I think your comments make a lot of sense. I'll guess that the SACD you listened to was an old analgue master re-done in DSD ? Your experience was like I've found,...the difference reveals itself gradually over time,...you notice that every single parameter you focus on, has been slightly improved. And this has a cumlative effect greater than the sum might be suggested by any single area of improvement on it's own.
Having said that, I think you'd be immediatly struck by the immediacy, resolution, naturalness and dynamics of a pure DSD (SACD) recording. One that was mastered in DSD and then put on a disc. Have you tried this ?
But I did think your description of initial experience, ...and how it can take time to hear the *better*. My first SACD session at home more immediatly showed the good,...but my first listening at a dealers, ...in an unfamiliar room, with a system that's not mine etc., that took awhile to form a reference and get to see what was going on.
I agree again on your first point, it's impossible to know which format ( or neither or both) will survive. I have a feeling that if it's left entirely to the whims of the market, some variation on MP3 will win everything. But, I'm hoping that if enough of us show interest, the labels will feed those with an appetite with top quality sonics. Sony/Philips developed SACD as a means to archive their vast and valuable master tapes (the analogue master's will fail in a few decades and conventional digital technology would have meant a loss of quality in the archiving). Thus, they will be putting most/all their material onto SACD *anyway* (for themselves),..so it doesn't seem a large step that they might release a commercial version and recoupe some of the archive costs. From what you've said so far, I'm sure you're aware of this point,...I'm saying for some others that might not be ..., .
Also, I know most all of the motivation for Sony/Philips is $$ (fine with me, as long as I get this quality of sound). Their patents were up on CD and so it's definitely in their interest for a new and improved format to prosper ; also, they won't have to share royalties with the DVD-A group. And I'm sure there are a dozen more finantial angles in it for them.
On the availability and price of discs,...there are now 350 + SACD's and the standard list is less than $20 . This is still too expensive, but it's only a dollar or two more than new, A-Stock CD's,...and far less than many paid for special format CD's that did not sound as good as SACD. The more people that adopt,
the more pressing plants that get set up and the cheaper the mastering gear gets ...the cheaper the discs will be. It is early days yet and the price has done nothing but plummet so far .
On point number 3, the price of the machines, ...I don't really agree. A *cheap* SACD player playing sacd's (the Sony 333es is easily available for $550) will beat a conventional CD player costing far, far more . With a CD player, no matter the expense, there's still an element of *you can't polish a turd* about it. And, the 333es is a more than respectable CD player. That the SACD performance would punch way above it's $$ weight goes almost without saying (compared to CD players) ,...and in a worst case scenario , if the CD replay wasn't satisfying enough, a nice used dac could be added.