Go for the SACD player... there's still plenty of software available, especially classical. I've yet to hear an SACD that didn't sound vastly superior to RBCD's. While I'm sure the Cyrus is a great player, I'd opt for a good SACD player so that I have that available. Plus, SACD players will all play RBCD, most of them very well, so you get more bang for the buck...!
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Why are there not more SACD-player manufacturers in the high end?
Because it's a niche format. Nobody's buying SACD's but a small dedicated group of audiophiles. If you only have a dozen discs, I would not make SACD the priority over redbook. I would suggest researching to see if there is enough SACD titles out there that you are intersted in to warrant an investment in an SACD player. Honestly, there's tons more new vinyl being produced (across all genres) than SACD.
I think SACD is like any other format. While in theory, SACD should be superior to RB, such is not always the case - just as every LP is not automatically superior to every CD. It depends on the original source of the music, the care with which the record company chose to make the transfers and the skill of the manufacturing company that produced the finished product.
That aside, SACDs made from pure DSD sources can be a remarkable thing and therefore a worthwhile addition to your system. The air and the transparency can be breathtaking. But don't look at it as a contest between RD, SACD and vinyl. There are times I want to listen to CDs, times for SACDs and times I want to listen to vinyl. It all depends on my mood and the quality of the particular source material.
Now for the bad part - IMO, based on owning several players, SACD players often do not reproduce CDs as well as some much dedicated CD players. I found this true with both the Sony XA9000 and the Esoteric X-05. You might consider picking up a Sony XA 5400 just for SACD, although I hear the RD is pretty good too. I have heard that the upper echelon players such as the X-03 or Meitner have superb CD reproduction, but I have no experience with those players.
The Ayre C-5xe, especially with the new MP upgrade, is excellent with both SACD and RB. In fact, it clearly shows that some well-recorded titles sound better than many SACDs. But the best SACDs played on it are something to treasure.
The C-5xe will also play DVD-Audio discs, some of which are really good, but it struggles with the DVD-A menu.
The Exemplar and APL modded Denon 5910s and 3910s will play all discs except blu-rays and in some ways are better than the non-MP C-5xe.
If you want to stick with just RB, the Ayre C-7xe, especially with the MP upgrade, is phenominal for the money.
Hope this helps.
I feel that SACD is a worthwhile improvement over RBCD. A lot has to do with the mastering process though. I have heard a few RBCD's that come close and a couple even surpass some SACD's. I would not really worry about a SACD player sounding inferior on RBCD, as that is simply the difference one hears generally speaking between these formats. My highly modified Marantz SA-11S1 sounds very good on RBCD and excellent on SACD.........for digital anyway. Analog is still my primary source, but I find digital at least enjoyable now, especially SACD.
BTW, you may find this site useful as to what recordings are availible on SACD.
Great discussion going here with lots of excellent suggestions! Maybe my initial comment of SACD being "vastly superior" was slightly overboard, but I have to stick with it... In my experience, SACD always sounds better in absolute terms than RBCD. I'm a big believer in subjective listening, but there are times that the engineering and physics behind a product simply hold up in practice. Since the sampling rate of SACD is so much higher than that of Red Book, it will always have the advantage of holding more information. No matter how much you want to oversample, reclock, and process the RBCD stream, it's just not going to hold the same amount of info as SACD.
It's true that the catalog of titles is somewhat limited in relation to the mainstream, but there are excellent sources for SACD like Acoustic Sounds, Elusive Disk, Amazon and Arkiv Music. If you're looking for clssical stuff, Arkiv even has an entire section of their online catalog dedicated to SACD, so it's easy to find what's available. I've purchased SACD form all of the above and haven't been disappointed yet. How long SACD will survive has yet to be seen, but there are still LOTS of titles out there to be had... I'll keep buying them up and enjoying them as long as I can!
So, it's obvious that I'm a big believer in the format. For me, a player has to have good SACD capability. There are plenty of fine examples out there at all kinds of price points both new and used: Marantz, Esoteric, Denon, Onkyo, dcs, NAD, Lexicon, Oppo, Sony.... You're best bet is to find a player that keeps the SACD data stream in the DSD domain and doesn't internally convert the data stream to PCM. I use a Sony 999ES and use it's analog outputs to run SACD's direclty to my preamp. I use the digital output to run through a DAC for RBCD's, so I get the best of both worlds with one deck.
Hope all of this helps. Have fun in your search and most of all, sit back, relax and enjoy the music!
The following is not really an argument against SACD, because the format is slowly growing and SACD players play RBCDs as well, however I'm trying to gain a realistic idea of how much use I will truly get from a SACD player.
There appear to be roughly 6000 SACDs available in print. While the SACD format is superior to RBCD, this still does not affect a few other variables. The first is the quality of the performance and the second is musical taste. Once we eliminate the type of music that I do not like, and eliminate the discs with less than excellent performances and finally eliminate the discs that are really just mediocre recording quality ( and offer little to no improvement over RBCD ) I begin to suspect that the number of SACDs I would listen to on a regular basis might not be that many.
To those of you who own SACD players, how many SACDs do you own and what percentage of those do you really listen to on a regular basis?
I have already stated that analog is my first format choice. That being said, I own roughly 50 SACD's and 500 RBCD's. I find that when listening to digital, I wind up listening to about 40% SACD and 60% RBCD.....mostly due to aforementioned reasons. I would say that I listen to 70% vinyl and 30% digital.
BTW, I'm not a huge classical fan, but I do enjoy classical. I've found that jazz also has a large collection on SACD, and that is my favorite genre.
FWIW, it sounds like you are trying to talk yourself out of an SACD player by saying "I begin to suspect that the number of SACDs I would listen to on a regular basis might not be that many."
If you want a fancy name RBCD player (Cyrus/ Resolution Audio?), I'd say go for it. IMHO a SACD on a Sony (Marantz, Esoteric, etc) will sound better than any RBCD player, but I wouldn't want SACD to interfer with you getting what you really want.
"Why are there not more SACD-player manufacturers in the high end?"
you have SACD players from Krell, Esoteric, Luxman, Accuphase, dCS, Ayre, Playback Designs, EMM Labs, McIntosh, Mark Levinson etc they all are making hi-rez players now since CD players ale limited to low-resolution only.
latest Esoteric and Luxman SACD players models
Hmmmm, not sure how to answer that question? I have 100's of LP's, hundreds of RBCD's and probably a hundred or so SACD's and I listen to all of them, but I'm not sure I can say what actual percentages would be? Music is a huge part of my lifestyle, so I'm more concerned with the performance and the music itself than anything else. SACD's always shine through relative to sound quality next to RBCD, but that's not to say that RBCD's are chopped liver and I don't like them! On the contrary, I think there are some FANTASTIC sounding RBCD's. Ultimately, good music is good music. I listen to a lot of different flavors; rock, jazz, lots of classical. With all genre's, higher rez digital media like SACD's always impress.
You mentioned before that you like classical music; may I suggest that you visit arkivmusik dot com and check out the SACD's they have available... I think you'll answer your concerns about performances, artists and availability.
As John says, don't talk yourself into something that you don't really want and won't value out of. If for you, pure RBCD is the way to go and that's what will make you happy, then that's what matters! I'm obviously a big proponent of SACD, but that doesn't invalidate another direction.
Thank you all for your input. After reading this thread through several times I've decided to go with an SACD player. The purpose of my prior post is simply to get some kind of an idea of how much SACD use I'm going to get out of the player.
In the case of John, above, only 10% of John's digital collection are SACD, so it could be said of John "that the number of SACDs [he] would listen to on a regular basis might not be that many", however they occupy a large 40% of his digital listening time. That sounds very promising to me.
Out of curiosity, I would be interested in hearing others usage habits.
I've owned several SACD and universal players, with the current incumbent being Unidisk. I've also found that the quality of redbook CD playback on universal players is subpar. That somewhat dictated my listening habit before, as I mainly collected and listened to SACD as much as I can. I have maybe one hundred SACDs, and used to be 70% SACD vs 30% redbook.
Recently I've played with outboard DAC, and other disk players of more recent design. As you probably know already the digital technology has advanced quite a bit in the last several years. I was surprised to find that the redbook playback on a modern disk player is actually quite good. With my new XA5400ES I hear a lot of detail on redbook CD. I'm going through my old redbook CD collection and finding the amount of detail and ambiance usually associated with SACD that I've never heard on redbook CD before.
I think the SACD has peaked in mid 2000 when the redbook CD playback technology hasn't reached the today's level. Many of the labels have dropped supporting SACD since. Today I still buy SACD whenever I can, if there is no comparable CD release, or it's not much more expensive than CD release. But I no longer purchase SACD exclusively any more. The usage is no longer biased towards SACD. I pop in whatever I want to listen to at the time, whether SACD or redbook.
I have not measured my listening time to analog-RBCD-SACD/DVD-A, but my impression is that my listening time is close to 50/50 analog-digital (about half the time, I want to listen without the interference of jumping up to lift the arm at the end of an LP side). Some of my digital listening, however, is DVD-V concerts. I have about 700 LPs, 200 RBCDs, 50 SACDs, 10 DVD-As and 12 DVD-V concerts. The concerts I watch maybe 5% of the time, and I don't have a clue how the rest of my digital time is divided among RBCD, SACD & DVD-A. But if I have the same album in both RBCD and hi-res disc, I always go for the hi-res. Vinyl still rules (it is always so much richer sounding), but digital is closing the gap.
I was contemplating keeping my Exemplar Denon 5910 universal player and replacing my Ayre C-5xe with an RBCD only player like the ARC CD 8 because I thought the Ayre and the Exemplar, while different, were pretty close and the Exemplar is wonderful with my DVD-V concerts as well as movies. But then I sent the C-5xe back to Ayre for upgrading to the MP, and now I like it too much to part with it.