Do SACD's sound better than CD's in a stereo system? or not?

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by theoman, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. theoman

    theoman Confused Member Subscriber

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    I've been going back and forth on a Mcintosh sacd player and the cost is high are the Hd CD players better.
    I don't want to open up a can a worms heres.
     

     

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  2. Silentnet

    Silentnet I like to keep my issues drawn... Subscriber

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    Too late. Can't put that genie back in the bottle.

    They /should/ sound better, assuming your other equipment is highly resolving enough. Will it actually sound better? Eh.
     
  3. theoman

    theoman Confused Member Subscriber

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    Mcintosh C2200 and a opposing 102d
     
  4. theoman

    theoman Confused Member Subscriber

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    I'm a Lp guy just getting back in to CD's please help I could have went to C47 but Im lost and Confused
     
  5. Grenadeslio

    Grenadeslio Super Member

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    If the equipment is up to the task then certainly. My cheap BluRay player is no competition for my older high end CD players, even with red book CD playback, SACD.....forgetaboutit.

    If wanting to find out if SACD is for you, why not dip your toe into the water with a nice vintage deck from Sony. Original MSRP $1000 now can be purchased for $80.

    x158dvp999s-f_LD.jpeg sony900v.gif
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  6. robert_kc

    robert_kc AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    IMO several issues are important to the question of whether high-resolution recording deliverables (such as SACD and Blu-ray) have better quality audio.

    What is the provenance of the recording(s) you are considering? Garbage-in / garbage-out. An old poor-quality recording won’t be magically improved by delivering it on an SACD disc. (OTOH, if the original recording was high quality analog, then remastering the recording from the original analog tapes into hi-res digital - and delivering it in a hi-res digital format (e.g., SACD, Pure Audio Blu-ray, 24bit/192kHz download, DSD download) - can result in an improvement compared with an early poor quality digital mastering delivered on CD.)

    What types of music do you listen to? Some music was performed live, in its intended venue, by natural instruments – with no electronics involved (i.e., no sound reinforcement system). We therefore have a benchmark for what the performance should sound like. Classical music is an example. (We know what violins and trumpets sound like - bearing in mind that different symphony halls have different acoustics.) New performances of classical music are routinely captured and offered in hi-res formats.

    OTOH, some music was cobbled together by engineers and producers from multiple different musicians performing at different times, in different studios, with synthesizer sounds mixed in, and then in some cases the sound was deliberately distorted and compressed. What is the benchmark for this latter type of music, and what is the meaning of “high fidelity” reproduction?

    The genre of music also affects whether or not video is an important part of the in-home experience. For example, video is essential for ballet. Video greatly enhances the enjoyment of opera. (Some opera aficionados are content with audio only. Others want to see the acting.) For classical concerts, video is nice to have. With a modern high quality Blu-ray – including 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and HD video – it can be almost like being in the symphony hall or opera house – with the added benefit of close-ups of soloists. (Of course, larger scale compositions are more difficult to reproduce.)

    What is your goal for your hi-fi system? Have reproduced music sound good? (Nothing wrong with that.) Have reproduced music sound like what you remember hearing when listening to natural instruments performing live?

    Only you can decide what you can and can’t hear, and what you enjoy, based on the music you like, based on your ears and brain, your hi-fi system, your room, your personal preferences, etc.

    If you like music performed by natural instruments, and you attend live concerts of music performed by natural instruments where no electronics are involved, and you therefore have a benchmark, then I suggest getting a high-quality modern recording that was captured in hi-res (DSD or 24bit/192kHz), and delivered in hi-res, and listen for yourself.

    IME modern SACD, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, and 24bit/192kHz (or DSD) downloads of classical music are capable of excellent sound quality – the best recordings I’ve heard – if the recording is top quality.

    IME, if you have a large room, and the main speakers must be relatively far apart, multi-channel is beneficial. And I think hi-res audio/video (Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray) is a great way to enjoy music (and is essential for genre such as ballet).

    Bottom line, I suggest that you get a player capable of playing all formats: CD, SACD, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, and hi-res downloads (24bit/192kHz PCM and DSD). That way you’ll have maximum flexibility in buying top quality recordings. In contrast, with a player only capable of playing CDs, you’re limited to what 30+ year-old digital storage technology can do. For the music that I like (classical music, opera, and ballet) there are many ways to enjoy recorded music that a CD player can’t deliver (e.g., hi-res, multi-channel, audio/video). But it really comes down to getting a player that supports all of the available recorded music formats for the music that you like.

    And, of course, the quality of the circuitry in the player (and DAC – whether inboard or outboard) matters. Comparing a bottom-of-the-line SACD (or Blu-ray) player with a top-of-the-line CD player won’t provide a meaningful assessment of the potential of the SACD (or Blu-ray) format.

    Will you hear a difference in hi-res? You’ll have to try it and report back to us.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  7. theoman

    theoman Confused Member Subscriber

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    at the last minute I went with the Mcintosh c2500 with DAC
     
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  8. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    Robert gave you some good advice.
    When you get your preamp, hook up the CDP as I told you with a Analogue and Digital cable. This way you'll be able to play any CD and have the option of the two different DACs.
     
  9. guiller

    guiller Toscaninichus Australis

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    My 2 cents: my redbook CDP (Astin Trew AT 3500+ upgraded) playing the CD layer of any hybrid SACD of my collection dawrfs the SACD layer of the same disc played on my Sony SCD-XA3000ES . So, more than a format it is a question of the playback gear. In fact, the Astin Trew is a sort of "high-end" machine whereas the Sony is a excellent massive audio product.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
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  10. Poultrygeist

    Poultrygeist Lunatic Member

    Not hard or expensive to check out SACD. I picked this Sony SCD-CE595 up for $7 at GW and while it's very average on red-book, SACD's are superb. A/B'ing the same SACD disc on it vs an expensive Marantz SA8004 my wife and I could tell no difference. Sony flooded the market with these cheap changers and used an excellent chip in hopes of stimulating interest in their format. They were sold for several years at BestBuy so they are plentiful.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

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    Even now in today’s market from the last five years onward there were so many great DACs put in disc players of all types that it isn’t hard to compliment a great stereo system. So much so that cost or running a second DAC is not a defining issue....
     

     

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  12. theoman

    theoman Confused Member Subscriber

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    Thanks, I think you said it all, once I get my preamp i'll hook up the oppo tryin both connections and also playing a CD and a SACD.
     
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  13. darkblue94

    darkblue94 It wasn't me. Subscriber

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    While I certainly agree with you in that the Sony is an excellent audio product I wouldn't go so far as to call it "massive," By anyone's measurement standards it doesn't really appear to be any larger than most every comparable product on the market. :confused:
     
  14. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    :banana:finally you get it.
     
  15. stoutblock

    stoutblock If it sounds good, it is good... Subscriber

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    I think the biggest benefit about SACD is that many are mastered very well. Perhaps due to the resolution more time was spent on getting things right? This was especially true in the early days of SACD but now many Redbook formats are also mastered well. When SACD hybrids came out I found that many of the Redbook layers were also very good sounding (assuming you had a good DAC).

    Then DAC technology improved to the point that if you had a good Redbook recording it sounded very good and closed this gap considerably. In fact, unless your SACD processor was of very high quality, a Redbook played on a good DAC would typically be superior.

    So now we have various DSD resolution formats and higher resolution PCM formats that are available in the digital world that make this decision mostly academic. I know I like my 24/96 and 24/192 files played through my Elyse DAC better than a SACD played through my Yamaha CD-S2000 player. I currently don't have a DAC that plays DSD files but when I did I must say I was very impressed with the DSD files I had.

    So now I have a OPPO UDP-205 getting shipped to me and I plan on having Modwright do their magic to it. With a state of the art SACD player I have a feeling my 100+ SACD discs are going to find a new level of enjoyment?

    With all this said, if you have not invested in a SACD library, or in a SACD player, I doubt starting either would be justified in the era of digital files...
     
  16. E-Stat

    E-Stat Addicted Member

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    What he said! You can purchase content in file version (DSD) or in high resolution PCM.
     

     

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  17. Poinzy

    Poinzy Super Member

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    One of the dirty little secrets of SACD's is the care put into mastering them. Audio engineers will simply try harder with SACD masters than they will with CD masters, so the SACD's will often sound better for that reason alone. I got that info from a physicist who did signal processing R&D before he retired.
     
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  18. juncers

    juncers Reasonably skeptical about everything

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    That's basically what the AES said in their white paper on the subject.
    Ray
     
  19. Bob

    Bob AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    as @robert_kc says depends on your source. for me classical sounds better on SACD but
    depends on the label, recording, conductor etc.

    I have this ABKO SACD of the Rolling Stones with a CD layer. the SACD layer is terrible, and for
    those tracks I have on a LP, the LP is far better.

    so like the general answer it depends.
     
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  20. robert_kc

    robert_kc AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    As I said earlier, it depends on the genre of music you listen to. And whether you’re interested in multi-channel.

    I used to download hi-res classical recordings from HDTracks, however my favorite format is now Blu-ray audio/video (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and HD video) for classical music, opera, and ballet. I’m not aware of web sites that offer Blu-ray audio/video classical downloads. (I could be uninformed - It’s difficult to keep up with new offers.)

    My second choice is multi-channel SACD (or Pure Audio Blu-ray). There are some – but not many – multi-channel hi-res classical downloads available. (OTOH, there are MANY multi-channel SACD discs available.)

    Multi-channel may or may not be a worthwhile feature, depending on room layout.

    In three of my stereo systems, the main speakers are 5 feet apart (or less), and there is no need for center channel fill-in. And, for classical music, there is very little content in the rear surround channels (mostly ambient hall sound). Therefore, in 3 of my systems, 2.1 is appropriate.

    OTOH, in my basement system, due to room layout the main speakers must be 13 feet apart. (I sit 10 feet from the speakers.) In this system, there is a benefit to 5.1 (or 5.0) recordings that provide center channel fill-in. (It is possible to use the “DTS Neo:6 Mode” in my Oppo UDP-205 to generate “pseudo surround-sound” from a stereo recording, but I prefer to minimize the number of DSPs that are “mucking around” with the classical music that I love.)

    There is another benefit to surround-sound in my basement system: acoustic power. IME, hi-res recordings of large-scale orchestral music have more dynamic range than any other genre of music (that I’m aware of). I’ll briefly describe my basement 4.2 system as an example of a system that can deliver a near-live-classical-concert-experience. Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch RF-7 II. A single rear speaker is a Klipsch RF-7. Subwoofers: SVS SB16-Ultra, Klipsch R-115SW. Collectively, these speakers total four 1 ¾” titanium compression drivers mated to Tractrix horns, eight 10” woofers, one 15” powered subwoofer, and one 16” powered subwoofer. (I’m aware that these speakers are “small” compared to residential installations that feature Klipsch Jubilee for left, center, and right speakers – particularly when augmented by huge bass bins.) Mated to tube amps connected to an Oppo UDP-205, my basement system sounds fabulous (IMO) when playing hi-res multi-channel classical recordings.

    Following are some sources of hi-res classical recordings that I’m aware of. Disclaimer: most of these sites I’ve not used – and, as I stated earlier, the provenance of the recording is important (garbage-in/garbage-out).

    You can search on Amazon.com for something like “SACD classical” or “Blu-ray classical”. (The back of an SACD or Blu-ray will say if it’s multi-channel.)

    This web site provides information about some – but certainly not all – hi-res recordings: https://www.hraudio.net/

    Here’s another site that catalogs downloads: http://www.findhdmusic.com/album-search/?incl_genre_130=1

    http://www.hdtracks.com/ offers downloads. (Last I knew, HDTracks doesn’t offer multi-channel downloads.)

    https://referencerecordings.com/format/sacd

    http://store.acousticsounds.com/c/4/SACD

    https://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/classical/formats/blu-ray

    https://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/classical/formats/sacd

    http://dsd-guide.com/where-can-you-find-dsd-music-downloads#.W0ZYpNJKhPY

    https://www.nativedsd.com/

    http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/main.jsp

    https://www.channelclassics.com/ (Appears to offer some hi-res multi-channel downloads.)

    http://www.eclassical.com/

    http://www.itrax.com/


    What other vendors do AK members use for hi-res music?
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018

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