I think I could live with the mediocre USB for at least a little while. I've had my eye on this unit for quite some time and depending on my finical situation over the next week or so it might be time to finally pick one up.
Will want an SACD player end game but I will probably just use it as a transport at the end of the road. As of now there are quite a few DACs and amps I'm considering, but there's not a lot of options for SACD players out there at a reasonable price. Especially not with the USB feature (throw away as it may be).
Upgrade path might look something like this...
SA8004 (DAC/Transport) + Pioneer 255R (Amp)
SA8004 (DAC/Transport) + Liquid Fire (Amp)
SA8004 (Transport) + DA-11 (Or one of the million other DACs I'm considering) + Liquid Fire (Amp)
The Pioneer is horribly bright but has built in EQ that doesn't sound bad at all...so it's passable for now.
Thanks for the info, guys.
Originally Posted by kstaken
I've had the SA-8004 for almost a year and just tried the LCD-2 on the headphone out. I don't listen loud so for me it gets to listening level at about half way on the volume pot and all the way up is outside my comfort zone. To me the sound quality isn't bad for a built in headphone socket but a decent external amp will definitely improve on it. Since I have other amps, I never use the built in headphone output but it's probably serviceable to get started with.
Unfortunately the USB input on this thing is a convenience feature at best and I personally think it sounds awful. The other digital inputs sound much better but you need to use an external USB/Firewire converter of some type and better quality converters will make a difference here.
Given your stated goal this is likely a very good option to build around. The fact it serves as a SACD/CD player and external DAC for the price is a great value even if the built in USB is a throw away. You might find the USB passable as a starting point but I'd look quickly at getting a different interface. Even something relatively inexpensive like a Firestone Bravo is a substantial improvement over the built in USB.