SACD sound quality???

kevin_tomb

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Ok I know this sounds bad, but ive hardly ever listened to SACD. Not sure why, not trying to ignore it or anything. I listened a bit at circuit city recently and was impressed by it. They had it playing on a SONY home theatre speaker set up with a sony receiver. To me it had a very smooth and clear sound. BUT....im not so sure if that was just an effect of the little sony speakers or the SACD recording. MY question is...DO you guys hear a noticable differece with SACD??.....I mean not huge but is it noticable even if you werent aware it was a SACD?? It was mariah carey I was listening to, which I own on regular CD and havent listened to in like 3 years.
 

Lee Scoggins

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Kevin,

Even amoung DVDA supporters, Super Audio is considered by most on the forum as a good high resolution format. Whether better than DVDA or not is highly controversial.

I know Circuit City fairly well and are familiar with their SACD kiosks - the smoothness is mostly from Super Audio I guarantee, not the midfi speakers they use. And Mariah is not even one of the better sounding recordings...

Try it I think you will like it. You can buy a low end Sony DVD player and get the Super Audio included in the deal.

Good luck!
 

Jack Briggs

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For a critical evaluation of the new format as compared with standard CD, you must listen to it on a near reference-level system with which you are familiar. SACD is an improvement. And to these ears, so far, it has an edge over DVD-A. Yet, a better-engineered DVD-A will sound "better" than an indifferently engineered SACD.
 

Lee Scoggins

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For a critical evaluation of the new format as compared with standard CD, you must listen to it on a near reference-level system
Jack, not sure I agree with this. I just heard a $300 Sony SACD player in a $2,000 system and it blew away a high end CD player with Keb Mo The Door.

My belief is that Super Audio will be a big step up in all but the most low resolution system due to the midrange purity, dynamics, and enhanced sounstage.
 

KeithH

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Kevin, SACD is a significant improvement over CD. I don't feel you have to have high-end system to hear the difference. However, the Sony speakers that are used in the Circuit City kiosks are poor, and they cannot adequately communicate the improvement that SACD represents over CD. As Lee said, you can get a Sony DVD/SACD player for little money and experience SACD for yourself. It's definitely worth it.
 

John Kotches

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I've heard variable results with SACD, but I haven't needed anywhere near a reference level setup to hear differences. However, the better the system, the greater the sonic differences IMO.
Unfortunately, a good number of titles released on SACD to date by Sony were originally PCM masters and don't fare as well as either recordings that were mastered from analog or DSD masters.
A great example of the variable recording quality is Kenny Loggins' Greatest Hits. Ironically, ignoring tape hiss, the older analog selections sound better than material recorded later than the mid 1980's which is PCM mastered. Hey, don't mock the recording, we all have those hidden away "guilty pleasure discs"

OTOH, a recording like James Taylor's Hourglass (which I believe to be a DSD master) is stunning, as are some older analog discs.
There are other outstanding titles, but these are the ones that come to mind off the top of my head at the moment.
Regards,
 

KeithH

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John said:
Hey, don't mock the recording, we all have those hidden away "guilty pleasure discs"
I'll go you one better. I have the WHAM! Make It Big SACD from Japan. I paid more for shipping ($25) than for the disc ($18).

I agree that PCM masters limit what SACD can do. I have never heard that James Taylor Hourglass was recorded in DSD. If true, that would be very cool. However Hourglass was recorded, I agree that the SACD is stunning. I would like to see more mainstream artists from the major labels recording in DSD or doing whatever James Taylor did.
 

John Kotches

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Keith,
With either High Resolution solution, there needs to be greater "truth in packaging".
If the SACD came from an analog master, that should be reported. If the SACD is a resampled PCM title, that should be reported, as well as the sampling depth and rate. I would think that if the recording was from a DSD master that would be plastered all over the recording.
For DVD-A, I think the same rules would hold true..... List the heritage of the master tapes, be they analog, PCM (same rules apply) or even DSD.
This way, you'd at least know what you're getting.
It probably wouldn't stop me from purchasing any titles, but I'd have a better idea what to expect

Regards,
 

Rachael B

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John, some of the small labels might agree to label your truth-in-labeling proposal, but fat chance the big 5 would. Hey, they removed such labeling from CD's. The big 5 are all about power and milking the cows. They wouldn't aggree to do this. They just want to hear us all say moooooo! Best wishes!
 

KeithH

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John,
I agree with you and immediately thought of what Rachael said. Back in the day, most CDs had AAD, ADD, or DDD right on the package. I actually remember a time when I thought DDD was a good thing.
Anyway, I also agree with Rachael that similar labeling on DVD-Audio discs and SACDs will probably never happen.
Rachael,
Mooooo!
 

Joe Cole

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Correct me if I am wrong, but I have found that there are sites on the net that do annouce or reveal the original recording method. I check these out as I look for DSD original SACDs. Of course these are still some what rare.

To my ears the earlier recordings that use analog tape sound considerably better when changed to DSD.

It does seem to be true that the packaging does little to inform the buyer on how it was originally recorded, although age will be a big indicator. right?

I like SACD so much, I no longer spend any of my limited funds on CDs. Since Classical and Jazz are my listening favorites this is not that hard to do. If I was a listener to 'modern pop' music I probably would be a DVD-A owner as well. And may be some day anyway.
 

KeithH

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Joe, some of the smaller record labels state how their recordings were done. For example, Telarc states that many of its recent recordings were done in DSD. In fact, if you look at many recent Telarc CDs, you will see a DSD logo, which can be misleading. Likewise, my recent Chesky CDs say "24/96 High Resolution". They were recorded in 24/96 PCM, but were obviously downsampled to 16/44.1 to produce CDs.

I am not aware of a universal site that lists the nature of recordings for many record labels. It would be nice if such a site existed, though.
 

Joe Cole

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Keith,
http://www.bitwareoz.com/sacd/ is a very good resource and lists type of original recording method.
www.elusivedisk.com does the same for the disks they sell.
And like I said if the recording is before 81-82 it will be analog and before 2001 generally it is not DSD. After that it will take greater scrutiny for sure.
Many big labels do not want us consumers picking and choosing and thus ignoring their pcm recordings. But many of us will.
 

KeithH

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Joe, thanks for providing the first link. I figure dealers will be able to provide information on recordings from smaller labels because, as I said, these labels are usually good about disclosing recording and mastering methods used. The major labels don't bother because they know that the majority of their consumers don't care and don't know the difference anyway. That's part of it, at least. Most consumers still think "digital", meaning PCM (though they don't know what PCM is), is good and analog is bad.

And like I said if the recording is before 81-82 it will be analog and before 2001 generally it is not DSD. After that it will take greater scrutiny for sure.
I agree with you. The real problem is anything from the early-to-mid-'80s on. I assume a recording from the early-to-mid-'80s or later was done in PCM (not 24/96 or better) unless otherwise noted. It's nice to see a notation of 24/96 or especially DSD on a CD. Still, many modern recordings are poor PCM jobs, and it shows. I bought the new Celine Dion A New Day Has Come CD a couple of weeks ago, and it shows the digital edge in her voice I have become all to familiar with from years of listening to CDs. Here is a megastar, and even though an SACD was planned, they must have recorded A New Day Has Come in PCM. I can't imagine it is a DSD recording because it doesn't sound like it.
P.S. Joe, the correct link is www.elusivedisc.com . You might want to fix it in your post to avoid confusion.
 

John Kotches

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Joe,

I buy discs based on the contents musically -- so knowing the recording chain wouldn't change my purchase habits.

It would give me an idea of what to expect from a recording quality potential.

Regards,
 

KeithH

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John, I'm with you. I buy many recordings that I know or suspect are derived from PCM masters because I like the music. When I stop buying discs because they were done in PCM, then I have lost all sense of enjoyment this hobby is supposed to bring. That said, knowing how recordings were done would confirm my suspicions many times.
 

Jack Gilvey

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I can easily hear the superiority of SACD over CD using a modest Onkyo 575x/JBL NSP-1 multichannel setup. None of the "aural squinting" required by other supposed digital improvements in an attempt to discern a difference.
 

Mike Keith

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I could be wrong here but all my research on the recording chain concerning SACD leads me to believe that all SACD are DSD 1 bit, and some are even mastered as such, Sony’s own press releases and info say that the DSD stream is what gives the recordings all their glory, this mastering or re-mastering process is done on all SACD otherwise they wouldn’t be any different than a regular CD. The fact that all these old and newly mastered recordings are re-mastered or re-mixed for SACD recordings makes it virtually impossible to compare to a regular CD. I have many redbook CD’s that I have 2 or more copies of the same recording, some have been re-mastered on a 24 bit digital standard or remixed on higher quality equipment using the same PCM analog original masters, and in every case I can tell at least some difference, some are night and day, and if this is true for a redbook CD then it stands to reason that this is true for SACD’s as well. The real difference IMO is in fact the recording its self (mastering or re-mastering/re-mixing) just like a Redbook CD not the DSD 1 bit stream as Sony would have you believe, yes there is a difference between SACD and standard Redbook CD, but most of the better sound everyone is talking about is simply a better recording not all the special hardware and analog pass through they tell you is necessary to keep the DSD stream intact and keep from down-converting into a lower Rez PCM stream. With my own A/B switching (pass-thru and no pass-thru) there is absolutely no difference in sound quality. So I am of the strong opinion that we have all been lied to, the SACD quality doesn’t come from the new technology of 1 bit DSD that supposedly gets you closer to the Master, it is just another Re-Mastering or Re-Mixing process the same as has been done many times before when they want to rejuvenate older recording sales, however this time they tried to shove a bunch of extra hardware down our throat as well. If you don’t believe me try running a 2-ch SACD directly into a pair of standard DVD or CD inputs on a regular receiver or Preamp and see if you can tell any difference from the Down-converted PCM version of any SACD. I had it set up where I could instantly switch back and forth with matched levels on 2-different preamps (one with 6 ch analog in’s and out’s and one standard PCM Preamp) and I can tell you this was an eye opener, there was absolutely no difference at all, the sound was the exact same.
 

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