Whatever the future holds for SACD, listeners cannot deny the formats superior audio quality and after listening for some time to SACD’s. one may find it difficult to go back to listening to the traditionally recorded CD’s in their collections.

Classic Home Toys #17 - Make Way for SACD

James Russo

Classic Home Toys  Installment  #17
Make Way for SACD

Author: James Russo

The entire SACD concept is a odd one to be put in the Classic  Home Toys column because the format has been around for quite  some time without catching one and even seems to be teetering on the  brink of failure which would put the SACD disc and player alongside  many of the other “classic” home toys previously examined in this  column. However, the format seems to have nine lives and is sitting  just on the brink of explosive success.

Whatever the future holds for SACD, listeners cannot  deny the formats superior audio quality and after listening for some  time to SACD’s. one may find it difficult to go back to listening to  the traditionally recorded CD’s in their collections.  

The compact disc which began entering American homes circa 1988 has become  quite possibly the single most successful piece of home audio electronic since home  audio equipment was invented.  Almost immediately upon the CD’s release into the  American marketplace, the vinyl record and the audio cassette were made instantly  obsolete.  How could those antiquated formats ever hope to compete with all the things  that CD’s offered?

One thing is always for certain that times are always changing and, although the  standard play compact disc is still the heavyweight champion, a number of smaller  featherweight competitors are slowly and cautiously aligning themselves to knock the   traditional CD from its throne.  

The largest competitor against the traditional CD is Sony’s SA-CD format  otherwise known as Super Audio Compact Disc.  The SA-CD is nothing new;  the format has been around since the turn of the century (from 1999 to 2000, that is),  but the CD’s fairly complex duplication process, higher price tag for CD’s,. and  generally higher prices for the SA-CD players have kept the format dormant  since its release.   

Unlike multi-bit PCM recording which is used to cut traditional home  CD’s, SACD’s  DSD (or Direct Stream Digital) uses a one-bit pulse  that is analogous to the music waveform. DSD encoding employs more  digital 1s as the waveform goes positive and more 0s as the waveform goes  negative.

Early compact discs used a 16-bit recording process while the  latest traditional CD’s have been bumped up to a 24-bit recording   process.  With Sony’s DSD recording, a one-bit system that’s  fundamentally.  Thanks to an amazing 2,822,400 samples per  second, you get audio performance that no other format can deliver.

 

 

Where CD frequency response extends to 20,00 Hz, DSD  technology can theoretically reach 100,000 Hz.  Where CD has  dynamic range of 96 db,  DSD recording can achieve 120 db  across the entire audio range.  

All of this comes down to the quality of sound, and Sony’s  SACD definitely delivers. Even with 100 watts per channel bookshelf  speakers, the quality of audio with SACD is significantly better than  a traditional CD.  One of the best aspects of SACD players is the  player also improves the sound quality of traditional CD’s as well.  One may find that older, 16 bit encoded CD’s do not sound all that  different, but audiophiles will most certainly hear a difference in    more recent recording, most especially, CD’s encoded from the  mid-1990’s to the present.

The entire SACD concept is a odd one to be put in the Classic  Home Toys column because the format has been around for quite  some time without catching one and even seems to be teetering on the  brink of failure which would put the SACD disc and player alongside  many of the other “classic” home toys previously examined in this  column. However, the format seems to have nine lives and at times, seems to be sitting to brink of success.

The sheer uncertainty of the formats future has caused many  popular bands to pass on having their CD’s released in the format.   Currently, there are only a handful of CD’s out in the format and the  majority of them are from the classical music catalog.  In fact, many  audio industry insiders and audiophiles predicted the formats demise  any day now.  However, those hoping Sony would just forget about  SACD may have another thing coming to them.   

 

 

Just recently, Sony dropped drastically the prices on several of  its SACD players and now offers a multidisc player priced at $149.99.  Although SACD’s are still slightly more than traditional CD’s,  Sony  announced that new recording techniques would allow the price to  drop significantly. This news has sparked renewed interest in a format  that many predicted was “near death”.  The rock group Genesis headed  by Phil Collins announced that their record label would release the  entire back catalog of Genesis CD’s  in the SACD format.    

Whatever the future holds for SACD, listeners cannot  deny the formats superior audio quality and after listening for some  time to SACD’s. one may find it difficult to go back to listening to  the traditionally recorded CD’s in their collections.  

 

Related Links:

www.sonymusic.com/sacd
www.sacd.net
www.musicdirect.com


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