Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › First Thread!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

First Thread!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Sorry, couldn't resist. But on a more serious note . . . why do we need these new formats? I mean, will the audio quality really be differentiable from CD? Or is it just a size thing? I mean, I know a dvd can hold ~13x a CD can, but who would take advantage of that aspect?

-Chu
post #2 of 15
Chu, I have an SACD player, and comparing the SACD version of an album to its CD counterpart (for example, Miles Davis' Kind of Blue) exhibits the sonic benefits of SACD in a hurry. So far, I totally dig SACD, but am hoping the library gets bigger and that the format sticks.
post #3 of 15
I agree - a week ago a friend of mine's dad showed me his new Sony S9000ES (DVD/SACD player)...the difference was truly incredible. Some other people were over who are FAR from audiophiles and even they could tell the difference easily.
post #4 of 15
Hello Chu,

The main benefit of the new formats is better sound, to my ears, far better sound. I have listened/used some very nice CD players and SACD beats them all.

Or, for another perspective ....when Michael Fremer, the analog guru at Stereophile, tested SACD, he made a statement to the effect that it equaled/bettered his extremely expensive LP rig. A comment like this from someone like Fremer, who can barely tolerate the sound on regular CD players , says a lot.

Some things do stand out on SACD, the dynamics, frequency extension, transparency etc., but often the effect is subltle (ie, don't expect to be immediatly *blown away*). Over time, you notice that every area you look at is done better on SACD,..and this has a cumulative effect. The sound is more natural and has an analogue ease ...that may not scream for attention as much as the typically more brash sound on CD's ...so you have to *listen* and let it wash over you.

Also, SACD will not improve on the Master Tapes ...if it's on the Master, it'll be on the SACD. So you'll hear the tape hiss on older analogue transfers (Kind of Blue for example). Yet, even here, SACD is an improvement ...the quality of the master tape hiss is better ! (only half joking,...go and read the article by Jennifer Crock at Positive Feedback Magazine, she goes on about how the character of the hiss is like on the Master tape with SACD,...but with CD it somehow gets weded to the music ..


The biggest complaints are that there's not a huge catelog (sp ?) yet ( about 350 + titles world wide thus far) ,...and worse, it spoils you and can *ruin* listening to your old CD's .

Check the Sony website,...they now (or by the end of the summer) have about 10 or 15 different SACD players , ranging in price from under $400 to over $3,500. Marantz, Accuphase, Classe and ( ? ) have players as well, but they're somewhat expensive still ...

Anyway ...the reason I like/want the new format is that it sounds so good , it's definitely a worthwhile improvement ,

Martin.
post #5 of 15
Chu: The new formats have the capabilitiy of reproducing waveforms more precisely using a higher bit depth and/or a higher sample rate. This will bring the term "resolution" back to the reproduction of high frequencies, which are quite crippled on the cd - something I missed since the days of vinyl.

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini
post #6 of 15
To me the difference between SACD and an ordinary 16/44.1 CD was not immediately obvious but after 5-10 minutes of listening it grabbed me, plenty of subtle details an naturality most of the CD setups I've heard lack. Well I'm convinced that the new formats are superior but there are many things to be sorted out before I'll buy one of these players.
First, which one? We have a format war comming and at present it's not at all clear who is going to win. It all depends on marketing strategies rather than sound quality alone (don't know how DVD-A compares to SACD in fact never heard DVD-A).
Second, the software. I'm not the one who'll spend 20-30 bucks on a record that I don't like just because it's a new format. I expected that the new formats will come much faster in record stores, hardware have been available for a couple of years now and yet there is only a limited number of titles out there. Than it is a question of recording quality in general. Most of the music, even the newest stuff isn't recorded properly and thus will not benefit from putting it on a high resolution format.
Third it's the price. True there are some budget models on the market, but does it make sense to buy such a thing? Just the fact that the pickup will read the SACD layer doesn't mean that the sound will improve. A good CDP will always sound better than a cheap SACD/DVD-A player. I mean, if you wanna buy one of these it shoud be a good one, but then we are talking well over thousand bucks.
For me, it was clear that I should wait. In a couple of years the situation may (and most probably will) change. Until then I'm planing to enjoy my growing CD collection.
post #7 of 15
blr, I spent a few hours playing with my friend's dad's system (that I mentioned in my previous post) a week or two ago. He has a Sony S9000ES DVD/SACD player, some fairly new mcintosh power amps, and B&W Nautilus 802's (we're talking a fairly major system here ) To me, the difference was immediately noticeable. There were 4 other guys with me and we were all listening. It wasn't even music that we were neccesarily familiar with. But everyone single one of us could tell the difference immediately on every recording. You could do the blindfold test and be 100% accurcate. Soundstage is the major key to this - it is MUCH larger and more accurcate. There is simply more detail and resolution to the SACD's as well. Really, the difference was downright incredible. So much so that I'm buying an SACD player.
post #8 of 15
Blr,

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.

Martin.
post #9 of 15
Until the price of SACD or DVD-A falls to US$200 or so it is not going to be widely accepted. You guys cannot look at the market through the eyes of the audiophile willing to spend tons of money. VAST majority of people will not shell out US$500. The price has to fall much further. Until then, the selection and availability of disks is going to be low regardless of technical issues which sure exist (if a modern recording was done digitally instead of using master tape, SACD ain't worth a squat).

Btw I doubt a cheap SACD player can sound better than an excellent CD player (and at least one person who has heard it says so). For example what good is that you can resove signal down to say 10uV if you have 1mV of noise on your power supply rails? Does the entry-level (if you can call something costing that much entry level) $500 SACD has the parts/design quality of a $500 CD or of of a $200 CD and everything else are Sony royalties?
post #10 of 15
Who knows how long it will take for sub $200 SACD players ? Two years ago the cheapest SACD player was $3,500, today you can buy an SACD player for less than $400 ,...and this trend will continue. The plan, as I understand it, is to include SACD capability on every level, on DVD players, mini-systems, cars and even portables. How long did it take CD players to be abundantly available, cheap and quality ? ( 2 years ? 4 years ? 10 years ?

I know that you are right about the vast majority of people not wnating to shell out $500 , or even $200 for a CD player. Sony's plan is to have sub $200 machines and to sell hybrid sacd/cd discs at the price of regular CD's. Then people will have an SACD catalogue built up and reason to choose an SACD/CD player (or SACD/CD/DVD-V ...as many *DVD* players will be) ...if they needed to buy a CD player anyway.

I don't have any deep understanding of CD and SACD technology,...and I can see that you are in the same boat :

(if a modern recording was done digitally instead of using master tape, SACD ain't worth a squat).

Your statement is just wrong. Studio's can master and manipulate in hi-rez PCM technology (not talking about SACD/DSD) ...at far higher sampling rates and bit lengths than can be handled by the red book CD standard. It's then dumbed down for the mass production of CD .

Was this the only technical barrier you were versed on ?

On the point of a Sony 333es playing SACD's Versus a more expensive machine playing CD's ,...it's Paul Bunyan Vs. the chain saw, a race horse Vs. the locomotive ,...SACD is just better technology for sound. To put the 333es in context, Listener Magazine could not find any useable difference between it and the Sony 777ES ($2,500) and the Marantz SA-1 ($7000) when playing SACD's .

Note that the 333es first listed at $1,200. I was pointing it out above as a *heads-up* to anyone looking to buy a CD player anyway,...at $550 , this CD/SACD player should be considered. For the most part, it's not workable or usefull to compare using prices ; SACD is still new and the prices are coming down and they will just get better for less (just as happened with CD). I'm sure a lot of what was learned about how to make CD good transfered, but theirs got to be a lot of room to maximize the potential of SACD.

I too could find someone that would tell me that a 333es playing SACD's would not beat a more expensive CD player playing CD's ...some of these will be salesmen selling said exspensive CD players , some would be basing it on paper, what they think it *ought* to sound like. But I find such statements , guesses and conjectures hard to reconcile with what my ears plainly heard. You should be able to find a store that'll lend you a 333es and a few SACD's ? (preferably DSD discs all the way) , listen and see if you still disagree.


As for the 333es being a $200 machine in disguise (with the rest Sony royalties), that's an interesting statment : Have you seen the 333es ? Have you ever seen *any* $200 player that would compete with it's build ? I am naive in my ways, but I know Sony are a business and are in it for money ; this isn't a problem for me. If they see that they can make money selling me fantastic music machine's and music, then we'll both be happy. For the most part, this last statment about the Sony being such a cheap build makes me think not only have you not listened to one, you've probably not seen one either ? It's really hard to judge the quality of a new format without listening to it .

I'm not saying SACD is a shoe-in to survive and dominate the market , far from it ; it's just that after listening, I want it to .

Martin.
post #11 of 15
aos,

I've got a Sony SCD-C333ES I bought for $550.00, and I think I'd be comfortable comparing it playing the Thelonius Monk's Straight, No Chaser SACD to just about any (maybe any) CD player playing the CD version of it.

It's quite remarkable really.

I bought the 333 knowing that SACD may not survive. But its excellent CD playback (better than any of the sub-$1000 players I auditioned to my ears) was probably the main reason I bought it and kept it.



Quote:
Originally posted by aos
Until the price of SACD or DVD-A falls to US$200 or so it is not going to be widely accepted. You guys cannot look at the market through the eyes of the audiophile willing to spend tons of money. VAST majority of people will not shell out US$500. The price has to fall much further. Until then, the selection and availability of disks is going to be low regardless of technical issues which sure exist (if a modern recording was done digitally instead of using master tape, SACD ain't worth a squat).

Btw I doubt a cheap SACD player can sound better than an excellent CD player (and at least one person who has heard it says so). For example what good is that you can resove signal down to say 10uV if you have 1mV of noise on your power supply rails? Does the entry-level (if you can call something costing that much entry level) $500 SACD has the parts/design quality of a $500 CD or of of a $200 CD and everything else are Sony royalties?
post #12 of 15
Several months ago when I was on the market for a new CDP I could choose between Sony SCD 940 and a conventional machine both for about 400 USD. In the end I bought Marantz CD6000 OSE. Why? Because conventional CD playback was way better on the Marantz and even switching to SACD mode the Sony didn't blow me away. Well, I was very impressed by other SACD players in the sony line but didn't have the cash.
I was a teenager when the CD made its debut and I remember it didn't happen overnight. In the begining many people switched to CD systems just because it was more convinient and the sound didn't deteriorate upon repeated playback, but boy did they sound horrible. It took several years betfore the CD format got rid of this metalic harshness and at the same time the players got much cheaper. Why am I telling you this? My point is that the same thing will happen with the high res formats, but the situation now is more complicated because 15 years ago we had CD and only CD. Everyone knew that this is the way to go. Now we have two of these. We are all talking about SACD most of the time, but what if at the end DVD-A wins against all odds. Who wants to end up with a player for say 1000USD and no software to play, because I'm sure about one thing, the market will not tolerate the existence of two competitive formats in a long run. Right now it seems like Sony/Philips party is on the right track providing hardware and software and they already won most of the audiophile market, but I don't think Technics/Panasonic, Pioneer etc will just sit and wach their billion dollar investments going down the drain and then paying Sony bick bucks for a SACD licence.
At the end, I'm not against the new formats, but I'll advise anyone to wait. In a year or two we will have (hopefully) a clear winner plus there will be more discs to play and the players will be even better and cheaper.
post #13 of 15
As I already got an el cheapo dvd-player, which is good enough for casual use, the next thing I'm waiting for is a hybrid (sa)cd/(s)vcd/dvd/dvd-a-player and dvd-rw/+rw-recorder with 5.1-recording. So I probably won't have to waste another thought on that for another three years minimum. But till then we'll probably have a few new standards, again...

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini
post #14 of 15
I meant to say if the recording was done digitally in say only 18 bit/48 kHz, SACD wouldn't help much. I think in early digital days they used such stuff. I am sure that they use (probably) at least 24 bit recording in studios today. I do find that in general analog to digital transfers sound better than all-digital recordings, but that could be for a number of reasons. Anyway, I shouldn't have said that.

As for build quality, I am sure that high-end Sonys are built well. Entry level of anything is usually built to cost, meaning cheap parts. I was just wondering what was the reason for price difference. To me it looks like SACD is just (adaptive?) delta modulation and that's hardly a new technology and I don't see a technical reason for it to cost much more than regular CD; there might be economical reasons (production volume not high enough). I am very well aware of standard PCM but I do admit I've not seen much about SACD other than it's 1bit and very high data rate (MHz range) - and that sounds like delta modulation. If anyone has a link to a technical SACD white paper, I'd appreciate it.

However, it could be that the "entry" level machines today are not really entry level builds, because Sony knows they *have* to sound better than most CD players in order to sell and get accepted. So they might contain high end parts and be sold at even a loss at first, and they might sell cheaply built and priced stuff later when the acceptance of the format has been secured. I don't know. But it is hard to believe that SACD with cheap build would overperform a good CDP simply because the added distortion and noise is quite noticeable even on CDs and would negate lot of the benefits of new system.

Actually, the price difference is applicable to DVD-A as well. I have for example CS4397 DAC chip that cost me only US$10 and which supports 24/192. I also build DAC with CS4390 which has "only" 24/96 and costs $5. Now, there is difference between 96 and 192 in that you can't use SPD/IF over 96kHz, you must use "raw" format. So the digital receiver section of DAC may need to be reengineered to support 192 kHz. Even if it does, it wouldn't justify $1000 price on DVD-A player - IF that were the only difference between that one and the $200 one. It really could be that all machines sold now are high-end only, in order to showcase the new format.
post #15 of 15
MONK writes:
Quote:
On the point of a Sony 333es playing SACD's Versus a more expensive machine playing CD's ,...it's Paul Bunyan Vs. the chain saw, a race horse Vs. the locomotive ,...SACD is just better technology for sound.
I'm the first person to advocate DSD as the wave of the future. But right now, SACD players like the Sony XB940 which skimp from the transport to the DAC to the analogue output stage simply are not locomotives vs. horses. Just because Jon Scull said in Stereophile said he preferred scarlet-book playback on the SCD-1 to red-book playback using the dCS Elgar/Purcell combo as digital-to-analogue conversion doesn't mean that all the SACD players out there sound better than the best CD players. So much goes into sound-reproduction that you have to take everything into consideration, not just the digital technology.

Another issue is that the DSD DAC and the 650-nanometer laser are more expensive to produce than a PCM DAC and a 780-nanometer laser, so part of the money of any SACD player must go into this, and thus it cannot be put into the other parts of the machine.

The Sony SCD-C333ES is not a cheap machine and was not meant to sell for a low price. Demand was low, and the price had to go down for it to sell. The C333ES only seems to be a cheap mechanism when you compare it to the Sony SCD-777ES, which goes for 4-5 times as much nowadays. Which brings me to the next part.

Quote:
To put the 333es in context, Listener Magazine could not find any useable difference between it and the Sony 777ES ($2,500) and the Marantz SA-1 ($7000) when playing SACD's.
Just because Listener Magazine decided on this doesn't mean that it's true. Stereophile said they definitely heard a difference between the SCD-1 and SA-1. They also heard a small difference between the 777ES and the SCD-1. And they also heard a difference between the C333ES and the 777ES. This Listener Magazine writer may not have had much experience with SACD playback (or perhaps with any digital format). I just can't believe that an avid listener would find the above statement to be true.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › First Thread!