SACD vs. Blu-Ray for audio quality/sonics

I would like to hear any comments on the Audio quality/sonic merits of SACD vs. Blu-Ray.  Thanks


If I understand the question correctly, I think this is gonna be a topic with a variable that can not be over come. Possibly even several variables.

I feel the issue would at least have to be decided using a multi format player with the same info playing both formats, SACD and BR discs.

Good luck finding identical content on both BR and SACD formats.

Playing at their highest resolutions and of course thru the same audio gear. An appraisal like this is not going to yield a definitive outcome. Only a subjective one.

I’d think as well, regardless which disc format has the greater HD numbers, it will still come down to a subjective determination even if two identical multi format players are setup exactly alike, one might come closer yet the result will still be a personal decision.

Add in the fact Dolby master and master DTS convey the same audio information differently, comparisons are gonna be more disparaging to contest.

Like Stephen Stills said, Love the one you’re with.

I feel this is just a dig the one you dig the most at the time, sort of thing.

But, I suppose we’ll see what gets input soon enough.

SACD is DSD and Blu-ray is high res PCM.

Both can sound superior to CD.
Blue Ray means that you need a tv to play discs.  That alone sends me to SACD since we are doing audio only.
@elevick  You're probably right in most cases but there are folks with nice HT set-ups who use Blu-ray discs for audio only.  They simply raise their projector screen for audio only eliminating any concern of a large flat screen breaking up the soundscape.
No, my BD player plays cd's with the tv turned off. It has its own litle display, just like a cd player. The idea that you need your tv to be on is only true for modern budget BD players that no longer have analogue outputs. They output through hdmi and you then have to channel that to your amplifier.
I'm thinking of what i have to do with my oppo 105.  cds and sacds are easy to play.  dvda and blue rays either need the tv on so i can use the menus or i have to sit right in front of the tiny oppo display.  my old denon was the same way.

I wasnt even thinking about hdmi outputs...
The new Oppo UDP-205 does not require a TV at all. Download the app on your Android/Apple phone, and you are all set to play, configure, etc. You can even set the filters, audio settings etc, without the TV.

I feel, it all depends on the recordings. I have some "good old" Stockfish CDs that sound tons better than some SACDs.
It is not clear that SACD sounds better than Redbook CD using identical masterings/recordings.  There was a meta-analysis of available studies done a few years ago, and the statistics done were weakly significant.

So, if your question is about the formats (i.e. bit rate & depth) then the answer may well be no.

If B-ray is PCM it may be using some sort of super long ladder resistive network to decode(?)  It is already difficult to use these for CD w/out having all sorts of problems, and many modern players convert to DSD for the decode.  Not to mention that many studios record in DSD to begin with....

So... the bottom line would be:
... don't worry about this while you buy better speakers and build a better listening room
There is indeed quite a bit of research that suggests that anything more than cd red book is  unnecessary, but also some weak indications that a bit more might just make a tiny difference, but only just. Since the resolutions of Bluray and SACD are both well above this, there is no chance in the world that you can hear any difference between these two higher resolution formats.
There are two caveats, however. The first is that for recording purposes in the studio, working in higher resolution makes life a lot easier. But that logic does not apply to the distribution format.
The second is that for comparison you really need the exact same mastering/recording. SACD or Bluray is often mastered differently from red book discs, with a wider dynamic range etc. So you are not necessarily comparing like with like. And of course you need material that was recorded in high resolution in the first place. Using an analogue tape as a source is meaningless. If you want to do a meaningful comparison you need to use the same high resolution file, and downsample it to 16/44 for comparison. When this is done, differences have tended to disappear.
In practical terms, the choice between SACD and BD is simply a matter of practical convenience and availability. Fortunately a great player like the Oppo 205 will play all of these formats, so you do not even have to choose. Just have your cake and eat it. Enjoy the music.

You seem mathematically adept or inclined.

Non random Jitter is a big audible problem even in amounts that nobody thought could be audible.

In a sense, jitter is a form of timing or clock non-linearity.

There is another pernicious form of non-linearity in all but 1 bit sigma delta DACs. The small non linearity between individual levels on a ladder DAC creates similar problems to jitter.

The solution is upsampling or much higher sample rates.

Despite having little or no musical content above 20KHz - higher sample rates and upsampling will help randomize DAC non-linearities.

This is a major reason why upsampling sounds so much better in most DACs and why high sample rate files sound better. Nothing to do with our hearing high frequencies and everything to do with less sharp filtering and randomization of inherent DAC non-linearity.

Thank you for response and insight.  Jim
willemj - I agree with #1

re #2 - IIRC, they selected only studies for meta-analysis where the redbook layer of an SACD was used.

In general, it seems wise for a consumer to choose SACDs as the mastering/recording will usually be done well and not "mastered for itunes) or some such.

Finally, I thought the major effect of using high sample rates was that you could avoid brickwall filters
AudiogoN members continue to be much of a light for knowledge.  Thanks, Jim

Yes avoiding brickwall filters helps with passband ripple - this has been the long standing argument for upsampling. However randomization of DAC non-linearity is not well understood. Basically the higher frequency noise in high sample rates act like another form of dither that remove the quantization level errors of the DAC itself. 

Of course, the latest chips use other techniques too. The ESS chip in the Benchmark DAC 3 randomly selects which 1 bit sigma delta is used to convert (128 to choose from). This randomizes non-linearity. This is why I believe the latest devices sound like the best analog and why many like DSD or upsampling. or high sample rate files over redbook. The jitter monster was slayed about 15 years ago but only recently have designs addressed the inherent non-linearities of the levels in the DAC itself.
do you know how  ESS chip in the Oppo 205 is implemented?

I think the Oppo has two of the 9038 chip - one used for multichannel and the other for stereo.  The noise reduction through random selection of sigma delta 1 bit from a multitude of 1 bit dacs is the standard logic used on this chip.

There is only so much to configure with the ESS chip. The 8 channels can be used individually or all summed or split into two groups of summed 4 channels. The summation reduces the channel count and increase the implementation cost but improves SNR. So 4 ESS 9028Pro chips may be the equivalent of 1 ESS 9038)

There are 7 filters built into the chip - most designers will select one. In all there only about a dozen options. (some of the subtle differences between DAC will be down to the filter choice)

Apart from the above, the analog and power supply circuitry surrounding the chip will the main difference in audio quality between different implimentations.

In the case of Benchmark they have built propriety digital and jitter rejection circuitry in advance of the chip. They upsample to 250 GHz digitally and then their Ultravlock adjusts timing at the 4 picosend level simply by a register shift. They then downsample to 211KHz. The choice of 211KHz is strategic in that it means the sample rate is well above the 192 KHz needed. This allows them to select the flatest linear phase option on the chip and the clever trick is that it shifts the filter corner point to be well away from the audio band (211 KHz has a Nyquist of 107.5 and this means the filter corner is 11.5 Khz above the NyQuist for 192 and 59.5 away from 96 and 85.5 away from 44 Khz nyquist and therefore will have no effect on the in audio band). So Benchmark have gone to effort to remove any audibke filter effects. Other designers may choose to tailor the sound using the filters.

Two main kinds of filter: Linear phase and Minimum Phase (a third kind could be everything else in between). Linear maintains the phase relationship between ALL frequencies - this best preserves the timbre of instruments. Minimum Phase screws up the phase relationship and changes the timbre but it eliminates pre-ringing. Since music is all about the relationship between various frequencies then Linear Phase filtering will sound the most natural and if well designed the pre-ringing will not be audible. Minimum phase makes no sense unless you look at waveforms and dislike aesthetically the pre-ringing.

That Bob Stuart is pushing minimum phase basically discredits him and MQA as a gimmick. He is pushing transient response (an engineering concept) over musical timbre (what we actually hear or how our ears work)

My understanding is that DSD is the best choice for recording and storing, at least as good or better than analog.
However, it has to be converted into PCM for mastering, and then back to dsd for pressing the sacd..
As I understand it, there's not one that's better than the other for playback because of the DSD to PCM conversion.  
However, sacds are more simple to use than bluray or dvd.
I wish sacds would replace cd for new releases.