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  1. #1
    Aging Smartass
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    Why haven't audiophiles enthusiastically endorsed the SACD?

    If the SACD is, in the opinion of many highly regarded and award-winning recording engineers (and myself, for whatever that's worth) "the best thing out there," then why hasn't it taken top spot in the mind of most audiophiles? After all, aren't we all searching for the best sounding source material we can find?

    There are numerous answers to that question, several which I'm about to post, and others that I'm sure will follow. For starters, SACD had a rough start, having the misfortune to be introudced almost simultaneously with a competing, and incompatible format: DVD-Audio. Most audiophiles chose to wait it out to see who "won," and fortunately, SACD is the declared winner in that batte. Still, it lingers. Why?

    Early SACD players simpy didn't sound very good, and were particularly bad redbook CD players. The consumer/audiophile could purchase an SACD player, but still had to hang onto his CD player if he wanted quality sound from his collection of discs. Few wanted two different units, and so, few bought those SACD players.

    Next comes the matter of multi-channel recording. While at least one AR member (Feanor) feels that multi-channel is the primary benefit of SACD's, I feel it's its greatest detriment. Most audiophiles or audio enthusiasts (whatever it is we're calling ourselves these days) just don't have any interest in multi-channel systems. We spent years and years accumulating the gear we have for our 2-channel systems, and either don't have the financial wherewithal to duplicate our equipment for the rear channels, or the space to do so either. Those who have HT systems in their homes usually have them in one room, with the 2-channel, "serious" system in another.

    I won't deny that the home theatre system my wife's former CEO had in his multi-million dollar home was far and away the best sounding I've ever heard, it also cost him well over six figures. I'm certain that the multi-channel SACD's that I own would knock my socks off if I had been able to hear them on his system. Also, having a 10,000 square foot house enabled him to dedicate a room as his home theatre that's not much smaller than many a small commercial movie theatre. Us commoners just can't afford such stuff.

    Then there are those who eschew digital recording no matter what. I have a real problem with that, as my ears tell me that digital recording has improved exponentially over the years, and that no LP I've ever heard comes remotely close to the sound of a well-engineered CD, and the gap is even wider when compared to a well engineered SACD. Worst of all is that many of these people have dismissed the SACD out of hand without ever having heard one. That, of course, is condeming a book by reading its cover.

    I had no interest at all in SACD's since there weren't any SACD players that concentrated on the superior sound in 2, rather than multi-channel format, and were also top-notch redbook CD players as well. All that changed with the Marantz SA-8001.

    In the Stereophile review of the 8001, they tested the CD playback of the unit by connecting the Benchmark DAC to its digital outputs, and compared the sound of that combination, to the 8001 by itself and couldn't detect any differences. That says quite a lot, at least in my book. The Benchmark DAC alone costs more than the 8001, and the 8001 also plays SACD's!

    The 8001 has been replaced by the 8003, which has received attention here at AR, but with conflicting observations: one poster says it's better, while another claims it's decidedly inferior to the 8001. I'll wait to see what Stereophile has to say on this matter myself before coming to any judgements. Hopefully, other manufacturers will follow Marantz's direction and make comparable 2-channel SACD players that are also outstanding CD players as well.

    Still, there is no question that, as good as CD's sound on the 8001 (or the 8003), SACD's sound significantly better. The difference isn't night and day, but quite noticeable. Words like "lush," "full," and "robust" come to mind, but that which stands out above all else is "lifelike." I suspect the lifelike sound of the SACD layer when compared to the CD layer of the same disc is a result of the extraordinarily wide dynamic range of an SACD: 120db! No CD has that great a dynamic range, and no LP comes even close. I suppose there's some benefit to the 0-100,000HZ frequency response too, but I'm hard pressed to know what it is.

    I can't dismiss the still unpleasant experience one undergoes in purchasing SACD's. Far and away, the vast majority of SACD's avaialble are of classical music. While that's just fine by me, only 3% of consumers of recorded music purchase classical music. I could argue from now until the end of time that classical music provides a better source to adequately demonstrate a system's true capabilities, but that won't go very far, as I'm very much in the minority. Add to that, the better classical music websites (ArkivMusic, ClassicalMusicDepot.com) still don't list the discs in any order that makes any sense, so finding a particular title is needlessly difficult.

    So, what's the answer? I wish I knew.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    One piece of the puzzle is that a good SACD player costs $1k or more, while good CDP's are cheaper. Another problem is that most audiophiles have 2ch set ups.

    And I have to say that listening to a good recording on std cd with my Van Alstine DAC and preamp sounds as good if not better than the SACD's I player on the Marantz 8003. All of my XRCD24's sounded better. Now I would love to hear one of the Marantz SA7 or SA11s2's but now we are talking about several thousand dollars. I would also like to hear how good a good multi channel SACD set up sounds.
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  3. #3
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    In the Stereophile review of the 8001, they tested the CD playback of the unit by connecting the Benchmark DAC to its digital outputs, and compared the sound of that combination, to the 8001 by itself and couldn't detect any differences. That says quite a lot, at least in my book. The Benchmark DAC alone costs more than the 8001, and the 8001 also plays SACD's!
    Let me give a proper comparison of price and features between these two components:

    Price:
    Marantz SA8001 $900 (replaced by $1K 8003)
    Benchmark DAC1 $1K


    Marantz SA8001 Features:
    Plays CDs
    Plays SACDs
    Has a basic headphone amp
    RCA output

    Benchmark DAC1 Features:
    DAC with multiple digital inputs (meaning you can attach CD player/transport, DVD player, digital tuner, digital cable box etc).
    Excellent Headphone amp
    Excellent digital preamp
    RCA and Balanced output

    Depending on your particular system needs, one or the other would be a much better value for you... For my needs the Benchmark DAC1 is worth its weight in gold, while the Marantz is not even worth the $900 asking price...


    As for why Audiophiles haven't embraced SACDs:

    1) They don't all agree that it is superior to Vinyl - and that point alone seals SACD's fate... but there are still other points:
    2) The catalog of music on SACD is a joke.... Mostly classical music is not going to win over a hoard of fans
    3) Most people still associate SACD with multi-channel, which is a MAJOR turnoff due to price and space (as you rightly mentioned)
    4) Vinyl Lovers already have huge collections of LPs that they have no intention of replacing...
    5) Vinyl is an experience... the rituals and customization options are unlimited... while a CD or SACD is meant to just be simple...

    And most importantly, even if all Audiophiles or Enthusiasts were to embrace SACD, it would still be a niche market product with a limited catalog of albums....
    Last edited by Ajani; 12-13-2008 at 12:47 PM.

  4. #4
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Rational explanations?

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    If the SACD is, in the opinion of many highly regarded and award-winning recording engineers (and myself, for whatever that's worth) "the best thing out there," then why hasn't it taken top spot in the mind of most audiophiles?
    ...
    emaidel, our musing aren't likely to make SACD the principal audiophile medium, I fear, regardless. But I too wish I knew.

    Just get one little item out of the way. Yes, I believe that multi-channel is the greatest technical benefit of SACD. Perhaps, as you imply, many are intimidated by the prospect of buying and setting up an M/C system -- me too. On the other hand I don't think it's the main reason given many early SACD were stereo only, and virtually all M/C discs have stereo tracks. The majority of new, mid-range players today are stereo only.

    Sony, in true style, was greedy when SACD was introduced. First, the only available players were very expensive and they didn't rush to deliver mid-range options. Secondly -- and most critically, IMO -- the earliest discs weren't hybid. Given the scant selection and high cost of equipment, hybrid discs would have given many users an entry option to the medium without requiring a full committment. Some say that Sony/Philips hoped that SACD would go mainstream replacing CD; they sited reason is that CD patents were expiring. On the other hand I suspect S/P was hoping for a market stratification scenario, CD low-end, SACD high-end, with no rush for the latter to supplant the former.

    In any case SACD has remained an audiophile niche product and absolutely will remain so. What does it compete with as an audiophile niche product? We all know the answer: the LP. The vinylphiles gleefully point out that selection and sales of LPs far exceed SACDs. Although I wonder if that is true for classical music?

    Classical SACDs are equal in number to all other genre put together, though classical itself is only a tiny segment of the music market. BTW, on classic music sites I visit, CD remains utterly dominant over SACDs, downloads, and most of all LPs which are basically never mentioned except by rarely by people with old collections.

    Arrogant of me I suppose, but think it is pathetic that so many audiophiles adhere to vinyl, especially over SACD, but CD for that matter. Of course they are entitled to prefer vinyl, but they ought to admit to themselves that is a conditioned preference, not a matter of the inherent superiority of that medium. It certainly puts to rest any doubt the audiphilia is not euphony not accuracy.

  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    You points

    Your points are all valid, Ajani, but do reflect a lot of irrationality on the part of audiophile consumers -- see my remarks in context ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    ...

    As for why Audiophiles haven't embraced SACDs:


    1) They don't all agree that it is superior to Vinyl - and that point alone seals SACD's fate...
    I agree this the major reason today. See my remarks in this and other threads. Vinyl is preferred by many but it is a conditioned preference, not due to the inherent superiority of the medium. It is part of human beings natural conservative bias and thus a symptom of why the world is going to hell in a handcart.
    but there are still other points

    2) The catalog of music on SACD is a joke.... Mostly classical music is not going to win over a hoard of fans
    Well, except classical music fans. But this explanation put the cart before horse to some extent
    3) Most people still associate SACD with multi-channel, which is a MAJOR turnoff due to price and space (as you rightly mentioned)
    This is irrational since essentially all SACDs have stereo tracks.
    4) Vinyl Lovers already have huge collections of LPs that they have no intention of replacing...
    No need to replace the LPs, just buy SACD for new.
    5) Vinyl is an experience... the rituals and customization options are unlimited... while a CD or SACD is meant to just be simple...
    Vinyl is a pain in the a$$.
    And most importantly, even if all Audiophiles or Enthusiasts were to embrace SACD, it would still be a niche market product with a limited catalog of albums....
    True, but LP is also and will remain niche.
    Last edited by Feanor; 12-13-2008 at 01:10 PM.

  6. #6
    Aging Smartass
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    For my needs the Benchmark DAC1 is worth its weight in gold, while the Marantz is not even worth the $900 asking price...

    My comment that, when using the Marantz SA-8001 as a transport with the Benchmark DAC, the folks at Stereophile were unable to hear a difference between that setup and the 8001 alone was meant as an indication of the value of the 8001 - not a disparagement of the Benchmark unit.

    Regardless of the other, peripheral uses of the Benchmark, the combination of it, and any CD player is going to be much, much more expensive than the 8001 (or the 8003) on its own. The fact that the 8001 plays SACD's is a major point of my initial thread, and the Benchmark unit is of no use whatsoever for that purpose. That you feel the Marantz "is not even worth the $900 asking price" is a bit arrogant on your part, don't you think?. It received a "Class-A Recommendation" from Stereophile, and is a mere fraction of the price tag of most components to receive such an accolade. Its CD performance is outstanding, and its SACD performance is even better.

    I find the whole "experience" of playing LP's, just as Feanor does, a pain in the a$$. SACD's were NOT designed soley for the sake of convenience over LP's, but as a superior sound source. Apparently, you disagree, but I'll more readily accept the beliefs of established, experienced, and award-winning engineers over your, or anyone else's opinion. Sorry 'bout that.

  7. #7
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    My comment that, when using the Marantz SA-8001 as a transport with the Benchmark DAC, the folks at Stereophile were unable to hear a difference between that setup and the 8001 alone was meant as an indication of the value of the 8001 - not a disparagement of the Benchmark unit.



    Regardless of the other, peripheral uses of the Benchmark, the combination of it, and any CD player is going to be much, much more expensive than the 8001 (or the 8003) on its own.
    As I said: "Depending on your particular system needs, one or the other would be a much better value for you."

    For YOU and other SACD lovers, the Marantz is a much better value than the Benchmark... but for ME and other non-SACD/CD users, the Benchmark is a much better value...

    The reason I did a feature comparison was to point out that the Benchmark is not really a $1K DAC, if you remove the headphone amp and preamp outputs then it would likely be cheaper than the Marantz.... So it's not quite as big a deal that the Marantz sounds as good as the Benchmark... The Class A rating of both products is a big deal however... and IF I had wanted to buy an SACD/CD player, I would have bought the Marantz without a second thought...

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    The fact that the 8001 plays SACD's is a major point of my initial thread, and the Benchmark unit is of no use whatsoever for that purpose. That you feel the Marantz "is not even worth the $900 asking price" is a bit arrogant on your part, don't you think?. It received a "Class-A Recommendation" from Stereophile, and is a mere fraction of the price tag of most components to receive such an accolade. Its CD performance is outstanding, and its SACD performance is even better.
    NO, it is not even remotely arrogant. It is a fact... I don't listen to CDs or SACDs so the Marantz is of NO use to me... Just as a $10K, Class A Rated Turntable is of no use to me, since I don't play or own any Vinyl...

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    I find the whole "experience" of playing LP's, just as Feanor does, a pain in the a$$. SACD's were NOT designed soley for the sake of convenience over LP's, but as a superior sound source. Apparently, you disagree, but I'll more readily accept the beliefs of established, experienced, and award-winning engineers over your, or anyone else's opinion. Sorry 'bout that.
    I don't disagree... I have no opinion on whether SACD sounds better than Vinyl or vice versa, since I listen to neither... I merely pointed out the reason Vinyl lovers will not switch...

    Also, it's fine that you agree with the opinion of award winning engineers... but you also quote Stereophile as a source for the quality of the Marantz... Keep in mind how many writers in Stereophile LOVE Vinyl and refuse to let go of it... these guys have heard and reviewed SACD products... so why didn't they all convert? Clearly they either: A) Didn't agree with you and your favorite engineers about the superiority of SACD or B) Still preferred Vinyl for other reasons...

    I am not disputing your claim that SACD is superior to Vinyl... I'm just pointing out reasons why Vinyl Lovers won't convert...

  8. #8
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    I find the whole "experience" of playing LP's, just as Feanor does, a pain in the a$$. SACD's were NOT designed soley for the sake of convenience over LP's, but as a superior sound source. Apparently, you disagree, but I'll more readily accept the beliefs of established, experienced, and award-winning engineers over your, or anyone else's opinion. Sorry 'bout that.
    Or better yet, trust your ears and listen for yourself. My turntable more than holds its own against my CD player (which cost 4x the price), and both blow away my SACD player which at $400 is no slouch. I'm not willing to pay $3,500 for an SACD player that can match my present system, with such a limited catalog of SACD titles available.

    You can argue all you like that SACD is superior on paper, but my ears disagree while listening to my own system

    cheers,
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  9. #9
    Aging Smartass
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    Well, I asked a question, and got answers - and attitude. Strange thing about those of us who post threads on audio-based websites: everyone has his own opinion, and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong. All too often one issue creeps in and is ignored, and that's the price of the equipment in question.

    In elapsed's instance, he's got a $3,000 CD player that outperforms his $400 SACD player. Duh! Of course it does, and it surely better. That's not a reason to claim that SACD's aren't even as good as CD's, but merely a comparison of two hugely disparate (pricewise, at least) items.

    BR uses a van Alstine DAC that sells for a "mere" $1,700. Adding that to a decent trasnport brings the price of the CD player to well over $2,000 - a huge increase over the price of either the Marantz SA-8001 or 8003. I'm sure the combination sounds wonderful, but it still doesn't play SACD's.

    Ajani (from what I can ascertain) listens to digital downloads through headphones. Period. How can elements such as image and soundstaging as well as thunderous bass response that one feels rather than hears even enter such a picture? I have never enjoyed listening through headphones, as the music comes from both the back of, and the center of my head, which is a decidedly un-lifelike experience.

    In my unceasing praise for the 8001/8003 Marantz units, I don't ever state that they're the best players in the entire universe, but rather, two of the best values for equipment ever since this industry began.

    I know vinyl advocates will never accept anything other than vinyl as their preferred source. Still, there are many here who disagree with such a stance, but still categorically reject the SACD as a "better" medium, and do so by comparing apples and prunes: the only really fair comparison is to compare equipment of commensurate prices, not CD players costing five times as much as their SACD players.

    Not too well concealed is a somewhat contemptuous disregard for the opinions and statements from those "in the know:" the recording engineers who make the recordings we listen to.

    Well, it's been fun and I guess at this point it's best that I, and my adversaries, simply agree to disagree.

  10. #10
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Calm down, people

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    Well, I asked a question, and got answers - and attitude. Strange thing about those of us who post threads on audio-based websites: everyone has his own opinion, and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong. All too often one issue creeps in and is ignored, and that's the price of the equipment in question.

    ...

    Well, it's been fun and I guess at this point it's best that I, and my adversaries, simply agree to disagree.
    I think you're being a little harsh on everyone. Everyone, (including you) will defend his/her equipment naturally.
    I don't think elapsed Ajani etc have tried to be negative, IMO they've pointed out very valid points.

    When Elapsed claims the sound is better on his Naim CDP than his 400 buck SACDP, you'd think maybe (if SACD is such a better format) the sound quality would compare? obviously that is quite a huge price gap so perhaps not.
    I don't believe anyone is saying that SACD is not technically better than CD (and perhaps even vinyl, if you exclude vinyl freaks).
    Vinyl is an experience in itself, and most people are so drawn up in the process that they're willing to give up a little SQ (crackle & pop, S/N ratio etc) for the experience. And, after all, vinyl is ANALOGUE (not trying to do a pixie here ). No sampling here is there? So in this respect, you could argue it will always be superior to digital media.
    If SACD was more common (more titles available) and a little cheaper, my guess is it would be more popular. Only it was born in a relatively bad time, and has never really evolved beyond classical releases.
    Okay, I think that's all I have to say. Good day everyone

    Oh, and don't get too wound up about this. After all, it's the music that counts
    Last edited by audio amateur; 12-14-2008 at 06:18 AM.

  11. #11
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    Well, I asked a question, and got answers - and attitude. Strange thing about those of us who post threads on audio-based websites: everyone has his own opinion, and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong. All too often one issue creeps in and is ignored, and that's the price of the equipment in question.

    In elapsed's instance, he's got a $3,000 CD player that outperforms his $400 SACD player. Duh! Of course it does, and it surely better. That's not a reason to claim that SACD's aren't even as good as CD's, but merely a comparison of two hugely disparate (pricewise, at least) items.

    BR uses a van Alstine DAC that sells for a "mere" $1,700. Adding that to a decent trasnport brings the price of the CD player to well over $2,000 - a huge increase over the price of either the Marantz SA-8001 or 8003. I'm sure the combination sounds wonderful, but it still doesn't play SACD's.

    Ajani (from what I can ascertain) listens to digital downloads through headphones. Period. How can elements such as image and soundstaging as well as thunderous bass response that one feels rather than hears even enter such a picture? I have never enjoyed listening through headphones, as the music comes from both the back of, and the center of my head, which is a decidedly un-lifelike experience.

    In my unceasing praise for the 8001/8003 Marantz units, I don't ever state that they're the best players in the entire universe, but rather, two of the best values for equipment ever since this industry began.

    I know vinyl advocates will never accept anything other than vinyl as their preferred source. Still, there are many here who disagree with such a stance, but still categorically reject the SACD as a "better" medium, and do so by comparing apples and prunes: the only really fair comparison is to compare equipment of commensurate prices, not CD players costing five times as much as their SACD players.

    Not too well concealed is a somewhat contemptuous disregard for the opinions and statements from those "in the know:" the recording engineers who make the recordings we listen to.

    Well, it's been fun and I guess at this point it's best that I, and my adversaries, simply agree to disagree.
    Don't take forum posts to heart... Keep in mind that you can't always really tell the emotion/attitude being given (or not given) in writing...

    As for headphones:

    1) I don't listen to digital downloads (well not many anyway)... 99% of my music is ripped from my original CDs in Apple Lossless format...

    2) I don't like feeling thunderous bass rattling the windows and the furniture (apart from explosions in a movie) since I find that it just distracts from the music in a most unappealing way... It's why I'd never buy a Bookshelf/Sub combo...

    3) Soundstage is the only real issue with headphones for me... and even that is a trade off... I can hear detail with a $500 pair of headphones that a $5K pair of Towers can't match....

    4) Soundstage is more of an issue depending on the type of music you listen to... only a small percentage of my music is recorded live or recorded with a single mic to give a realistic soundstage... So for the majority of my music collection, the soundstage of headphones is not an issue...

    5) What you could take from these debates (please don't feel that we are attacking you... I've read and enjoyed way too many of your threads to want to attack you over having a different perspective).... is that while the Marantz is an EXCELLENT SACD/CD player and SACD is likely a superior format to both CD and Vinyl, not everyone has the same musical goals as you.... Simulating the live experience seems to be your ultimate goal, but it's not everyone's... and even if their goal is the live experience, SACD is most relevant to Classical Musical lovers so it may still not be the right choice for them...
    Last edited by Ajani; 12-14-2008 at 06:56 AM.

  12. #12
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    A coupla thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    If the SACD is, in the opinion of many highly regarded and award-winning recording engineers (and myself, for whatever that's worth) "the best thing out there," then why hasn't it taken top spot in the mind of most audiophiles?
    As for me, it is largely a question of timing. I don't replace components that often and the last CD player I bought (aside from a cheap transport for the garage) was over six years ago. Another requirement is any replacement player will also have a high, low impedance output to obviate the need for a line stage. While top octave extension is important, overall top to bottom resolution is equally important to me. My present GamuT player has a 4 volt/75 ohm output vs. the Marantz at 2.4 volts/150 ohms. It drives the amps directly through DACT stepped attenuators.

    I have perhaps ten dual layer Telarc SACD discs presently and would love to hear them in their native state. I've also ripped my CD collection to a computer server and enjoy the convenience of immediate access and random playback. I think Sony shot itself in the foot by deliberately crippling the medium to prevent that capability. You speak of the *convenience* of a format that still requires the use of handling discs. That is clearly not the direction of the future, regardless of bit depth and resolution.

    rw

  13. #13
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I have perhaps ten dual layer Telarc SACD discs presently and would love to hear them in their native state. I've also ripped my CD collection to a computer server and enjoy the convenience of immediate access and random playback. I think Sony shot itself in the foot by deliberately crippling the medium to prevent that capability. You speak of the *convenience* of a format that still requires the use of handling discs. That is clearly not the direction of the future, regardless of bit depth and resolution.
    Yep... another problem is that it is too late for SACD.... Its time to gain popularity with the mass market was back before MP3 became so popular... but it squandered that time in format wars with DVD-A...

    Its time to gain acceptance with Audiophiles has now passed as well, since many audiophiles are now seeing the potential for Hi Fidelity downloads.... Crappy low quality MP3s opened the door for high end music servers.... Physical mediums are slowly (or not so slowly) being replaced by Media Servers...

    As I've stated a few times before, Vinyl will probably outlive both CD & SACD as a collectors item (and for the few audiophiles who still reject digital)... But CD & SACD can easily be replaced by downloads of the same or even higher quality...

    If you are a classical lover, then an SACD player is a good buy now... but give it a few years and you'll likely be able to get the same quality or better from downloads + have access to all other genres of music...

  14. #14
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    Well, I asked a question, and got answers - and attitude. Strange thing about those of us who post threads on audio-based websites: everyone has his own opinion, and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong. All too often one issue creeps in and is ignored, and that's the price of the equipment in question.

    In elapsed's instance, he's got a $3,000 CD player that outperforms his $400 SACD player. Duh! Of course it does, and it surely better. That's not a reason to claim that SACD's aren't even as good as CD's, but merely a comparison of two hugely disparate (pricewise, at least) items.
    Hi emaidel, I apologize if you felt I was coming across with attitude, my point was that many advocates of SACD state that higher resolution equates higher sound quality, when this is anything but the case. As a consumer I would have expected to hear more detail in an SACD experience, but this was simply not the case when comparing against a capable CD player.

    Also I think as audiophiles we've become wary of being told every few years that so-and-so is markably better than what we currently have, when this is very far from the truth. The point I was making is that SACD is not markably better than CD or vinyl, and for an audiophile who has already invested considerable money into his or her system, they would need to spend signficant money to match their present CD player or turntable in order to hear an improvement.

    No attitude, I promise. Music is to be enjoyed on any medium you prefer, I only give my opinion on a topic that you posted

    cheers,
    elapsed
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  15. #15
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    Hi emaidel, I apologize if you felt I was coming across with attitude, my point was that many advocates of SACD state that higher resolution equates higher sound quality, when this is anything but the case. As a consumer I would have expected to hear more detail in an SACD experience, but this was simply not the case when comparing against a capable CD player.
    ...
    cheers,
    elapsed
    elapsed, I don't think your remarks have been haughty or dismissive; you have argued reasonably although certainly from a different point of view than emaidel.

    It so happens that I agree that SACD is not significantly better than CD based on what I've heard with my own ears. (This applies to stereo, not multi-channel, obviously). emaidel believes that SACD is better and he is not alone in this opinion. The difference might the equipment we are using, but I think many have come to the same opinion as you and me and it has quite probably affected SACD sales.

  16. #16
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    I have posted often that I am a lover of classical music. I'm not a foe of popular stuff, and have hundreds of both LP's and CD's of it, but it's the classics that I listen to most often, and that, as others have pointed out, is where I believe SACD's shine. On any of the hybrid discs I own, whenever I make a comparison to the CD and SACD layers of the discs, the SACD layer always sounds better, but doesn't necesssarily blow away the CD layer.

    I find myself at a loss to find the proper words to describe the difference. While "liquid" and "velvety timbral acoustics" may sound oh so marvelous, those aren't the words that come to mind. "Lush," "Robust," and "lifelike" are those that do, and, again as has been pointed out, as I'm seeking the best representation of a live performance, this aspect of SACD's impresses the snot out of me. I sing in several choirs, and have performed concerts with those choirs and large orchestras, so I know what "live" music sounds like, and if anything in my system makes it sound more like that, then all the better.

    The future may, as some have pointed out, totally eliminate both CD's and SACD's, and to me, that's unfortunate. Still, I can't change momentum, no matter how fervently I may feel about a particular medium, or piece of equipment.

    Here's an interesting thought: when this whole business started in the late 50's, "Hi-Fi" systems (all monaural) were purchased all but exclusively by hobbyists. And the music played on them? Almost 100% classical. Then, as stereophonic sound came about, it was still classical music that was the primary source of demonstration material. In the Lafayette store in NY in which I first was promoted to the position of audio salesman, it was all but forbidden for me to play rock music. EVER.

    Then, as rock, and lovers of it, exploded, so too did the audio marketplace. The 70's was the heyday of the industry, with stereo shops on every street corner. Then, as the market became somewhat saturated, and people owned systems that seemed to last forever (perhaps manufacturers should have built less reliable products!), sales tapered off.

    "New" media came about, and the public snapped it up. The CD was all but an overnight sensation, but after many years of market dominance, began to lose favor in the eyes and ears of audiophiles.

    The SACD, as has been pointed out by myself and others, had to battle it out with DVD-A. While it does sound better than "ordinary" CD's, it's not "night and day" better, and many were turned off by that aspect. Quite probably too, if one's system wasn't of a sufficiently high calibre to begin with, the difference was likely unnoticeable.

    Now, its digital downloads (or whatever other term is used - this is hardly my area of expertise), and SACD's don't allow for being ripped, or whatever other term is appropriate. So, the mass market looks elsewhere.

    But fans of classical music (those who supported this industry for over 50 years), like myself, love the medium. Hopefully, SACD's will stick around (much like vinyl has) to a "niche" market: specifically, those of us who love the classics and want our audio systems to sound as close as possible to a live performace. We don't number in the hundreds of millions, but perhaps there's enough of us to keep the medium going. At least for a few more years, I hope!

    Lastly, I've got three more BIS SACD's on their way to me, all of which are highly rated recordings by the Minnesota Orchestra, under the baton of Otmo Vanska, conducting a numer of different Beethoven symphonies. I've already posted how his version of the 9th is the definitive version, both musically and sonically, so I have great expectations for these three new discs. I'll review them all here on AR for anyone who'se interested.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    My present GamuT player has a 4 volt/75 ohm output vs. the Marantz at 2.4 volts/150 ohms. It drives the amps directly through DACT stepped attenuators.

    I have to admit, I haven't a clue what you're saying.


    I have perhaps ten dual layer Telarc SACD discs presently and would love to hear them in their native state.
    I'm not sure what you mean by "their native state." I do know that of those Telarc SACD remasters of older Soundstream originals, the CD's I replaced with the SACD's simply sound thin and flat by comparison to the remasters. There is a good deal more depth to the soundstage; a noticeable "sweetness" to the strings; decidedly more body and "throatiness" to the brass; and a huge improvement in bass response. I hope this was useful information. Also, to me, the pinnacle of such remasters is the Mahler 2nd, conducted by Leonard Slatkin. The CD originally sounded pretty good, but the SACD is just balls-out glorious by comparison.

  18. #18
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    I'm not sure what you mean by "their native state."
    The SACD layer.

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    I do know that of those Telarc SACD remasters of older Soundstream originals, the CD's I replaced with the SACD's simply sound thin and flat by comparison to the remasters.
    I would agree that mastering makes the greatest difference in the final product, regardless of the medium chosen.

    rw

  19. #19
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    If you want great CD sound of older remastered Cd's, take a listen to XRCD's. All the older recordings from the 60's and 70's that I have bought on XRCD's especially the XRCD24's are excellent. But you will pay out the nose for them, $25-35, well worth it for me.

    And I'll say it again. I'll put my Van Alstine DAC up ugainst the Marantz 8001/8003 any day. The sound is more dynamic, smoother, transparent with a huge sound stage and greater resolution and clarity compared to the Marantz units playing SACD. But as Emaidel pointed out, the DAC cost me $1700.
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  20. #20
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    If you want great CD sound of older remastered Cd's, take a listen to XRCD's. All the older recordings from the 60's and 70's that I have bought on XRCD's especially the XRCD24's are excellent. But you will pay out the nose for them, $25-35, well worth it for me.
    First I've heard of XRCD, can this play on any CD Player? How does it compare to HDCD?

    cheers,
    elapsed
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  21. #21
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    XRCD's can be played on any CDP. The XRCD24's are better than the original XRCD's.
    The problem with them are that they are more expensive than std Cd's and the titles are limited. They are better than HDCD and probably not as good as SACD on a good SACDP.

    Here's a sited describing them http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/XRCD

    And here are a few sites to buy them-


    http://www.elusivedisc.com/products.asp?dept=859

    http://www.eastwindimport.com/

    http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/...RCD/a/JVC+XRCD
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
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    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
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  22. #22
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Xrcd

    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    XRCD's can be played on any CDP. The XRCD24's are better than the original XRCD's.
    The problem with them are that they are more expensive than std Cd's and the titles are limited. They are better than HDCD and probably not as good as SACD on a good SACDP.

    Here's a sited describing them http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/XRCD

    ...
    XRCD is a mastering and manufacturing process that produces a standard Red Book CD. I haven't heard any XRCDs but if they are as good as you say, B/R, (and better than the excellent Reference Recordings HDCDs), then they are a tribute to the inherent capabilities of the RBCD medium.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    I'll put my Van Alstine DAC up ugainst the Marantz 8001/8003 any day. The sound is more dynamic, smoother, transparent with a huge sound stage and greater resolution and clarity compared to the Marantz units playing SACD. But as Emaidel pointed out, the DAC cost me $1700.
    AND, there's the cost of your CD player too. You once were using a Cambridge Audio unit that retailed for $1,400 - are you still using that? If so, the combination of the two is over $3,000. That's much too rich for my blood,as it's more than three times the price of either the 8001 or 8003. I guess a fairer comparison would be your Van Alstine DAC and your CDP put up against a similarly priced SACD player, but I have no idea which player that would be, but such a comparison would be interesting, no?

    I own two "Legacy" CD's I purchased back in the 90's that are gold in color, and have "SBM/Super Bit Mapping" written on their jackets. One is the jazz classic, "Time Out" by Dave Brubeck and the other is Santana's first album. As I recall, I paid about $25 for each of them. Both sound wonderful, and much, much better than their "standard, redbook" counterparts. Are these similar to the XR discs you're referring to?

  24. #24
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I sold the 840c and I am using my Music Hall for a transport. The 840c is selling for $1700 now. I sold mine for $950. I almost bought the VA SS DAC for $899 but the Hybrid had that unbelievable transparency and sound stage.

    XRCD's are different.
    Last edited by blackraven; 12-15-2008 at 03:53 PM.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
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    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  25. #25
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2 speakers
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    Naim NACA5 speaker cabling
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    Chord Crimson interconnects
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    Squeezebox 3
    Oppo DV-983H dvd player
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