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SACD Vs. MFSL Vs. DVD-A (1 Viewer)

paingod

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I am in the market for a new CD player. I have never heard the 3 audio formats listed in the title. My Basic question is how do they compare to each other in general quality? and can you really hear a difference from a standard CD?

Thanks
 

Chris Gerhard

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MFSL stands for Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs and the company has released CD and SACD titles. SACD and DVD-A are high resolution, lossless formats that can be in surround, often 5.1 surround. SACD usually includes a CD layer, and those are called hybrid SACD. I own about 200 SACD titles and about 150 DVD-A titles. I own only a few MFSL releases, CD and SACD. SACD and DVD-A are both tiny niche formats now, with SACD being used primarily for classical music with some jazz and a rare rock/pop release now. The SACD v DVD-A format war basically resulted in neither amounting to anything much in terms of market, although SACD certainly found a much bigger market. There have been over 5,000 SACD titles released and I believe something considerably less than 2,000 DVD-A releases. Finding one player for CD/DVD-V/SACD/DVD-A is still pretty easy. Oppo makes some good budget players and Denon has made quite a number, including some very expensive players.

Wikipedia would be a good place to read about all three of these and if you want more information or have questions, come back.

Chris
 

Lee Scoggins

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It really boils down to the title. Some MFSL and DCC gold discs sound great. Most DVDA and SACDs sound great in my experience. If you like jazz or classical SACD is worth having, especially in advance of the 25 Blue Note titles coming in the Fall.
 

Barton Lynch

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Let me chip in as an avid and experienced SACD/DVD-A user that:


1) Both sound AMAZING!!!*


2) Contrary to some naysayers, both are vastly superior to CD in fidelity.


3) BOTH ARE DEAD FORMATS! you can keep the "niche" term over SACD as still some indie Classical/Jazz labels take the trouble to produce some discs today, and few esoteric hardware brands like McIntosh make SACD players and some mainstream consumer brands like Oppo support it with select BD player models. But basically, SACD is practically dead to my logic as there are more labels producing vinyl than SACD today, and none of the comercial big labels are supporting them (most did at the dawn of the format). To ad insult to injury, Sony, the SACD creator, has disengaged completely from the format removing all support from any device they make and officially declared it obsolete a few years back. DVD-A on the other hand is as dead as 8-track, NOBODY -apart from Oppo- is making compatible players TODAY and no label is releasing material in that format. The mainstream and indie artists that want to take the trouble and share their work in studio quality lossless multichannel/stereo hi-res format are using BD as medium (or digital downloaded files), unanimously considered as an unofficial BD-Audio format.


4) DENON PLAYERS ARE BOTH AWESOME IN PERFORMANCE AND ABSOLUTE CRAP IN RELIABILITY AND QUALITY!!!


5) Don't quit on your CDs.


______________

(*) Granted if you set them up correctly with quality speaker/amp, speaker calibration/placement and proper bass management.
 

Dennis Nicholls

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I can't speak for what Sony is doing for the South American market, but in the US even the cheapest Sony Blu-Ray players still support SACD discs. WalMart sells a $50US Sony player that supports SACD playback. The downside however is that it doesn't have 6 analog outputs anymore. To get the 6 channels you have to have a receiver that can decode the 6 channels from the HDMI bitstream. Otherwise you are limited to 2 channel playback on analog outputs - just left and right channels.
 

schan1269

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SACD over HDMI hasn't been an issue in a decade.

Sure the jump from 1.1 to 1.3(there was a brief blip of 1.2) created a tad wee bit of confusion...

SACD plays as PCM when the AVR doesn't have onboard DSD. Even though, AVR that "support DSD", may be lying about it(separate issue).

And...

Since when is BD-A "unofficial"?

Lastly...

BD-A core is DVD-A. But it is also the core of Dolby TrueHD.
 

Phil A

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Sony and Phillips invented DSD/SACD at the end of the century due to expiring CD patents and for royalty reasons. Warner was pushing a competing format,DVD-A. What they did not take it to account that the masses care about convenience more than anything and that discs that require special players and more expensive discs were not going to have as broad acceptance as they hoped. They were concerned about copy protection too and that's why they officially only allowed the one way digital passing of DSD in HDMI 1.2. They could have used the existing DVD-V format to have 24/96 hi-rez stereo mixed on discs (like Neil Young's Greatest Hits) and put a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the disc for those fans of multi-channel. They could even do more now with Blu-Ray Audio discs if they chose. So they were doomed to be niche formats among the audiophile community from the start.


To that extent, DSD is alive and well in the audiophile community. There are labels like Mobile Fidelity, Audio Fidelity, Analogue Productions and the SHM SACDs (http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/products?term.media_format=&q=shm+sacd) and independent labels selling downloads like - https://justlisten.nativedsd.com/ where you can get a free sample with different formats (DSD, Double DSD, DXD) and a new free track about once a week for signing up for their newsletter. If you have a DAC that does DSD or a player that can convert it to what your DAC can do they are nice.


There's plenty of hardware that support DSD - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AgVhKcl_3lHfdFVyenBBNjNpQ2lieG81WGpqQTNfVUE#gid=0


The price points are all over and not necessarily expensive. NuPrime is coming would with one that does multiple formats (including 384kHz PCM) and will be $179 - http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=133638.0
 

Dennis Nicholls

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Phil A said:
Sony and Phillips invented DSD/SACD at the end of the century due to expiring CD patents and for royalty reasons. Warner was pushing a competing format,DVD-A. What they did not take it to account that the masses care about convenience more than anything and that discs that require special players and more expensive discs were not going to have as broad acceptance as they hoped.
The people who care the most about high fidelity are classical music lovers like myself. And we are a tiny minority of users. SACD was a great success in classical music. Since Sony and Philips dominate the classical music catalog, SACD scored a TKO over DVD-A very quickly.



I'm still using my Philips 963SA and Ourlaw ICBM for playback - budget priced high fi.
 

Phil A

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That's so true since to be a success a classical album doesn't have to sell that many copies. Warner was not as heavy into classical and especially early authoring of DVD-A discs required a monitor to select stereo or surround or the DVD-V compatible content (later they made a spec to allow the audio button to do it vs. the menu) and many audiophiles don't have a monitor in their two channel system.


Even in systems where I don't have DSD files, I have players that can play the formats if I want to take out a disc. The Oppo 103Ds (or 103 or 105 or 105D) I have in two systems can play DSD files. I have a music server in the main system so I don't use it for audio.


There is of course great skill in the mixing and mastering of albums and something that didn't sound good in the first place may not sound better just because it goes on a hi-rez disc. The format war was unfortunate for we as consumers don't have control as to what gets released in a particular format. At one point I had separate SACD and DVD-A players and a Sony multi-channel preamp (http://www.stereophile.com/solidpreamps/700/) I used as a switching device. I paid $450 for it new and sold it a year or so later for just under double what I paid for it as preamp processors and receivers would have only one multi-channel input.
 

Phil A

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mark brown said:
Any thoughts on BR Pure Audio?
Just because a format may have a higher sampling rate, unless one knows what was used as a source, it may not improve the sound. For example - http://www.stereophile.com/thefifthelement/1104fifth/ " no one volunteered to explain to me, when it came time to create the high-resolution data file for the SACD's two-channel layer, someone ran the 16-bit/44.1kHz "Red Book" CD data through a DSD format converter, instead of going back to the two-channel analog tape and making a fresh DSD transfer." So in the above case, the original SACD (not subsequent re-issues) was based on the CD as a source. The same may be true of other formats (e.g. BR Audio). That's why I often look at reviews or sites like - http://dr.loudness-war.info/


I have things sitting in my wish list at HDTracks or on a site that sells SACDs. Some are in the pre-order stage. For the most part, I'll wait until there is more info available. If I don't have a copy of the SACD or another hi-rez version is another way I'll decide whether or not to buy. Most of the SHM SACDs from CD Japan I've gotten are really good.


So you have sometimes do a bit of homework. For example, this analysis includes the BR Audio disc vs. other releases - http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=&album=quadrophenia as does this - http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=&album=a+night+at+the+opera


For the second example, the Blu-Ray Audio format of the album is something I probably wouldn't consider.
 

Dennis Nicholls

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It turns out I was wrong about the cheapies at WalMart. The previous time I'd looked the Sony cheapies had SACD listed on the box. But the current cheapies, the Sony BDP S1500 and Philips BDP 1200, no longer list SACD support.


My the cheapies have gotten bare-bones. The only outputs are a HDMI jack and a SPDIF digital audio output. My then-cheapie Magnovox bought in 2009 also had L&R analog audio jacks plus RGB analog video jacks.
 

Phil A

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That's correct. They reserved SACD to the top of the line BDP-S6500 - http://www.sony.com.sg/pressrelease/asset/599692/section/productpressreleases


I will eventually have a spare BDP-BX37 (same as the S370). It was a nice sub $100 player I got at Costco years back. Right now it is barely used but there for Blu-Ray in a guest room. I have a Marantz DV9600 universal in there as well so if an SACD got played it would be done via the Marantz. When I get my next Oppo (whenever they release it next year), one of the old ones goes in the guest room and the Sony and Marantz are not needed.
 

Phil A

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Dennis Nicholls said:
Pre-release price for the BDP S6500 is $180. That's a lot cheaper than the OPPO drives.
That's correct. That being said, a cheaper player may be better for someone who doesn't have something more in the budget but also giving up features and quality. I have a colorimeter besides the Spears and Munsil test disc. I own and have had access to the cheaper Sonys and other players. Still have a (fat) PS3 sitting in the closet and I use my SACD capable PS3 for DSD burning when I get an SACD. On the displays I've owed (and I have about half a dozen or so still), the Sony does not perform either video wise or audio wise on par with an Oppo, even an older one like my BDP-83. Yes they are more expensive, but do DVD-A and the newer ones can also do a whole bunch more, including play DSD (stereo or multi-channel) files from an attached hard drive. Oppo also has much better customer support.


To make a long story short, I was using the fat PS3 in my old house in the basement (88 inch Carada screen, Sony VPL-AW15 - 720p, both of which I no longer own). I never could get things adjusted quite like I would want. Never really thought about it much as I mainly used the darkened room for daytime TV (e.g. football) and watched an occasional flick down there. I swapped out the PS3 and moved it back to the old bedroom system on a 55 inch LED and moved the Oppo BDP-93 from the bedroom to the basement. I noticed what appeared to be a huge improvement when I went to set it up in terms of both video and audio quality. I watched a few minutes of 'The Fifth Element' and when to take a friend out to dinner for his birthday. He had a cheapo player and a 1080p projector in his set-up. Due to scheduling we were going to go to the movies afterwards but finished a little too late so we decided to go back to my place as he wanted to see 'Avatar.' He had seen it once in the theater (I saw it twice, once with him and other friends) and the theater set-up was a bit off when he saw it. We were both awe struck. He asked me if I got a new projector and couldn't believe we were watching 720p.


That's not to say there are no good cheaper Blu-Ray players but the Oppo is so hard to beat and there are more expensive things one could buy. This was one example - http://www.audioholics.com/blu-ray-and-dvd-player-reviews/lexicon-bd-30-blu-ray-oppo-clone/oppo-inside-lexicon-outside-1
 

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