Sony SACD Player SCD-XA5400ES; YAY or NAY?

Happy New Year All,

Sony SACD Player SCD-XA5400ES; YAY or NAY? (around $1,000. usd used)

6 dacs, 3 left/3 right

sends SACD’s DSD out RCA jacks without conversion to PCM.

Upscales CD’s 8x to SACD #s, then out RCA

spinner traverses over fixed dual laser: one cd, one sacd

2010 model: typically 10-12 years old, I see laser assemblies for sale, indicates

a. people want to keep em going.

b. laser problematic

thanks for advice as always,





The only Sony "uber-" SACD player I heard was WAY too long ago: SCD-1 (at a dealer); and that was enough.  Sony knew how to design around its format, and you literally had to drag me out of the listening room.  The sound was so good for DSD I forgot which speakers they were playing through as well.

I'd figure the later iterations of Sony's flagship SACDs would be just as good; my only concern would be the age.  If you've got a local, good audio shop close by that knows Sony - that would melt away some of my reticence.

I continue to enjoy my XA5400ES.  SQ-wise, it competes with (though truly seldom surpasses) both my vinyl and internet sources even when it is just spinning CDs. It definitely sounds better than did my previous SACD/CD player, a Marantz. I hope I'm not laying a curse on the thing, but it has also yet to fail on me.

Personally I wouldn’t want my CDs “upscaled” to SACD.  No thanks.  Otherwise it seems like a solid piece. 

Substantial piece of hardware with good SACD sound, but CD sound that is inoffensive, but was far bettered by a $750 Bel Canto dac.  You might consider it if you have a lot of SACDs, but otherwise I would pass unless you are willing to add a dac for CDs. Then again, others seem to think the CD sound is adequate, so you might think it's fine.

I've been using one for years and it is bulletproof to say the least.  The sound is excellent on both CD & SACD, particularly if you use the Balanced XLR outputs.

I use mine every day and the only way I've been able to improve the sound is by hooking it up to my Chord Hugo TT II using a best-in-class SPDIF cable for CDs.

I vote "YAY"

I have Luxman D10x in one system 

Luxman D03X in another 

And the Sony 5400es in another one. I bought three extra laser units so it might Outlast me lol.

Great piece of audio.

I noticed that no streaming replaces a CD.



Absolutely. Sony's last great SACD PLAYER. Love mine.

Also plays DSD disc's.


I’ve got one and I can attest that this is a hefty, well-built piece of gear. The DAC in it is circa 2000’s; I replaced a California Audio Labs Delta/Alpha set with it and it was definitely an improvement in detail but not in musicality. But when I got my Schiit Yggdrasil, the difference was astounding. I listened to a few SACD’s for comparison with streamed versions, and put the unit away in my basement as a backup. The Yggdrasil was far, far superior in all respects to the dac in the Sony, even with SACD recordings compared to the 44/16 versions.



Nice! collection of CD/SACD players. Besides the SACD playback capibilty, can you talk about the sonic difference(s) between the Luxman D10x and D03x ?


Happy Listening!

I'm glad you mentioned that jafant ... streaming is on ascendancy but has not eclipsed Sony's ability to do shiny disks!!  Or many others for that matter .... 

The 5400 is a fantastic player all around. They are no more notorious for laser problems than other CD players. They also do not  “upscale" your CD's to SACD, as the member soix mentioned. 

I demoed a used sony at a local dealer several years ago and wanted to buy it.  It sounded smooth but bland and lacked detail, dynamics and presence.  

a mid line marantz player sounded better to my years.  

i wound up purchasing the marantz sa8005 which sounded spectacular and levels above the sony.  

for me the XA5400 was a dosappointment considering the reputation.  

thanks generally, I will comment to specifics later,

please remember, I don't/won't stream, it's just not for me.

I am the one who started 'upgrade CD to SACD', (I found that from stereophile, below) so I am posting some of what I found online:


digital-to-analog converters, which employ 12-layer digital filtering and direct DSD-to-analog conversion to deliver superlative SACD performance.

 to criticize the Sony for making a bad mastering job sound bad isn’t right,

the cost, but for just a couple of dollars per recording to make everything in my collection (400 cds) sound so much better

Dual Laser Optical Pickup

Super Audio D/A Converter

CDs are recorded in the PCM format). The DSD format, using a sampling frequency 64 times higher than that of a conventional CD, and with 1-bit quantization

finger-pointing about direct conversion of DSD to analog vs conversion via intermediary transcoding to PCM.

Sony's Technical Background paper spends a lot of words on SACD processing but says little about the player's CD processing, except to describe an 8x-oversampling filter and a noise shaper that result in a 2.8224MHz signal-sampling frequency—the same as that of DSD. "In this way, the SA-DAC presents both CD and SACD signals to the final converter stage in the identical 1-bit/64fs form." The explanation, presumably translated from Japanese, is not entirely clear, but if Sony is implying that CDs played on the SCD-XA5400ES should sound pretty close to SACDs, I think they have a good case.

differences between the two-channel SACD and CD tracks of many discs disappeared, and better CD recordings were revealed as sounding detailed, spacious, and luscious.


July 2020:
It is a multichannel SACD player – the last great one from Sony, massively built

but jitter has always been an issue - until now

With stereo SACD the often slightly edgy upper frequencies, wrought by producers trying to make SACD sound sharper, are buffed smooth without any adverse softening of their impact.

SCD-XA5400ES’s bass is inherently fast and deep.

The balanced XLR output offers a further advance, bringing the 5400ES closer still to XA9000ES quality.


"In this way, the SA-DAC presents both CD and SACD signals to the final converter stage in the identical 1-bit/64fs form."

Contradicted in writing anywhere?


Balanced to avoid problems in long complicated runs backstage, ok.

home, a 1 meter cable, no interference ever with anything, HOW can a balanced VERSION of Analog (after all processing) be better???

Thanks Everyone,

I just bought a very lightly used Sony SCD-XA5400ES because:

1. Multiple DACs

2. Dedicated Lasers for SACD and CD

3. SACD DSD/DAC/Analog without a PCM intermediate step.

4. It MAY (no consensus) upscale CD's to SACD #s

"an 8x-oversampling filter and a noise shaper that result in a 2.8224MHz signal-sampling frequency—the same as that of DSD. "In this way, the SA-DAC presents both CD and SACD signals to the final converter stage in the identical 1-bit/64fs form."



Expectantly, it will sound better than the Yamaha DVD-C961 I found and presently like a lot, which sounds as good as the Onkyo Integra CDC-3.4 II I also like that I just sold because the Yamaha also plays SACD, Onkyo CD only.

NO ONE mentioned this xa5400 in my prior CD search. Who knows what I might have done if someone had.

IF, like the supposedly superior Oppo's I tried, it is not a preferred sound (I avoid 'better'), I will, like the Oppo, resell it. Hopefully not, then keep the Yamaha in the garage system, sell the Sony that is there currently.

Thanks for advice, ideas, YAYs mostly!!!



this was back in the day, but my memory of what i thought remains pretty clear

the sony es series cd players (which played sacd’s as well) were excellent - smooth detailed liquid impactful sound

the other cdp that was also quite highly regarded in the day was the marantz cd63se, it was the reviewers' darling, making a number of best for money lists in tas, s-phile, sensible sound etc etc

i remember comparing a cd63se that belonged to a good hifi buddy at the time, and compared it to my sony scd777, which iirc was about twice as expensive, so maybe not a fair fight, but the marantz had such a great reputation among reviewers

what i recall was the marantz sounded forward and detailed in comparison, but with great bass, whereas my sony had better imaging, smoother treble, more dimensional midrange, and not as prominent (but still excellent) bass depth and control... i was glad i tried them a vs b, it made me feel glad to have my sony, it sounded more like analog to my ears

then years later i bought a top of line scd-1, went on mod trail with vsei warren gregoire and so on... partly due to that experience

for what it's worth, fm service manual, an 8 oversampling digital filter is shown in the signal path, pg 39, IC202



You can find excellent condition used Oppo105s. A big plus is It has separate XLR outs (best sound), then go to eBay and get upgrade IEC,110/220 bypass jumper, and a Linear Power Supply for around $400: one company has step by step pictures. As a bonus, its a very good video player


Marantz Ruby sacd player at discounted at Music direct and Safe and Sound price to $2900.

I own the Marantz SA 10 already, I cant pass the price drop. The Ruby will go to my. Second system.

After my Denon 'lost the spring' Humiliation, Mr. Fixit goes for Redemption.

I just bought a non-working Integra CDC-3.4 Mark II for $53. delivered. (a hospital, they are unable to test things). I have the remote.



I paid around $1k for my 5400 when it was new.  I’ve barely used in over 10 years.  One  odd thing it does is on SACD it seems to cut off the first two seconds of music.



$1,500. when introduced, $1,000. was a good deal for you then. It’s surprising what prices people get for them now. I just paid $999. all these years later for what seller says is very lightly used and fully tested, finds/plays many types of discs/files with no hesitation.

Prices, high to low



Sorry yours did that, mine better not cut off the beginning of songs or it’s going back. I hope to prefer it to my current Yamaha or I will sell it. It’s hard to recover fees, taxes, shipping costs, probably lose a few hundred like I did with the two Oppo’s I tried and did not prefer. I was listening to some ’new to me’ music on the Yamaha last night, simply wonderful.

I’ve got too much music, I quit smoking, spent all my tobacco money on music for 30 years, primarily CD’s in those years. if all my CD’s sound better, it’s cheap at any price, until you admit you only truly and repeatedly enjoy some, not all of them. 4,000 cds, I can wear the laser out re-discovering cd’s I won’t listen too again..

Buyer received my Integra yesterday. ’not working’ Integra arrives here today, Sony arrives here Sunday. Hope to fix the Integra fairly easily, keep/sell/give it away.


dragged out while listening, that’s a great memory for sure.

If physical issues, drawer movement .. dried lube, new belt, some of Donna’s long hair (no cats here), I can do that myself.

I replaced a laser once successfully, just mysteriously lost a critical spring for another.

This unit, the entire laser assembly get’s replaced, but I would pay a pro. I’m near NYC, gotta be someone, and I’m gonna call my new friends Steve and Ray Leung at VAS, see if they would do that if needed.

Yesterday I replaced 2 of 3 identical belts on the Yamaha Changer I bought. It came with the ’need to manually close the drawer’ issue. Works as new now.

I don’t like the ’drawer above the buttons’ design, BUT, it is sooo easy, cover off, open drawer, all 3 identical belts exposed, simply change them, no tools or disassembly. Changers with the drawer ’below the buttons’ must be a lot more work. I’m gonna have a peek at this bottom drawer Integra on Saturday.

I like keeping good stuff going. I mostly win, lost a few. Wait till that damn Denon spring re-appears.


I have owned the 5400 for years. Bought it new back when they still made them. I've been extremely happy with the sound and have never had an issue with it. 

Oh yeah, not to once again tout my now scorned Mytek Brooklyn Bridge, but I do get better if not earthshakingly better CD sound when I send the Sony's CD signal through the Mytek via Opto.

$40. Integra CDC-3.4 Mark II arrived: 'Mech. Error'.

Cover off, revolving tray was resistant to movement, a bit of a forced spin, it freed up, works perfectly. Less than 5 minutes!

I think someone dropped it, or carried it upside down or something. 

some fresh lube, now what?

Sony SCD-xa5400ES due Sunday.

Makes up for the humiliation of the lost Denon spring. I didn't like the sound of the Denon, but someone might have preferred it and wanted it.



@secretguy Sony is still making/selling combo 4K Blu-ray/SACD/etc players--see  I bought the one with 800 in the model in very late 2020. Frankly, it it was not for one issue on my Blu-ray player and the growing numbers of 4K discs, I might still not own any player and SACDs

One thing that makes it tougher for me to judge this player remains the dearth of SACDs and--for those you can find on ebay, the cost can  be an issue.  So I have found my "collection" to remain small so far, making it difficult to compare a beloved CD to its SACD counterpart since SACDs are an exception and not the rule--plus I only have the one Sony player.  I cant justify buying another without having a growing library.

SACD was kept alive, albeit barely, by Classical Music.  I have a few hundred along with a few dozen Blu Rays, both with and without Audio.  Non Classical listeners don't have much reason to go after SACD playback.

   The 5400 in my collection has gone basically unplayed during the dozen or so years of its existence.  I had added an OPPO shortly after purchasing it and the DAC was superior, one of the first ESS implementations.The OPPO also played DVD-A (I bought every one available when Tower Records had its going out of business sale) and Blu Ray.  The Sony sounds like soft haze in comparison, although I guess I could plug it in and try it out again.I had moved the Sony to a second system, rarely played it there and then added an OPPO 203 to that system when OPPO announced it was going to stop making players, and the Sony has been on the bench ever since

The remote went missing years ago.  I should probably sell it off.  I've only sold a few components in my time as I find the ordeal of listing a component and dealing with buyers and shipping pretty tiresome.  And then there is the issue of no remote, the fact that it skips the first measure of play if and SACD is played thru HDMI (it doesn't do this if the analog outputs are used, or if a rebook is played through HDMI.  At the time I googled it and a few others were having the same issue).  Given those issues, not sure what I should ask for it.  Maybe I just donate it to Goodwill and take the tax deduction.


I only have about 25 Hybrid SACD’s out of 4,000 CD’s, and had no plans to buy any more unless used and inexpensive. Mine are Hybrids, so I always have the CD PCM layer and the SACD DSD layer to compare.

No one in the ’Better CD’ conversation mentioned SACD’s almost always being converted to PCM, I found out later. I read a hell of a lotta reviews, none mentioned it, until the one I wish I hadn’t read!

I realized I have never heard DSD without intermediate conversion to PCM, then conversion to Analog. After all this work, I ought to hear SACD/DSD no PCM conversion stage right?

Prior to that, my quest was done. That’s what the xa5400 is about for me.

Then, it appears that it does juice up CD’s x 8, so there is that potential difference to possible prefer.




how are you liking the Sony XA-5400ES ?


Happy Listening!

After several false starts by FEDEX (driver shortages?), the Sony arrived yesterday morning. As it happens, I had a repaired Integra CDC-3.4 II and repaired Yamaha DVD-C961 hooked up ready to compare. Stacked em, moved the same cable direct to Cayin: same input unit to unit this time rather than using different inputs. Volume outputs needed a tweak doing it this way.

The Integra and Yamaha still sound the same to me, both much better than my prior player, both under $250, functionally prefer Integra (CDs only), Yamaha big clunky remote equals it and plays SACDs. 


Sony SCD-XA5400ES is a definite step up. I paid $999. ($1,120 taxed and delivered) for this very lightly used one and have no regrets. Actually low if you see what's out there, and this was in USA.

After being disappointed by the Oppos, I half expected to re-sell it, but it is definitely staying, I will sell ..... instead. 

I started with new music I had ordered, unfamiliar, listen on the Sony first, then, after a bit familiar with the music/voices, on the Yamaha and Integra, back to the Sony.

Couple of new to me SACDs



new to me cds



then into favorite and familiar CDs: Eurythmics; Blue Nile; Kate Wolf; Ani DiFranco; Sade; Mila Drumke; Casandra Wilson.

Both SACDs and CDs, each and every one, the Sony is the keeper.

Lastly, I ran it thru my McIntosh mx110z tube tuner/preamp's aux. Like the others, I prefer this to direct to the Cayin.

Chase unit is out, so it's Furman ON, warm up 20 mins, everything thru mx110z, to Cayin using it's remote volume.


Why prefer Sony xa5400 you ask? I need more time to find the words, refine in my mind what I am hearing differently and responding to. Giving the ears a break until this evening. 

If someone you let go regrettably used you as a job reference, and you get a call, you respond "I cannot say enough good things about ..."

I truly cannot say enough good things about this Sony SCD-xa5400es.

Very familiar, very revealing content, ALL CDs, all SACDs: ALL OBVIOUSLY, SURPRISINGLY BETTER. Not Preferred, BETTER!

Andreas Vollenweider’s White Winds; sounds of the Eurythmics Underground Train; Distinction of ’No More Tears’ duet by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer; Richard Burton and the Martian Death Rays in Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds; ah, there’s a second mandolin behind Kate Wolf’s guitar; the distinction of different string types of the 3 guitars on Friday Night in San Francisco; and finally, what SACD people who have been hearing that I never heard properly until now.

FUNDAMENTALS. I think there is a tighter, firmer, more solid, ... start to the fundamental of Each and Every Note. Improved overtones, volume and time decay all follow that BETTER start. I have never heard a CD sound so good anywhere.

The 3 guitars on Friday Night in San Francisco, my favorite music to refine my cartridge’s anti-skate. I am very very familiar, love this music. I could not imagine the added degree of genuine realism this player got out of a standard CD.

I am sooooo glad I kept going on the DSD/no pcm conversion search, the unexpected big win here is the redbook cd output from it’s 8x oversampling filter.

SACD. Among others I have a series of Oscar Peterson performances, ’exclusively for my friends’. my prior listening conclusion was ’lower noise floor’, eh, I’m not spending a lot more for that. OH holy crap, first one I tried, Mellow Mood SACD, just landed in the room.

You know how a visitor says, "sounds like they are right there" and you know your system, you know it’s great, but no, right there it is not. This seemed like Oscar was playing my Uncle Johnnie’s piano right there!

I can keep slobbering, or go listen. Bye!

EVERYONE: get thee an xa5400es!!!


I have one and go nowhere.

I agree with all you said. I bought two extra lasers unit for the future.




mountainsong, others who might know:

I see lasers and lasers in mechanisms.

literature says two lasers, one for sacd, one for cd. these show 1 laser.

is it that both lasers shoot thru the same lens?


is dave_b still with us?

he loved this thing way back when

evidently he ignored his advice (my take on it)

"I can't believe that SONY could deliver such an amazing player for so little with a sound so engrossing that I wish every audiophile could hear one and understand the frivolity of pursueing other, would be state of the art players...this is as good as it needs to be, period!"

later he switched to a Krell Cipher which I never want to hear!



dave_b switched to all Krell gear not too long ago. Perhaps he will update his system soon?


Happy Listening!

LP/CD Comparison: after two: Zackly-Idenstical-Zimla.

1. Friday Night in San Francisco, 3 magnificent guitarists

First, the CD's imaging of the 3 guitarists helped me refine my anti-skate a smidge for identical placement of John's center guitar. Other improvements to imaging always follow proper center balance. Also, everything that follows when a stylus properly contacts the groove's bottom and both sides.

After that: no way I could tell them apart. I couldn't fool myself which was playing, but I believe anyone else could have. 

The things that this player does right allow it to have the same full body sound of the guitars and their different string types that no other CD player was able to do. As I said, I think it is improved Fundamentals and all that follows, overtones, volume and time decay, inter-relationships 

2. White Winds, Andreas Vollenweider.

Finally a CD player that makes the introductory wind sounds and water sounds properly, just like the LP does.  


Other comparisons to follow, other ears than mine to get involved soon.

Oh baby did this sound better than ever on this player!

I'm listening, thinking whoever recorded this sure knew what the hell they were doing. Checked, Rudy Gelder, his place, just terrific.

Max Roach solos (several) get center to full right, cymbals to cymbals everything in between

I can't stop listening to this CD player. Started buying some used CD's.

This sounds outstanding


everything that is outstanding content is better than ever!!! crap is outstandingly crappy.



Good to read that you are enjoying the Sony ES. 


Happy Listening!

Another 2 weeks of love for the xa5400es. I'm buying used CDs like I was buying used LP's, gives my TT a break.

sent my cartridge to AT, by instinct (I haven't hours played log) I thought, and they agreed, stylus worn just enough to wisely replace, so they sold me a replacement new cartridge for less than half price. Arrived yesterday, I'm away, will get it from my neighbor Sat. am, now gonna keep a log of hours played.

Then, repeat CD/LP comparison after a bit of play. Get some other ears over hear.

Just stumbled across this thread, very timely for me. 5400 owner for almost 12 years now, always been very happy with the sound and performance of this player.Smooth, quiet, glitch free operation since day one. Unfortunately, audiophile nervosa has reared its ugly head and I find myself wondering if a more modern processor might be even better.  The new 110 anniversary Denon looks interesting as does the Yamaha 2100. Im looking for disc player only, no dac/streaming. Probably be my last one as I'm getting old!  Not in a hurry to replace the Sony, but this damn disease is relentless....