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Three Big Companies add SACD


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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted September 06 2001 - 01:51 AM

For you Super Audio fans out there like myself, I am pleased to report that three large companies have added SACD: EMI, Virgin and Universal which has around 8 labels. The information has been reported on the regular Monday morning news on www.stereophile.com this week (EMI, Virgin) and last week (Universal).

This should be a much needed boost to the format, along with $400 SACD players from Sony.

I am a big fan of the format because the sound is fabulous and captures so much of the live performance. I work from time to time with an audiophile jazz label and most of the team agrees this is a big step forward.

With EMI perhaps we get some Beatles and Pink Floyd now Posted Image

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#2 of 12 OFFLINE   John Garcia

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Posted September 06 2001 - 03:44 AM

I haven't seen too many titles in my music taste so far, so that's great news. I'm looking for an SACD player right now. I need a new CD player, and I figured I might as well get an SA unit. The $400 Sony actually looks like a bargin, though I may hold off and wait for an SA capable DVD player. Sony is supposed to have one coming out soon.

Are you listening to 2ch or multi-channel music?

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#3 of 12 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted September 06 2001 - 05:03 AM

Lee,

Virgin released Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells on SACD months ago. It is a CD/SACD hybrid disc, and the SACD layer offers both stereo and multi-channel tracks. The multi-channel track is derived from the 1975 Quad mix. As I recall, it was the first multi-channel SACD released. I only have stereo SACD players (SCD-777ES and SCD-C333ES) and am yet to hear the multi-channel track. However, the stereo SACD track kills the CD track. Also, Virgin announced plans to release a handful of other multi-channel SACDs a few months ago. Hopefully they will be out soon.


John,

As you may be aware, Sony released the DVP-S9000ES SACD/DVD player last December as its first such "combination" player. It sells for $1075 and up and only plays stereo SACDs, however. Still, the 'S9000ES is a first-rate progressive-scan DVD player (some here will argue that point Posted Image) as well as an excellent CD and SACD player. Build quality is first-rate too.

As for cheaper SACD/DVD players from Sony, you will have three choices shortly. The DVP-NS500V is an interlaced, single-disc model that will sell for around $300. The DVP-NS900V is a progressive-scan, single-disc unit that will sell for around $1000. Finally, the DVP-NC650V is an interlaced, five-disc carousel changer that will sell for about $400. All three players will play multi-channel SACDs. Check www.crutchfield.com for more information. Note that the prices I quoted are what Crutchfield and brick and mortar stores will sell them for. Mail-order dealers such as Oade Bros., OneCall, and J&R Music World should be cheaper.

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#4 of 12 OFFLINE   John Garcia

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Posted September 07 2001 - 08:38 AM

Thanks. I'm well aware of the 9000, but it is more than I am willing to spend on a new format yet. $350 (SCD-CE775) I can stomach until I know there will be sufficient titles out.

I am considering the NS500V or the 650V, but I would like to see some reviews of them first. Whether it plays DVDs or not is not a requirement, but might not be so bad. My CD player is dying, so it is really that unit that I am looking to replace, not my DVD, and it will likely be for music only. My WEGA is not an HD model, so I don't need progressive player right now either.

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#5 of 12 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted September 07 2001 - 01:52 PM

John, it sounds like the SCD-CE775 might be the best unit for you. There is probably no point in waiting for the multi-channel SACD/DVD players if you are happy with your current DVD player. I doubt Sony's DVD-capable units will be better CD or SACD players than the 'CE775. In fact, they will probably be worse. At a given price point, DVD players are generally inferior with CDs than conventional CD players. This is often attributed to the different laser used by DVD players (i.e., those lacking a dual-laser system), interference from video circuitry, and compromises in the audio circuitry forced by manufacturers having to incorporate both audio and video capability in one box at the given price point.

I'd give the 'CE775 a look. In the few reviews I've read on the web (Audio Asylum), people have been impressed with it for the price. When I decide to invest in multi-channel SACD, I will probably go with the SCD-C222ES because I wasn't impressed with the build quality of the 'CE775 when I saw it up close a few weeks ago. However, the 'CE775 is built about as well as I would expect from Sony's mass-market line for $350. The 'C222ES retails for $800, but Oade Bros. sells it for $575.

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#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Keith Mickunas

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Posted September 07 2001 - 06:00 PM

Well my fellow Keith you seem to sharing a good bit of knowledge about these players, so I'll go ahead and throw my questions in here. My immediate future is going to be going with DVD-Audio, because that's the route Mickey Hart chose (although he might do both) and the Dead's first release is in October. So either I'll be using my Malata if the firmware adds DVD-Audio support as rumored, or I'll be buying a DVD-Audio player. Eventually I'd also like to have SACD capability. It had been my hope to wait for more universal players to show up, as so far I've only seen a $6,000 Pioneer that does DVD-Audio and SACD (as well as video, etc.). Anyways, I was wondering if anyone knows of more universal players coming? You see, I'm also dealing with the fact that my Yamaha RX-V1 has only one 5.1 input, and it does not have a full set of pre-ins. So if I have separate players, I'll either need a switcher or y-cables. Anybody have thoughts on how I should handle that?

On an unrelated note, my friend Keith says that in any naming situation Keith is always optimal. How do you feel about that Keith? I tend to agree with him on this matter. Posted Image

#7 of 12 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted September 08 2001 - 05:15 AM

Keith (great name), outside of the Pioneer DV-AX10, which is the $6000 universal player you mentioned (though it doesn't play multi-channel SACDs), the only other universal player I know of coming in the near future is one from Apex. It will be the AD-7701. It's a single-disc model. It plays SACDs (don't know about multi-channel though, but probably not), DVD-Audio discs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, HDCD-encoded discs, and MP3-encoded discs. Oh, and it's a progressive-scan player and has a Karaoke feature. I think that's all it does. Posted Image J&R has it on its web site, though it isn't in stock yet. Here is the link:
http://www.jandr.com...t=Current_Price

A few questions I have about the '7701 are as follows:

1) Does it have a DSD DAC for SACD? My guess is that it does not. If it processes the DSD bitstream through a PCM DAC, then I see no benefit being afforded by playing SACDs.

2) Does it play multi-channel SACDs? This is related to the first question. Again, I doubt it. My guess is that the '7701 has a PCM DAC, so there is no way it could process multi-channel DSD signals. Note that this question and the first one are asked with the understanding that analog outputs must be used for SACD (and DVD-Audio).

3) Does it have an MLP PCM DAC for DVD-Audio? Frankly, I don't even know if the '7701 has 5.1-channel outputs. J&R's web site makes no mention of the '7701 even possessing Dolby Digital and DTS decoders. If it does not, then I doubt it has 5.1-channel outputs. All DVD-Audio players I have seen have Dolby Digital and DTS decoders. I guess the thinking here is that since 5.1-channel outputs are required for DVD-Audio, then Dolby Digital and DTS decoders might as well be included so that the owner can use these outputs for DVD-Video and DVD-Audio. One connection type to the pre-amp is simple.

J&R's web site says about the '7701, "Dolby Digital - DTS and PCM audio ready", so I doubt it has built-in decoders. Thus, I question whether it has 5.1-channel outputs. It is possible that one has to use the analog stereo outputs for DVD-Audio, which is obviously undesirable. Finally, any DVD player can be said to play DVD-Audio discs since they can all play the Dolby Digital and/or DTS tracks off of them.

4) Is it a true progressive-scan player? Does the '7701 do 3:2 pull-down or does it merely possess an internal line doubler, a la the Pioneer DV-434 and the newer DV-444?

5) Is the player any good in any respect? I have serious issues with Apex, Oritron, Raite, etc. DVD players. They generally have a lousy reputation for reliability and performance. Frankly, I don't see how the '7701 can be a good player given all the features that are crammed in for only $300 and given Apex's track record. That's just me. Still, the player piques my curiosity.

On another matter, my Sony STR-V444ES receiver only has one set of 5.1-channel inputs, and I already have a Technics DVD-A10 DVD-Audio player. So, if and when I get a multi-channel SACD player, I will probably get some reasonable-quality Y-adapters. New receivers, such as Sony's forthcoming STR-DA3ES and STR-DA5ES, offer two sets of multi-channel inputs, but a set of Y-adapters is a lot cheaper than a new receiver. Posted Image Besides, I like the 'V444ES. If I buy decent Y-adapters, I doubt I'll suffer any sound degradation.

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[Edited last by KeithH on September 09, 2001 at 12:22 AM]
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#8 of 12 OFFLINE   Keith Mickunas

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Posted September 08 2001 - 06:21 AM

Thanks for the info Keith. I wonder how important the MLP PCM DACs are. If the Malata really will have a firmware upgrade to do DVD-Audio, it will be interesting to see how well it works. I'm guessing they're using a DSP for most of their processing, and are just going to add MLP decoding to the DSP. But if I'm understanding it right, that'd mean you'd end up with 6 PCM streams, each of which need to go through 24/96 DACs. I'm going to have to investigate whether or not the Malata has that. Check out this quote from avdeals.com:
Quote:
96kHz/24-bit D/A Converter
Designed to maximize DVD audio performance and
enjoyment, Malata DVD players are equipped with a
96kHz/24-bit DAC. This advanced audio DAC can handle
super-fidelity 96kHZ/24-bit sound, the highest level of
audio quality in the DVD format

Hmm, "a DAC". Scary, I'm not sure how well you can shove 6 streams through one DAC. Also it doesn't do 192/24 which is available on 2-channel DVD-Audio. I guess I better start looking for a good DVD-Audio player.

I agree with your assessment of those low-end brands. I bought the Malata for its region-free and PAL to NTSC capabilities, which it does wonderfully. But I don't intend it to be main player. As I mentioned before, I had wanted to wait to replace my Sony DVP-S3000 until I could get something that does everything, but I don't think things will work out that way.

#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted September 08 2001 - 12:42 PM

Keith,

I am not sure you want to drop "big coin" on a universal player. My experience as a longtime audiophile is that paying a lot to cover both formats is dangerous. I think that Super Audio seems to have the most momentum, but here I think the more modest players from Sony sound fairly good judging from what I heard at the NYC Home Entertainment Show.

As far as titles go, the format has been slow to develop but listening to Sony reps at the same show, I see a very clear market development strategy that relies on getting the pro engineers to adopt DSD technology. At the end of the day, however, the software title affordability will be important.

DVD Audio sounds terrible to be honest even on a revealing system. Honestly, the new CD of Steely Dan Two Against Nature beats the DVD Audio version by a mile. I would prefer XRCD (particularly version 2) to DVD Audio.

I got a great deal from J&R on a Sony 777 and the SCD1 were going for a song. The 9000 DVD player also looks appealing because you get a fine DVD machine in the trade.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

Lee
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#10 of 12 OFFLINE   ReggieW

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Posted September 08 2001 - 01:05 PM

Lee,

DVD audio sounds terrible? Isn't this a gross exaggeration?. I've heard both SACD and DVD-A (I own this one), and personally, I really don't hear much of a difference listening to both in two-channel mode. Also, what media are you employing to make such a comparison? To my knowledge, there isn't such media in existence to yet make A & B comparisons of the two. Anyway, why would I want to have my lovely PCM based music converted to DSD and then back-converted to PCM? What sense does this make? I don't know, but my bets are on multi-channel DVD-A. I just came from Fry's here in Burbank, CA and they didn't have ONE SACD player, and only had two DVD-A players. Both formats will face an uphill battle, but I am simply hesistant to support Sony on new formats like I did the minidisc a few years ago, only to see it go nowhere. - and yes, I LOVE the STEELY DAN DVD-A...It rocks imho!!!!

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#11 of 12 OFFLINE   Keith Mickunas

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Posted September 08 2001 - 01:37 PM

I had hoped to actually wait some time until both formats matured and things settle down a bit. At some point in the future I don't think you're going to have to make sacrifices to have both in one player. In fact I recently read, in Home Theater Magazine I believe, that a company has developed a single chipset to do both, which really shouldn't be much of a problem. Unlike combo LD/DVD players, you need the exact same mechanism to read SACD and DVD-A, its just a matter of how you process the data, so there is no reason for a universal player to have shortcomings on either one.

As for which sounds better, I have to agree with Lee, until you can A/B something made on both that you can be reasonably assured were made in a similar enough manner, you can't effectively compare. And when you look at what's available in both, it would appear that some people see advantages with both. DVD-A is essentially 24/96 or 24/192 PCM, and I've heard 24/96 and know that to be good. Now if its multichannel that bothers you, that's a whole different argument. I'm not so sure how well I'm going to like that. It will take awhile before the musicians, producers and engineers really learn how to use it effectively, but I think it will be interesting to see how it develops.

#12 of 12 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted September 08 2001 - 05:27 PM

Lee, I think to say that DVD-Audio sounds terrible is an injustice. I have a Sony SCD-777ES SACD player in my main system and an SCD-C333ES in a second system as well as a Technics DVD-A10 in my main system. In my opinion, SACD is the better format, but the better engineered DVD-Audio discs I have are quite excellent. I have Steely Dan Two Against Nature both on CD and DVD-Audio, and I feel the stereo track on the DVD-Audio discs is significantly better than the CD. I think you are short-changing DVD-Audio.

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