the differences between sacd players

it is my hypothesis that the variation in the "sound" of sacd players is considerably less than that of redbook cd players.

i believe this to be the case since hybrid sacds, which are not remastered from pcm, but are instead original recordings, is of such a high quality, that differences in playback are not as great as what would be experienced when listening to redbook cds.

has anyone compared several sacd players and can comment on this ?

if i am correct, it doesn't make much sense to spend a lot of money on an sacd player to play sacd discs.

i may be looking for an sacd player as i have about 150 sacd discs. while i would invest over $4000 on a cd player, i don't think it is necessary to spend the same for an sacd player. in fact music direct has a sale on a marantz sa 15, for $1399. it may be sufficient.
It may. Then again, it may not. Sufficient is such an inadequate word. My hypothesis is that there are a whole bunch of things which go in to making a digital source sound good. Some are transport stability, jitter of digital signal protocol, power supply quality, output stage quality, DAC, jitter or other ugliness in the places where signal is passed off from one chip to the next, and then, lest we forget, how cool the thing looks. Blue lights are definitely better than red lights, except perhaps for the red lights on the old Bow ZZ-8, which exuded cool because it just had those big LEDs, and the funky disc cover, not to mention those cool, gold sliders. The ZZ-8 sounded excellent even without a disc in it - it was that good. But I digress...

I have compared several SACD players (same music, same other components, blah blah blah) and have found that there are differences which matter to me. I have heard some ridiculously bad-sounding SACD players. They sounded as if they had terribly cheap power supplies, op-amps, etc. My bet is that they did.

One could probably propose the opposite hypothesis as well and find takers. Because SACD has more information than CD, and because it has more intrusive filters in the treble, one needs the utmost in implementation to get the utmost of the benefit of SACD.

But FWIW, the SA-15 isn't a bad player... I could live with it.
There are a lot of issues to consider, in my mind with the SACD players. Of course, SACD was initially meant to be a multi-channel audio only playback medium. Yet many of the best SACD players only offer two channel playback as a stand alone player. This suites many people in our hobby who have only two channel playback systems due to the attitudes toward multi-channel (right or wrong, I am not offering an opinion on this topic).

Secondly, many of these two channel SACD players (when I say an SACD player is a two channel player, I mean it only puts out two channels in analog mode) can put out the 3, 4, 5, 5.1 channels but only via the firewire/1394 or HDMI (1.1 or higher, I believe) digital outputs. This means that one must have a preamp (processor) that accepts the 1394 or HDMI audio inputs.

My guess is that the noticeable differences with the 5.1 channel SACD performance, the differences may become less noticeable. However, since I don't have multiple 5.1 channel source capabilities this is purely a guess.

On the other hand, I do have a bit more experience with 2 channel SACD playback - that being an Esoteric X-03 SE, EMM Labs CDSD.DAC6 combo, and a DCS Delius DSD/PCM DAC and an Oppo 981 that can put out both 2-channel and all the way up to 5.1 channel (which I have only listened to via its analog outputs into my pre/pro [Krell HTS 7.1 latest version]). This being said, I find that the differences between SACD 2-channel playback is comparable in differences/comparison/etc. . to comparing two red book CD players.

My suggestion to most people would be to procure one of the better SACD players and replace their stand alone redbook players. My experience is that the better SACD player/combos perform excellently with redbook sources - comparable to and even surpassing many stand alone redbook players (based on what would be natural or logical comparison of similarly priced/quality components).

All this being said, I am not so sure I would recommend to very many people to sell a beloved CDP just to upgrade to SACD. If the upgrade is part of a natural upgrade in equipment/performance than it is a good consideration, but to upgrade JUST to get SACD 2-channel may not be the best step. SACD multi-channel is fun to listen to, but I have still not decided whether it seems to feel a little bit gimmicky. I was listening to a Nora Jones multi-channel SACD last night and there were direct play instruments coming from my rear speakers - not very natural in my mind - but still a fun listen!
Different SACD players do result in different sound.I do agree with Ckoffend that Multi channel SACD can sound unnatural and very artificial.I do listen to a 5 channel system but through a Meridian 861 which does distribute the sound properly.
I have listened to a number of SACD players in my system.My experience indicate that unless the recording is very good and the sacd player is superior ,the hybrid reproduction on a high quality red book player can sound as good or even better,(I listen to primarily classical music) Example,listening to many sacd on EMM SE combo was inferior to the hybrid reproduction on a Reimyo777 or The Zanden combo.However,for two channel SACD I find the Accuphase 800/801,very good and superior to the hybrid.For multi channel I usually listen using the esoteric X-01,but only when the recording was well recorded.In my bedroom system I use the CARY sacd it is very very good ,a 2-channel player,and is more reasonably priced.I would stay away from MF.EMM.Depending on the rest of your system and the kind of music you listen to the XA-ES sony or marantz may be adequate.