Jude, I don't argue it's sonic superiority.
Jude, I don't argue the sonic superiority of SACD. I say it has yet to be PROVEN!
Don't you have re-mastered versions of regular audio cds in your collection that sound MUCH better than the original release(s)? I sure do! And it doesn't prove that the technology used in producing the remastered version is superior, only that the mastering job was superior!
Simply having the same recording in both formats (SACD and CD) and stating that the SACD sounds better doesn't prove that the format sounds better! Obviously the cd and sacd were mastered at different times, with different methods, by (I'm guessing) different mastering engineers, using different techniques (different equalization/compression/limiting and other mastering tricks). All that such a comparison really can prove is that the mastering job on the SACD is superior! And if the SACD is multi-channel, (the cd obviously is stereo) then NOTHING is proven at all! The same number of channels must be present!
I freely admit that having IDENTICALLY mastered recordings in both SACD and redbook cd is a tall order, since the technology used is so different. But only with identically mastered recordings, matched levels, the same number of channels, and double-blint testing can ANY conclusions be drawn about the AUDIBLE superiority of the new format(s). Again that's a VERY tall order.
So we don't understand each other, I'll tell you now that both SACD and DVD-Audio DO offer measurably superior results, so in theory at least they are BOTH superior to regular redbook cd. What I seek, and believe we all should, is scientific PROOF that they are AUDIBLY superior. Why am I so skeptical? In large measure because on a daily basis I am able to compare 16 bit 44.1khz recordings with a direct microphone feed, and hear that they SOUND identical (giving high quality equipment, such as is used in my studio). The question that nags me is "if 16 bit 44.1khz sounds IDENTICAL to the live microphone feed, how is it possible to improve upon "identical?" THAT is what we should be asking ourselves. Whether the new formats are "better" is almost a side issue. Whether they are audibly DIFFERENT should be the first thing we investigate, for if they aren't proven to sound different, then "better" is irrelevent!
To answer your question Jude, NO I have not heard SACD, or any direct stream format. Nor have I seen a single player in stores, nor a single recording available ANYWHERE in my area. The only place I've seen them is online, and from mail-order high-end specialty stores. I suspect that my experiences are similar to those of most people. I AM an audio nerd, and I can't locate the damn things to listen to. If that's the case (it is), then what possibility do these wonderful new formats have anyway? (DVD-Audio players ARE available at Best Buy and Circuit City in Hickory North Carolina, although a meaningful demonstration in a place like that is obviously impossible.) And although I have seen the DVD-Audio players, I have yet to see a DVD-A recording! My guess is that both formats will fail commercially before most consumers even become aware of their existance! The fact that we're probably now in a recession certainly won't help matters.
I haven't heard an outcry from (non-audiophile) listeners complaining about the sound of conventional cd. Have you, honestly? I submit that since most average people are satisfied with the sound quality of cd, SACD and DVD-A are solutions in search of a problem. ESPECIALLY with today's economic climate, I'm afraid that, although these formats may well be superior, they will fail before their audible superiority (or lack thereof) has been proven/disproven!