To buy a CD player or wait for SACD or DVD Audio to take hold?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JohnSC, Aug 11, 2002.

  1. JohnSC

    JohnSC Stunt Coordinator

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    I am keen to upgrade my CD player. I am looking at the Rotel RCD-1070 however, am concerned about whether I should wait until the SACD Vs DVD Audio debate is settled.

    What do you think? Is the standard set to be defined soon? Does anyone know if one of these formats will truly replace CD audio or will they go the same way as HDCD?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    J.
     
  2. Scott Quick

    Scott Quick Agent

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    It's hard to say if either will completely replace CDs. If either do, I'm sure it will take some time. And if they do, I would place my bets on DVD-A.
    For one thing, DVD-A media is cheaper, but there aren't as many titles out as SACD. I have yet to determine which format sounds better as I don't have any SACDs for my player yet.... But from the people I know, DVD-A seems to be taking off a lot faster. The other problem (IMO) with SACD is that it uses "CD." Yes, I'm aware its a hybrid, but I think that by the time (if there is a time) either of these formats do actually replace CDs, perhaps even the term DVD will be "old school."
    IMO, I don't beleive that CDs will be replaced by DVD-A or SACD based on what us audiophiles like about the formats. For the average Joe, he/she doesn't care about the difference in quality. He/she couldn't even tell a difference. And he/she doesn't want to have to spend money on a powered subwoofer, and three extra speakers just to take advantage of the full power of the formats. For crying out loud - let's be serious... most people think a 128kbs MP3 sounds good. If that's the case, I don't think there is ever going to be a strong demand to overrun the CD format. Unless the general public calls for a medium that has a longer track length than 80minutes (I believe that's the current max of CDs), I just don't see it happening.
    So, "JohnSC" as for your dilema, I beleive its totally up to you as to what you do. There's really no way (IMO) that you can determine if either DVD-A or SACD is really going to go mainstream at this point in the game. If you are an audiophile, then by all means, begin asking the questions of which high-res format sounds better and go buy a player. If you're not really into critical listening and picking apart recordings, then I'm not sure that high-res digital audio formats are for you. Sure, listening should be enjoyable, but if you can't tell a difference in sound quality (either due to a lower end audio system and speakers or if its just due to the fact that you may not have a critical ear) then I wouldn't advise making the large investment into a new format.
    So, you have 3 options as I see it:
    1) Get a straight CD player. As for as I know and have heard, the Denon DCM370 is the best sounding CD player under $1000. Many people also prefer some of the Sony ES players, but I still prefer the Denon. The HDCD DACs in this unit are the smoothest I've heard in a CD player.
    2) Get a combo player. I believe the Marantz 8300 would be your best bet here. It handles SACD, DVD-A, and CD.
    3) Choose either a CD player and DVD-A player, or a CD/SACD combo player.
    As far as HDCD goes, I think the format deserves a lot more credit than you're offering. There are thousands of albums on the format now, and it does indeed make an impressionable difference over normal CDs. Again, it depends on the caliber of your components, interconnects, and speakers. It takes a lot money to have a nice sounding system. Not everyone can justify the expense... but to those who can, its certainly worth every penny [​IMG]
    Hope this helps,
    Scott
     
  3. JohnSC

    JohnSC Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Scott. Your reply is very comprehensive. I do consider myself an audiophile (to the extent that my budget allows :b ). It looks like I should audition SACD. I still prefer my music through 2 channels so it is either SACD or a high quality CD player.

    Thanks

    John
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    John,

    Scott makes some excellent points. In the end, listen to CD-only, SACD, and DVD-Audio players in your price range and buy the best CD player you can find. In my experience, most SACD players out there are highly capable with CDs at their given price points. However, CD playback quality for DVD-Audio players is variable.

    The Rotel RCD-1070 has gotten good reviews, but there are other players to consider in your price range. What Hi*Fi? out of the UK has a "Group Test" in its September 2002 issue for CD players in your price range. They put the Rotel, Exposure 2010 CD, new Arcam DiVA CD82T, and a Myryad player head to head, and the Arcam was rated the best. The Rotel, Exposure, and Arcam players were all awarded five stars out of five, but the Arcam player was deemed the "Test Winner". I would not run right out and buy the Arcam player, but you might consider the Arcam and Exposure players.

    I'm not sure if a suitable SACD player is available in your price range. The aforementioned issue of What Hi*Fi? has a review of the new Sony SCD-XB780, which is from Sony's QS line. It was only awarded three stars out of five, which is the lowest rating I have seen a British magazine give a Sony SACD player. While they liked the 'XB780 as an SACD player, they were disappointed with it as a CD player.

    On a final note, the same issue of What Hi*Fi? has a favorable review of the new Pioneer DV-656A, which in the UK is a universal player (DVD-Video/CD/SACD/DVD-Audio/MP3). I don't know how good a CD player it is, but you might give such a player a look. I imagine Pioneer will market the '656A or equivalent in Australia. Pioneer often varies model numbers in different parts of the world, so it's hard to say whether you should be looking for the '656A. The US equivalent of the '656A is the Elite DV-45A. What's even more confusing is that while the '656A is a £400 universal player in the UK, it is a $200 USD DVD-Audio player in the US (no SACD). So, check the feature list carefully!


    Scott,

    I own a Denon DCM-370, and while it is quite good for the money (I paid $250), I would hardly say it is the best player at $1000 and under. Of course, that is just my opinion. The Denon tends to give a nice presentation of vocals, but the rest of the musical range is blurred or "too warm". In my opinion, the Denon does not provide enough detail. Anyway, I feel it is a good player, but it performs within its price class and perhaps a bit beyond, but is not the best at $1000 and under.
     
  5. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    CD will not be replaced any time soon. Unless you are specifically interested in what these formats have to offer, just buy a good CD player. SACD and DVD-A are just nice additions to one's music collection.
     
  6. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  7. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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  8. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  9. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Mike, well done as usual with your commentary on Columbia jazz artists. If you haven't heard, Miles Davis In A Silent Way is supposed to be coming to SACD very soon. Last time I checked, Sony Music had it on its Upcoming Release list. In addition, Sony Music will be releasing a remastered CD of In A Silent Way. I am amazed that this album was not remastered earlier. For one thing, Sony Music released a box set of the In A Silent Way sessions on CD around a year ago, and these discs were remastered. Secondly, In A Silent Way is one of Miles' better-known albums. Oh well. I am looking forward to the release of the remastered CD and the SACD. Ironically, I just picked up the original CD version today. It has the old "Columbia Jazz Masterpieces" logo on the cover with that hideous light blue on the back cover. I had never gotten around to picking up In A Silent Way on CD, and as a collector, I wanted the original version before it was replaced by the remastered version. I had a heck of a time finding the original CD. I will be playing this disc tonight. Can't wait!
     
  10. Craig_Kg

    Craig_Kg Supporting Actor

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    If you already have a half decent CD player with digital out, John, then consider using it as a transport for a DAC like the MF A3/24 or the Chord64. The biggest problem with the new formats (apart from the format war and maybe because of it) is the lack of titles and a good DAC can transform your whole existing CD collection. They do cost more than a 1070 but they will do a whole lot more to upgrade the output.
     
  11. JohnSC

    JohnSC Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks to all. There is some good information for me here.

    John
     
  12. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    I do remember seeing In A Silent Way as a candidate for release, and with a multi-channel mix. This would, of course, be wonderful. I just hope it doesn't suffer the fate of Dark Magus.

    The In A Silent Way CD I see has that 75th anniversary sticker, which are usually put on the remastered discs, but this CD doesn't have that transparent spine like the remasters do. Yes, it is stupid that they don't have a remastered CD of this yet. And, while they're at it, they can also get around to releasing Filles De Killamanjaro. Half of the tracks from that album are by the second quintet, so therefore they should be on that yellow box set, remastered. The other half substitutes Dave Holland and Chick Corea of Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock, respectively, and I believe they are included in the In A Silent Way box set. It then stands to reason that they can easily re-release Filles De Killemanjaro.
     
  13. Luis C

    Luis C Stunt Coordinator

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    I have used virtually all of the past and current SACD/DVD-A players out there and have settled on the Philips SACD 1000... great SACD performance, excellent DVD picture (w/my IScan Pro) and the analog CD performance is amazing. Best multi-platform unit out there. One of the only new units I haven't gotten to touch is the multi-platform Pioneer (CD/DVD/SACD/DVD-A). It is said to be excellent as well. If you get one of those, you can have your cake and eat it too! [​IMG]
    DVD-A has not matched SACD performance in any player I have yet auditioned.
     
  14. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Mike, as a collector, I am glad to have found the original version of In A Silent Way. My copy has the silver 75th Anniversary sticker, which surprised me as well. After listening to it last night, I sure hope we get a remastered CD at the very least. Of course, an SACD release would be great. Anyway, I found the original CD to be two-dimensional (the music, not the disc itself [​IMG]). It sounds like Miles' trumpet is stuck to the speakers. The cymbals sound like they are way in the back (recessed). I just found the sound to lack body. Hopefully they can do a lot better. I have not heard anything from the box set.
    There are a number of Miles albums that have not yet been remastered. Agharta, the Jack Johnson tribute album, and Ballads are just a few that immediately come to mind. There are others.
     
  15. Mike_Ch

    Mike_Ch Stunt Coordinator

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    John,

    What are you using as a cd player now? If it could work well as a transport, you might consider a high-quality external dac. Since you live in Australia (and Melbourne no less!), you might consider the Electra DAC made by Arthur Rappos in Melbourne. A Melbourne Audio Club meeting did a test where they added this upsampling dac to the Sony SCD-777ES sacd player and they felt the dac was better. Of course, the Sony is an excellent transport. Just another option I guess.

    Cheers,
    Mike
     
  16. Hanwook_K

    Hanwook_K Stunt Coordinator

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    My experience: SACD
    I've got a Sony 900v and I like it. I bought into SACD because of their faith in stereo high-rez. All SACDs will always have a stereo SACD track. However, I do think for the mainstream the bigger impact will be the ability of multi-channel, not hi-rez by itself.
    I don't have golden ears. But the more I listen to SACD the better it sounds. My ears are learning to pick up the details that were never there such as better control of instrument decay, better separation of instruments, etc.
    I like the Sony 900v and SACD playback. I enjoy listening to hi-rez music.
    The debate: SACD vs. DVD-A
    Each technology DSD (SACD) or 24bit PCM(DVD-A) have pros and cons. Bottomline is that I believe hi-rez formats provides an cost effective way to get into high end audio playback as long as there are titles. What I mean is that for me I would have to go out and buy a $2000 redbook CDP to compete with my Sony 900v SACD playback quality. And that goes the same for DVD-A. And I personally have not regreted spending all this money on a SACDP and SACDs, because it does raise the level at which I enjoy the music (atleast the ones I can buy). Let cross our fingers and hope that Sony and Universal do convert their entire lineup to Hybrid Disks [​IMG]
    Reflection: Why upgrade?
    But before you upgrade, what are you looking for? Is there something in your current setup that you're not happy with? A possible upgrade in DAC or IC may help extend the life of your CDP. Remember to think about your audio equipment as a whole, not as a component. You may get a bigger bang if you upgrade your speakers or you amp ...
     
  17. JohnSC

    JohnSC Stunt Coordinator

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    Hanwook_K,

    Thanks for you input. I have just upgraded my amp and speakers. I am using a Sony DVP-S525 DVD player as my cd player and I think it is my weakest link.

    Mike_Ch,

    That sounds like a good idea. It might be worth a little investigation.

    Thanks

    John
     
  18. Doug Pyle

    Doug Pyle Second Unit

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    I should chime in here, because I was in a similar quandary over a month ago. My CD player died & I wondered whether SACD would be worthwhile as a 'bonus' when replacing it with one having a good internal DAC or transport for external DAC for CDs (my primary consideration).
    Based on comments from Keith & others here (thanks, guys!!), I went for the Sony SCD C555ES before it became hard to get. It has a great DAC for redbook as well as SACD capability. Well, I have gone from "SACD would be a nice bonus if redbook CD sounds good" to an SACD addict! Although there are limited titles, I'm sucking them up everywhere I can find them. Don't tell the labels I don't flinch at $20+ SACDs (but I'm glad I can find them for $16 online!).
    My first SACD disk was the Al Dimeola/John McClaughlin/Paco De Lucia live recording. My impression was that finally, and for the first time, I'd heard recorded music the way I've always strived to hear it, but never had. I've never heard a more natural sound on any home-audio medium. I could hear the quality of the wood and strings for the first time, as if the guitars were right in my room. This is not simply improved CD sound. Vinyl can't touch the realism, and not only because of surface noise. As much as Keith and the others recommended SACD, for my ears, they were understating audible improvements the SACD medium offers. (Perhaps they wisely prevented inflated expectations by avoiding excessive praise. It's true that not every SACD sounds as good as the DiMeola - each is limited by the quality of the original recording.)
    As to DVD-Audio, I look forward to adding on that 'bonus' too, when I upgrade my DVD video player as well. There are enough reasons (i.e. software) now to own both formats, especially since they needn't be mutually exclusive. A quality SACD player can also be a great CD player; and DVD-A will also play DVD video.
    Caveat: I may have "golden ears" as Hanwook-K put it. I love the SACD hi-def difference. I'm one who never liked the digital sound of CDs and I never loved the sound of vinyl (I prefer the sound of music). But even my partner likes the improved sound, and she is far less demanding than I. Obviously, my recommendation for your upgrade is to find a CD player you like that has that SACD "bonus." [​IMG]
     
  19. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    IMO, most SACD players are inferior to dedicated CD players for Redbook playback. (I am unimpressed with SONY DACS and analogue stages.) THus, if the majority of your listening is to CD (as I imagine it is), I favor an dedicated CD player. Thee are a number of good choices, including Rega and Arcam, among others. However, the idea of getting an SACD player and using an external DAC for Redbook certainly has some merit.

    Larry
     
  20. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Keith,
    I believe Ballads is a compilation album, so it doesn't count. [​IMG]
    Other non-remastered albums that come to mind: Pangaea, Circle in the Round, all of his 80s stuff, and early albums like Dig, New Miles Davis Quintet.
    If you're that much of a collector, you should just take my CDs. I sell them to Newbury Comics anyway. [​IMG]
     

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