Sony SCD-1 Super Audio CD/CD player Page 7
SACD vs upsampled CD
So lemme ask you: Which version of "fabulous" do you want? Super Audio CD or CD upsampled to a 24-bit/192kHz datastream with the dCS 972 digital-to-digital converter and driving the dCS Elgar D/A converter? They're both great, and miles ahead of straight 16/44.1.
Overall, I'd rate the SCD-1 playing Super Audio CD a tad less involving than the dCS upsampling front-end. The Sony at its best—ie, with SACD recordings—still had slightly less air and transparency than the more expensive dCS duo. But I was surprised to find I could play SACD louder than I could 24/192. One day, switching to the dCS, Kathleen remarked that it sounded tighter and yet more "tender" than the Sony. I think she was referring to the slightly greater detail and accompanying expressiveness found in dCS-upsampled Red Book CD. My wife is an amazing person.
Let's leave it that SACD discs sounded absolutely their best on the SCD-1, but standard 16/44.1 recordings had the best chance of sounding great when upsampled. Regardless, the Sony wasn't far behind. The SCD-1, with judicious use of its filters, was more voomanly and beautiful than the dCS—like a gorgeous babe poured into a slinky cocktail dress, homina homina. In some way the PCM-based dCS was more intellectual-sounding than the more overtly sensual Sony.
I think I'll keep listening to my CDs through the dCS gear. But don't forget—the dCS rig costs almost $20,000 list, while the Sony goes out the door for $5000. And there will be lots more software coming out soon. I'd say it's starting to look good for Sony. No baloney.
What's it all about?
For me, and I suspect for many audiophiles, the full harmonic tapestry that some components mete out makes me kvell. I feel something physical when I hear the sound of a flute, an oboe, or a cello played a certain way. I experience an ineffable and strong attraction toward what's stroking my ear cilia. [shiver]
How do you quantify a thing like that? I suppose if I plugged you into the Orgasmatron, from Woody Allen's Sleeper, and hit the switch, you'd know what I mean. But for the moment, I'm limited to words. And I'll just use them to say that the Sony is one of those components that did it for me. At $5k, the Sony gives a topflight virtuoso performance. SACD recordings sound phenomenal, and Sony's got a big catalog to draw on, you know. Given the SCD-1's solid build quality and circuit implementation and those useful filters, I'd say it represents quite a bargain when held up against CD-only players in this tough, competitive little market. So: highly recommended for the purist two-channel device that it is.
Rejoice! This is indeed a lucky time to be an audiophile.