Want to get excited about SACD again??

First the good news:

The new Verve re-release of Diana Krall's "When I Look In Your Eyes" finally gives us a real shot of the "analog like" potential of SACD. You may want to pick this disk up if you have a SACD player.

Now the bad (potentially good) news:

One of the reasons this disk sounds very good..and the other Verve/Krall SACD release doesn't (and I'm not talking sujective music content) is that this is a SACD only release, ie: no redbook layer.

Think about it, this only makes sense. Go to the Audio Research site and read their logic about their new CD player the CD3. ie: just do one thing well. And Ayre, Classe and other high-end audio companies are bringing out CD only players and addressing the multi-format compromises/concerns.

With all of the jitter and bits/reading concerns that any digital machine can have, it just makes sense that if we had SACD only machines (this way they could have better audio stages...etc. instead of time/money being spent on covering all bases) and SACD only disks (no problem with lasers picking up bits from too many layers)

I know, I know that Sony, and others, feel that these multi format machines and multi layer disks are the safe way to market these things. Well they are shooting themselves in the foot...or maybe the head...because if they don't release the machines and software that will show off what this format can do..well it will die. Because the very people that have tried to support the format are being given hardware and software that is not showing off the formats best.

So, give me a SCD-1 without the CD hardware, and instead put in better caps, resistors and a discrete jfet audio stage running in class A. Then give me SACD uncompromised software to play on it....even just two channel...no multi-channel. If multi-channel was important to audio..this could have been done on redbook cds for some time. This multi-channel is just Sony's knee-jerk reaction to DVD-A...and they are just missing the piont that it is a MOVIE thing not a MUSIC thing.

Sorry to ramble...but I feel SACD will fail...and it's not because it isn't better...this SACD only Krall disk shows this....it's because of this multi-multi direction that is, likely, doomed.
I can agree with that and have myself stated that I wish they would make players that play just the one format well.

Unfortunately, that might be a tough sell.
Whatjd your points may well be valid but you are looking at it from a very specialised end of the market-this frankly is not where Sony is going to make their money.
Copy protection is obviously an issue too.
As for multi-channel as much as I neither have nor plan to purchase multi-channel equipment but it is very important to the industry at this point in time.
I agree SACD will probably fail too because of the reasons you mention-it's my opinion unless (and even this is guess work)you are at the top end in terms of SACD equipment then you simply won't hear enough to make you think the format is superior to CD.
I think the Stones hybrids show this up clearly.
All new formats must have a clear advantage over what existed before to make the average Joe invest in it.
I do not believe SACD at this stage is doing that.
Brianmgrarcom, went to your system page...what a great looking home and system!

Best, Jim
Ben, I agree with your thoughts. However, it could be this very path that Sony has taken is the problem. If they had just released SACD machines and SACD disks....and if because of this, they were more obviously superior..and the press and public became aware of this...well..who knows ?

It seems that this is the only format I can think of that has tried this backwards compatability path. Like Linn didn't comeout with a slot in the side of their turntables to play casettes...or casette players that had a slot for CD's. Their current path has confused it with the standard CD..rather than having the specialized and general public see it as a truly different format.

It is the same logic that seperates pre and power amp., or highend tuners being FM only...etc.

I do think that path may have taken SACD somewhere rather than the nearly nowhere it is going.

But if it is a superior format...they can't prove it in dream machines or the like...if it's highend, perhaps they need to go back and really establish that before there can be any trickle-down. Seems Sony got into trickle down and trying to put SACD into Bose like quality items..before they established that it should trickle-down?
Whatjd-maybe but I'm still not so sure-I think the problem lies at a more fundamental level than that-even if the machines did not play CD's people would still make the comparison.
People would still compare CD vs SACD.
I would argue that the sonic benefits (so far)do not appeal to more than a very small minority at the higher end.
I think Sony's overall strategy is confused for sure but I'm not convinced taking your approach would work any better because there is a real chicken and egg situation at the core(or should that be yolk).
That is if you don't sell the players-you don't have the market to expand the software into and so on.
To me hybrid discs are the way forward to keep the format alive but I still believe the lack of sonic difference at the medium level will kill it unless there are releases soon that exhibit why SACD is better than CD-what I've heard so far doesn't do it.
Hi Ben,

You might try the Diana Krall "When I Look In Your Eyes", SACD non-hybrid, it comes the closest to answering your last sentence...and, I believe it's lack a being a hybrid is much of the reason why.

I have the standard CD of this as well...and, it is interesting that the CD sounds good and the SACD sounds very good...and towards that "more analog" sound.

By comparison, the hybrid of her "The Look Of Love" SACD/CD/SACD-Multi, the CD layer is poorer than redbook CD that I have of the same title..and the SACD layer of this title is unconvincing...
Thanks for the kind words Jim. (BTW, I just added two new pix that I took this afternoon.)
Is there any evidence that SACD players pick up bits from the CD layer when playing the SACD layer? Anyone have any links to articles discussing this?

Obviously this could have very bad consequences for sound quality.
The player will not pick up bits from the CD layer when playing the SACD layer.

First, the laser (a shorter wavelength one, at that) is not focused on the CD layer. Second, the bits are not stored on the disc in a linear fashion like music in the grooves of an LP. They are grouped together into bundles (long story here) which are each protected by an Error Correcting Code (ECC) calculated during the mastering process. The player uses the ECC code to detect all read errors and to exactly reconstruct missing data from most read errors.

Further, these bundles are arranged out of sequence on the disc so that a scratch or defect is less likely to cause uncorrectable damage. The player rearranges them in the right sequence before decoding.

Remember, the CD and SACD standards assume that each disc will have manufacturing errors, and go to great lengths to provide robust, error-free recovery of a bitstream exactly matching the original.
I'm excited about AeroSmiths "Big Ones" CD. Super CD mastered on Apogee's $^&$% digital processor. No SACD player. No HDCD encoding.
Ghostrider45, thanks for your answer. Here's hoping you are right. However, I remember the explanations about CDs: that they were 'bit-perfect' so would transfer sound perfectly right up until the DA converter. At least, this is what we believed until we heard about jitter...which meant that the theory of CDs did not translate perfectly into practice.

Still this is the first time I've heard any suggestion of bit pickup across layers, so maybe it's just hogwash.
Having seen no evidence at all that dual-layer technology can hurt SACD fidelity, I have to say that I couldn't disagree more with your premise. Sure, one-format machines might be fine, and even desirable, for high end companies to manufacture for audiophiles, but what will cause the format to fail more surely than anything else imaginable, is if the mass-market software is not backward-compatible with consumers' existing CD-playing hardware. If what you secretly wanted to do was kill the emerging format tomorrow (and there might be legit reasons for wanting that, but that's another topic), there would no more certain way to accomplish this than to tell consumers that they must pony up for new machines first, and that neither their new or their old machines would be able to play the other kind of disk, so that they would either need two libraries as well as two machines, or that they would need to purchase their entire libraries over again, something not even possible as things stand today, multi-channel or no. Forget it, unless you restrict you wishes to audiophile labels only, but even then, where's your evidence?
Whatjd-unfortunately Diana Krall isn't really my cup of tea.
I'm looking forward to the new Bowie and Gabriel albums which are soon to be released on SACD.
Ben, I agree that Ms. Krall is not for everyone...inc. me. But until we have Sarah Vaughn, Ella and others on SACD my choices are limited.

The only proof I have is the same I've had for the 30+ years that I have owned high-end audio...my own listening experience.

In my comments above about the SCD-1, it is a shame that so many people/systems out there are striving for good sound and trying different speakers, tubes vs. solid state, copper vs silver wires..etc. and their source component..be it CD, SACD, Tuner..whatever has very poor op-amps that are the begining of the signal through the system. These op-amps would never be desired by any of you in your pre-amp...if this were true we could all dump our tube or fet-based pre amps and buy and old Adcom 565 pre-amp with those class A op-amps.

Anyway, live and listen how you want...I just won't have my source component be so compromised that it makes efforts throughout the rest of the system not usless...but not far from that. This is why so many good people out there are doing modifications on SACD machines. This was just not the case(to the same degree) with CD players...but the room for improvement in SACD machines is so obvious because of this multi-format path making for $ compromise in the sonic areas of these players.

I do want SACD to succeed, and I want to be able to buy a player that on an SACD disk(hybrid or not) will sound better than a redbook of the same title on players like the ARC CD3, Ayre....and others..and that is just not the case now...unless you buy a Sony SCD-1 and put 2k plus into mods.
I have both Diana Krall SACD discs and both sound superior to their redbook counterparts. The biggest difference I hear is the depth of the soundstage is much deeper more realistic on the SACD layer versus the redbook layer. I have had a similar experience with Jacintha (Lush Life / Autumn Leaves).

I believe SACD will survive if only in a limited venue similar to 180 / 200 g virgin vinyl discs have survived. Also given the fact that more companies are producing the discs. At least I hope it does, because if it doesn't, them I will never be able to listen to my system knowing that it could be much better.

As a classical music lover the SACD format is a substantial improvement over redbook. The symphonies are much better because of the formats ability the create a much deeper and detailed(realistic) soundstage. I have not heard any of the Rock hybrids but on that music venue maybe the differences (improvements) are much less dramatic.

As far as for the SCD-1 it is a remarkable player for both redbook and SACD. Even unmodded it is very competitive against the likes of the Audio Aero, EMC, Wadia, etc. on redbook; on SACD it is simply better.
Czbbcl, IMO, you are a bit deceived in believing the SCD-1 competes with those you mention in red book, it "may" compete with them in SACD. (This coming from owning it.)
SACd is already failing commerically...which is why they are pushing it as a multi-channel format to the HT crowd...this really is the only chance it has to move beyond a higher end "fringe" format...and with a very limited catalog...multiple players will remain and appeal to a larger audience...however...in few years we will see higher end SACD machines surface again..

I have heard them all.


I have heard all the players that I mentioned in my system including the Accuphase DP75V the best one box redbook player (IMO). But none of them where leaps and bounds better than the other it is really a matter of personnel preference and yes the SCD-1 was very competetive against them (redbook) and better than a couple of them (IMO).

To each their own Chuck, I have had the SCD-1, 508.24 and EMC1-UP in the same system, neither are are in the league of the EMC1-UP.
I agree it is a matter of personnel taste at this level of player. And after all it is all about enjoying the music. I am glad that you are happy with your EMC it is a very good player.

On the front end, I have a Wadia 7/9 combo for red book, and an unmodified SCD-1 for SACD.

On redbook, I find that the Wadia combo has an edge over the SCD-1, but if I didn't have the Wadia for comparison I could be very satisfied with the SCD-1. To me it's truly a great player.

On a well recorded SACD, the SCD-1 is superior to the Wadia 7/9 on the equivalent red book layer.

PS - to Calanctus: On CD's there has never been a problem with perfect data recovery (otherwise CD-ROM technology wouldn't work)- the problem has been maintaining stable clocking information after the disc is read. This is a player engineering problem.
When testing between a SACD and CD of the same title, you really need to have the redbook CD to compare the SACD to. Not just between the CD layer and the SACD layer. On all hybrids that I have and have the redbook CD of, the standard CD is obviously better than the CD layer on the hybrid. This is part of the wonder of hybrids being part of the concern, and I don't trust what is said to be or tech data here..I trust how they sound. The second part is just the $ trade off that is being made in these machines in their audio/power/parts sections to hit price points and still play various formats/multi-channels.

At nowhere else in the average to better audio only system do we make these consessions. These compromises in these SACD source units is akin to having the Rotel receiver reviewed in the latest TAS and scraping the idea of integrateds or seperates...and putting it all in one chassis. Audio fans decided long ago that having a degree of seperation in pre, power, tuner(here even the best leave out the A.M. band) was the path to higher fidelity.

What has gotten most of audio to where it is has been refinement/focus in seperate areas. Usually by companies that even further refine and focus...ie: CJ and ARC..mainly tubes, Magnum Dynalab..mainly tuners, etc.

Think what you want, but to me these combo SACD/SACD-multi/CD players are a compromise. A compromise not unlike receivers, combo DVD/VHS players, tuners with both A.M. and F.M., clock radios(Henry Kloss has made several famous radios...can't remember any famous clock radios)..

Just depends on what you want. SACD was/is touted as a superior format...and compromise is not the way to prove and establish it as that...these combos are a way to leave it in Beta, DAT..etc limbo for a few years.
It would be hard for me to get excited again, since I never got excited about SACD in the first place! There's certainly not enough software available, at least what appeals to me, to get too excited at this point.
Wait a min....anyone that's nuts about the 914 should be find SACD to be a natural fit!? Ever drive the 914-6?
As a matter of fact, Whatjd, I have a '73 914 with a 911 3.0L engine (more than twice the HP of an original 914-6, better shift linkage), steel-flared fenders, Fuchs alloys, Brembo brakes, Konis, etc.

Still can't get excited about SACD, however. Maybe when more software is available? With prices for players dropping like flies, it won't hurt to wait.
I already am very excited about SACD, which becomes more economically viable and esthetically satisfying with every new release of software, in single, stereo hybrid, multi-channel single, whatever format, and every new piece of hardware, no matter how many different layers it plays. Your premise, that dedicated systems always sound better, is drawn from a single example and some very outdated thinking. Your points of reference are all cumbersome analog machines and electronics. We're not talking about gluing a 45 onto a 33-1/3 LP here. And a multi-format player has more in common with a computer than a turntable with a cassette player. Is your computer less functional because it contains a hard drive, a CD player, a CD burner, and a DVD drive? Digital decoding becomes more efficient as it becomes more compact, and stacking layers of information on top of one another, as well as the detection devices, just makes it more efficient for the manufacturer and the consumer. If they can cram 12 different players into one box, why not offer that to the consumer? If a disc can carry 17 different programs, why limit it to one? Your conclusions are poorly drawn from a flawed experiment, and you call it "common sense". I call it bias, based on a failure to understand a new system. There is no question that a manufacturer must cut corners to offer a player at lower price levels, but that's true of any audio equipment, or automobile. If you must drive a Porsche to the hardware store, okay. Don't criticize the sports sedan with fold-down back seats that the rest of us drive. My Passat is a much better car than anything I could afford before, and my combo SACD player kicks the butt of any other digital source I have ever heard.
Actually Madisonears, all of the above is based on sonic qualities and far from a failure to understand.

You need to read through your own bias. My thoughts above are in wanting SACD to succeed on all levels and feel this success is more likely with top flight machines that truly establish the format, without all the doubt that exists on this and other sites, and in the press. If this were done, it would likely help any price range SACD player to follow.

The computer ideas are of merit, since CDs, like the cassette before, started as computer software. Of the 3 computers I have, all have DVD/CD, Zip, burners..etc. and two have flat panel screens...and all three are poorer than my televisions, my actual DVD players,CD players..etc. They are good computers and do work my TV or Audio systems cannot...but they are not of sonic or video merit by comparison...they are computers.

Any idea what Bowl the Badgers will be in(this is if you are in Madison, Wi.)?
Just heard SACD for the first time through a $1,000 player on a nice ~$8K system similar to my own, some really good recordings from Telarc and Sony. I was not impressed. I can't see how this will ever go over with the average consumer with probably under $1000 in their entire system, if even half that much for the Circuit City/Best Buy crowd, in which the very small differences will likely never be realized. So, $1K for a player or buy 100 CDs....that's a very easy choice for me now. XRCD anyone?
The more I listen to my own system, with different SACD players, and the systems of friends, I am beginning to realize that one has to have a system of a certain quality to reap the rewards of SACD. Like Socrates said, a 1k system with a $300 SACD player isn't going to do it.....On a high quality system the benefits are there (I have heard them), but we're talking $$$ that most people don't devote exclusively to hi-fi.
The irony of all of this is that the best digital audio is found in dvd players...combo players "hi-enders" seem to discredit...and the majority of individuals who purchase hi-rez players rarely have a system good enough to take full advantage of the sonic capabilities...they are more concerned with the video bells and whistles of the player...which is find by me...if SACD or DVD-A remained a high end format...I wouldnt be able to afford it anyways...but in order for one to take off...it must be done in the "midfi" trenches...the least exspensive componet in my system is an entry level Sony SACD/DVD player...it cost half of my original Sony CD unit that lasted 10yrs...and not surprisingly...pulls the pants down on it and many other pricier,esoteric brands... and I would have to disagree with some posters here...even in my modest $1500 2-channel set-up...the smooth,rounded,"tube like" quality of SACD is very apparent...anybody with $5-600 reference quality monitors can tell the difference...and this is where it gets interesting...if you didnt jump on the few hi-buck first generation SACD only units that Sony offered...chances are you missed your boat...as universal DVD units...such as the Philips 963sa...with feature both SACD and DVD-A...for a mere $400...in less than 2yrs...a decent universal player will be under $200...one that will compete very favorably with even the best DACs/transports and dedicated players....God I love this country!
I'm excited about direct-broadcast music. Comparing a burned CD from the radio to the bought CD, direct broadcast had the immediacy and lots of detail but done in a natural way.