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Will there be much difference between a CD & SACD in a 2 channel traditional stereo set up? I have some hybrid SACD's and don't know if it is worth getting a SACD player or just keep listening to them on my Audiolab CD transport.  Keen to hear your views.

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I have hundreds of hybrid SACD titles and the same on good ol' Red Book CDs.  Can't honestly say the CD layer of SACD / CD hybrid discs are "nobbled" to make the SACD "sound better" when comparing the

The sound quality you ultimately get from any SACD (like CD etc.), will always be determined by the lower/lowest quality component/s in your system. A high quality SACD (remember not all SACD's are cr

No problemo.   My signature doesn't represent the status quo as far as my audio or even my video equipment goes.  I haven't updated my signature list as any new entries can't be added to a l

In my experience, 2 channel SACD not really worth pursuing, firstly there’s just not that much content out there (at least for the music that I listen too) and secondly the music that is well recorded and mastered generally very good on red book.

 

Can I suggest better off spending your money on pursuing MQA via Tidal etc...

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always loved what SACD brings... but the essence is in the player...

 

ive owned a few that seem to do justice...

 

sony scd9000es that was just sumptuous

 

luxman that have now and also marantz has always made utterly gorgeous sacd players. love my ki ruby :) 

 

oppos do also bring the joys within reach in the 95 player have owned and 205 own now...

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My feeling is similar to @POV  I have a capable SACD-CD player but generally felt nothing special about the few SACD recordings i purchased in the past, especially having sought them out and paid a premium for.  Accordingly they've been gathering dust somewhat...i should have a fresh listen but I seem to recall feeling they seemed a bit sterile/sanitised and i didn't really feel emotionally engaged..whereas i have many Redbook CDs that knock my socks off...like Safia Internal i'm listening to again twice in a row tonight (and having played it many times in the past few years it's still fresh) tight, expansive, lush, draws me in.

 

Cheers

2B

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If you have a a half decent Sony Bluray player even second hand at around $300 with decent cables they can sound brilliant most sacd' s give you the option of playing 2 or 5 channels anyway and if your into classical there are heaps around. 

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You need to answer cafe67 poster question on what speaker and amps you have to flesh out the difference. If you have even a good midfi system the difference in SQ will be less or not enough.

 

However, generally if your system is good, you are comparing the right well recorded SACD material vs the same music CD with a good CD player vs a good SACD player the difference can be as much as 20-30% subjectively better. If you don’t have all that it’s an inconclusive dogs breakfast comparison. The main issue is there is not enough SACD recorded material out there.

Edited by Al.M
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Thanks for your comments. I just wasn't sure whether the extra info on a SACD played through a SACD player would be significantly noticeable coming through just two speakers. I was of the impression you would notice more in a 5.1 channel type set up. If I was to get the player I was thinking of running it through my Audiolab 6000a integrated via digital coax cable and straight out to my two awesome sounding transmission line speakers. Just curious if it would sound better than the same disks being played through my Audiolab CD transport?  Mainly for jazz, fusion and female vocalists.

Edited by Hawk66
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17 minutes ago, Hawk66 said:

just two speakers. I was of the impression you would notice more in a 5.1 channeltype set up. If I was to get the player I was thinking of running it through my Audiolab 6000a

Just two speakers stereo two channel is what all hi end audiophiles use for best SQ, no one uses 5.1 for that.

 

Audiolab 6000a $1400 rrp integrated midfi sounding amp would not be able to flesh out the difference so SACD is less justified. People are using very hi end SQ $10-30k+ amps and speakers to flesh out the best that SACD SQ can offer.

 

Also, just because it’s SACD recorded music doesn’t mean it’s always better. A good CD player with fantastic recorded music CD disc can sound better than an average material SACD recorded disc with average sound SACD player.

Edited by Al.M
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The sound quality you ultimately get from any SACD (like CD etc.), will always be determined by the lower/lowest quality component/s in your system. A high quality SACD (remember not all SACD's are created equally), will be limited by lesser quality SACD Player, Amplifier and/or speakers. To realise the sonic benefits of SACD, you need to maintain the quality from source to speakers. It really is that simply.

 

Here is one of the many SACD resource/review sites:

 

http://www.sa-cd.net/

 

I love listening to my collection of SACD's

 

 

Edited by bizzibee
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The value part of your question is important here.  Playing the SACD layer in a high quality system can sound noticeably different ( not necessarily better).  I certainly do not think you will get much value out of investing in a high end SACD player if the rest of your system can’t flesh out the differences as AI.M said.  That said, cheap second hand SACD players are available, and may help you explore your collection.  The fun in hifi is trying new things, but only if they are within your means.  You only find what YOU like when YOU try, because everyone has different hearing.

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Hi Ivan,

 

IME and IMHO what additional benefit you get from SACD vs CD is dependant on the original recording quality.  I own several SACD and SACD capable players and there is a difference in sound quality from the cheaper unit compared to the most expensive and dedicated SACD / CD machines.  Also it depends on the DACs in the machine if you are using the analogue outputs. 

 

IMHO my Sony SCD-XA5400ES sounds pretty good in 2 channel mode through its own internal native DSD DACs, a little less so through the DSD stream via HDMI to a Sony STR-DA6400ES receiver which supports HATS over HDMI, but this is probably more to do with the quality of the DACs in the receiver which first convert DSD to PCM rather than the player   Therefore I mainly use the HDMI connection for listening to 5.1 surround SACDs as the player only supports 2 channel stereo playback via the analogue outputs.

 

Back to the issue of sound quality and SACD. If you buy hybrid SACDs from popular music titles or old analogue remasters, other than the possible advantage of a surround mix, you may not be able to fully realise the potential of the format as IMHO you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear.  However you would be getting as good a sound as the original source tape could potentially have provided assuming it was remastered correctly.

BTW, there are some awesomely sounding pure DSD titles out there.  

 

Anyhow, just my 2c worth.  BTW anyone considering abandoning SACD and have titles for sale, message me.

 

Cheers,

Alan R.

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34 minutes ago, Al.M said:

Just two speakers stereo two channel is what all hi end audiophiles use for best SQ, no one uses 5.1 for that.

Hahahaha.  But God gave me 5.1 ears. Sorry, couldn't resist.

I'm assuming you are implying that any form of surround sound can't possibly be of audiophile quality?  

 

Cheers,

Alan R.

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Mobile Fidelity have hundreds of stereo SACDs available so plent of stuff out there, you just gotta decide if the music available is to your liking or not.

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9 minutes ago, Monkeyboi said:

Hahahaha.  But God gave me 5.1 ears. Sorry, couldn't resist.

I'm assuming you are implying that any form of surround sound can't possibly be of audiophile quality?  

 

Cheers,

Alan R.

there are some 5.1 tracks that were made for said that ways...dire straits brothers in arms is a good example....

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53 minutes ago, Hawk66 said:

Thanks for your comments. I just wasn't sure whether the extra info on a SACD played through a SACD player would be significantly noticeable coming through just two speakers. I was of the impression you would notice more in a 5.1 channel type set up. If I was to get the player I was thinking of running it through my Audiolab 6000a integrated via digital coax cable and straight out to my two awesome sounding transmission line speakers. Just curious if it would sound better than the same disks being played through my Audiolab CD transport?  Mainly for jazz, fusion and female vocalists.

If you connect an SACD player to an external dac,then you are using pcm output rather than dsd to the dac as Sony didn't want folk making dsd copies of their SACD's so I don't think there would be any benefit. One of my diy dacs is dsd input only so it will play a dsd signal natively. The dac also has an upsampling input board that  can convert pcm to dsd which allows me to listen to all my music at something aproaching SACD quality in theory. The sound from this dac is, to my ears, better than my pcm only dacs.

 

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6 minutes ago, betty boop said:

there are some 5.1 tracks that were made for said that ways...dire straits brothers in arms is a good example....

As is Kraftwerk's Minimum Maximum.  

 

Cheers,

Alan R.

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Some SACD hybrid disks used a poor CD layer to make the SACD layer sound better than what it is.

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4 minutes ago, muon* said:

Some SACD hybrid disks used a poor CD layer to make the SACD layer sound better than what it is.

Really?

 

I have a few SACDs and both layers seem fine to me, although I must say that I don't have hundreds of SACDs. I would have thought that it was in the manufacturers' interest to make both layers with good sound quality. Perhaps I have just been fortunate.

YMMV.

Edited by rantan
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Just now, rantan said:

Really?

 

I have a few SACDs and both layers seem fine to me, although I must say that I don't have hundreds of SACDs. I would have thought that it was in the manufacturers interest to make both layers with good sound quality.

YMMV.

Not sure what ones, but it was a talking point at one time.

 

It was a marketing angle, Ooo...SACD sound so much better!

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2 minutes ago, rantan said:

Really?

 

I have a few SACDs and both layers seem fine to me, although I must say that I don't have hundreds of SACDs. I would have thought that it was in the manufacturers' interest to make both layers with good sound quality. Perhaps I have just been fortunate.

YMMV.

There are unfortunately.  They also play the trick of making the Redbook slightly softer.

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1 minute ago, Snoopy8 said:

There are unfortunately.  They also play the trick of making the Redbook slightly softer.

Fair enough.

It seems I was just fortunate for once.:)

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I do have a SACD out of Taiwan by Tracy Chapman and played on my 16 bit non oversampling spinner it is sublime!

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1 hour ago, Monkeyboi said:

Hahahaha.  But God gave me 5.1 ears. Sorry, couldn't resist.

I'm assuming you are implying that any form of surround sound can't possibly be of audiophile quality?  

 

Cheers,

Alan R.

Good for you then if it sounds OK on your Sony HT recievers.

Edited by Al.M
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12 minutes ago, muon* said:

Some SACD hybrid disks used a poor CD layer to make the SACD layer sound better than what it is.

I have hundreds of hybrid SACD titles and the same on good ol' Red Book CDs.  Can't honestly say the CD layer of SACD / CD hybrid discs are "nobbled" to make the SACD "sound better" when comparing the CD layer with the same on the Red Book CD pressing from the same label .

 

I have easily heard noticeable differences when comparing CDs released on different labels, especially re-releases which I attribute to remastering of the original master recordings rather than the format itself.  IMHO it would make no sense in purposefully degrading the CD layer as the whole idea of SACD/CD hybrid discs is to be able to maintain compatibility with CD only players.  Besides, the record labels have nothing to gain by purposefully "nobbling" the CD layer.  People who had a SACD player in their main music system and a CD player in the car or a smaller system that played CDs only wouldn't buy them in that case.

 

I have ripped a lot of hybrid SACDs and CDs and when comparing the CD layer of the SACD with a Red Book CD in programs like CoolEdit Pro the waveforms are identical, therefore I can pretty much conclude that when comparing apples with apples they are the same.  If however if the mastering is different you should hear a difference even on a lesser system.

 

Secondly, no self respecting hi-end manufacturer is going to make a SACD / CD player with purposefully crippled CD playback.  If like me, I bet a lot of people might very well already own hundreds if not thousands of Red Book CDs so one might assume that they would want the best possible playback performance of BOTH formats.

 

Having said that, as in the words of @rantan "YMMV"

 

Cheers,

Alan R.

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agree, i have been a sad follower for years.... i have no concrete evidence to suggest any nobbling.... of cd layer....

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49 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

There are unfortunately.  They also play the trick of making the Redbook slightly softer.

Softer in what way?  Purposefully rolled off top end or simply reduced overall playback level?  If the latter, there's thing called the volume control on the amplifier the last time I used my system. 😜 

 

Cheers,

Alan R.

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1 hour ago, muon* said:

Some SACD hybrid disks used a poor CD layer to make the SACD layer sound better than what it is.

I have read that some SACD hybrids will use the current remastered with compression CD mastering on the CD layer, and the SACD mastering is less compressed. 

 

Also note that although it may be a SACD layer, mastering choices are made.  I have read reports that some SACD masterings have a tad more compression than would have been expected on an audiophile format, or may not be as good as expected.  I would not be surprised if there are a minority of SACD layers which are mastered from lower-resolution masters (eg. the redbook file), as happened for some DVD-A.  Fortunately, this is not on all SACDs!

 

 

Edited by audiofeline
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I seem to remember there beign an article in one of the print magazines many years ago comparing the cd layer of a SACDs and  actual cds of the same performance. If memory serves the cd layers of the SACD's were found to sound less good than the actual cd. Can't remember any more detail but it was something that was bandyed about for a while.

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5 minutes ago, Ozcall said:

I seem to remember there beign an article in one of the print magazines many years ago comparing the cd layer of a SACDs and  actual cds of the same performance. If memory serves the cd layers of the SACD's were found to sound less good than the actual cd. Can't remember any more detail but it was something that was bandyed about for a while.

I am somewhat wary of these articles, as they may be PR from companies that decided not to licence SACDs and don't want the format to succeed. 

 

A bit like when direct-drive turntables came out, and the belt-drive manufactures spread info suggesting that all diirect-drive turntables suffered from "cogging" which is an audible negative artefact.  Just like when belt-drive started to replace idler turntables, they criticised all idlers as having rumble - true on cheap idlers, but not on high-end ones. 

 

Ultimately these games of mis-information often leave me confused, which means the propaganda machine wins.

 

Edited by audiofeline
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Usually SACD players are more premium/better CDPs. Look up brands like Marantz or Yamaha, at the entry level there are only CDPs or streamers. If you are looking for the best sound quality possible than CD/SACD is the best way even when listening mostly to CDs. 

 

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2 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

I am somewhat wary of these articles, as they may be PR from companies that decided not to licence SACDs and don't want the format to succeed. 

 

A bit like when direct-drive turntables came out, and the belt-drive manufactures spread info suggesting that all diirect-drive turntables suffered from "cogging" which is an audible negative artefact.  Just like when belt-drive started to replace idler turntables, they criticised all idlers as having rumble - true on cheap idlers, but not on high-end ones. 

 

Ultimately these games of mis-information often leave me confused, which means the propaganda machine wins.

 

Me too. Just posted to confirm that it was suggested as an issue ,not to suggest there was any truth in the rumour :)

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37 minutes ago, Monkeyboi said:

Softer in what way?  Purposefully rolled off top end or simply reduced overall playback level?  If the latter, there's thing called the volume control on the amplifier the last time I used my system. 😜 

Softer overall volume.  It is easy to forget to check that the volume are the same when doing playback comparison

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I found the better your system the more noticeable SACD is better then redbook CD. I have used a 5.1 system for SACD and found it a amazing listening experience with instruments all around me.  I now just have a Stereo system and equally enjoy the benefit of the high fidelity sound they produce.

P.S I also have about 200 SACD to choose from..

Stump

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33 minutes ago, Al.M said:

Good for you then if it sounds OK on your Sony HT recievers.

Thank you for your 2 cents worth. I'll treat it with the contempt it deserves.  BTW, to go along with your nit picking I'll just like to make it abundantly clear that I have no "HT recievers" in my audio only listening set up. 😜

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what I have experienced playing either hybrid or just straight-out  sacd (do not play multi channel tracks) is that the sound quality can vary from disc to disc just like every other format,cds,vinyl even streaming,some cds I have sound better than sacd but we still have to pay a premium for so called superior sound quality,sucked in again.

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15 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

I have read that some SACD hybrids will use the current remastered with compression CD mastering on the CD layer, and the SACD mastering is less compressed. 

 

Also note that although it may be a SACD layer, mastering choices are made.  I have read reports that some SACD masterings have a tad more compression than would have been expected on an audiophile format, or may not be as good as expected.  I would not be surprised if there are a minority of SACD layers which are mastered from lower-resolution masters (eg. the redbook file), as happened for some DVD-A.  Fortunately, this is not on all SACDs!

 

 

Fully agree.  I have purchased a few SACDs where the SACD layer has been the same as the CD layer.  If the original wasn't much chop to begin with encoding it to DSD won't improve it.  :(

 

Cheers,

Alan R.

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16 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

Softer overall volume.  It is easy to forget to check that the volume are the same when doing playback comparison

Yes, and also from player to player.  The average listening level does have a significant impact on hearing perception. Something that Fletcher and Munson demonstrated in 1933, later revised by Robinson and Dadson in 1956, and but yet again in the ISO 226 redefined standard in 2003.

 

Cheers,

Alan R. 

1024px-Lindos4.png

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3 hours ago, Hawk66 said:

If I was to get the player I was thinking of running it through my Audiolab 6000a integrated via digital coax cable and straight out to my two awesome sounding transmission line speakers. 

If I’m not mistaken, apart from a few very limited or vintage SACD players, almost all recent SACD players do not allow SACD layer to be transmitted via digital coax. It must be analogue output. So your idea goes out the window because you will only hear the CD layer anyway. 
 

The SACD format is locked or restricted by Sony that way.

Edited by att23
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To add to my above post, the only other way if not via analogue output is to use a universal player that also reads SACD, and transmit via HDMI cable to an AV receiver which will give you slightly less sound quality, but you get both 2.0 and/or 5.1 this way. 
 

I am a big fan of SACD, however my advice is, unless if you are into Classical music and into surround sound, there’s probably not a lot of incentives to get into $$$$ SACD now. 
 

Edit: There could be a 3rd way... download DSD files.  Therefore you possibly can use digital output...

Edited by att23
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