SACD: worth upgrading my CD player?
January 16, 2004 9:24 AM   Subscribe

About 5 months ago, we bought an awsome Sony home theater system. At the time, I was focusing on buying a system that would play fully loaded DVD's, and did no research concening audio CDs. Consequently, I've become aware of SACD Cds. Unfortunately, the DVD/CD player does not have that capability. Is the sound of SACD CDs worth upgrading my DVD/CD player?
posted by lola to Technology (13 answers total)
No, not really IMHO. It is better, but not worth shelling out extra cash for. Besides which, it's fairly hard to find the actual CD's in your average music store.
posted by MintSauce at 9:47 AM on January 16, 2004

Can't say I've heard one, but new audio formats seem to be a shameless attempt at preserving revenue. Why wouldn't we wait until mp3 or FLAC or Ogg Vorbis or whatever is standard on amplifiers or cheap to buy as a standalone? Or until the home pc/media/convergence thing happens?
posted by yerfatma at 9:57 AM on January 16, 2004

According to Philips, sacd players will make your current CDs sound four times. I read that as "if you really enjoy a certain cd now, you'll like it four times as much in the new player."

I had an opportunity to hear an SACD player with a normal cd this fall. It had a nice sound, but it didn't sound better than any other really expensive stereo. As for SACDs, which are seven times better than normal CDs somehow, I have never had the opportunity to hear one. But, as yerfatma said, it seems like a waste.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:10 AM on January 16, 2004

Ok, first, yes they DO sound that much better, however, much like 56k baud modems back in the day, the final standard has yet to be set. (will it be dvd-a, sacd, hybrid, and even a few others are around..) Secondly, you need not only a new player, but a new deck, as the sacd delivers in 6 discreet channels. Lastly, do yourself a favor and go buy a dvd-a disc of an artist you can tolerate. For me, the great one right now is THE FLAMING LIPS- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots DVD-A - in 5.1. Your player currently will play it in 6 channel at 96/24bit which is TWICE the quality sound of your current cd player. This one is great as well, though only 48/12. Best of luck.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 10:20 AM on January 16, 2004

SACD is locked in a battle with another format called DVD-Audio over which will be the next generation of audio disk; something along the lines of the Beta/VHS wars. Both have higher fidelity than a CD and surround sound, but neither have a lot of available disks. The two formats are not compatible, although there are some players that will handle both.

I'd wait for one format to dominate the other and become more common before I invested in a player.
posted by kickingtheground at 10:32 AM on January 16, 2004

Response by poster: Secondly, you need not only a new player, but a new deck, as the sacd delivers in 6 discreet channels.

That's what I thought, I have the SACD version of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon," which I'd love to hear as recorded. It's buying a new system in less than six months that's the bitch.
posted by lola at 10:34 AM on January 16, 2004

I'm intrigued by the concept of 5.1 high-quality digital audio, but it just doesn't seem like there are enough titles out there to really make it worthwhile. My receiver has 5.1 inputs (so I don't think I would have to upgrade) but it's hard to justify the cost unless you're already in the market for an upgrade.

If you have a single-disc player and want to try a changer, Sony has started making relatively inexpensive CD/DVD/SACD changers: I just checked, and they are selling a 5-disc for $210 and the 400-disc for $400. (I would buy the 400-disc unit in a heartbeat, except it doesn't have a particular control cable I need for the CD jukebox system I use.)

As a result, I think I'm going to wait until the standards become settled, my old DVD player dies, or I figure out another way to control the new changers and get CDDB information of the discs.
posted by subgenius at 10:57 AM on January 16, 2004

You WILL have to upgrade your receiver. 5.1 is done thru a digital coax. Single line. SACD is 6 discreet channels. ie. six lines, six connections. Hence, new receiver.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 11:27 AM on January 16, 2004

After listening to SACD I have decided that unless you have really golden ears, you are not going to hear the difference. Some of my most snobby music friends who constantly argue over the sound quality of formats and stereos have decided that SACD wasn't worth the trouble.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 11:37 AM on January 16, 2004

You WILL have to upgrade your receiver. 5.1 is done thru a digital coax. Single line. SACD is 6 discreet channels. ie. six lines, six connections. Hence, new receiver.
Are you sure? Having all 6 discreet channels would probably be the ideal way, but I don't think it's the only way. There are SACD-capable home theater systems with 5.1 speaker systems [1,2], which I'd presume simply split the 6th center rear channel over the two rear speakers, as well as SACD-capable DVD players (such as this rather expensive one or this cheaper one that also has 5 channel analog output) that have digital coax outputs and should be able to hook up to any reciever with a digital input.
posted by kickingtheground at 12:38 PM on January 16, 2004

BrodieShadeTree, I should have been more specific: My receiver has one multichannel 5.1 input and one multichannel 6.1 input. It also has digital coax (which I use for my existing DVD) and digital toslink (which I use for my CD changers), so I would prefer to use the multichannel inputs so I could clear up other inputs.

Kickingtheground, another writeup of that Sony 5-disc (which both you and I have linked, albeit to different vendors) has this to say: "If you're not familiar with SACD (Super Audio CD), it's a high-resolution music format co-developed by Sony (with Philips). SACD uses an ultra-high sampling rate to more faithfully reproduce the original source material. If you have a 5.1-channnel speaker system and a receiver with a 5.1 analog input, you can now enjoy high-resolution wraparound sound on multichannel SACDs. Actually, whether they're multichannel or stereo, you'll love the added realism that SACD brings to music listening. . . . Since you'll probably want to use the player's 5.1-channel analog output to enjoy multichannel SACDs, you can let the player's built-in Dolby® Digital and DTS® decoders handle DVD movie soundtracks, too (or do like most folks, and make a one-cable digital connection to an A/V receiver with Dolby Digital/DTS decoding)."

FWIW, I've used the predecessor to that model (i.e., no SACD) for the past 15 months, and it's worked very well.
posted by subgenius at 1:09 PM on January 16, 2004

Don't worry about it. Unless you're Mr. Audiophile with golden ears, golden audio cables and gold bars in your basement to match... forget it. The sound isn't that much of an improvement to warrant the extra expense and the small audio catalogues.
posted by skylar at 2:14 PM on January 16, 2004

And its all really just a trojan horse to implement more robust DRM than is possible with regular CDs
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:52 PM on January 16, 2004

« Older Tell me what you know about this music   |   Windows cannot read from this disk. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.