDP to lean on the side of softness than to have to grind my teeth to that digital grit.
One person's 'dull' is another person's 'smoothness'. While one person's 'loads of detail' may be another persons 'ears bleeding'. That's why making recommendations on anything is so difficult, because we are all looking for something different. Which is why there are so many different flavors out there.
Allman Brothers Live at the Filmore SACD...sweet...ooh do I miss Duane Allman.
I agree that the Acoustic Sounds SACD of "Wish You Were Here" is not as good as the Mastersound version. I get the same feeling using my Esoteric SACD player so it isn't the Oppo's fault. I think in this particular case, it was remastered more for the surround sound than the 2 channel sound. I have about 50 SACD disks and I would say there are at least 15 or so that do not sound up to SACD standards, actually they sound below Redbook standards. Off the top of my head, I have an Alice In Chains disk that sounds like crap and also an Aerosmith "Oh Yeah" that is a real stinkeroo regarding sound quality.
On the other hand, I have Black Sabbath "Paranoid" which is a SHM SACD and it sounds wonderful. I think it all boils down to who remastered it, how the person felt on the day of the remastering (Did he have a fight with his wife?), weather the stars aligned properly and lastly, if they used the original Master Tapes.
Black Sabbath/.Paranoid.. thanks. It is on my list . Other great rock sacd albums
The only answer I can come up with for your question, "SACD remasters- any better than CD version?" is, maybe/maybe not. The idea of something sounding better than something else is purely subjective and you really have to hear it for yourself to make that decision.
Just picked up the BS Paranoid SHM SACD and have Master of Reality on the way. Master of Reality is said to be the better sounding version. It will be here Tuesday.
If you have an Oppo 105 and you like old rock then I suggest you pick up the blu-ray version of Rush 2112. Pretty cool!
It all depends on the mastering. Some examples:
I have the Japanese SACD versions of Rumours and Hotel California, and both are absolutely outstanding and certainly don't lack dynamics. The Japanese SHM-SACD of John Barleycorn Must Die is also excellent - Capaldi's drums sound like they're in the room. All three of these SACDs blow away prior CD versions IMO - in the case of Rumours, the SACD is better even than the early 80s Japanese CD with the "20P2" designation (side hint: if you like Led Zeppelin, the 20P2 series is absolutely the way to go. They feature Barry Diament's mastering and are far more crankable than the 1990 remasters or the 2008 SHM-CDs. Think bass! The early Japanese CD version of Dark Side of the Moon is also great).
OTOH, while hyper-detailed up top, the recent MoFi SACD of the Doobie Bros. What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits lacks bass impact and tonal richness compared to the 1990 CD. I also prefer the MoFi Quadrophenia CD version from 1991 to the 2012 Japanese SHM-SACD - the SHM-SACD does a better job with Moon's drums and Daltry's vocals are more upfront, but it doesn't hit with as solid an impact as the MoFi.
The Steve Hoffman forums are a really good place to go for more of this sort of conversation. Lots of anal classic rock aficionados there dissecting all kinds of releases.
Just for clarity in terms of redbook the Oppo is better than the Ayre CX-7 in my opinion-I still have both-My CX-7 though has not had any of the upgrades it is the plain vanilla version and now near ten years old. I deeply love the Ayre equipment I wish I could afford their universal player.
I think in terms of SACD versus CD to use it as the standard is a fair measure.
I've been pleasantly surprised to see much agreement on what I hear-thanks.
cpu;d ot be that the smoothness that people report hearing on sacds is a removal of digital nastiness, and that the sacd , therefore sounds more like real instruments.
many redbook cds, have an exaggerated treble, which does not appear on many sacds. one may get used to the treble response , which may not be natural and suggest the sacd is rolled off, when instead, the cd may be elevated in the treble, on some recordings.
there is one famous engineer/designer who asserts categorically that pcm is superior to sacd. he is kevin halvorsen. he has designed amps and digital products, as well as engineered recordings.
Please, a handful of you:
the best sacd vs red book ala rock and roll you ever heard first hand experience or recommendation via reliable ears. I got my pen out. thanks in advance.
Already gave you some, Warren, but here are some more.
The Island Records Elton John SACDs released in 2003 range from quite good (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road) to excellent (Madman Across The Water). I also have the 2010 Japanese SHM-SACD of GYBR, and prefer the earlier Island release.
Clapton's Slowhand SACD from Polydor is very good. So is the Polydor 40th Anniversary SACD of Derek and the Dominos. as are Santana's Abraxas and Caravanserai from MoFi.
The SHM-SACD of Steely Dan's Aja is really good. The SHM-SACD of Who's Next is not, I much prefer the MoFi CD version.
The Stones 2011 DSD remasters released by Universal Japan I've heard are all very good.
thanks so much...I got the others, most appreciated. I have many of them, but you have some goodies here.
SACD really shines on those single-layer, SACD only discs from 1998-2001. The hybrid discs (CD/SACD) are hit-and-miss.
Jafant-one of my big regrets was selling off a number of SACD single layer discs however I do recall at the time several of those were contentious.....I used at that time a Sony DVD player and the Ayre killed it.
But as I recall KOB and IASW by Miles Davis both sounded really flat.....
I have just spent a fortune on the Aja version mentioned above....will update when it arrives
Peter Gabriel So SACD is a good choice.
I just compared the SHM sacd version of Quadrophenia by The Who with the Mobile Fidelity version and the original version on MCA Records. I found the MoFi to sound the best with the original version coming in a close second. The SHM SACD came in a far away third and sounded distant, almost like it was 5.1 channels and only playing the front speakers. I listened to the 2 channel stereo version on the SHM SACD.. Although the drums in particular sounded better on the sacd, the overall sound was hollow and distant. I am quite disappointed I wasted my money on the sacd version. NOT recommended..
I have heard that the SHM discs are problematic at times.
Actually a pretty complicated question.
You have to account for the analog master tape quality at the time of digitizing, the remastering job, the disc pressing quality, the disc player, and finally personal tastes.
One thing to point out that you may have missed is that the oppo default is for multi channel on SACDs so you could be downmixing it in the player if you have the oppo set to stereo outs. Also if you are using the digital outs of the oppo it downmixes to PCM digital.
I'm pretty experienced with Oppo players, modwright SS 83se and now a modwright tube 105. Overall with the Oppos I have felt that they do a better job with PCM both cd and hi-res than with SACD. My general experience with hybrid sacds on the oppos was that the improvement of the sacd layer was always less than with other players I have had. The trade off was that the improvement with hi-res pcm was more than with other players.
All the 2000's Pink Floyd remasters have been disappointing to me. From what you are saying I'm glad I did not pull the trigger on the WYWH sacd. To my ears the master tapes just did not age well after the 90s cd remasters were put out. The last batch improved some albums over all (saucer) but in general they just sound a little different to me.
I have not dipped into the SHM SACDS, but on my oppo 105 I do consistently enjoy the smoothness and flow I get from jazz and classical sacds over the cd layer. I am really enjoying the Acoustic Sounds sacd of Time Out and the MOFI Miles Davis sacds.
For rock discs on my oppo 105 I seem to have fewer 'this is just plain better' thoughts when I have compared sacd and cd layers. The only ones that I think just sound awesome are the old single layer Police SACD, impact and snap of hi-res pcm and the smooth analogish touch of SACD.
Try out the HD-Tracks hi-res pcm on your oppo, easy to just drag to a usb flash and play.
My Oppo is set up correctly I only use XLR and stereo. HD-Tracks is not available outside of the USA.
A point not picked up on during the debate is my opinion that HDCD discs are probably the best sounding and most consistent format I have heard.
I really enjoy HDCDs on the Oppo and do wish that format had become standard for standard PCM cds. Have you tried any other hi-res PCM? My punch line is just that the Oppo does better on PCM than DSD.
Try googling 2L records test bench for some sample files. 24/96 off a usb flash drive on the Oppo is amazing.
I am afraid you are so right. Not only rolled off but also colored. Very disappointing.
Ben, did you receive your Steely Dan AJA?
I wish I did....I have just bought the most expensive single CD of my life and it won't be here till Tuesday.
It got stopped at customs and I have been walloped with a £22 customs charge on top of a very expensive original purchase.
It'll probably arrive broken :-)
The 2L records test bench is quite a nice set of music from the few I've downloaded but if I were being critical they are typically audiophille in source material....don't get me wrong this is not muzak but I would like to hear something more challenging in terms of source material.
I have directly compared the SHM-CD and SHM-SACD versions of Dire Straits "Making Movies" on my Esoteric X-05. The CD version is very dynamic and, on first hearing, exciting and impressive. However, the SACD version sounds like real music to me: very smooth and organic and listenable. Hard to believe it's digital. When friends come over to be "blown away" by the system, I play the CD; but when I'm listening by myself, no contest - the SACD. I don't even hesitate.
By the way, I've come to consider "Making Movies" an even finer concept album than the vastly more popular "Brothers in Arms" (although I admit the title track of that album is probably unsurpassable).
Well the Aja disc arrived and yes on first listens-no comparisons with other versions...it is very very impressive.
It has more dynamics than SACD normally has but it also retains the smooth aspect and the detail is fantastic. Vocals in particular are impressive although paradoxically there were times when the effect seemed a little off putting as if the separation of detail made the music sound unfamiliar.
I wish this level of disc were easier to buy,,,,theses discs and the new SACD's are very very expensive here in the UK.
What I would say about this SACD it is the first time I have heard the format and thought it was bringing more to the table, even if overall it wasn't perfect but this is the first time I have really heard a SACD that stamped it's own identity if you like....
Ben, thanks for the info. It is on my list now.