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Is 2-channel SACD noticeably better than CD?


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#1 of 63 Donald_Spry

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Posted February 14 2003 - 11:20 AM

Is 2-channel SACD's noticeably better than a regular CD through Mid-Fi components. Lets say Paradigm 40's, Kef Q-series, or Von Schweikert VR-1's and NAD power?

Or is the 5.1 versions the only worth-wild purchases? I have just picked up a SACD player and have it my bedroom's 2-Channel setup. I would prefer to keep the 2-channel setup for space reasons, but is the 5.1 experience the true reason for SACD?

I am not sure I have any discernible logic here. Hopefully you guys can help.

Thanks,
DJ

#2 of 63 Philip Hamm

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Posted February 14 2003 - 12:45 PM

Why don't you pick up a hybrid stereo SACD and decide for yourself! They're not that expensive, and the CD layer will be usable in most CD players.
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#3 of 63 Donald_Spry

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Posted February 14 2003 - 01:11 PM

I have already ordered a SACD. I am wondering if I should start saving for more speakers!

I was hoping to actually get some other peoples thoughts on the difference in sound qualities.

DJ

#4 of 63 Jeff Keene

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Posted February 14 2003 - 01:22 PM

Well, I can give you my opinion.

1) There is no such animal as "mid-fi", and if there was I wouldn't consider your equipment to be so. Sounds to me like you have a nice stereo.

2) The difference between 2-ch SACD and regular CD's is not subtle or small. It isn't something you need $10k in equipment to recognize. It is there immediately, and over the long term. Barring a piss-poor recording on SACD (which I haven't heard yet) SACD will be an improvement over CD. Period.

3) Multi-channel vs. Stereo is a 'nother argument. Multi-channel music can range from beautiful to neato to gimmicky, depending on the mix and the artist's original intent. It also depends on what you are looking for. There are far more stereo SACD's than M/C, as it should be in my opinion. Some multi-channel productions, such as Alison Krauss + U.S. - New Favorite and Beck - Sea Change are phenomenal. But don't add 3 speakers just because you think you should.

My three cents.

#5 of 63 Donald_Spry

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Posted February 14 2003 - 01:44 PM

Jeff,
That is what I was hoping to hear. Believe it or not, the SACD I have on order is the Alison Krauss- Forget About It. I almost got a Beck as well. I saw him on Austin City Limits- very good.

I was afraid to consider my stereo as a hi-end based on some of the equipment/systems I read from the other members here- but I LOVE my HT! I am debating on replacing my KEF Q3's w/ Von Schweikert VR-1's or JM Reynaud TWIN MK 3's for a pure 2channel.

Thanks again,
DJ

#6 of 63 Rachael B

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Posted February 14 2003 - 02:44 PM

Donald, if you want to get some near reference discs try Krauss' NEW FAVORITE and absolutely get Jorma Kaukonen's BLUE COUNTRY HEART. On a certain level, it's kinda funny that you don't fully trust you're rather nice stereo!Posted Image Which player have you chosen, BTW? I prefer stereo SACD not because I thnk it sounds better or anything like that. I'm not any kind of stereo purist, for sure! It's just that I spend so much time sitting between 5.1 speakers watching DVD's and LD's that I've decided I like my SACD in my stereo system in my playroom. I don't want to spend all my time on the sofa in my theatre.

I like M/C SACD and I'll get it again in my theatre again when I buy my next DVD player. Hopefully, I'll find a Universal player that suits me eventally. No worries mate! SACD's sound good any way you play them. Best wishes!Posted Image
Rachael, the big disc cat is in real life Dot Mongur, Champion of the International Pacman Federation. You better be ready to rumble if you play Jr. Pacman with me. This is full contact Pacman and I don't just play the game, I operate it!


#7 of 63 Jeff Keene

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Posted February 14 2003 - 07:12 PM

I honestly have yet to hear the Beck in stereo, but I have some faith in it. For one, the CD is a good'un. For two, the multi-channel is so good, they would almost have to be trying to make the stereo not so good (how's that for 1am logic?).

Oh yeah, the music is great too, if it perhaps presents a smaller musical scope than a couple of his other albums. If you like slower and moody (I do) with enough details to keep one interested (indeed I do), I think you'll like it. Several sing-along hooks, too, if you're me.

Then later, if you just want him to lighten up, get the funk on and switch from Prince-style Rhythm and Blues to... what is that? some sort of sick Bluegrass?... get Midnite Vultures. But it's a (shudder) CD.

Or Rachael might tell you it's a record Posted Image

#8 of 63 Lee Scoggins

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Posted February 15 2003 - 01:08 AM

Quote:
I honestly have yet to hear the Beck in stereo


I have been listening a lot to Beck's Sea Chnages in Super Audio and I must say it is one of my more popular demo discs. The recording is very clean and the overall sonics are very high. I have to say out of around 200 SACDs I own, this is one of the top five pop albums I have and probably in the top 30 sonically. It sounds good in either stereo of Multi-channel.

Quote:
There is no such animal as "mid-fi"


Actually I think there is. Audiophiles refer to more popular brands in this fashion because often the better sounding gear is from smaller companies that may not (some do) advertise as much as say Bose or Monster Cable.

Fortunately, you are doing the right names at this price point. I have particular experience with Paradigm speakers and NAD receivers and they sound great. I find KEF and Von Schweickert to be hit or miss depending on the model.

With this type of system, you will definitely notice a nice step up with Super Audio. I once plugged in my Sony SACD player into a boom box that took RCA inputs (talk about slumming!) and it made a big difference.

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#9 of 63 Dan Joy

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Posted February 15 2003 - 01:59 AM

Quote:
Is 2-channel SACD's noticeably better than a regular CD through Mid-Fi components.


Donald,

I think this really depends on the source decoding! To listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn "Tin PanAlley" on "Couldn't Stand the Weather" sends shivers down my spine. However, "Journeys Greatest Hits" will probably never be heard again on my systemPosted Image

Do a search, find some recommended sacds (Rachel gave 2 great suggestions)and listen.
GO BLACKHAWKS !!!

#10 of 63 Jeff Keene

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Posted February 15 2003 - 04:03 AM

Quote:
Actually I think there is. Audiophiles refer to more popular brands in this fashion because often the better sounding gear is from smaller companies that may not (some do) advertise as much as say Bose or Monster Cable.


Audiophiles say it, so it must be true! Posted Image

For the record, I know what DJ meant. I think a better description might be "mid-end", but you can chalk that up to my own semantic gaps. Hi-fi is a pretty specific term.

The main reason I shy away from terms such as "mid-xx" is that they serve little purpose other than to make one feel that their system isn't a "real" stereo. While price / performance . brand / etc. can by no means be measured on a linear scale, it is indeed continuous. One man's hi-end is going to be below someone else's "standards".

It can be intimidating to pop your head into a "audiophile" discussion if you're not willing to spend more on your stereo than your car*. My point was simply to validate DJ's system. It is my opinion that it's plenty good to reveal the better sound of a hi-res source.

* My solution has always been to just buy a better car Posted Image

#11 of 63 Mike Broadman

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Posted February 15 2003 - 04:19 AM

Definitely a big improvement in sound with SACD over CD. Even the most militant DVD-Aers will attest to that.

I also have a mid-fi system, including a NAD receiver, and I hear it clearly.

I still need to get that Beck disc.

NP: Miles Davis, Live in Montreal, DVD

#12 of 63 Justin Lane

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Posted February 15 2003 - 04:43 AM

I would say you will be OK with a stereo only SACD system just due to the fact that there are more stereo only discs being released today then those with stereo and multichannel. I have found noticeable improvements over the redbook counterparts in most cases. Give a few a listen and let us know what you think.

Quote:
I would prefer to keep the 2-channel setup for space reasons, but is the 5.1 experience the true reason for SACD?


Yes and no. I think 5.1 is probably the future of music, but at this point there is not enough 5.1 material on SACD to invest in the 3 extra speakers and a sub for a proper setup if you aren't already capable. Down the road this may change, as I think Sony themselves have recognized 5.1 is important by re-releasing quite a few of their original stereo only SACD. Time will tell.

J

#13 of 63 Donald_Spry

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Posted February 15 2003 - 05:07 AM

Rachael,
I just picked up a Sony DVP-NS500V player from the Hardware FS forum. Also, I checked out your website. Your show looks hilarious!

Jeff,
I think you hit it right on the head with your last post. That is what I was trying to get across.

Justin,
Quote:
Yes and no. I think 5.1 is probably the future of music, but at this point there is not enough 5.1 material on SACD to invest in the 3 extra speakers and a sub for a proper setup if you aren't already capable.


Very good point. I think I will save my money and upgrade something else! Or just mass a large collection of SACD's!

Also,where does everyone buy their SACD's. I did a search and found some nice websites, but I would rather purchase out of my local B&M stores so I don't have to wait for shipping. So far I have been unsuccessful. The BestBuy here said, "SACD? I think I have seen some. They are just mixed in with everything else." Is this par for the course?

Thanks everyone!
DJ

#14 of 63 KeithH

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Posted February 15 2003 - 05:30 AM

Donald, multi-channel SACD is a nice bonus, but I find that most of the mixes are gimmicky. I have a surround-sound system, but I rarely use it for music. As my main interest is stereo music, my two stereo systems are considerably better than my multi-channel system.

Regarding stereo SACD, I have what most audiophiles would consider mid-fi systems, and I can clearly hear the benefit of SACD over CD. For your reference, my main system consists of Totem Arro floorstanding speakers and an NAD C 370 stereo integrated amp biamped with an NAD C 270 stereo power amp. My second stereo system has Energy e:XL 26 floorstanders and an NAD C 350 stereo integrated amp. Even on the second system, SACD is more open (greater layering of instruments with a wider soundstage). CD is congested by comparison.
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#15 of 63 KeithH

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Posted February 15 2003 - 05:34 AM

Donald,

One more thing. It has probably been mentioned here, as I did not read through everyone's posts in detail, but the SACD specifications mandate that all discs have a discrete stereo SACD track. So, you will not be shut-out with a stereo system (i.e., by the tide turning to exclusive multi-channel releases). This is very important to me.


Lee said:

Quote:
I have been listening a lot to Beck's Sea Chnages in Super Audio and I must say it is one of my more popular demo discs.


Have you compared the stereo SACD track on Sea Change to the CD? I have read a number of comments on SACD (and here too, I believe) saying that the CD and stereo SACD sound nearly identical. The multi-channel mix has been praised, though.
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#16 of 63 Rachael B

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Posted February 15 2003 - 05:53 AM

Donald, thanks for the kind words! PNT will return soon. I'm rebuilding my cheap TV studio in my new, I just moved, furnace room. It's loads of fun to make. We'll get back to the sunday eve tapeing sessions soon.

I've never heard that player but I saw it in Busted Buy last year. Does the BB near you not have the little SACD section back in the audio hardware section in the back of the store? You should find Sony, Universal, and a few Telarc discs there.

You'll have to mail order some discs or likely have somebody locally order them for you...? I know how high the sales tax is in Texas. You'd be better off to mail order stuff IMO. You might find a fair selection of SACD's if you have a Tower store in your city? If you at all like the Stones, pick up a copy of the LET IT BLEED hybrid from BB. Of the non-compilation albums it's one of the best. It'll be in a digi-pack and say Stones Remastered and will be in with the regular CD's. Best wishes!Posted Image

P.S. - Jeff I haven't heard the Midnite Vultures but with a name like that they could be alien contacts!Posted Image
Rachael, the big disc cat is in real life Dot Mongur, Champion of the International Pacman Federation. You better be ready to rumble if you play Jr. Pacman with me. This is full contact Pacman and I don't just play the game, I operate it!


#17 of 63 Andrew W

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Posted February 15 2003 - 08:52 AM

My wife just picked up Carol King's Tapestry. The worst surround mix we now own. It's like the engineer just spun the channel select knob randomly.

A few of our discs are are great in multichannel are:
Satriani's Strange Beautiful Music.
Oldfield's Tubular Bells

If you are into classical, Both Hillary Hahn violin concertos are excellent multichannel recordings.

Even on my "low-fi" system with "party speakers" the difference is obvious between CD and the SACD on Boston/Boston which I have in both formats.

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#18 of 63 charles white

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Posted February 15 2003 - 09:36 AM

Let me threw in my 2-cents here because I've been wondering the same thing until very recently I added a Pioneer DV-45A to my system. I still only have 5 discs(both SACD and DVD-A). The 1st SACD was Kind of Blue by Miles. Comparing it to the
Sony Mastersound gold CD, the difference was slight at best to my ears with the SACD edging out the gold CD. I just got In A Silent Way by Miles and it completely blows away the CD, even the 3 disc box set which in itself is worth the price.

#19 of 63 Seth_S

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Posted February 15 2003 - 04:54 PM

On the subject of mid and low end audio systems with SACD, any opinions on the Sony and Philips low end SACD players (PHILIPS DVD963SA and SONY DVP-NS755V)?

#20 of 63 Lee Scoggins

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Posted February 16 2003 - 02:55 AM

Quote:
Audiophiles say it, so it must be true!


Well it is an audiophile term by definition.

Quote:
The main reason I shy away from terms such as "mid-xx" is that they serve little purpose other than to make one feel that their system isn't a "real" stereo.


It is not meant to degrade one's system but to set performance benchmarks for resolution so when we discuss things like in this thread that pertain to sonic differences, we have a level and fair playing field.

Quote:
It can be intimidating to pop your head into a "audiophile" discussion if you're not willing to spend more on your stereo than your car*.


Most of my audiophile friends did not "spend a car" on their system. They just used better quality parts and often assembled by hand.

This is not an issue of cost at all. There are audiophile systems available at every price point. But audiophiles invented the term "mid-fi" to refer to things like Radio Shack, department store rack systems, and others that do not sound good, are not durable, and usually as expensive as an entry level system made of budget audiophile components. Often, if not always, these popular, well marketed, and horrible sounding systems introduce all sorts of gimmicky tone controls and needless switches which degrade the sound. The simpler the circuits the better where playback is concerned.

Paradigm is one of the consistently highly rated speaker lines at several price points. Adcom and NAD offer superb electronics at the entry level as does MMF and Rega for turntables and digital sources.

And there are truly great bargains. I am using $1,700 Maggie 1.6QRS but I am driving them with $23K of amplification and they sound great. Some $20,000 speakers can be driven perfectly by $5,000 amps.

The myth of audiophiles being snobs is an insidious one. I do not subscribe to it and many others do not. For sure, there are some really uptight store owners in the Northeast who growl every time you set foot in the store. These places are best avoided.

My biggest thrills in the hobby are three things (1) listening to a great musical presentation on a high resolution system; (2) demoing the sound to my friends; and (3) helping my friends assemble a great sounding system on any budget.

And as I have said here many times, the biggest trend in the industry (beside the move from 2 channel to HT, which is probably a step back net net) is that high end companies are trickling down their advanced technology into lower and lower price points.

As for Don's system, he has great budget audiophile gear and he should be able to hear clearly the step up from redbook CD to Super Audio.

Quote:
Have you compared the stereo SACD track on Sea Change to the CD?


Yes, I have and it blows it away. I use the redbook for my car. The guitar tonality and the transients in the plucking stand out as does the deeper and wider soundstage. The dynamics seem better as well.

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