The Truth of the Philips SACD1000

Okay, everyone. I just bought a SACD1000 and I was expecting it would have the ability to replace my current Digital SetUp, a Philips 921 (Transport) & a MSB Link II (DAC) as to simplify my Digital SetUp. I have burned it in for 100 hrs. My result with SIDE-BY-SIDE comparing with my Philips 921 (as a transport) and a MSB LINK II (DAC), is, the MSB totally blew the new SACD1000 away! MSB apparently produce higher resolution and more accurate Hi-Freq than SACD1000. Midrange would be warmer for the SACD1000, but the soundstage yet is more shallow and narrow than my MSB Link II; too forward, forget about the word "deep". Low-end bass would be a little bit slow and over-weight; yet doesn't even go that low, extremely low-freq disappeared! Speed-wise, the MSB is a lot faster and punchier than the SACD1000, a lot cleaner and well balance as well. The fact that it doesn't feeds PCM digital out for audio CD made me stuck from parting it with a quality out-board DAC.
As a $400.00 Stand-Alone CD Player, it would be a Class B. I don't know why the hack it was rated Class B in Stereophile, as I said, maybe the total general rating would be Class B because it's cheap price and compatibilities, but it's too far behind from MSB Link II DAC which is rated Class B also. The SACD1000, however, it's a Class C to me.
Video-wise it uses only 10bit video chip and it doesn't have Progressive Output. SIDE-BY-SIDE comparing with my Philips DVDQ50, result in lack of functions and picture resolution. The DVDQ50 apparently produce a more natural, better contrast, and higher resoltion picture. Well, you have to think about that the DVDQ50 is a Stand-Alone State-Of-Art DVD Player "ONLY". All the money you paid went to DVD, of cause it produce such a state-of-art video picture. Unlike the SACD1000, for $100 extra it went to alot of other places like SACD/DVD/CDR/CDRW compatibilty, a bigger power supply, a bigger chassis and multi-channel and a lot more component inside the unit...
I don't think any of you has done a SID-BY-SIDE comparing, what I have here will tell you how good/bad the SACD1000s sound-------Good and warm midrange with limited hi & extreme-low frequence. Sounds not as accurate and fast (at least the same class MSB Link II has done it...) Fair picture quality with lack of progreesive scan and PCM digital output will make you feel like hell from upgrading. Function-wise it would be a DVD player with very little functions. Extremely well built as in construction. Features Marantz HRAM Audio Output Module. However, as a $400.00 player, you get DVD playing, and Multi-Channel for free. So, no matter what, it's worth the price somehow.
As a excellent redbook player, I would suggest you look elsewhere. If you have a tight space or you only have a limited amount of money to spend, this would be the player for you! Single chassis, plays SACD/DVD/CDR/CDRW and produce "okay" sound from it. My personal conclusion with the SACD1000 would be:

An "Okay" DVD player with SACD Multi-Channel as an extra.

I was going to replace it with my Philips 921 (Transport) and MSB Link II (DAC), but I think I have to keep them now. I am starting to look for a Marantz SA-14, SA-8260 or maybe I will go for Sony SCD-1. I am keeping it for my secondary system. I couldn't upgrade, because of it's lack of PCM digital output for audio CDs and it's lack of progressive video out. Maybe I will sell it? To me, it's a Class C for Audio & Video and a Class B for it's value.

Many of you know that the Philips is coming out with a new SACD/DVD player called the DVD963SA. I have seen both the inside of the two units. The SACD1000 features the Marantz HRAM Module, but the DVD963SA doesn't. Both the power supply and the electronic component inside both the unit are far different. The DVD963SA looks like a cheap player (it's weight half the SACD1000), it's power transformer is the size of a thumb (Super-Tiny), no big capacitors for power storage, no Marantz HRAM module, no amazing good components inside at all. Totally a mass production DVD player. The good things could be:

**It has progressive 12bit/108Mhz
**It feed PCM out for audio CD (As I was told)
**It's video circuit can be shut off while playing audio disc, to lower interferences and dissortion
**It has a newer firmware, of cause...
**It upsamples to 24/192

If you people are waiting for a DVD963SA instead of buying the SACD1000, then I think it's wrong. Video and function wise the DVD963SA would definitely be better, but audio-wise I don't know if the DVD963SA will perform better with such a tiny power supply and lack of Marantz HRAM Module. Email me if you people are interested in further discussion with me about these units and if you have any questions. Good luck AV hunting!
Out of curiosity, what filter setting are you using, which output jacks, etc ??? There are a few things that i've learned by monkeying around with it that have helped open up the sound a bit. I think that part of the problem is that some folks have not experimented and / or even read the manual. Hooking up the player as one normally would for standard two channel operation is NOT how the unit should be run. As such, the performance that they are receiving is less than what the unit is truly capable of. Sean
What does the rest of your system consist of? I've read on AA that the SACD1000 takes up to 300 hours to break-in.
Like Sean, I have been performing a few tweaks to the SACD1000 with success. The more this unit breaks-in, the highs and lows are sounding much, much better. I have been using the Multichannel Audio Outs only for SACD, Redbook CD, and 4.1 video. I am finding Redbook CD is improving daily which has been a surprise.

This unit appears to be an excellent "Mod" unit. I am waiting for upcoming reviews, but Dan Wright at ModWright appears to have the edge currently.
Thank you for the review! The MSB Link Dac is quite good, just not expensive enough to garner its due respect among audiophools, and saying that I'm not surprised it offered better redbook playback the then $5 DAC in the Phillips. The MSB offers slightly tipped up bass, which may explain your impression side-by-side, and on the plus side I found it to offer amazing body and 3D layering, uncanny detail retrevial yet a very smooth presentation. If you have the chance, upgrade to the half Nelson version with upsampling, it is well worth the cost, offering even more of the same but also a more extended and flat frequency response.

FWIW, I've read the 963A will NOT have a PCM output for an external dac, only for surround processors, which is a bummer, for I would have tried it if it had for the SACD feature, but ran the redbook to an external dac....
MSB Link DAC II blows away new Philips SACD1000? Having
owned a Link DAC II,Link DAC III and a Full Nelson with upsampling and feed via a MSB network interface, I can only say you must have a defective SACD 1000 or it's still not broken in.

The high-end opens up after break-in. The bass on the MSB DACs is impressive, but not very accurate. I find no lack of deep bass and the midbass performance is outstanding.

I didn't buy it as a transport,a video player or because of a magazine rating. After reviewing the circuit diagramsand speaking with some folks that have done some mods, I think it has great potential.
Just for starters, everyone using one of these players should have the filter switch in the back set to position 3 ( 50 KHz ). This extends the extreme top end performance of this unit as there is a measurable slope above 10 KHz if running in filter 1 or 2 ( 40 KHz ) mode. You should also be running the left and right outputs from the top row of the multi-channel jacks, NOT the "standard" left and right stereo output jacks. Using what one would normally think of as being the "normal 2 channel jacks" introduces increased high frequency filtering into the circuit. This eats up the top octave of treble and minimize what "air" the 1000 is capable of. As such, avoid those jacks for anything but a feed into your TV set, etc... Just doing those two things and putting a decent power cord onto the unit lets it perform reasonably well.

Don't get me wrong as i'm not saying that this is an "end all" piece in terms of the search for digital performance goes. Not by any means. As compared to an MSB though, this unit kills the MSB on extreme bottom end oomph and definition, has a far more liquid sounding midrange with greater body and warmth and lacks the upper mid / lower treble glare that i've noticed on most stock DAC II's and III's. The high end is not as pronounced on the SACD 1000 as it is on the MSB, but i think the 1000 sounds a little more natural and not quite as brittle as the MSB does way up top.

With some modifications done to the existing circuitry, i have no doubt in my mind that this unit could be quite good. When my brother first listened to it, he asked if i was running an external DAC. I responded that i was running the player by itself in stock form. I then asked him why he wanted to know and his response was that the naturalness of presentation and ability to retrieve detail with no lack of grain or glare was quite good, especially for a brand new player with very limited time on it. As such, he had initially thought i was running a DAC. Needless to say, he was pretty impressed with how this thing sounded.

I'm currently using Magnan IV interconnects ( haven't swapped them out yet ) to feed the signal from the 1000 to my Pre / Pro. I just switched from a TG Audio HSRi Generation II power cord to a CVH model ( Version II i think ) to see how that works out. I'll use that one for a while and then i'm going to try a cheaper Cardas power cord that i have just to see how that does a little later. I've also taken the factory feet off and am using three Mod Squad Soft Shoes for footers. I'm going to try this out, then try some Tiptoes and then try a combo of Soft Shoes and Tiptoes.

Other than that, keep in mind that these units are NOT grounded via the the three pin IEC jack. While it does accept a standard power cord, there is no internal grounding to the plug on the chassis. If you want to ground this unit, you have to ground the chassis. This is mentioned in the manual. As i mentioned above, READ YOUR MANUAL if you want to know how to obtain good results from this unit. Sean
MSB Link DAC II blew away the Philips SACD 1000? that is really funny to me, like somebody mentioned above you may have a broken unit or you're not using the multi channel outputs. What is the rest of your system again?
I have the SACD 1000 on my hometheater rig and to say the least I'm pretty happy with it both SACD and redbook.
It's not in the same league as my EMC 1 on my stereo rig but it's not bad for the price it's going lately, and it's definitely better than the MSB Link DAC III with upsampling.
With it's video I can't comment as I have mine running thru a Quadscan ELite HD outputting 720p, now that is awesome but probably belongs to a different thread.
Okay, I have the filter on "Normal". One thing though, I have a Marantz PM-17 Integrated in my Secondary System (NOT Super Audio Version) and a pair of B&W speakers. Both the amp & the speakers ONLY goes up to 20Khz max. If I pop the filter to position 3 "FULL RANGE-NO FILTER", are my tweeters gonna be fried as what Philips saids in the Manual? Or my Marantz is gonns burn out because it cant handle the heavy EXTREME-HIGH-FREQ signal? PLease advise. After an answer was given by someone who tried it, I will burn it in for another 400 hrs, wat for my new review!
Sean seems to be "the MAN" as far as I can tell here so please keep posting your observations as you uncover them. I too plunged forward with the 399 - Tweeter 1000 giveaway and find ; redbook is only acceptable , video is horrible but sacd is wonderful . The unit has only 375 hours real-time break-in so I am premature on final conclusions. I would assume MOST people would default to the stereo outs on the bottom so the confusion is understandable but you should ALWAYS take a moment to read a manual. I am craving concrete reports on anyone doing the mod to this unit and doing a side by side comparison. Its 2100 00 and that puts my cost at about a used sac-1 . Hummmmmmm. Not an easy choice.
Sean & Rmml- Nice to see you agree with me on the 1000 vs.
MSB issue.
Sean- Other than the filter settings and proper output jacks you pointed out, the three easy mods suggested to me were: 1.power cord upgrade which you've tried 2.remove the stock feet and resonant steel bottom plate and replace with a roller type foot/support 3.placement of a 10-12 pound bag of lead shot on the top.

The rest of the mods involve internal part replacement/upgrade and circuit mods.

Brainwater- A $2100. investment is not required.
Kana: I forgot to mention that i have also "mass loaded" the top of the SACD 1000. Thanks for bringing that up and reminding me.

I'm using a zip-loc freezer sized bag that is partially filled with sand and spread out on the top of the player. As to removing the bottom plate, i prefer to leave it on for shielding purposes. Not only is gear susceptible to picking up RFI, digital gear also radiates RFI. As such, i chose to leave the "vibrating shield" in place and use Mod Squad Soft Shoes as footers. These have a larger contact area and will help to damp the plate from vibrating. At the same time, this also helps to uncouple the player from the shelf that it is resting on to a small degree, which is a "lowly" Sanus model.

Since the shelf is rigidly coupled to the rack ( which i don't like, but...), my past experience is that external floor vibrations can easily work their way back up into the gear. Since i am trying to somewhat "uncouple" the cd player adding a large amount of weight to the top of the player would be counter productive. As such, i've got just enough sand in the bag to cover the lid and keep it from rattling / vibrating. If i can recall correctly, this equates to about 7 lbs or so.

Vibrapods would work in this situation also, but i've found the Soft shoes to offer a combination of coupling ( due to their slightly stiff compliance ) and damping ( due to the small amount of "give" that they have ) that is a good compromise. The Vibrapods don't offer as much support due to their limited contact area and tend to introduce a slighlty different sonic characteristic into the system. An air bladder would be a step closer to the Soft shoes but is still "mushy". Something along the lines of a Bright Star Air Mass might also work in my specific situation, since it offers both support and isolation, much like the Soft Shoes. I've got a Bright Star and may give this a try also just for kicks. These are easy enough to build if someone wanted to try duplicating the effects.

So that you folks know exactly where i'm coming from while reading all of my comments on this player, my SACD 1000 is being used in my HT system as mentioned. I've strictly been listening to this player in 2 channel mode, so that is what my comments are based on. After listening to this system and making a few changes to it last night, it sounds the best that it ever has.

The SACD 1000 is connected to the Sunfire Theater Grand II via Magnan Type IV interconnects. Power to the Philips is fed via one of Chris VH's power cables. The TG II is being fed AC by one of Bob Crump's TG Audio HSRi Generation II cables. The TG II feeds signal to the 2 channel Sunfire Signature via Goertz Copper Micropurls being run in balanced mode. The Sunfire Signature is being fed AC via another one of Chris VH's power cables, but a different version that is also listed on the above link. These are some of the same power cords that Ernie aka "Subaruguru" is offering kits for.

Speakers are highly modified AR 9's (the original 9's, not the newer versions ). Speaker cables are Kimber 4TC to the top section ( 200 Hz and up, which uses an 8" mid-woofer, 1.5" upper mid treated dome and .75" dome tweeter ). Kimber 8TC is used to feed the dual 12" woofers that are mounted in each cabinet. All of the capacitors, wiring and binding posts have been upgraded in the speakers with further modifications in terms of cabinet damping and woofer tuning / damping.

While some of you are probably thinking that these speakers are "ancient", they are quite capable of excellent performance, especially with the upgrades and modifications that have been done to them. Much of the research that went into designing these speakers has been copied by more than a few well respected speaker manufacturers. Reading the 48 page owner's manual for these speakers can give one a good basic education in speaker design. You can also see exactly where designers such as John Dunlavy and Bill Duddleston ( Legacy ) definitely "lifted" more than a few of their ideas and design concepts from. Bill Duddleston literally di-sected a pair of large AR's ( the smaller yet almost identical version of the 9's, the 90's ) just to see how they worked. I know this because i bought the very 90's that Duddleston "inspected" from a fellow Audiogon member a few years back. Those 90's have been modified in the same manner as my 9's and serve as the rears of my HT system driven by a Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature. This amp also drives the center channel and two subs. Sean
Any update on the comparison, Infinity Audio?
The high has opened up a little bit since I broke it in for another 200 hrs. Bass has gotten tighter, great potential; could be even better? Yesterday I was scratching my Azz, and I got up to swicth around the cables. I used MI-350 CVT and has found out that the damping factor is way too high for Philips. I switched to a pair of Van Den Hul "The Second -- Hybrid" and smooth sound appeared and bass got tune down to it's right portion, VERY VERY warm vocal, sound good enough for me to smile for a bit... well a bit too soft & warm, I will hunt for the right ICs when it's totally broken in.

The player shows GREAT potential, but the output stage is really not that good, as well as the power supply also, thinking of modding it myself with some WIMAs & Black Gates, also I will order a SilverWired Transformer from HongKong custom made. Also get some 1:1 silver chokes for output stage... I will look at the circuit first then I will think of something... Superclock? I will change it when the first 2 factor I mentioned above has achieve good result! Currently trying to get some ideas from avilable mods out there, I will most likely do an "ALL OUT" mod for it, you guys are right... it's a good player to mod around!