SACD and DVD-Audio discs

Man of Honour
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I did try SACD a couple of years ago, and compared a Pioneer 575a (which I own), a mid range Marantz (can't remember the name) against my Naim CD5i.
Have to say that the Pioneer was simply underwhelming. It's great on films, naff on music format. The Marantz was rather good though and IMO was on par with the CD5i, though it was different in it's presentation.

What did occur was that the cost of the SACD player was roughly half of my CDP. Whilst SACD releases are getting better, there's still a very limited number available when compared to CD.
So seemed to make sense to optimise the audio format that I have a lot of already. I guess that I have roughly 500 CDs, a good deal of which will simply never be available on SACD.
For one thing, how much better would my CDs sound with all the money I'd considered spending on SACDs and an appropriate player, being put into an even better CD player?

If I have virtually no music on either CD or vinyl, I'd consider going with SACD. Well being fair, if that was the case, I'd now go with vinyl, as it sounds wonderful on a really good deck, and even SACD doesn't get close.
 
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Thanks for your input, Mr_Sukebe.

I sold all my vinyl and hardware (Linn etc) to a friend of mine quite a few years ago. I still have an old Burmiester amp in the loft. :)

Likewise I culled my CD collection down to ~ 300 (from 1000+) in the mid 1990s.

I tend to listen to music on my PC and have transferred most of my CDs to MP3, WAV and APE to hard disk - although I lost some when I accidently formatted the wrong drive. :(

What prompted the question was I was looking for a particular Dylan track, and could not find the album anywhere (it might be among the 10 CD's I inadvertantly left in a car I sold a couple of years ago), so I thought I would buy the album again. It has a SACD version, so I thought I would investigate this option.

I don't have a SACD/DVD-Audio player at the moment, and I am in the market for a new DVD + Hard drive Recorder too. The Pioneer 585 is ~ £100, so I am thinking about that.
 
Man of Honour
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A few thoughts.
Personally I don't like lossy compressed music. I've tried MP3 at 320bps and didn't even like that, but that's just me.

Ref SACD. As mentioned, I have a Pioneer 575a, which is the older version of the 585. Personally I don't think it's any great shakes on music. Assuming you want a decent SACD player, I think you'll be looking at a minimum of several hundred £s, which for one track seems a little excessive.
I do remember buying my Amiga for just one game, but that was a LONG time ago.

If you're going to use a PC as a music server, my recommendation would be to:
- Re cut all of your CDs to your PC using a lossless compression method such as FLAC or the Apple equivalent (AAC I believe).
- Take a digital output from the back of your PC into a decent external DAC, then onto your stereo amp. Burmesters have a very good reputation, so I'd expect it to do the biz. Never heard one though, so can't comment from experience.
To my knowledge you don't need a good soundcard to get a digital output from a PC. I've just built a new PC which as an SPDIF (Coaxial digital output) built onto the motherboard, so in some cases it should be free. Of course one sound effect of using a DAC with your PC is that "Live for Speed" sounds awesome.
- A further option you have is locating your PC in a different room to your stereo. Most PCs tend to be rather noisy. If you have an RF router, you can use a product called a Squeezebox (there are other similar alternatives). This is networkable product that can view your music collection on your PC and allow access to it from a different room. I've seen one in action. The functionality was brilliant and it does have an SPDIF output. Having said that, costs a couple of hundred notes and is pointless if your PC is in the same room. In addition, the chap in question has compared it to running from a dedicated transport, and he himself admits that the transport sounded better.

Hope that helps.
 
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Most (all?) of my Mp3s were done aover 3-4 years ago - mainly to fit on a portable player I was using (only 96Mb of space).

I have been using Monkeys Audio (APE files), which is a lossless medium, to transfer my CDs to my PC.

I assume one of the advantages (for me) of DVD-Audio albums is that I can play them on my PC and standalone DVD player - whereas I would need another machine for SACD (unless it was a hybrid)?
 
Man of Honour
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You would need a seperate machine for SACD.
Ref your comment on DVD audio, I think you might be mixing up the format types.
DVD (normal standard DVD) can be played on any DVD player and there are thousands of music videos available.
DVD-A (DVD audio) is a competitor to SACD and also requires a dedicated machine. A bit like SACD, some manufacturers make hybrid CD/DVD players than can play a combination of SACD, DVD-A, CD and DVD. For example, I believe the 585 can play all of those, some Meridian CD players can play DVD-A and CD, but not SACD or DVD etc.

Note that if you do play a multi-format player, than you're also spending money on video circuits (on units based on a DVD player), and additional analogue output circuits. Like most kit, it's just another compromise. The generally accepted view at the moment is that dedicated units (e.g. CD only) tend to sound better than the equivalently priced combo unit.
 
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Yes, I had assumed that my Panasonic E100 would play DVD-Audio.

I have just checked the spec sheet - it will play such discs but only in stereo. At the moment, I don't have any other speakers set up (centre plus 2 x rear have not been unpacked from house move yet).

What about the PC? Will DVD-Audio discs play- never/some/all?

I agree your point on discrete units - but SWMBO does not like the lounge to look like Dixons! :D
 
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Hi, to chuck a few extra opinions in, think Mr_S has covered most of the technical issues..... In a word "Forget it" !!!! (ok was two :D

Can't see either SACD or DVD-Audio will offer you anything. They are both intended as High(er) quality formats. But as you are happy to use compressed audio from a PC, any improvement will be pointless, the rest of the system needs to be cracking to get the most out of them..... Then they don't always sound better than CD, depends on how well it was recorded, mixed and mastered.

A universal machine would be the way to go, if you chose to, Perhaps something from Denon, plays everything around £300 -500 I would say, less than that as Mr_S said they sound pants !! ( I had a 575 as well).

Not aware of any PC drive that will read either HQ format. (Thinks it's to prevent someone cracking/copying them) Though I thought Sound Blasters support the 24bit 192Khz max rate of the DVD-A PCM system....so may be

NOTE, many/most SACD's are Hybrid discs, dual layer, so that they will also play on a normal CD player.

DVD-A are not, unless they are the new "Dual disc", which are thicker and can bugger up your player !!! AVOID !!!!

BUT the biggest reason is they are will be obsolete soon.... Sony is not releasing any more SACD, (It's their system) and DVD-A I guess will go the same way..... they are a flop and a failure....due to total crap marketing !!!!

I have a "Universal Player" and some of each disc........ Lucky it sounds stunning on CD !!
 
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The Audigy2 range played genuine DVD-A disks but I've no idea if the XFi range does. It did require Creative's player application though which (I presume) contained the MLP decryption code. I don't believe there is any way to play SACD on a PC.

I don't know what they were thinking when they released DVD-A because you cannot listen to one without having a TV connected to the player. Each disk has a different menu and so it's impossible to know if you are selecting the 2 channel mix or the 5.1 or whatever other content is on the disk. It seems you can't just sling the disk in and sit back. Why didn't they force the content creators to have a common interface so you could control the disk from a remote without needing a display?

Dual Disc does not necessarily have DVDA. Most have regular CD on one side and the other is typically a DVD-Video disk with a Dolby 5.1 mix and maybe a 48KHz (16bit not 24bit) 2ch mix too. As 9designs said, these barely (if at all) conform to the redbook CD standard and are too thick for some players. I've not risked it.

SACD for me was better thought out and made purely an audio format. It's simple to switch from 2ch to 5.1 or switch to the CD layer if it's a hybrid. In essence the disks behave like a regular CD.

I quite like SACD and all the ones I have sound excellent. It's difficult to say whether this is due to any inherent superiority of the SACD coding scheme or just that they have been mastered/recorded with care. There are a small number of SACD disks that were mastered from a 44.1/16 CD master which is a bit insulting to the customer. I thought SACD had a chance but there was no real marketing to the average guy. Mind you, what would be the point of pushing "better than CD" sound to the masses who are happy with low bit rate mp3?

Sadly both formats are doomed I feel. DVDA has gone as far as I'm concerned and there is a trickle of SACD releases which I will buy if they interest me and preferably only hybrid disks. They are out there if you look and it may survive as a niche classical format maybe.
 
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Thanks for the replies.

It looks like a no-go then.

I have decided to buy the SACD version of the Dylan album to see what it's like - although the re-mastering may go some/all way for any improvement.
 
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***UPDATE***

The SACD version of Dylan's "OH Mercy" album arrived on Saturday. I have played on it on my PC and Panasonic DVD Recorder (only ordinary CD) - and I thought it an improvement over the old (non-remastered version).

I have bought a Pioneer DVD585, as they are only £79.99 (new) now to see what SACD sounds like. It only arrived a few minutes ago, so I have not tested it yet.

I have also ordered Bob Dylan's "Collectors Box Set",** which is 15 CDs in SACD format, and a Rolling Stones 3 SACD set (only £15.99).

I have installed the Turtle Beach Sonic Fury soundcard - and I was surprised at the improvement. I am looking at something a bit newer (X-Fi, EMU, M-Audio etc) - including the RAVE 1 USB soundcard.

** Arrived this afternoon - ordered at 8.00 pm Monday from USA. :cool:
 
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