I advise all those who have spent time researching or trashing SACD to visit and learn what the industry is talking about todat at the Consumer Electronics Show in LasVegas. Here is a short portion or the current artical "Record labels strongly support the format. More than 235 SACD titles are now available, encompassing "all types of music by major artists," in Demuynck's words, "and all of [it] compatible with existing CD players. We believe in exponential growth for the SACD hybrid." The SACD-1000 should appear in showrooms toward the end of January. At the Philips conference, no mention was made of DVD-Audio, a promising format that seemed to be missing in action so far at CES, at least on the day before the Show officially opens."
Jadem6 probably still too early to say however I would agree my intial thought that DVD-A would win out (due to the success of DVD)is now looking like a duffer. Hesitation in the DVD-A camp has meant SACD getting a head start and those in the know such as Mark Levinson think that SACD is the better format technically and sonically. This battle is not as clear as the video-tape situation in that new machines can potentially play SACD,DVD-A and normal CD's. However wether the manufacturers will do that on a widescale is open to debate(I know such players are appearing) but this possibility could make the war a long and complicated one. It'll still take a long time for the new formats to replace CD's and I also thought recent events in the U.S would make early declariations of victory a thing of the past. Obviously not.
235 SACD titles? Can someone point me to a comprehensive list? I haven't seen anything like this number. I've found mostly transfers of bright dry (and, oh yes, unremarkable) orchestral music from the early 60's.
Try Music Direct and Elusive disk And get there mail order catalogs. They update four times per year so you can stay current. Also if you subscribe to Elusive Disks e-mail news letter they update the newest releases weekly. Try Jacintha "Autumn leaves" (female jazz vocal), Natures Realm (classical all tube recorded) and Duke Elington "Blues Orbit" (Big band/Jazz) to start with. All three are amazing! I would also recommend the disks from Chesky, All of them are far better than the standard cd. One last thought BE SURE YOUR PLAYER HAS A MINIMUM OF 250 HOURS BURN IN TIME PER LASER!!!!!!!! The brightness will go away!
Music Direct, Acoustic Sounds, are two good sources. SACD is so much better then CD that even if no other music was made, i would still keep my Sony sacd1. And this is coming from a guy who has a highend vinyl rig. And a former owner of a highend megabuck dac, transport, player.
I agree. I can't see the industry giving up a 2.8 million/second sampling system, for a 96K/192K per second system. DVD-audio will survive, just like DTS is surviving, but it's not for audiophiles or master recordings. It is an improvement over CDs. DVD-audio is only showing up in midfi equipment, and for those who think SACD has no software, where's the DVD-audio software? The $400 (list) Sony CD/SACD multichannel player should lead to an explosion in SACD demand.
SACD does not have more resolution than 24/96 material or even a CD at 16 bit/44.1k. SACD is a pulse averaging system that is IDENTICAL to a 1 bit Delta Sigma DAC at 64X oversampling (44100Hz * 64 = 2,822,400Hz.) The problem with 1 bit DACs, or SACD, is that they are capable of high resolution but only at low frequencys. A 1 bit sampling system running at 2.8 MHz reaches 24 bit resolution at .175Hz, 16 bit resolution at 43Hz, 12 bit resolution at 1Khz, and 7 bit resolution at 20Khz. As you can see there is decreasing resolution with frequency, in order to have full 16 bit resolution at 20Khz a 1 bit system would need to run at 2.8Ghz, 1000 times faster. In contrast a PCM digital system (like CDs or DVD audio) has full resolution from DC to the nyquist frequency (half the sampling rate). The ONLY advantage that SACD has over conventional PCM digital system is that almost all music now is recorded using a 64X oversampling A/D converter, converted to PCM in a DSP (a lossy step) and when it is played back it is converted to a 1 bit signal once again in a Delta Sigma DAC. SACD simply puts the raw information from the A/D converter on a disk so that there is no conversion loss. DVD audio has a much higher POTENTIAL resolution than SACD but today even CDs are not used to their fullest potential.
Dustin, Sounds like SACD puts up back to the days of 78's and AM radio. In the couple instances where there's both 24/96 and SACD versions of the same master recording, why have the reviewers preferred SACD? Why does everyone prefer SACD over CD. Why is SACD getting almost universal praise? Why does SACD sound great on my system--superior to LPs, CDs, and 24/96? Why does Sony claim that SACD is capable of 100K HZ, while CDs claim 20K, and DVD-Aduio 24K? Your 1 bit explanation is interesting, and I do not understand the engineering, but it seems difficult to believe that SACD has 7 bit resolution at 20K. It would appear to me that at higher frequencies, a detailed resolution would be much more critical.
SACD sounds better than most CDs because the technology used to record in SACD is the same as CDs today. In fact most of the SACD converters that I have seen are based on the same Delta Sigma A/Ds as are used in most PCM converter boxes. They simply grab the stream before the DSP that converts to PCM. So the media on the CD is the same BUT there are more digital conversion steps, Each one of which has some loss. This means that CDs sound worse than SACDs if you use the same equipment to record them. However this is not a problem of the format. There are other ways to "fill the bits" than a Delta Sigma A/D converter but these all cost much more money ($500 a chip or more instead of $5 for a pretty good Delta Sigma A/D). Because these chips are cheap and most people can't hear the difference on their home stereos almost all CDs are mastered on these chips. In fact many CDs are mastered on consumer DAT machines simply using the analog inputs!! (None of which contain very good A/D stages) At least SACDs are mastered on dedicated equipment that is much better designed. I have heard some carefully mastered recordable CDs converted from master tape (just recorded on a laptop computer with a digital in) using a direct conversion A/D converter (these converters directly measure an input signal instead of generating a stream of pulses that are then digital filtered) capable of filling a CDs full resolution and played back on a Direct conversion DAC that sounded almost exactly like the tape. In contrast the commercial master of the same material made on a DAT machine sounded just like any other commercial CD.
P.S. the resolution of a system is easily calculated. For PCM represented with binary numbers you can figure the resolution by raising 2 to the number of bits in a single word. An 8 bit system has 256 possible levels, a 16 bit system has 65,536 possible levels, and a 24 bit system has 16,777,216 possible levels to describe. A 1 bit system like 1 bit Delta Sigma or SACD has only 2 possible levels therefor you must average some pulses to reproduce any given level. If I want a 1 bit system with a resolution the same as an 8 bit system I would need to average 256 pulses, a 16 bit system would need 65,536 pulses to be averaged. (For 8 bit resolution, If I want a "1" I would turn on 1 pulse and turn off the 255, if I wanted a "200" I would turn on 200 pulses and turn off 56, ect...) So to calculate the resolution of a 1 bit system at any frequency just calculate how many pulses it can produce at that frequency.
SACD still has roughly 5 bits of resolution at 100Khz while conventional PCM is limited to the niquist frequency of half its sampling rate, 22.05Khz for a CD. The Nyquist frequency for SACD is also half of its sampling rate, 1.4Mhz.
YAWN! All I know as a peon guy who loves music is SACD sounds great, better than anything to date to my non scientificly trained ears. Thanks for the info Dustin.
SACD has hit first, and that means it has hit twice. Never mind that the blow is pretty weak, as we all know industry trends are usually commercially driven and not quality driven. Almost all of the SACD material out there does not significantly improve on what's achievable with standard redbook CDs. The best sound in the market today comes from 24/96 recorded DVD-A. Unfortunately, if the very proponents of that format, such as Chesky, abandon it for the lure of bigger bucks with Sony's support, the result is, at best, compromise. Arguably, many redbook CDs sound better than most of the SACDs out there. Sony, or someone, is going to have to do better than this. For starters they need to build a decent SACD player in a reasonable price range. Then they need to dramatically improve the recording and mastering process.
Joe, Have you taken any of the current players home? The s9000es is only 1500 retail and is built like a tank.
i just returned from ces and can tell you this: (1) there were about the same no. of rooms using sacd playback as analog; (2) i saw NO dvd-a players being used (tho i didn't visit close to all exhibitors' spaces); and (3) i bought NO rebook cd's, 'cuz everything in which i was interested was available only in sacd/lp or both!
FYI. I just mail ordered 2 SACD's from HMV.COM from Canada. They only stock the Sony SACDs, but the price was $18.42. Shipping was about $5 for two, and the shipment arrived in exactly one week. I live near Washington, CD. I'm pleased.
Just wondering where you came up with the number of SACD releases. At their press conference, Sony said there were 180 titles to date -- and all of them were on the walls of one of the demo rooms
The above is a quote direct from an artical at the Stereophile website. I've read numbers even higher at other websites. 180 saz you, 235 saz Stereophile, I say a bunch.
I also read a review of CES somewhere that stated that there were "almost 300" SACD CDs. I can't find that many in my catalogs. By the way, the battle between SACD and DVD-audio is not over--and won't be for some time. So far, both sides have played on different battlefields: Sony/Marantz with $3,500 plus machines, and DVD-audio with mid-fi equipment (e.g. Panasonic A7 and JVC 723). Only the Technics and Denon approach something above mid-fi. It's been unfair to compare. Sony now sells a $1500 DVD/SACD player, and within the next year, Sony will offer a $400 player and DVD-audio will be seen in $2,000 plus players. That's when the real comparisons will begin. My first impression is that SACD will always sound better than DVD-audio. SACD is preferred over 96/24 in every comparision I've read, and I don't expect DVD-audio to be much better than 96/24. If SACD is superior to DVD-audio, it will survive, even if the mid-fi market gobbles up DVD-audio players. I bet they co-exist just like DPL, DD, and DTS, but that audiophiles will prefer SACD.'s interesting since the SACD catalog given out by Sony/Phillips at the CES Show only lists 180. Wonder where the differences come in? I quickly glanced through the catalog and see at least two labels missing (Hyperion and Lyrinx) but there also some SACDs listed that haven't been released. I also think that there's a few from Japan that don't appear but again, I wonder how much are only "vapor ware" at the moment?
Just this past Saturday (1-13) I was in Harmony House Records, a 15 store chain here in S.E. Michigan, and came across a DVD-A copy of The Doors' "LA Woman". I asked the manager if they had more DVD-As and she said a couple but wasn't sure where there would be. She also said she's not had one person ask anyone in her store for DVD-A software. I then asked her if she knew what SACD was, she wasn't sure. I exlained it and she thought that "maybe I've heard of it." She said she's sure their store has none and she's never been asked about them either, I'm the first. I'm waiting before I do anything. I personally think SACD will never go beyond an audiophile item only, and DVD-A will only take off if the record companies start to kill CDs like they killed LPs. I have no idea what kind of profit margin is involved in either of these, but we all know that everything in the music business is now completely driven by this. And I, for one, will never buy another copy of "Kind of Blue" in any format. Well, maybe. Well, I might try it just for fun. Aw hell, I'm afraid the bastards have got me.
I went in Tower Records in Fairfax Virginia. I asked if thay had any SAcd recordings. Confused, the salesman got the manager. Neither had heard of SACD. I then asked about DVD-Audio. They hadn't heard about that either. Hey, maybe CD WINS!
I buy SACD's from Tower records downtown Chicago whenever I decide. Perhaps it takes time to propagate the medium in smaller areas. Regards, Mike
I hope the SACD medium takes off, I have a player and think it sounds great. I look forward to the release of hordes of new titles, although the above notwithstanding, I've not seen this yet. And although I've not heard the Accuphase units, I've heard all the Sony's and Marantz, and to these ossified auricles, a good analog setup STILL sounds better. Viva-la-Album.
Another reality check. I was in Dearborn Music (a lagr independent two branch record store that has been in owned by the same family for almost 40 years. They have, for anumber of years, specialized in remastered CDs; jazz, classical, and, over the last couple of years, pop and rock. They were the first stores in this area to carry JVC XRCDs and Japanese import jazz reissues. They no longer carry XRCDs, didn't sell them to anyone but me. I asked two employees about SACD and DVD-A. One heard about DVD-A, neither has ever heard of SACD. Both said no customer has ever asked about either. Again I say there is no demand whatsoever from 99.9% of people for either format. I can see SACDs quickly becoming like XRCDs, not available execept through mail order, and a very small number of titles to choose from. In fact, will Sony continue to support this cost once they realize there really are no sales to speak of? Didn't Sony only create this format because their stranglehold (patent) on bluebook CDs ran out a couple of years ago? I still think our best bet is our high end manufacturer buddies who make upsampling/interpolating machines (especially ones that can also do room and speaker correction), and the record companies who are switching to 24/96 CD mastering and remastering.
You may well be right. It's a shame that the format isn't getting outside a very small circle. The sound quality is so nice, it would be a shame to never see it given the chance to grow. My SCD-1 player must have about 400 hours on each laser now. I swear it's continued to improve!
I have never heard SACD or DVD audio. Does it have the warmth and smoothness of lp's?
Perfectimage: SACD, to my ears, certainly has the smoothness of vinyl, particularly noticable in the highs, which are quite natural. It does not have the ultimate warmth of vinyl, unless that warmth is on the master tape, as SACD gets you closer to the master tape. I have similar observations about the 24/96 discs I have from Classic and Chesky (not talking about DVD-A here). I'll note that many of the reissues of vinyl, particularly from Classic, have been criticized mildly for not having the warmth of the originals; I wonder if part of that, other than using solid state vs. tube mastering equipment, comes from getting closer to the master tape as well. I can live without the ultimate warmth for the better bass and theoretical dynamic range improvement (although vinyl's actual dynamic range is very much underrated, in my view, as evidenced by the Classic Mercury reissues), although I think that warmth is part of the reason I still prefer to listen to vinyl. I'll also note that SACD has that openness and ease of presentation that you get from good vinyl playback, which is very noticable to me when I go back to regular CD listening, even through a Purcell upsampler. Hope this helps answer your question.
Oh perfectimage, such a loaded question. I don't know what this will bring but here goes. NO, nothing is like vinyl. I say that with all respect of the quality of sound one finds with a "good" set-up. SACD is clearly different, but is much closer to vinyl than digital. SACD is it's own experience. Fantastic smooth, liquid highs. The slam of the base, and the pinpoint detail in the base is far different than vinyl. Midrange is as Rcprince so well detailed, closer to the tapes, wich tend to be dryer. I've found the SACD to be very very special. I quit listening to the vinyl once my player had over 300 hours. (I must admit I'm a digital fan from the '80s, so take my opinion as what it is, slanted) The depth and layering of the soundstage is very detailed. On Duke Ellingtons "Blues in Orbit" (a new favorite) the band is up front and immediate, the back up musicians are well behond on each side with each player defined. The studio is very much a part of this disk. SACD has proven to be excellant at discerning the enviromental information and creating the space. On Jacintha "Autumn Leaves" the color in her voice and the insturments are lovely. There is an air that completely incompasses the source. Color, my systm produces color within the tones. These are a crude attempt to discribe a feeling that is purly SACD, not digital and not vinyl.
I believe the quality of reproduction dollar for dollar my go the SACD. If you are talking altimate sound reproduction, cost what it my be, VINYL still wins, but not by much. J.D. (P.S. sorry my spelling sucks)
Excellent post, Jadem6. I can second all of his observations. SACD is not a "digital" sound as we're used to, nor is it the sound of vinyl. It is more the sound of the master tape, which in some instances can be a mixed blessing.
Thanks to both Rcprince and Jadem6 for their eloquent statements regarding master tape, vinyl, CD, and SACD. I know I learned a lot from the above few posts.
While SACD is clearly solid from a technology point of view, I think it will eventually disappear from the map, or at least be limited to a very small corner of the audiophile market.

For all of the bickering that has taken place in this forum and on other forums, I think everyone is overlooking the fundemental problem with SACD. The problem with SACD is that Sony is the driving force behind it. No, I don't think Sony is evil or ignorant. The problem is that Sony owns several major record labels and they want to charge the record labels that are not owned by Sony royalties for releasing product in the SACD format. No self-respecting record company or their parent corporation is going to pay royalties to their competition if they can avoid it. I would expect Sony labels to put out SACD titles and everyone else to put out DVD-Audio titles. Since Sony's share of labels is relatively small compared to the overall size of the market, I expect SACD to lose this battle.