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Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

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Is SACD a non-starter?

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  • Is SACD a non-starter?

    SACD seems to have been around for a while now with little market penetration. Correct?

    Wikipedia refers to a double blind test where skilled listeners were not able to tell whether a recording was SACD or red book any better than by pure chance. This raises serious doubt about the alleged superiority of high definition digitization for music.

    DVDs, some with very good audio, have surround sound plus video so may have short circuited any Joe Public need for SACD. Sony Playstation removed SACD support from playback years ago, thus killing a major avenue of diffusion to the mass market.

    Apart from a few specialty companies, are there even many SACDs being produced?

    High quality online streaming and associated gear is being taken up by audiophiles and that is likely to improve still further.

    Therefore: is SACD finished?

  • #2
    Is SACD a non-starter?

    Without wishing to sound rude (nigh on impossible on t'internet):

    I'm afraid this is a classic 'flame war' subject and for reasons too tedious to list, you will never get a definitive answer to your question unless you travel forward in time and check what hardware/software is available in the shops.

    But to be more realistic, I think Marantz, Teac Esoteric, Denon, Pioneer, Cambridge Audio (hardware) and Mobile Fidelity, Telarc, BIS, Universal Music Japan and EMI Japan would say 'No' to your question.

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    • #3
      Current SACD hardware and software owners will also say not.

      {Moderator's comment: like every other aspect of the audio industry, SACD exists for one primary reason nothing to do with quality. It is simply another business opportunity to bring in the $$$$$$$.}

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dougal View Post
        I'm afraid this is a classic 'flame war' subject
        Sorry! I'm rather new to the audio forums. I found a similar thread here not long after posting.

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        • #5
          Is SACD a non-starter?

          >Sorry! I'm rather new to the audio forums. I found a similar thread here not long after posting.

          No need to apologise, SACD is simply one of those topics that acts as "a red rag to a bull" as the phrase goes.

          >Moderator's comment: like every other aspect of the audio industry, SACD exists for one primary reason nothing to do with quality. It is simply another business opportunity to bring in the $$$$$$$.

          Er, yes. The origins of the SACD format are worth researching.

          In an ideal world, Sony/Philips and all their competitors would have backed DVD-Audio and followed the sage advice put forward by Bob Stuart, Michael Gerzon, Peter Craven at al from the Meridian team. Sadly this did not happen and the quest for a high definition audio format simply resulted in a format war.

          I say 'sadly' because DVD-Audio involved much simpler authoring techniques, and at the time of SACD's launch the rival format could be dealt with far more flexibly in the studio.

          SACD thrives at present but the future may belong to high bit-rate downloads and Blu-ray audio.

          {Moderator's comment: I thought SACD died years ago? DVA-Audio offered wider bandwidth, more bits???, but what did SACD actually offer technically over 44k 16 bit?}

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          • #6
            Rip sacd?

            Originally posted by Moderator
            I thought SACD died years ago? DVA-Audio offered wider bandwidth, more bits???, but what did SACD actually offer technically over 44k 16 bit?
            It originally offered to rescue the music industry from the perils of Red Book CD ripping. In fact it has been remarkably successful in that respect as it remains well-nigh impossible to rip, with the exception of those PS3 models that i) are equipped with SACD-compatible drives and ii) are running Linux.

            Right now, with the current interest in high resolution digital formats, the best thing Sony et al. could do is release a SACD player with an accessible PCM output (at say, 24 bit 96kHz) to enable people to rip their SACDs properly, for playing via a media server or the like; I'm sure such a device would sell well.

            But I seriously doubt, as a medium currently only accessible in the analogue domain, that SACD has much of a future.

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            • #7
              Sacd

              >Moderator's comment: I thought SACD died years ago? DVA-Audio offered wider bandwidth, more bits???, but what did SACD actually offer technically over 44k 16 bit?

              Aside from the Wikipedia entry, a concise explanation of the format can be found here:

              http://www.ambisonic.net/sacdvdada.html

              SACD certainly did not die. It won't stomp any other format out of existence, but for a niche product it is in remarkably rude health. Just ask Ken Ishiwata (Marantz) or Roger Batchelor (Denon) if you bump into them at a hi-fi show.

              {Moderator's comment: With respect, those gents are promoters., representing the producers. You'd expect them to be positive. What and all that matters is how is it selling at retail level? $$$$$. If no $$$$$ it's dead and buried.}

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              • #8
                SACD is not dead and sounds very good!

                SACD is not dead at all. Look up the site www.SA-CD.net to find a thriving community of users with a lot of input from label-owners, recording engineers and other experts (and me!)

                SACD is a very good option if you like Classical music. There are around 7000 SACD titles, mostly Classical. The surround sound aspect can work very well for Classical, recreating the acoustic space of the performance, and no, it doesn't sound like a HT system - for a start most multichannel SACD discs don't even include a .1 channel. There are quite a lot of labels who try hard to make excellent-sounding recordings for SACD release. Channel Classics, BIS, Pentatone are three of the best-sounding Classical labels IMO and all release their recordings on SACD.

                As for DVD-A having more bits - I think those 23rd and 24th bits get swamped by noise anyway don't they? DVD-A is not a very good format really. The menus make it clunky to use and it has no real advantags over SACD. DVD video became extremely popular, that's why DVD-A should have prospered, because the 24/192 chips for DVD players are mass-produced cheaply. With SACD, technically you don't even need a DAC - just a low pass filter. It was a missed oppertunity that Sony/Philips should have pushed much harder for than they did. If the industry could have got together and decided to back just one format - DVD-A or SACD - then we could have seen a true successor to the CD.

                It seems that CD, DVD, BD and downloads of all kinds, all use PCM. This makes it even harder for SACD with it's DSD system to ever become a force in the future. Will DSD downloads ever appear? Probably at some point as a small niche, but as of now I'm very happy to keep buying excellent sounding SACD discs for my Classical music needs.

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                • #9
                  Sacd - last man standing?

                  >Moderator's comment: With respect, those gents are promoters., representing the producers. You'd expect them to be positive. What and all that matters is how is it selling at retail level? $$$$$. If no $$$$$ it's dead and buried.

                  That's the bottom line, of course. What I would conclude from the current range of SACD hardware and software is, it sells enough.

                  Even if only one manufacturer of SACD hardware remains in the future, it is beneficial to be the last man standing in a small pond (to borrow some Harbeth logic).

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