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SACD is NOT dead.

emaidel, a regular audioREVIEW.com forum user and avid SACD listener wrote up a post worth sharing.  If you don’t know much about SACDs read what he as to say and the corresponding post.  The very helpful and fair minded post should help you deside if it is a route you should consider going.  If you have your own opinions on SACD you can post below or join the forums and add to the knowledge and conversation.

Read on and forever enjoy your music!

- audioREVIEW

Don’t know about SACD? Well pop over to wikipedia real quick to learn.


While the SACD medium is hardly thriving, it is by no means dead, as readers of many posts here at audioreview.com often imply. It’s highly unlikely that SACD will ever attain the status Sony and Phillips originally had for the format, but to all but completely dismiss the format is doing the readers of this website a disservice. Specifically, referring to SACD as a “fad that came and went,” or one to be “blown off,” as some have done, is just plain wrong.

As of this morning, sa-cd.net, a dedicated website to fans of the medium, lists 5785 available titles. While that’s a drop in the bucket compared to titles available on other formats, it at least indicates that the format is still around. It’s probably fair to say that well over 5,500 of those 5785 titles are classical, and that, understandably, limits the appeal of the medium, as not everyone is as enamored of the classics as I, and other fans of SACD are. Still, to ignore SACD as a flash in the pan is unfair.

There appear to be two divergent schools of thought here: one is those who favor vinyl and analog sound, and includes members willing to spend huge sums of money on turntables, tonearms, moving coil cartridges and step-up transformers. While I’m not critical of those in this group, I simply disagree with their approach.

The other group consists of those willing to spend large sums of money on outboard DAC’s to improve the sound of their CD players. While there’s nothing wrong with doing that either, it would seem to me that money might be better spent on a quality SACD player that both improves the sound of existing CD’s, and plays SACD’s as well. Onkyo has a 2-channel “audiophile-grade” SACD player in the works, and Luxman has one as well, but for a pretty steep price of close to $5,000, each of which would fit into this category.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons SACD’s failed to dominate the market, and I’ve even thought of a few of my own, but after living with an SACD player now for just over a year, I am more and more convinced of the medium’s sonic superiority over all others, especially PCM recording on CD’s. While I’ll wholeheartedly agree that the CD layer of a hybrid disc, when played on a $3,700 CD player will outperform the SACD layer when played on a $400SACD player, such a comparison is simply unfair, considering the huge price and performance disparity between the two units.

My SACD player is the Marantz SA-8001. While certainly not the finest such player available, it did receive a Stereophile Class-A recommendation, and in their review, the folks at Stereophile found that when using the unit as a stand alone CD player, or in conjunction with a highly rated DAC (The Benchmark Audio unit), they couldn’t hear a difference between the two.

continued in the forums, come join in the conversation….

Forum Regular

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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Moore, SC
Posts: 765
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Biography:
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  • Rolemfat says:

    I agree with much o f what is said here.
    I do disagree with your stament – “While I’ll wholeheartedly agree that the CD layer of a hybrid disc, when played on a $3,700 CD player will outperform the SACD layer when played on a $400SACD player,” Not true in my experience.
    Try it. Play an SACD on a low budget SACD player in a really great system and then a CD on a high end cd player in the SAME system. The SACD will blow it out of the water. Don’t belive what these people who have paid big $ for overpriced cd players when they could have the reeference quality of SACD, Just sour grapes at being ripped off. DSD mastered SACD is a true reference medium.
    As far as vinyl goes, well after listening to this distortion riddled medium for 50 yeras, boomers juts can’t let go. Kinda like the y-geners;who prefer MP3 to hi-res.Whad’ya gonna do?
    And when you compare any of these legacy formats to DSD mastered multi-channel SACD formats, factor the above by 10x.

  • M.man says:

    I’d have to disagree with Rolemfat.
    All things being equal, SACD will sound vastly superior to redbook, however, things are rarely equal.
    A well mastered cd on a quality cdp can outperform a poorly mastered SACD. I find aprox a third of the SACD’s I’ve heard aren’t mastered well enough to take full advantage of the format and don’t sound any better than their redbook counterpart, sometimes worse.
    I’ve also never heard a $400 SACD player that could outperform my($7000) transport/dac, though I have heard a couple $1000 SACD players that probably could.

  • i_like_tuesday says:

    Well-mastered DSD SACDs provide amazing sound quality for any acoustic recordings that are subjected to minimal processing like classical and jazz. Highly processed music, like a lot of past and present popular music, doesn’t sound any different on SACD vs. Red Book because it’s character is shaped more by the processing rather than real-world acoustic information. Modern music production techniques tend to negate the strengths of SACD by being designed to sound good using the lowest common denominator – MP3.

    Redbook can be made to sound pretty good, but to me, DSD nears the ideal of continuous waveform music minus many of the physical limitations present in analogue distribution mediums. DSD has dynamic range that challenges the noise floor of my equipment and listening room and the headroom to accommodate ultrasonic information that gives instruments a sense of reality despite escaping our conscious recognition. Well engineered multichannel mixes add a whole new spacial dimension. I’m not yet convinced that even the new blu-ray audio formats surpass SACD when it comes to sounding “natural”.

  • Interesting Comments says:

    Many good comments here. IMHO, yes SACD is superior, yes, it depends on the mastering, NO vinyl is not a “distortion riddled” media that boomers “can’t let go”.

    I love both and have had the privilege to audition many hifi combinations as my good friend owns a hifi repair/restoration shop. All things being equal, good quality SACD will outperform all. Mediocre SACD will not outperform CD that is expertly made. (“Blue Rain Coat, Cafe Blue, Antiphone Blues, etc.)

    Good vinyl on great equipment will have an analog warmth, stage, and presence that will make it a superb listening experience. It has all the resolution of CD and more musicality. Unfortunately many poor quality records have been made, but, if the best of the medium is played on high quality gear, it is a stunning musical experience that will not disappear and is second to none in enjoyability.

    BluRay is stunning for movies but will not be more musical than high resolution stereo. Somewhere in the process of dividing, separating, and rejoining all those tracks, warmth is lost.

    For music, three dimensionality created by high quality stereo gear is a musically more enjoyable and rewarding experience than hearing artificially spliced channels coming from multiple directions. Again, just MHO, your mileage may vary.

  • CheeseDR says:

    Its not dead but it is on barely able to buy without DVDa or Multi-channel layer embedded as well as a CD red book player. You are fortunate to get anything that is new mainstream music. The boutique producers offer a paltry number of SACDs each year not month and it is usually limited to artists with no interest from the big recording industry. In sum it’s on an island with a shriking water supply or you might say it’s on life support in a hospital on a fronteer.

  • mbuchanan says:

    The right idea, at the wrong time.

  • Rolemfat says:

    M.man
    We are in agreement. SACD or redbook both abide by the law – garbage in, garbage out. Also, I think the recording engineer contributes more to the sound of many titles than people realize. Although redbook is a flawed medium, I have many cd’s I think sound wonderful and I give a nod to the session engineerfor that, not the medium.
    Let’s hope as more and more players include SACD handling (thank you Oppo for the BDP-83), we’ll see more titles available and of course there’s Blu-ray.

    INTERESTING COMMENTS-Says

    “Somewhere in the process of dividing, separating, and rejoining all those tracks, warmth is lost.”

    I feel the verdict is still out on Blu-ray music. Too soon. SACD had issues in the beginning and it has improved substantially when recorded and edited in DSD.

    I enjoyed the sound of vinyl for over 30 years, but I do not miss the pops, clicks, audible distortions, 20 minute limitation per side, fragility etc. etc. etc.

    Snap, crackle and pop is for cereals, not music.

  • wigedout99 says:

    Snap,crackle &pop……CLEAN YOUR ALBUMS!….Its no different with cd’s,SACD..Blu-ray…..WHAT GO’S IN COMES OUT!

  • Rolemfat says:

    CLEAN YOUR ALBUMS!….

    No thanks, I have a life!

  • Rafael S says:

    You guys are hilarious, SACD is amazing, it’s sad that Sony and phillips did not market it right from the beginning.
    If the medium had the right artists signed even before release, it would have been a different story. SACD multichannel
    outperforms everything out there, if of course mastered right.

  • SACD and its promises. says:

    I am glad SACD did not make it despite I was an early supporter and was given losts of promises and possibility of Multi Channel Audio,Natural Sound,Wide Frequency Response and so on.

    It was a learning experience for me.Yes,Once upon a time Analog became Digital.
    and we believe it to be the future.
    New Technology may not necessary meant better performance.
    I paid and learnt my lesson.

    .

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