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  1. #1
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    SACD/Surround Music Listenings and Impressions

    It's been over a month with my SACD player, and quite a period of discovery with the different discs that I've played through that player so far. My initial impressions about the SACD player itself were discussed on an earlier thread. In cases where I've compared the SACD version with versions on other formats, I've gotten different degrees of audible difference/improvement.

    So far though I'd have to say that the highlights of my SACD listenings have been with recordings originally done in DSD, and with multichannel remixes.

    SF Symphony - Mahler cycle (CD/SACD hybrids)
    As mentioned earlier, my primary motivation to get a SACD player (aside from needing to replace my CD changer) was to hear the SF Symphony's Mahler cycle in 5.1 surround. From both an artistic and technical standpoint, these recordings from the SFS are incredible. They are hybrid CD/SACDs that were originally recorded in DSD, so the SACD layers are basically a bit-for-bit rendering of the master recording. Even if you don't own a SACD player, the CD layers on these recordings sound great and really capture the SFS' masterful interpretations of Mahler. The SACD layer sounds cleaner and has a more relaxed yet detailed quality to it.

    But, IMO it's the multichannel tracks that truly take the listener inside of Davies Symphony Hall and up to the conductor's podium. These listenings alone justified getting the SACD player. The recordings really captured (for better or worse) the sound coming off the stage at Davies, and did not overemphasize the hall reverb (which is accurate to how the hall actually sounds). The mix might steer more of the instruments into the surround channels than some listeners might like, but it is accurate to where the mics were placed during the recorded performance that I attended.

    My understanding is that these Mahler CD/SACDs are limited editions, and they have only 3 more releases to go before completing the cycle. These recordings get my highest recommendation if you're at all curious about Mahler or want a good multichannel reference disc. I would start with Symphony #1, if you're new to Mahler. The 4th movement is especially powerful, and I think the playing was especially inspired because it was the SF Symphony's first concert after 9/11.

    Other Surround Music
    One of the advantages of surround music is that it requires going back to the original multitrack master, and allows for mixing to be done on high res digital decks without the signal loss that might have accompanied older analog recorders. Probably the best example of this is on the Concord Jazz label's two SACD compilations. I'm a long-time fan of that label, which has Dave Brubeck, Tania Maria, Diane Reeves, and the late Art Blakey as some of its many artists. They're also well known for their high production quality.

    With their SACD releases, Concord remixed the tracks in the DSD domain from the original multitrack masters, and the resulting surround mixes dramatically improved the sound quality in many cases. Tania Maria's "Come With Me" is one of my all-time favorite jazz vocal tracks, and the two-channel version creates a pretty good phantom center and spatiality. But, the 5.1 remix exposes just how much processing it took to create that phantom center and spatial cues. The surround version almost sounds like a different recording session, when it actuality, it simply spread the original tracks into five channels and probably eliminated a lot of processing that got added during the original two-channel mixdown. Editorially, some listeners might question steering instruments and vocals into the surround channels, but there's no denying the improvement that the new mix made with the sound quality.

    In addition to the Concord label, Telarc's Heads Up label also seems to have a lot very adventurous surround mixes in its lineup. Not all of the surround mixing works artistically, but a lot of the tracks were recorded in DSD and the sound quality is consistently high. The Jaco Pastorius Big Band's Word of Mouth Revisited album is a flat out smoker, with incredible soloing and bass guitar work.


    Three-channel SACD
    Another series of exciting SACD releases was the RCA Living Stereo series. Many recordings in this series along with the Mercury Presence releases were originally recorded to three-track master tapes. These releases repesent the first time that these three-track masters have been released to the public without any downmixing or other processing.

    To try this out, I got the 1959/61 Gershwin recording from Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. My initial impressions of the three-channel mix were mixed. Very clearly, the center image was much better anchored, and the overall soundstage seemed to have better definition. But, the two-channel mix had better spatiality and seemed to have more of a live presence about it. The three-channel mix sounded much better after I lowered my center speaker level by about 3 db. Both mixes had their attributes and advantages, but I think I generally preferred listening to the two-channel mix. I think that part of this might also come from the horizontal positioning of my center speaker. With three identical speakers up, my listening impressions might be different. This also might be reason why so many of the newer multichannel music mixes that I've heard, especially those of live performances, use the center channel very selectively and mix it at a lower level than the other four channels.

    Comparing SACD with CD and 96/24 discs
    In nearly all of my direct comparisons so far, the SACD layer generally has a more open, more detailed, yet more relaxed sound than the CD layers. As mentioned, the magnitude of difference definitely varies, indicating that other changes during the mastering process are probably at work here. The only listening where I did not hear a noticeable difference between the CD and SACD version was Miles Davis' In A Silent Way, which is an incredible performance but a bad recording. I was hoping that the SACD would breathe new life into that classic album, but it did not.

    The most interesting comparison I've done so far has been with the St. Louis Orchestra's 1975 compilation of Gershwin's piano and orchestra works, originally released on the Vox/Turnabout label. The 96/24 high res DVD version of this recording from Classic Records has been one of my references ever since I got it four years ago. This is a great recording and a great performance of Gershwin's piano and orchestral pieces. Classic Records' 96/24 transfers are generally meticulously done, with input from the original production team whenever possible.

    Yet, Mobile Fidelity's newer SACD version sounds noticeably better. With the two-channel layer, I did a direct comparison with the 96/24 disc, and the SACD version made the biggest improvement in the high horn registers, sounding very clean and well extended with all of the instruments.

    Curiously, I also felt that the CD layer sounded slightly better than the 96/24 disc, while still sounding noticeably more blunt in the highs than the SACD. This might indicate that much of the Mobile Fidelity version's sound quality comes from the playback rig that it uses during the mastering process rather than the SACD format itself (although the CD transfer is downsampled from the DSD transfer).

    And because the recording was originally mixed for quadrophonic release, the SACD also represents the first time that this recording has been heard in the true discrete 4.0 found on the master tape. This was a startling revelation in itself, because it really had an immersive "you are there" feel to it. The sense of space was conveyed at a much grander level than the two-channel version. I've never been to Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, so I can't verify for myself whether this represents a more realistic image, but from my vantage point, the surround mix is definitely more involving. I also thinking about repositioning my speakers so I can listen to this recording in the old "four corners" quad configuration for comparison. As much as I've liked the 96/24 version of this Gershwin recording, the SACD version opens up a new dimension of listening, and is another recording that I highly recommend.

    Another direct comparison that I did was with DTS 5.1 version of Steely Dan's Gaucho album. This was originally released as a DTS surround disc, and was Eliot Scheiner's first surround mix. (Scheiner has gone on to become the most sought after 5.1 remixer in the business, and his 5.1 mixes of Steely Dan's most recent albums and Donald F@gan's solo albums sound absolutely amazing) This album was jointly re-released in DVD-A and CD/SACD hybrid versions a couple of years ago, and it seems that the SACD version greatly improved upon the original DTS mix. Aside from a slight improvement in how well the channels blend into one another, the SACD mix just seems to have a more revealing sound. Since these transfers occurred at different times, again, other factors besides the SACD resolution might be at work here.

    Next up, I'm going to fire up some of my old vinyl versions and compare those with the SACD versions. That should be fun.
    Last edited by Woochifer; 01-19-2006 at 09:11 PM.
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  2. #2
    Forum Regular PAT.P's Avatar
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    Woochifer Good review ! I bought the Yamaha DVD-C750 after I read your first review.My two first SACD that I bought are Mozart Violin Sonatas 1781 and Smetana MA Vlast ( london Symphony Orchestra).I bought some Hosa CRA-201 Rca Plug to Plug for hook up for the multi-channel .Im still in the testing stage .I also bought a power conditioner for all hookup and for high power for the sub (not filter) this help a bit the sub.The sub before was set on receiver at 80hz for xover but with the multi-channel its at 120hz.Is yours set at this also?Is your player DVD player also ? how do you compare it to other dvd player.Thanks

  3. #3
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAT.P
    Woochifer Good review ! I bought the Yamaha DVD-C750 after I read your first review.My two first SACD that I bought are Mozart Violin Sonatas 1781 and Smetana MA Vlast ( london Symphony Orchestra).I bought some Hosa CRA-201 Rca Plug to Plug for hook up for the multi-channel .Im still in the testing stage .I also bought a power conditioner for all hookup and for high power for the sub (not filter) this help a bit the sub.The sub before was set on receiver at 80hz for xover but with the multi-channel its at 120hz.Is yours set at this also?Is your player DVD player also ? how do you compare it to other dvd player.Thanks
    My SACD player does not have a video section, it's strictly audio-only and basically the ES version of the $150 Sony CD/SACD changer that you can find at Best Buy. I bought it to replace a CD changer (it has a five-disc carousel), and I already have a Denon DVD player, so the video section was not needed.

    I use my SACD player without the crossover active. The bass management on the player is awful and I could never get the sound right. It sounds like the crossover is set to about 120 Hz or higher (the exact crossover point is not mentioned in any of Sony's documentation), which just did not sound right to me. I run everything at full range, and the only time that the subwoofer is active is when the LFE track is used. (Fortunately, a lot of surround mixes engage the LFE channel very actively) I would have preferred a decent bass management setting so that I could run all of the lower frequencies through my sub, because it's equalized to my room acoustics and extends the bass down past 25 Hz. These kinds of quibbles with the bass management had previously kept me from buying a universal player.

    The testing and experimenting part was a lot of fun, even though it was somewhat of a pain with how Sony did the level adjustments, and having to match everything with the receiver's levels used with DD and DTS decoding. Since I bought my SACD changer, I've been going on a disc buying binge and just enjoying the music. Only in the past couple of weeks have I started doing some comparison listenings, and that's really where some of my better SACDs have revealed audible improvements (such as with the Mobile Fidelity Gershwin disc).

    Have you had a chance to do any SACD v. DVD-A listenings yet? That would be interesting to hear how those versions compare, where applicable.
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  4. #4
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    Man, do you know what you're doing? You're encouraging every man here with perhaps only a thimble full of self-restraint to drool over the prospect of running out and buying an SACD player. Man, I attended Mahler's 5th at Disney Hall last fall and to hear you review the SFO's rendition is just too much. I need to be restrained! I need to bury my credit cards.

  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Wooch, glad you're enjoying M/C

    Muliti-channel definitely expands the listening experience in the case of good recordings. Your findings are very consistent with my own -- see my post of a while back ...
    Am I a multi-channel convert??

  6. #6
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    I bought one a year ago The Pioneer 563A and have a minimal collection at best..

    Including:

    diana Krall

    The Who II disc set

    Metallica

    Stevie Ray Vaughn

    Have you noticed Circuit City never really caught on to selling many discs and now Best Buy has eliminated them totally...

    Where do you purchase your discs? Online?
    I would like to add to the collection but it seems as though the technology is not going to make it. Maybe because of Blue Ray and HD DVD????
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  7. #7
    Forum Regular BinFrog's Avatar
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    I have the SACD/DVD-A bug and there's no turning back. I just wish both formats weren't at a standstill right now. I have all of the titles I am interested in that are available, with a few exceptions.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular PAT.P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    My SACD player does not have a video section, it's strictly audio-only and basically the ES version of the $150 Sony CD/SACD changer that you can find at Best Buy. I bought it to replace a CD changer (it has a five-disc carousel), and I already have a Denon DVD player, so the video section was not needed.

    I use my SACD player without the crossover active. The bass management on the player is awful and I could never get the sound right. It sounds like the crossover is set to about 120 Hz or higher (the exact crossover point is not mentioned in any of Sony's documentation), which just did not sound right to me. I run everything at full range, and the only time that the subwoofer is active is when the LFE track is used. (Fortunately, a lot of surround mixes engage the LFE channel very actively) I would have preferred a decent bass management setting so that I could run all of the lower frequencies through my sub, because it's equalized to my room acoustics and extends the bass down past 25 Hz. These kinds of quibbles with the bass management had previously kept me from buying a universal player.

    The testing and experimenting part was a lot of fun, even though it was somewhat of a pain with how Sony did the level adjustments, and having to match everything with the receiver's levels used with DD and DTS decoding. Since I bought my SACD changer, I've been going on a disc buying binge and just enjoying the music. Only in the past couple of weeks have I started doing some comparison listenings, and that's really where some of my better SACDs have revealed audible improvements (such as with the Mobile Fidelity Gershwin disc).

    Have you had a chance to do any SACD v. DVD-A listenings yet? That would be interesting to hear how those versions compare, where applicable.
    I do have 4 dvd player ,and left the JVC still intact on system (wife use this one when I not home) she likes to listen music in stereo .Bought the Yamaha at a great price around Xmas from an audio store that supply my toys and always gives me a layaway .The reviews were good for the multi-channel and for the over-all audio/video format.BTW is the SACD format better than DVD-A .Any body here make any test on these formats?

  9. #9
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    My SACD player does not have a video section, it's strictly audio-only and basically the ES version of the $150 Sony CD/SACD changer that you can find at Best Buy. I bought it to replace a CD changer (it has a five-disc carousel), and I already have a Denon DVD player, so the video section was not needed.

    I use my SACD player without the crossover active. The bass management on the player is awful and I could never get the sound right. It sounds like the crossover is set to about 120 Hz or higher (the exact crossover point is not mentioned in any of Sony's documentation), which just did not sound right to me. I run everything at full range, and the only time that the subwoofer is active is when the LFE track is used. (Fortunately, a lot of surround mixes engage the LFE channel very actively) I would have preferred a decent bass management setting so that I could run all of the lower frequencies through my sub, because it's equalized to my room acoustics and extends the bass down past 25 Hz. These kinds of quibbles with the bass management had previously kept me from buying a universal player.

    The testing and experimenting part was a lot of fun, even though it was somewhat of a pain with how Sony did the level adjustments, and having to match everything with the receiver's levels used with DD and DTS decoding. Since I bought my SACD changer, I've been going on a disc buying binge and just enjoying the music. Only in the past couple of weeks have I started doing some comparison listenings, and that's really where some of my better SACDs have revealed audible improvements (such as with the Mobile Fidelity Gershwin disc).

    Have you had a chance to do any SACD v. DVD-A listenings yet? That would be interesting to hear how those versions compare, where applicable.
    And i've been going back and forth between dig and analogs with my DTS Discs not being able to decide which way sounds better. I a real test to the hearing. After listening to cds,switching to something like the Police SACD,its just so tight and clear and more lifelike. Kinda like its being thrown in your face. I'm really enjoying the DTS of PT,Don Henley, Donald ***an nighrfly. I think i'm off to Fry's this weekend to look for some SACD.
    Look & Listen

  10. #10
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    Thanks Wooch! I've been eying the Mahler's. Do you have some picks from the cycle for adventuresome tastes?

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul_pci
    Man, do you know what you're doing? You're encouraging every man here with perhaps only a thimble full of self-restraint to drool over the prospect of running out and buying an SACD player. Man, I attended Mahler's 5th at Disney Hall last fall and to hear you review the SFO's rendition is just too much. I need to be restrained! I need to bury my credit cards.
    Yeah, I know I'm evil! But, so long as you're still $150 under your limit, you got enough budget to go SACD with that Sony SCD-CE595, which uses the same Burr-Brown DSD-1791 DAC as the ES version that I have (and is also used on Denon's universal players).

    For me, the big trigger was when I started buying the SF Symphony's Mahler discs. The CD layers on those discs already sounded incredible, and then I saw their recording session performance of Mahler's 5th in the fall. (The CD/SACD of that performance is due out in the spring) At that point, I knew I had to hear the surround mixes!

    In lieu of burying your credit cards, just listen to me carefully. If you want to avoid the dilemma of buying a SACD player, DON'T BUY THE SF SYMPHONY MAHLER DISCS! What you don't know won't hurt you! There, now I've done my good deed for the day!

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Muliti-channel definitely expands the listening experience in the case of good recordings. Your findings are very consistent with my own -- see my post of a while back ...
    Am I a multi-channel convert??
    Good obversations on your part (and conveyed a lot more concisely than I just did!), well worth reading as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by gorilla196635
    Have you noticed Circuit City never really caught on to selling many discs and now Best Buy has eliminated them totally...

    Where do you purchase your discs? Online?
    I would like to add to the collection but it seems as though the technology is not going to make it. Maybe because of Blue Ray and HD DVD????
    Actually, I bought a lot my SACDs at Best Buy. They have not eliminated the format, but their high res sections at the stores in my area have not been restocked in a long time and I doubt that they will be. Too bad because their SACD prices were the lowest. (e.g. The Police SACDs cost only $12, while most other major label SACD releases sold for $15 or less)

    Otherwise, I've been thumbing through the SACD bins at Fry's and Tower Records. Tower was the first retailer to carry SACD and has probably stocked the best selection, but they too seem to have dialed back their SACD selection. For one thing, they no longer have a separate SACD section, and now place the SACDs in the same bins with the CDs. Only with classical titles do they still separate the SACDs.

    I plan on going over to Amoeba Music soon to locate some additional titles. They took a while before they started stocking SACD and DVD-A, but they went deep catalog on both formats and I've found a lot of obscure high res discs there in the past.

    Quote Originally Posted by BinFrog
    I have the SACD/DVD-A bug and there's no turning back. I just wish both formats weren't at a standstill right now. I have all of the titles I am interested in that are available, with a few exceptions.
    From a major label POV, the formats are basically dead. But, with independent labels (Concord Music Group in particular, in addition to owning the Fantasy, Prestige, and Concord labels, they just acquired Telarc International), they are still moving ahead with issuing CD/SACD hybrid releases. And I think that trend will hold true with these specialty labels. Mostly good news if you're into jazz and classical, but not so good news if you're still waiting on high res multichannel versions of your favorite pop, rock, and hip-hop albums.

    DualDisc has already been well received in the market, and will get some additional multichannel mixes into the market. But, most of those 5.1 mixes will unfortunately be in the compressed DD format.

    Quote Originally Posted by noddin0ff
    Thanks Wooch! I've been eying the Mahler's. Do you have some picks from the cycle for adventuresome tastes?
    Mahler's 7th is a mysterious and elusive piece, so it probably qualifies for adventuresome. But, this was probably not the SFS' strongest performance in this cycle. Among the ones I've bought so far, I think their performance of the 6th is another very high caliber stunner. (I made a mistake earlier -- THIS was actually the perfomance that they did immediately after 9/11) This disc won the 2003 Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance, while the SFS recording of Mahler's 3rd repeated that feat in 2004.
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    Sony UBP-X800
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  12. #12
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    Denon 2910 on the way!!!!

    I have a Denon 2910 on order, got it for an excellent price. Cant wait to listen to SACD on my new Von Schweikert VR1's!!!

    I have the Peter Gabriel catalog in SACD on its way, and already a couple Police sacds.

    Cant wait!!

  13. #13
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Yeah, I know I'm evil! But, so long as you're still $150 under your limit, you got enough budget to go SACD with that Sony SCD-CE595, which uses the same Burr-Brown DSD-1791 DAC as the ES version that I have (and is also used on Denon's universal players).

    For me, the big trigger was when I started buying the SF Symphony's Mahler discs. The CD layers on those discs already sounded incredible, and then I saw their recording session performance of Mahler's 5th in the fall. (The CD/SACD of that performance is due out in the spring) At that point, I knew I had to hear the surround mixes!

    In lieu of burying your credit cards, just listen to me carefully. If you want to avoid the dilemma of buying a SACD player, DON'T BUY THE SF SYMPHONY MAHLER DISCS! What you don't know won't hurt you! There, now I've done my good deed for the day!



    Good obversations on your part (and conveyed a lot more concisely than I just did!), well worth reading as well.



    Actually, I bought a lot my SACDs at Best Buy. They have not eliminated the format, but their high res sections at the stores in my area have not been restocked in a long time and I doubt that they will be. Too bad because their SACD prices were the lowest. (e.g. The Police SACDs cost only $12, while most other major label SACD releases sold for $15 or less)

    Otherwise, I've been thumbing through the SACD bins at Fry's and Tower Records. Tower was the first retailer to carry SACD and has probably stocked the best selection, but they too seem to have dialed back their SACD selection. For one thing, they no longer have a separate SACD section, and now place the SACDs in the same bins with the CDs. Only with classical titles do they still separate the SACDs.

    I plan on going over to Amoeba Music soon to locate some additional titles. They took a while before they started stocking SACD and DVD-A, but they went deep catalog on both formats and I've found a lot of obscure high res discs there in the past.



    From a major label POV, the formats are basically dead. But, with independent labels (Concord Music Group in particular, in addition to owning the Fantasy, Prestige, and Concord labels, they just acquired Telarc International), they are still moving ahead with issuing CD/SACD hybrid releases. And I think that trend will hold true with these specialty labels. Mostly good news if you're into jazz and classical, but not so good news if you're still waiting on high res multichannel versions of your favorite pop, rock, and hip-hop albums.

    DualDisc has already been well received in the market, and will get some additional multichannel mixes into the market. But, most of those 5.1 mixes will unfortunately be in the compressed DD format.



    Mahler's 7th is a mysterious and elusive piece, so it probably qualifies for adventuresome. But, this was probably not the SFS' strongest performance in this cycle. Among the ones I've bought so far, I think their performance of the 6th is another very high caliber stunner. (I made a mistake earlier -- THIS was actually the perfomance that they did immediately after 9/11) This disc won the 2003 Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance, while the SFS recording of Mahler's 3rd repeated that feat in 2004.
    BB just mixes in the reg and multi-channal together now.
    Look & Listen

  14. #14
    AR Maniac
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    Supicious.

    Last time I went to Best Buy they told me they will not be carrying them anymore and had none even on clearance...
    Oh well. Hopefully online.
    I do want to sample some symphony stuff.
    I will try what you suggest not to on the count of addiction
    Thanks Woochifer..
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  15. #15
    PDK
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    Thanks for the excellent review. I will look for several of those to broaden my collection and musical horizons. I've had the functionality for a couple years but have only recently started buying SACDs. Where I'm now living, BestBuy is the only place they are available locally. The stocks are pretty thin- what was several dozen titles a few weeks ago is down to about a dozen now. However, two that I bought yesterday were very inexpensive ($12 or $13) and had been re-priced down. I remembered them being a few dollars more when I first began considering SACD. When I peeled the pricetag off the Police's Regatta DeBlanc, I noticed that it was covering one that was a few dollars more. Same for Thelonius Monk's Straight, No Chaser. In fact, I bought it because it was cheaper than I remembered it being- I have no knowledge of TM so this disc will be my introduction to him.

    As far as comparing CD to SACD versions, this is something that I have not yet tried. I have several (Oasis, Police, Krall, Steely Dan, Gary Numan) that I will be flipping between to compare but simply haven't had the time- yet.

  16. #16
    Forum Regular PAT.P's Avatar
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    Talk to a few people at BB in Ottawa today that owned a player.They say comparing the DVD-A and SACD that they rather buy the SACD for the music part of a multi-channel.They said the music is more clear and imaging.

  17. #17
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duds
    I have a Denon 2910 on order, got it for an excellent price. Cant wait to listen to SACD on my new Von Schweikert VR1's!!!

    I have the Peter Gabriel catalog in SACD on its way, and already a couple Police sacds.

    Cant wait!!
    I thought about going with the Denon as well, but with a list price of $650, it just didn't seem worthwhile to me considering that I don't yet have a TV that can take advantage of the progressive scan and HDMI output on that player.

    I haven't heard any of the Peter Gabriel SACDs yet, so it would be interesting to hear about them. I got two of the Police SACDs and was disappointed by the sound quality of the Synchronicity disc. It had a harsh edge to some of the songs that I don't recall ever hearing on my vinyl copy. I also read that the 5.1 remixes done as part of the CD/SACD hybrid Every Breath You Take greatest hits compilation were disappointing with how the surround effect was created.

    It's a shame that these great albums were mostly released as two-channel SACDs with no CD-compatible layer. Peter Gabriel in particular has been very enthusiastic about 5.1, and his Play: The Videos DVD features some stunning surround remixes encoded in DTS 96/24. Would love to hear how these might sound in SACD.

    Since you're going with a universal player, keep in mind that most of the pop/rock 5.1 remixes came out in the DVD-A format. IMO, the multichannel aspect of both SACD and DVD-A is what can bring out a totally new dimension to your listening, and even if you don't care one way or another about the surround mixing, there's always the potential for much improved sound quality, as I discussed earlier.

    Quote Originally Posted by gorilla196635
    Last time I went to Best Buy they told me they will not be carrying them anymore and had none even on clearance...
    Oh well. Hopefully online.
    I do want to sample some symphony stuff.
    I will try what you suggest not to on the count of addiction
    Thanks Woochifer..
    That would make sense, since I've only seen the high res disc sections at BB continue to shrink for about the last year. If you're looking into classical and/or jazz, Borders has been stocking a lot of CD/SACD hybrid discs. I have not seen any single-layer SACD-only discs, so that eliminates a lot of titles. But, you might want to peruse around the bins at Borders because there are plenty of SACDs in there if you look carefully. A few weeks ago, I found a surround copy of Beethoven's 5th and 7th (the Kleiber edition that kexodusc recommended) on Deutsche Grammaphone (very much worth looking into -- a forward presentation with an aggressive and dynamic sound). They also carry the SF Symphony's Mahler discs ... not that I'm pushing that on you or anything like that!

    Quote Originally Posted by PDK
    Thanks for the excellent review. I will look for several of those to broaden my collection and musical horizons. I've had the functionality for a couple years but have only recently started buying SACDs. Where I'm now living, BestBuy is the only place they are available locally. The stocks are pretty thin- what was several dozen titles a few weeks ago is down to about a dozen now. However, two that I bought yesterday were very inexpensive ($12 or $13) and had been re-priced down. I remembered them being a few dollars more when I first began considering SACD. When I peeled the pricetag off the Police's Regatta DeBlanc, I noticed that it was covering one that was a few dollars more. Same for Thelonius Monk's Straight, No Chaser. In fact, I bought it because it was cheaper than I remembered it being- I have no knowledge of TM so this disc will be my introduction to him.

    As far as comparing CD to SACD versions, this is something that I have not yet tried. I have several (Oasis, Police, Krall, Steely Dan, Gary Numan) that I will be flipping between to compare but simply haven't had the time- yet.
    I can think of MANY blind buys worse than Monk's Straight No Chaser! You're perfectly fine with that buy. Monk's got a unique playing style, with an incredibly intuitive and unorthodox way of improvising. His stuff on Columbia is more polished, but his wealth of material on the Riverside/Fantasy label features Monk in his developmental stage, and is worth exploring if you want to get more into his earlier work before people started annointing him as a genius/master jazz player (early in his career, his style was often mistaken for lack of talent).

    Some of these SACD/CD comparisons can reveal some striking contrasts in sound quality. As I mentioned, I'm not sure how much of these differences you can attribute strictly to the higher resolution. But,the bottomline improvement in sound quality is very evident in a lot of cases.

    Quote Originally Posted by PAT.D
    Talk to a few people at BB in Ottawa today that owned a player.They say comparing the DVD-A and SACD that they rather buy the SACD for the music part of a multi-channel.They said the music is more clear and imaging.
    Well, in my case that would be a no-brainer since I don't have a DVD-A player! But, I'm not so sure how much the DVD-A vs. SACD arguments matter since so few titles are available in both formats. Pretty much anything that improves the sound quality and provides new opportunities for multichannel listening is worthwhile to me.

    BTW, top-flight recording/remixing engineer Eliot Scheiner and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig have both said in interviews that they prefer working in high res PCM (DVD-A) over DSD (SACD). These are two of the premier board maestros in the recording industry, so I think the format debate is still very much open.
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  18. #18
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    I'm lucky enough to enjoy the DTS on DVD-A Discs. Not Hi Res but to me, they sound just about as good, just not that pin point that Hi Res has. I figure i'll just keep buying DVD-A for the DTS on them and someday if i get a DVD-A player,its all new stuff again. When i had a player that played both,DVD-A and SACD,i just couldnt tell a difference. Biggest difference is bad mixes. The Police isnt that great but i like the Police so much i dont care. LOL The Doors LA Women is a bad one for sure.
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    Forum Regular PAT.P's Avatar
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    Woochifer I took your feedback on Sacd and bought Mahler symphony # 1 by San Francisco Symphony .Maybe we should start a site for Sacd available in classical .This is a new name for me ,cant wait to listen alone in a relax mood.

  20. #20
    Audiophile Wireworm5's Avatar
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    I'm have a few sacd's as well. If your into classical there is lots of that type of music. You'll have a harder time finding rock and pop recordings. I just about bought the best of Rory Gallagher recently on sacd, but the price tag was too high. I will probably by it next month if its still at the store.
    I've compared sacd with dts and cd using DSOTM as the test disc. With sacd however I didn't use the multi-channel inputs but routed it through the vcr input so that I could compare them equally to the other formats in multi-channel stereo mode.
    At average listening volume if you are like me, you are not likely to hear the benifits of sacd over cd. And on a less revealing system you definitely won't think anything special and might prefer the cd recording. However on a revealing system where sacd shines is when played loud above what most would consider normal listening level. At this level sacd exhibit no distortion, and is very dynamic. Once you have experienced this you will be spoiled by sacd forever. DTS is just as good, I would not say it is worse just that it is a matter of preverance. With DTS the treble region is more prominent, but does not have the same depth to bass freq. as sacd. When playing a cd at these same above average listening levels it will sound harsh and exhibit distortion if you try to match sacd and dts at these high decibel levels. And the thing is the sacd is so smooth it doesn't seem loud at these above average levels.

  21. #21
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    I'm lucky enough to enjoy the DTS on DVD-A Discs. Not Hi Res but to me, they sound just about as good, just not that pin point that Hi Res has. I figure i'll just keep buying DVD-A for the DTS on them and someday if i get a DVD-A player,its all new stuff again. When i had a player that played both,DVD-A and SACD,i just couldnt tell a difference. Biggest difference is bad mixes. The Police isnt that great but i like the Police so much i dont care. LOL The Doors LA Women is a bad one for sure.
    That's exactly what I've been doing. The DTS tracks on these DVD-As are often very well done, and sound quite good in their own right. Sir Terrence has indicated in the past that full bitrate DTS can be almost indistinguishable from the print master, and many of the DVD-A discs out there include full bitrate DTS tracks on the DVD video layer.

    I only bought a SACD player because in order to hear multichannel with those discs, you need a SACD player.

    Quote Originally Posted by PAT.P
    Woochifer I took your feedback on Sacd and bought Mahler symphony # 1 by San Francisco Symphony .Maybe we should start a site for Sacd available in classical .This is a new name for me ,cant wait to listen alone in a relax mood.
    Hope you enjoy it! Mahler's definitely one of the more challenging composers out there. I suggested Symphony No. 1 because it's probably Mahler's most accessible piece. The complexity with some of his other work such as Symphony No. 8 (often called the "symphony of a thousand" because the full arrangement actually requires close to 1,000 musicians and singers) can border on lunacy. The SF Symphony Mahler series is impressive because of the high caliber with both the playing and recording quality. I especially enjoy the series because of how well it recreates how the orchestra actually sounds inside of Davies Symphony Hall, flaws and all. I go there a few times every year, and it's not a warm and reverberant sounding place, and the recording does not try to make it sound like one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wireworm5
    At average listening volume if you are like me, you are not likely to hear the benifits of sacd over cd. And on a less revealing system you definitely won't think anything special and might prefer the cd recording. However on a revealing system where sacd shines is when played loud above what most would consider normal listening level. At this level sacd exhibit no distortion, and is very dynamic. Once you have experienced this you will be spoiled by sacd forever. DTS is just as good, I would not say it is worse just that it is a matter of preverance. With DTS the treble region is more prominent, but does not have the same depth to bass freq. as sacd. When playing a cd at these same above average listening levels it will sound harsh and exhibit distortion if you try to match sacd and dts at these high decibel levels. And the thing is the sacd is so smooth it doesn't seem loud at these above average levels.
    I think a lot of it depends on how the transfer was done as well. As I noted in my comparison of the Mobile Fidelity CD/SACD and Classic 96/24 Gershwin discs, the CD layer can sound better than a 96/24 disc with a high quality transfer (and I already thought that the Classic 96/24 was a very good sounding disc).

    I think you're right about how SACD sounds at higher levels. It retains a relaxed yet highly detailed sound at high volumes without sounding harsh. Hard to describe, but the best SACDs I've heard, particularly the DSD-recorded ones, just have a more natural quality about ithem.

    DTS (at least the music discs that feature 1.5k bitrate DTS) is surprisingly good, considering how much compression it uses. I did another listening today comparing Steely Dan's Gaucho DTS disc with the SACD. In my first listening, I neglected to turn off the bass management and compensate for the higher LFE levels typically encoded into the early DTS 5.1 CDs. In a more comparable level matched listening, the DTS and SACD tracks sound more similar than before. The SACD still sounds like it lifts a veil off of the highs, and has more coherent imaging. But, I must say that the DTS track makes a very good showing for itself.
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    Forum Regular PAT.P's Avatar
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    Wooch Had listen to 10 minute so far of Mahler (Its movie night and wife and friend are upstair enjoying my HT) They had up to Symphony # 9 in this series.How many is there? They should of done a box set.Its funny the price is all in dif range.Would cost a good amount of cash $$ to have them all.So far for what I listen its fills so real ,the instruments all come to life.Im running the full multi-channel with all speakers at large and A/B for front on my receiver .Need my quiet time to listen to this without the family talking away.To you own all of them BTW.

  23. #23
    His and Her Room! westcott's Avatar
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    Cool

    I just wanted to say that one must be very careful not to damage your speakers by sending full range signals to your speakers unless you know what you are doing.(that includes the subwoofer!)

    As Wooch said, having to use the analog outs on his player and bypassing the bass management can expose you to these hazards.

    There are very few players that will pass a digital signal via the reciever and provide bass management. This severly compromised the capability of either of these formats. I think Wooch has in a round about way pointed out that sound quality is really more a function of the quality of the recording than the format it was recorded to.

    Here are a couple of links I think will clarify these hazards.
    They can be overcome but do exercise caution.

    http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/...udioSACD12.php

    http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/...AudioSACD2.php

  24. #24
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAT.P
    Wooch Had listen to 10 minute so far of Mahler (Its movie night and wife and friend are upstair enjoying my HT) They had up to Symphony # 9 in this series.How many is there? They should of done a box set.Its funny the price is all in dif range.Would cost a good amount of cash $$ to have them all.So far for what I listen its fills so real ,the instruments all come to life.Im running the full multi-channel with all speakers at large and A/B for front on my receiver .Need my quiet time to listen to this without the family talking away.To you own all of them BTW.
    Actually, the SF Symphony's not done with the Mahler cycle yet. To date, they've recorded 8 of the 9 complete Mahler symphonies. Symphony No. 5 was recorded last fall and due out on CD/SACD in the spring. The SFS has not yet recorded Symphony No. 8 ("The Symphony of a Thousand"), and I'm not sure when the recording session will occur. The SFS will perform Symphony No. 8 in June at Davies Hall, and I already have my tickets to one of those performances -- not sure if those concerts will be recorded for CD/SACD.

    I've bought 4 of the Mahler discs so far. Still need to get Nos. 3, 4, and 9. The prices differ because some of them are two-disc sets.

    Quote Originally Posted by westcott
    I just wanted to say that one must be very careful not to damage your speakers by sending full range signals to your speakers unless you know what you are doing.(that includes the subwoofer!)

    As Wooch said, having to use the analog outs on his player and bypassing the bass management can expose you to these hazards.

    There are very few players that will pass a digital signal via the reciever and provide bass management. This severly compromised the capability of either of these formats.
    I agree with you about exercising some discretion about running full range signals through speakers not capable of handling lower frequencies. But, on the bass management front, you should check up on the more recent models The majority of DVD-A, SACD, and universal players CURRENTLY available have some sort of bass management on board. Nowadays, even the entry level universal and SACD players come with bass management, so I don't think the "hazards" of running a multichannel DVD-A/SACD player through the analog outs are any different than with any HT receiver.

    My issue with the bass management on my SACD player is with the choice of crossover point used on that player. Too high for my purposes, but fine for anyone with a set of speakers small enough to be damaged by running signals at full range. Newer universal players have begun setting the SACD crossover point at the same 80 Hz frequency that's been used by DVD-A players (the ones that come with bass management) from the beginning.

    Quote Originally Posted by westcott
    I think Wooch has in a round about way pointed out that sound quality is really more a function of the quality of the recording than the format it was recorded to.
    Well, I think there are many causal factors at work that affect sound quality. I don't have access to original masters to make comparisons for myself, so I was not trying draw any conclusions as to which factor is more important than another. My examples were more specific to the discs that I was comparing.

    Quote Originally Posted by westcott
    Here are a couple of links I think will clarify these hazards.
    They can be overcome but do exercise caution.

    http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/...udioSACD12.php

    http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/...AudioSACD2.php
    While there's a lot of good information in those links, much of it is very outdated (the article actually dates back to 2002). The author clearly has an axe to grind with the RIAA for imposing copy protection restrictions on the digital outputs for SACD and DVD-A. That carries over to his assessment of the formats, which I think balances out the hype that often accompanies the high res formats, but in the end is still biased. While the copy protections on board DVD-A and SACD are an inconvenience to consumers, it does not diminish the tangible improvement in sound quality that most of the high res discs I've heard offer over the previous CD versions.
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  25. #25
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by westcott
    I just wanted to say that one must be very careful not to damage your speakers by sending full range signals to your speakers unless you know what you are doing.(that includes the subwoofer!)

    As Wooch said, having to use the analog outs on his player and bypassing the bass management can expose you to these hazards.

    There are very few players that will pass a digital signal via the reciever and provide bass management. This severly compromised the capability of either of these formats. I think Wooch has in a round about way pointed out that sound quality is really more a function of the quality of the recording than the format it was recorded to.

    Here are a couple of links I think will clarify these hazards.
    They can be overcome but do exercise caution.

    http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/...udioSACD12.php

    http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/...AudioSACD2.php
    So you think a cd,a DTS Music Disc and a SACD will sound about the same on a good receiver and player?
    Look & Listen

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