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SACD vs Vinyl (pros and cons?)

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
Can someone tell me some of the advantages, disadvantages, or characteristics of the two different sources. Mainly in SQ, does one provide more sound stage then the other or is it just more dependent on recording? I can assume that Vinyl would sound more organic while SACD sounds more digital but I guess I could be wrong. Also can CDs ever compare to SACDs or is there a definitive difference between the two?
post #2 of 51
Well the first thing to consider is that the advantages will first and foremost be apparent with well recorded albums. A well recorded cd sounds better than a poorly recorded SACD or LP. One excellent site is www.SteveHoffman.tv for determining the best sounding release of a given album. This could save you money in changing technology.

Advantages of SACD:

often comes with a RBCD layer (so one can rip it to comp or play it in a car)

is digital so the advantages of skipping tracks etc remain

small form factor

easy to use and maintain

can sound more holographic, better resolution/detail more dynamics etc. This is technology based, not absolute sonics.

players can be had for fairly cheap (Oppo universal for instance)

Disadvantages of SACD:

same small liner notes and artwork

can't rip the SACD layer, so no backing up!

Quite a few SACDS are merely RBCD masters on the SACD layer. So not cool.

Not many titles and it is a dying technology so the releases will be few and far between. Bluray is the next big thing with SACD likely to die a quick death.

Advantages of Vinyl

AMAZING back catalogue. Tons of albums never released on digital.

Large print liner notes and incredible artwork.

SQ is said to be more natural, holographic, detailed, solid, tonally correct etc etc. This is system dependent but there is a reason SACD was marketted as "more vinyl-like." No one advertises new vinyl albums as sounding more "cd-like" or more "sacd-like." This should give you a clue to how good vinyl can sound.

Vinyl is more popular than SACD and DVDA combined. Vinyl is not dying and is seeing a resurgence in popularity. Even if only a niche, it is a far healthier one than SACD by a mile.

Vinyl can be backed up. Sure it is not fun to do it (needle drops are not my thing) but it is possible and that means one can digitize their vinyl collection. very very cool.

Vinyl albums are often mastered better. This is not absolutely true but often true. Labels know that those buying vinyl want better sound and a good deal of vinyl is analagoue throughout the chain. Watch out for DDA releases. Might as well just buy the CD at that point.

Vinyl releases often come with a CD or a link to download a high quality MP3 version of the album.

Gear can be had for fairly cheap. The gear also scales up up up! And good albums keep pace with the gear.

Vinyl offers a more tactile experience, some see this as a huge draw. I do. It makes me feel more interactive and involved with my music.

Disadvantages of Vinyl

Dirty vinyl sounds awful. That means clicks and pops. One must clean their vinyl to have it sound best. Once cleaned, this means that vinyl can be as quiet as a CD...but it takes time and patience to get there.

Vinyl is more fragile in my opinion, again more care involved.

Vinyl is big and heavy. They take up lots of space.

Gear needs to be changed more regularly. Cartridge stylus replacements etc.
post #3 of 51
There's no real difference between the sound characteristics of vinyl, SACD or CD. The only significant differences are in noise. Vinyl has more.

The real difference between various releases is the quality of the mastering. Usually, more attention was paid to the mastering of 50s and 60s LPs and currently, SACDs. They may sound better because of that, but that doesn't mean that CDs can't sound just as good if the same care was taken with their mastering.

You'd do better to buy specific releases that have been recommended to you as sounding good, instead of depending on the format as a determiner of quality.

See ya
Steve
post #4 of 51
I enjoy using SACD and vinyl. Both can deliver the goods sonically and I like having access to the catalogs of each. Interestingly, it seems that SACD has turned mostly to classical - we still get high quality releases - while there isn't as much classicalon vinyl being pressed. So if you like classical, a SACD player isn't a bad investment. On the other hand, rock is having a resurgence on vinyl. For me, it pays to keep both around.
post #5 of 51
For my tastes and in my opinion:

SACD is a better CD while retaining the digital sound of CD no matter how many tubes you put in the chain or how good your front end is.

Vinyl sounds much better in most respects except detail. It has a natural sound that betters any of the digital formats to my taste and is only trumped by master tapes.

I prefer SACD to CDs, but vinyl to both by a larger margin
post #6 of 51
I think it would be a very brave audiophile to state that SACD is better than vinyl! but here goes!

Bang for buck SACD comes out on top - to get anywhere near the SQ on SACD via vinyl costs a small fortune, in terms of a player, a dedicated cleaner, and tracking down decent presses of the LP you want (I've given up counting the number of times I've returned an LP).
Interestingly enough a pretty cheap SACD will outperform an pretty expensive CD quite easily, the technology that is used in transforming the digital information on the SACD is fundementally different to RedBook PCM, and as such the problems associated with DAC performance etc are removed (also SACD contains about 10 times the data of a standard CD).

The sonics on a SACD are quite excellent, tons of detail etc, excellent soundstage, but as usual there are some dogs out there (just the same as for ill pressed/mastered LP's) 'Bat Out of Hell' is widely regarded as one such disaster on SACD!

However, SACD is only strong in the Classical market, very little in the way of Rock is scheduled for release (except from Genesis 1970-'75, ELP Brain Salad Surgery! yum, Wish You Were Here!) but still not dead.

I'd plum for a decent SACD player, this can always playback RBCD. The money you'd save in trying to get a quality vinyl system on par will be plenty to buy a few hundred SACD to get you started.

Also SACD's can be had for silly money (hurrah says MrWallet)

Cheers

BT
post #7 of 51
Well, the ones claiming some fundamental audible degradation due to digital technology would be quite wrong according to any credible study that has bothered to compare digital ADA to DAC process with proper equipment in proper blind trials. A huge test was done years ago, that compared 44.1/16bit ADC to DAC process on the master tapes at a major studio with many audio engineers and students; with no ability to identify when the ADC-DAC process was inserted, being the conclusion. This used to be referenced on the ABX website, but I don't know if it still is. Another popular account is published on the The Boston Audio Society website(it was still up when I checked a few months ago), of where a high grade vinyl system was also put through a similar system, with the outcome once again showing the digital process did not affect the sound audibly to the humans tested. There was recently a highly credible, peer reviewed JAES published study not of analog, but of 'hi-res' digital reduced to CD format digital, compared in many blind trials, and the results concluded once again, that the CD format itself is not to blame for audible degradation. No one could reliably identify the hi-res recordings from the hi-res recordings put through a 44.1/16 ADC to DAC stage. The only time differences are found, is when a sloppy test is done, and/or the equipment has specific problems that no one bothered to analyze anything to ensure nothing odd was happening in the process. CD format itself is transparent to human ears, is what all of the credible data points to. You can record a LP to 44.1Khz/16bit with proper gear and put it on a CD-R and it will be audibly identical, though it might not be perceived as nice to you, because there are strong psychological factors that go along with the experience as well; the same psychological factors that let people easily identify exotic cables in sighted comparison, but when knowledge of what is being heard is removed, they fail. It may be easier/more convenient for people to go with anecdotal experiences and make premature judgements, but it's not any way to come to accurate conclusions.

The real problem, as a few here have correctly stated, is the mastering. Little care is given to most mainstream CDs, and even audiophile companies like Telarc are using extreme compression techniques on some of their CDs now. So, in many cases, the SACD or DVD-A version of an album will have a different(and superior) master to the CD version, even if it is a dual layer SACD with a CD layer on it! It is also probable that the vinyl version of an album will have a superior master. As I understand it, you can't really compress a signal as far on vinyl and push it to maximum loudness of this format, like you can with CD, as the vinyl will likely mis-track and/or have other problems during playback, at least on many lower quality arms/cartridges. Ironically, the technical inferiority forces it to have sonic superiority..... lol.

I don't really like vinyl, myself, but I invested in a very nice turntable because a late friend left me an excellent large vinyl collection of superb condition 50's to 70's era of classical and opera albums, over 200 of them. It really justified acquiring a very good quality turntable. In addition, and sadly, I can likely buy modern LPs released by modern artists, and get a superior master on the vinyl release as compared to the CD version. This is another reason for the high quality turntable.

Chris
post #8 of 51
I may be wrong, but I think most people get amazed when hearing a mid-fi vinyl setup because it usually sounds clearly better than a mid-fi CDplayer. And I think the DAC of the CDP is to blame. A good DAC with a good mastered CD sounds really well. Still, vinyl has something hard to grasp that is involving. Dont know what it is. But the dust is such a nightmare that I dont have a setup anymore. I went digital.
post #9 of 51
Thread Starter 
Really useful information guys thanks, kind of leaning towards vinyl but never realized how much goes into making a good vinyl set up. I don't ever plan on spending much on an audio setup, at least thats what I say now. I know a lot of the artists I listen to are available on vinyl and I really like the big artwork and unique colored records. Probably end up with a decent CD/Vinyl setup one day.
post #10 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by goober-george View Post
Really useful information guys thanks, kind of leaning towards vinyl but never realized how much goes into making a good vinyl set up.
It doesn't take a lot to get a good vinyl setup. People just tend to overcomplicate it. If you want to get into vinyl, just look at local thrift stores for used Dual, Technics or Thorens turntables in good condition. You can get a nice Dual for $100, the other two might cost a bit more. $50 for a phono preamp, and $50 for a cartridge and you are on your way. A used system like this will sound as good as new ones that cost several times as much.

The best reason to get a turntable is for the records... You can get great sounding records for fifty cents to a buck a disk.

See ya
Steve
post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
The best reason to get a turntable is for the records... You can get great sounding records for fifty cents to a buck a disk.
Truer words were never said. Steve, you have said this to me about a dozen times over the past several months and it finally sank in. It is beginning to pay off.

Why buy 4 new audiophile pressings for $120 that may have physical defects when you can buy well over 200 records in bulk for the same money? Sure, you may end up tossing a few bad records from a lot, but for less than a buck a record who cares?

I recently bought...

110 classical music LPs for $74
100 classical music LPs for $74
100 classical music LPs for $60
65 jazz LPs for $30
50 easy listening LPs for $18

When buying bulk you have to be flexible. If you are only shopping for certain titles then bulk probably won't work for you. But if you can be flexible and enjoy exploring different artists and music, then buying bulk lots at yard sales, flea markets, Salvation Army Thrift Shops, local classifieds, etc, can't be beat.

--Jerome
post #12 of 51
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I just looked through two thrift shops. I saw an ancient looking fisher price record player. Then I saw some others like Goldstar and a couple others but they were stacked on top of cassette players/recorders and such. They also weren't in the greatest shape so, probably will just keep looking around. Too bad the modern vinyls aren't as cheap as the old stuff but I could grab a lot of nice jazz albums for cheap, just starting to get into classical. Bought a Chopin CD for a $1.25 at the thrift shop. Still nice to be able to get all that music for cheap, must be nice to go through the whole collection and at the same time experience new music.
post #13 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanth View Post

Disadvantages of SACD:

Not many titles and it is a dying technology so the releases will be few and far between. Bluray is the next big thing with SACD likely to die a quick death.
Does it mean that high resolution audio releases will switch to Bluray from SACD?
Interesting.
post #14 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigTony View Post
(snip)
Interestingly enough a pretty cheap SACD will outperform an pretty expensive CD quite easily, the technology that is used in transforming the digital information on the SACD is fundementally different to RedBook PCM, and as such the problems associated with DAC performance etc are removed (also SACD contains about 10 times the data of a standard CD).
I have found just the opposite, I have yet to hear a cheap sacd player i liked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gevorg View Post
Does it mean that high resolution audio releases will switch to Bluray from SACD?
Interesting.
there is no indication that hi rez audio will move to blueray
post #15 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsaliga View Post
Truer words were never said. Steve, you have said this to me about a dozen times over the past several months and it finally sank in. It is beginning to pay off.
You ready for tip # 2?

If you think like the person with the record collection trying to sell it, you'll realize that nine times out of ten, they *have* to get those records out the door or they will face the wrath of wife/landlord/etc. This means that when you go out to look at a batch, if you tell them you'll haul them away for them and give them a good home on your shelf, they'll probably give them to you for free.

I've gotten over 8,000 great classical records that way.

One more tip... Don't toss records just because you don't like the music if they're in reasonably good shape- donate them to the Goodwill.

See ya
Steve
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