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JSBach
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Doing things backwards

Having always been a late adopter of new technologies ( took me 10 years from CD's introduction to take the plunge & even then I hated what I heard) I've gotten myself in a puzzling situation. I'm over the moon with my Meridian 808.2 CD player but having just been exposed to SACD/DVD-A etc on a friends system I now want to start putting my foot into the higher bit-rate ocean. So, I don't need a player that produces eye-candy of performs well on CD but one that does the higher definition formats as good as can be had for up to $10,000 (Australian) The player I heard at my friends was a Marantz which I think from memory cost him about $3000. Can't remember the model number and he's in Europe somewhere & cant be contacted.
My listening preferences are mainly classical with the odd bit of other kinds thrown in but none of it at very high volumes.
Other gear is as follows :-V.P.I Synchronous Drive System: V.P.I. HRX turntable: JMW 12.4 arms x 2 ( cartridges pre-mounted) resting on heavy slate on top of Soundesign damped steel rack standing on a stone floor: Garrot

bifcake
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Re: Doing things backwards

Both DVD-A and SACD are dead formats, so I'm not sure it's worth spending money on them.

If you're looking to take your CD playback to a new level, you may want to consider EMM labs DCC2 DAC. It upsamples CDs to 2x DSD, and would really make your CDs shine.

DUP brought his Emm Labs DAC to my friend Stew's house and we compared it to Stew's DCS stack and there was very little difference if any. The Emm Labs DAC can be had for about $4k US used and I think it's a good value for the performance you gain of your exhisting CDs.

linden518
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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:
Both DVD-A and SACD are dead formats, so I'm not sure it's worth spending money on them.


Not for classical music! So many new releases I salivate over happen to be hybrid SACDs.

Stephen Scharf
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Re: Doing things backwards

Gotta go with the vinyl, baby, for classical!

JSBach
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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:

Quote:
Both DVD-A and SACD are dead formats, so I'm not sure it's worth spending money on them.


Not for classical music! So many new releases I salivate over happen to be hybrid SACDs.

My commiserations about your multiple personality problem Selfdiveider. Whichever one of you pointed out the flood of classical SACD/DVD-A releases is dead right. I'm salivating too even though I've 11,500 & something LP's & a number of CD's to keep me entertained. .
Thanks AlexO for the DAC suggestion but I can't imagine anything improving on what I'm hearing from the Meridian 808.2. The 808.2 uses modular construction, including the DAC section so if Meridian ever put out an up-graded DAC stage I can easily fit one. (Shame about the look of the thing though. I always get this feeling Meridian gear belongs in a dental surgery, not a living room.) Besides after decades of farting around with multiple black boxes I'm going the way of simplification as far as I possibly can.

bifcake
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Re: Doing things backwards

I've never been a fan of Meridian players. I find them to be dry and uninvolving.

However, my biases aside, I think that the EMM Labs DAC will get your CDs to sound almost like SACDs due to its upsampling capabilities (upsampling to 2x DSD, DSD being what SACD use)

I think you would do well to check it out before dismissing. Even if it proves not to be your cup of tea, it's a piece of equipment worth looking into.

Stephen Scharf
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Re: Doing things backwards

I heard a Meridian CD Player for the first time, today.

It was okay, but I liked the Simaudio Moon CD player that I heard while auditioning my Dynaudios today better. That was a nice unit. The integrated amp was pretty sweet, too.

linden518
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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:
Gotta go with the vinyl, baby, for classical!


I'm as vinyl-crazy as the next guy, but no new releases on classical means any self-respecting classical music lover needs to also mind his digital front-end. Classical music industry, for some reason, is going through a revitalization, and it's crazy how many labels are taking risks, putting out one stunning album after another. There are some truly exciting performers doing tremendous work, often surpassing benchmarks set by the titans of the past, and if you get dogmatic about your medium and miss out on what's going on out there, you're really on the losing side despite what your ears might tell you.

Stephen Scharf
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Re: Doing things backwards

So, Self, what digital formats are you most happy with respect to these new classical recording? Are we talking SACD, DVD-A? Haven't heard of hybrid SACD, but perhaps you could fill me in (remember, I'm just getting back in audio after being away for the better part of 20 yrs.)

What are some the recordings that have impressed you the most recently?

linden518
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Re: Doing things backwards

I don't have an SACD player, but I heard my Mahler 2nd hybrid SACD, conducted by Ivan Fischer (Channel Classics) on my friend's Sony SCD-1. The CD layer on that disc is great, but the SACD layer is CLEARLY better. Even more dramatic was the difference between the CD and SACD layer on my Beethoven 9th conducted by Osmo Vanska (BIS). The CD layer sounds more opaque, compared to the SACD layer, by far. SACD layer on that recording really felt like opening a window in a stuffy room to let the cool air in.

But redbook's come a long way. Of late, I was pretty impressed by Paul Lewis' Beethoven sonata cycle on Harmonia Mundi, each volume of which I snapped up as soon as it came out. Gerald Finley's Barber Songs on Hyperion, which I mentioned in some thread a while back, also sounds golden. In fact, I haven't heard any recent Hyperion release sound less than good, i.e. Marc Andre Hamelin & Takacs Quartet recordings... these recordings have pretty much convinced me that the sound engineers are now more than well-equipped to wring the most music out of the redbook format.

Still, it's really a pity that these recordings are not pressed on vinyl!

*EDIT* I just realized I didn't answer your question! These days, it seems that most of the SACDs are released with 2 layers, both SACD and redbook - hence, hybrid SACDs. A standard CDP will read the redbook layer, of course, and the SACD player, the hi-rez layer, obviously.

JSBach
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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:
I heard a Meridian CD Player for the first time, today. It was okay, but I liked the Simaudio Moon CD player that I heard while auditioning my Dynaudios today better. That was a nice unit. The integrated amp was pretty sweet, too.

Ah, but which Meridian CD Player? I've had no time for Meridian's CD players until I was lent the 808.2 for a few days & decided I had to have one. All their previous players sounded, to my ears, superficially 'correct' but at the same time without much heart & soul. The 808.2 gets to the heart and soul of the music and often improves on sthe nasty treble some CD's are inflicted with. It somehow does this last trick without casting a euphonic (thermionic?) glow over everything. I'd love to know how they've achieved that but I doubt I'd understand the technology even if it was carefully explained to me.

JSBach
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Re: Doing things backwards


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Gotta go with the vinyl, baby, for classical!


I once thought like that too Stephen but since my previous player, a Musical Fidelity A 5.5, the digits haven't been giving me a headache. However, there's just no substitute for the liner notes that come with classical LP's. Nothing produced in the CD format is as easy to read or potentially attractive. If anyone's got the book that came with Deutsche Grammophon's boxed set of Mozart's Figaro, Don Giovani & Zauberfl

linden518
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Re: Doing things backwards

I have the CD box set of Keilberth's account of Wagner's Ring on Testament, and it doesn't even come with liner notes! You have to download it from the Testament site. I just read off the libretto from the LP liner notes, though...

Totally irrelevant, but today, I went to a record store and got a new, unopened Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Concentus Musicus Wien 12-LP box of 3 Monteverdi operas - Orfeo, Ulisse, Poppea - on Das Alte Werke division of Telefunken. Who the hell had these babies for 35 years and never even cracked them open?!? I've heard Harnoncourt/Zurich accounts, but never the earlier version with the Vienna group, so I'm super psyched to take them for a spin soon. The box was strangely stashed away between some spoken word albums, gathering dust. So, of course, I had to rescue it! Twenty bucks.

Stephen Scharf
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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:
I don't have an SACD player, but I heard my Mahler 2nd hybrid SACD, conducted by Ivan Fischer (Channel Classics) on my friend's Sony SCD-1. The CD layer on that disc is great, but the SACD layer is CLEARLY better. Even more dramatic was the difference between the CD and SACD layer on my Beethoven 9th conducted by Osmo Vanska (BIS). The CD layer sounds more opaque, compared to the SACD layer, by far. SACD layer on that recording really felt like opening a window in a stuffy room to let the cool air in.

But redbook's come a long way. Of late, I was pretty impressed by Paul Lewis' Beethoven sonata cycle on Harmonia Mundi, each volume of which I snapped up as soon as it came out. Gerald Finley's Barber Songs on Hyperion, which I mentioned in some thread a while back, also sounds golden. In fact, I haven't heard any recent Hyperion release sound less than good, i.e. Marc Andre Hamelin & Takacs Quartet recordings... these recordings have pretty much convinced me that the sound engineers are now more than well-equipped to wring the most music out of the redbook format.

Still, it's really a pity that these recordings are not pressed on vinyl!

*EDIT* I just realized I didn't answer your question! These days, it seems that most of the SACDs are released with 2 layers, both SACD and redbook - hence, hybrid SACDs. A standard CDP will read the redbook layer, of course, and the SACD player, the hi-rez layer, obviously.

Self, thanks so much for this information. I will have to check out some SACD players at some point in the future. Right now, I am still in the process of rediscovering my LP collection.

Right now, I am listening to a really nice Noneusch LP entitled:
Japan: Traditional Vocal and Instrumental Music.

It's shakuhachi, biwa, koto, shamisen, voice, and bells.

Mastered by none other than the master himself, Robert C Ludwig.

Stephen Scharf
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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:
I have the CD box set of Keilberth's account of Wagner's Ring on Testament, and it doesn't even come with liner notes! You have to download it from the Testament site. I just read off the libretto from the LP liner notes, though...

Totally irrelevant, but today, I went to a record store and got a new, unopened Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Concentus Musicus Wien 12-LP box of 3 Monteverdi operas - Orfeo, Ulisse, Poppea - on Das Alte Werke division of Telefunken. Who the hell had these babies for 35 years and never even cracked them open?!? I've heard Harnoncourt/Zurich accounts, but never the earlier version with the Vienna group, so I'm super psyched to take them for a spin soon. The box was strangely stashed away between some spoken word albums, gathering dust. So, of course, I had to rescue it! Twenty bucks.

I've got some LPs from the Das Alte Werke division of Telefunken. They are all superb and truly excellent recordings and pressings.

Having been listening to my LPs again of late, it's clear that Philips, Das Alte Werke/Telefunken, Argo and Arkiv are consistenly excellent. DG ranks a poor second, unfortunately. Harmonia Mundi can be really good too, but are not as consistent in their quality as Philips, who seem to extremely consistent with their quality (which is very high).

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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:

Totally irrelevant, but today, I went to a record store and got a new, unopened Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Concentus Musicus Wien 12-LP box of 3 Monteverdi operas - Orfeo, Ulisse, Poppea - on Das Alte Werke division of Telefunken. Who the hell had these babies for 35 years and never even cracked them open?!? I've heard Harnoncourt/Zurich accounts, but never the earlier version with the Vienna group, so I'm super psyched to take them for a spin soon. The box was strangely stashed away between some spoken word albums, gathering dust. So, of course, I had to rescue it! Twenty bucks.

With my collection I shouldn't be jealous, but I am. Who had those babies for 35 years? Well, some people collect un-sealed LP's as either a hobby, or an investment.
I inherited a large opera collection on LP, most of which had either never been played or opened. The owner was an obsessive 'completist' . He simply couldn't go out and buy an opera recording of, say, a single Mozart opera, he had to have the entire output of a particular conductor's Mozart opera recordings. I don't think he actually enjoyed music. Go figure! I've only ever kept one album, un-opened, as an investment. An original UK pressing of the Beatles 'White Album'. That will probably pay for my old age but I can't understand this whole idea. It's very easy to re-seal an LP and even a genuinely sealed and un-played LP can have pressing defects that make it worthless. Strange creatures us humans.

Quote:
I've got some LPs from the Das Alte Werke division of Telefunken. They are all superb and truly excellent recordings and pressings.

Yes they are apart from some of the earlier ones which could sound somewhat 'boxy'


Quote:
Having been listening to my LPs again of late, it's clear that Philips, Das Alte Werke/Telefunken, Argo and Arkiv are consistenly excellent. DG ranks a poor second, unfortunately. Harmonia Mundi can be really good too, but are not as consistent in their quality as Philips, who seem to extremely consistent with their quality (which is very high).

DG's earlier recording, before they discovered multi-miking, were often excellent.
Many of the later ones are indeed crap but sadly many of the great performances of that era are on DG.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Doing things backwards


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I've never been a fan of Meridian players. I find them to be dry and uninvolving.

However, my biases aside ...

Then why did you state them, Alex? The op wasn't asking for your opinion of his system. Why take the easy opportunity to say you think his stuff sucks? He likes it, he has to listen to it. You don't. Geez, Alex!

The same goes for you, Stephen. You don't like his player, buy him a new one instead of telling him he can't hear.

bifcake
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Re: Doing things backwards

My statement had relevance in the context in which it was posted. The person asking the question wasn't satisfied with the performance of his CD player. My recommendation had in part to do with the fact that I don't particularly care for Meridian players and perhaps by linking it to an external DAC, he would find that his CDs are much more enjoyable without having to rebuild an entire music library in SACD or DVD-A.

Stephen Scharf
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Re: Doing things backwards

I didn't say the Meridian I heard sucked, I said it sound okay. It's just that I preferred the Simaudio Moon.

We all have or personal preferences for sound; maybe there is a genetic component to this, like our individual responses to the therapeutic effectiveness of drugs.

Some folks really love McIntosh equipment......it's never been my cup of tea, but I have my own specific preferences, just like everyone else.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Doing things backwards

Those are the responses I knew I would get. You guys are batting .500 for answering questions asked.

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Re: Doing things backwards

JS, You seem to have a pretty healthy budget to work with, so you do have options. My Marantz 7001 Uni-player does a fine job on SACD and DVD-A and also upsamples CD. There are newer Marantz units I can only assume do just as fine a job, if not better. It would be a great way to break into these formats, IMO.

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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:

Quote:
I heard a Meridian CD Player for the first time, today. It was okay, but I liked the Simaudio Moon CD player that I heard while auditioning my Dynaudios today better. That was a nice unit. The integrated amp was pretty sweet, too.

Ah, but which Meridian CD Player? I've had no time for Meridian's CD players until I was lent the 808.2 for a few days & decided I had to have one. All their previous players sounded, to my ears, superficially 'correct' but at the same time without much heart & soul. The 808.2 gets to the heart and soul of the music and often improves on sthe nasty treble some CD's are inflicted with.

Hi JS,
I don't know what model it was, but I will find out for you. What I liked about the Moon was that the highs seemed sweeter and smoother. BTW, I heard their powered floorstanding speakers, as well.

Cheers,
Stephen.

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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:
I'm over the moon with my Meridian 808.2 CD player but having just been exposed to SACD/DVD-A etc on a friends system I now want to start putting my foot into the higher bit-rate ocean.

Hello JSBach,

Just a word of warning about DVD-A. There is no standard structure of a DVD-A regarding how one selects whether one wishes to play the stereo layer, the MCH layer etc. Some DVD-A's have only two-channel, while others have both two-channel and MCH. Still others have only MCH, and the player must downmix the MCH into two-channel. Because there is no standard way to select the desired layer, you'll find that to do so requires having a monitor hooked up to your player to navigate the on-screen menus of the DVD-A. This is a real PITA for systems that aren't already integrated with video (probably most here).

SACD doesn't have this problem. At least, with the Denon player I was using, there was a switch that could be used to configure the player to always play the two-channel SACD layer by default if present. When you first get the player, you may need to hook it up to a monitor to check the setup menu options to make sure they're appropriate.

If you already have a CD player you're happy with, it's probably a safer bet to keep it, rather than trying to find a replacement multi-format player that plays redbook as well as your existing one.

JSBach
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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:

Just a word of warning about DVD-A. There is no standard structure of a DVD-A regarding how one selects whether one wishes to play the stereo layer, the MCH layer etc. Some DVD-A's have only two-channel, while others have both two-channel and MCH. Still others have only MCH, and the player must downmix the MCH into two-channel. Because there is no standard way to select the desired layer, you'll find that to do so requires having a monitor hooked up to your player to navigate the on-screen menus of the DVD-A. This is a real PITA for systems that aren't already integrated with video (probably most here).

SACD doesn't have this problem. At least, with the Denon player I was using, there was a switch that could be used to configure the player to always play the two-channel SACD layer by default if present. When you first get the player, you may need to hook it up to a monitor to check the setup menu options to make sure they're appropriate.

If you already have a CD player you're happy with, it's probably a safer bet to keep it, rather than trying to find a replacement multi-format player that plays redbook as well as your existing one.


Hi Andy and thanks for the DVD-A warnings. I did know about the mess that format is in at present. What is it about the audio industry that the more advanced the technology, the more confusing its application seems to be? I've no desire to get rid of my Meridian 808.2 CD player, in fact last night listening to standard Red Book CD I found myself wondering if I'm mad thinking about getting involved in SACD or any other potentially obsolete medium. I have yet to hear any higher resolution digital format on my own system though so I'll hold off judgement until I do.
I need to make up a short list of potential players as negotiating a loan of such things with retailers here in Australia is a real challenge. Most of them want a post dated check handed over for the full amount before they'll even think about it and I have to collect the damned things myself which usually involves an interstate flight. All a real hassle but hey, I'm an audiophool!

linden518
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Re: Doing things backwards

JSB, a forum member here - dcstep - recently bought a SACD/CDP from Playback Designs and raves about it. I've also heard nothing but good things about it, but can't comment as I haven't heard it. I'm sure dcstep will jump in here... as for me, I'd love to try the old Sony SCD-1, since I've heard the player at length and REALLY loved it. I don't care if other players have whiz-bang technologies inside the chassis; just loved the sound of the SCD-1...

Jan Vigne
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Re: Doing things backwards

From what I've experienced on SACD, assuming the recording and mix are of sufficient quality, even a reasonably inexpensive player can sound quite good. I would think there is no cost to cost ratio you could apply but I would predict in most comparisons an inexpensive SACD player would provide "better" overall sound quality than a Redbook only player at several times the cost. It seems scrimping on the power supply is still one of the constant limitations to any player and SACD appears to be no different in that respect. Unfortunately, too many SACD players sound rather mediocre for Redboook CD use.

The Stereophile review of the Oppo universal player, if I remember correctly, found the Oppo to be a quite good SACD player while also providing a not too shabby transport to an external DAC for Redbook playback. Not what JSB is probably interested in but possibly an option for anyone stumbling across this thread at a later date.

If your choices come down to a universal player or a player with SACD capability, I'd certainly forgo the DVD-A capacity of a universal for the better overall performance of a dedicated SACD player. IMO there isn't sufficient material available on DVD-A to justify its inclusion unless you already have a library of discs. DVD-A is to my knowledge a dead format for audio. SACD is for the most part in the hands of the specialty recording companies such as Telarc. Selection of performers may be limited but the selection of performances produced each month is quite impressive for a supposedly dead format.

The Marantz players have received excellent reviews for middle of the price range players. Another option to consider would be calling one of the modification companies who do turnkey business in SACD players. Not that long ago there were several companies that specialized in such modifications. Doing away with the limitations of a factory unit and mass production cost restrictions might get you a better player for the same or less money.

I don't know a thing about this company but here's where you might start;
http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?dgtlplay&1232310215&/Denon-DVD-3910-Upgrade-Co.-Mod

The other option would be to consider how much you might spend on this and think about how much music you could purchase in another format with a wider variety of artists to choose from.

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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:
From what I've experienced on SACD, assuming the recording and mix are of sufficient quality, even a reasonably inexpensive player can sound quite good. I would think there is no cost to cost ratio you could apply but I would predict in most comparisons an inexpensive SACD player would provide "better" overall sound quality than a Redbook only player at several times the cost.


Dead right Jan. just had a call from my friend and learnt the SACD player that so impressed me was 'only' a Marantz SA 7001KI that costs $1,999 in Australia. Yikes! At that rate I can't see why SACD hasn't taken off. If an el-cheapo SACD player like that can trounce an expensive Red Book player I'm adding it to my list of potentials. I've also arranged to borrow an Ayre SACD player so I'd better get my gear set up in a hurry. The builders have almost finished the new listening room so I'm praying they pull their fingers out and get it done before the silly season. (holiday season is the US I believe - hate that US expression ' Happy Holiday' YUK!)

Quote:
It seems scrimping on the power supply is still one of the constant limitations to any player and SACD appears to be no different in that respect.

I don't know if the Marantz SA 7001KI skimps on the power supply but sniffing around on-line it appears to have a decent toriodal transformer although I know that's not the whole story with power supplies.

Quote:
Unfortunately, too many SACD players sound rather mediocre for Redboook CD use.

Well, I won't be using whatever SACD player I buy for Red Book so that's not going to worry me.


Quote:
The Stereophile review of the Oppo universal player, if I remember correctly, found the Oppo to be a quite good SACD

I haven't found a dealer for the Oppo brand here yet but I'll keep looking. Maybe they come into Australia under another brand name?

Quote:
SACD is for the most part in the hands of the specialty recording companies such as Telarc. Selection of performers may be limited but the selection of performances produced each month is quite impressive for a supposedly dead format.

One question that keeps coming into my head about all this is a fear SACD could finally temp me into installing a surround system That would require another set of amps, not to mention another four huge electrostatics. A unlikely prospect though, especially as the few surround classical recordings I've heard in that format sounded totally un-natural, even on this system. http://aca.gr/pop_coulson.htm

Quote:
Another option to consider would be calling one of the modification companies who do turnkey business in SACD players. Not that long ago there were several companies that specialized in such modifications. Doing away with the limitations of a factory unit and mass production cost restrictions might get you a better player for the same or less money.

My tech mate, who's in Europe for another few months, is an audio/video techician who designs and builds amps and has modified & reparied my gear for some years. He's never gotten anything wrong and is honest enough to let me know if he can't improve on anything I've got. He took a brief look inside my Boulder integrated and announced "Don't think anyone could improve on that"
He's worth his weight in gold as a repair tech and has saved me a fortune and a lot of heartache over the years by warning me which brands and models are unreliable. Talented and honest audio technicians like him are so rare these days if you find one you should treat them like kings.

Quote:
The other option would be to consider how much you might spend on this and think about how much music you could purchase in another format with a wider variety of artists to choose from.


My problem is I keep hearing recordings on you local classical FM (analogue) station that turn out to be only available on SACD and not even dual layer at that - suppose I'm just plain greedy .

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Doing things backwards


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Yikes! At that rate I can't see why SACD hasn't taken off.

Because quality is not a factor in the mass market. Convenience, features, novelty are.


Quote:
I haven't found a dealer for the Oppo brand here yet but I'll keep looking. Maybe they come into Australia under another brand name?

Internet direct. Google Oppo.


Quote:
My problem is I keep hearing recordings on you local classical FM (analogue) station that turn out to be only available on SACD and not even dual layer at that - suppose I'm just plain greedy .

I find that highly surprising. First, there are very, very few recordings available only in SACD. Second, there are very, very few SACDs that are not hybrids. Can you provide any examples?

Kal

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Re: Doing things backwards

Not only is the Ayre C5xe a killer SACD player, it's CD performance is world class too. I've auditioned it extensively against the DCS P8i (now discontinued) and it held it's own against the much, much more expensive unit. The folks at Ayre also really stand behind their products taking time designing them and not coming out with new models every couple of years. They tend to upgrade models instead of discontinuing and replacing them. The upgrades are always offered at very reasonable prices to current customers.

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Re: Doing things backwards


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[Internet direct. Google Oppo.

No way, if I can't buy from a bricks & mortar shopfront that has proper backup warrantee service, I don't buy.


Quote:
My problem is I keep hearing recordings on you local classical FM (analogue) station that turn out to be only available on SACD and not even dual layer at that - suppose I'm just plain greedy .

I find that highly surprising. First, there are very, very few recordings available only in SACD. Second, there are very, very few SACDs that are not hybrids. Can you provide any examples?Kal

Interesting. I might be barking up the wrong tree then but the local classical FM station librarian told me the disks below were SACD only. There are no SACD disks in any of the retail shops here I have access to that would enable me to confirm this myself.
Respighi:Ballad of the Gnomes: Three Boticelli Pictures: etc Cala (mulittichannel) SACD CACDS4028
Beethoven Piano Sonatas: Paul Lewis: Harmonia Mundi ( I've misplaced the disk number)
Michael Gandolfi:The Garden of Cosmic Speculation: Orchestral Suites: Telarc MC SACD 60696
Fantaisie Triomphale: French Symphonic ORgan Works: Chandos SACD CHSA 5048
Don Gilles: Symphony X:Tulsa, Symphony No 3: Sinfonia Varsovia: Ian Hobson:Albany SACD TROY 933

If as you say, very few SACD releases aren't also on CD then I've been led up the garden path. This changes my whole take on the idea of buying a dedicated SACD player.
I now have to ask myself if Red Book CD on my player will be all that inferior to what I'd get from SACD and is the difference worth the money ? So, It looks like I'll still have to do some auditioning of SACD players anyway and also stop trusting record librarians . Thanks for the info KAL. Maybe I shouldn't have given up reading the audioporn magazines some years ago? I'd might have a better idea of what was going on out there if I hadn't.

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Re: Doing things backwards


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Interesting. I might be barking up the wrong tree then but the local classical FM station librarian told me the disks below were SACD only. There are no SACD disks in any of the retail shops here I have access to that would enable me to confirm this myself.
Respighi:Ballad of the Gnomes: Three Boticelli Pictures: etc Cala (mulittichannel) SACD CACDS4028
Beethoven Piano Sonatas: Paul Lewis: Harmonia Mundi ( I've misplaced the disk number)
Michael Gandolfi:The Garden of Cosmic Speculation: Orchestral Suites: Telarc MC SACD 60696
Fantaisie Triomphale: French Symphonic ORgan Works: Chandos SACD CHSA 5048
Don Gilles: Symphony X:Tulsa, Symphony No 3: Sinfonia Varsovia: Ian Hobson:Albany SACD TROY 933

If as you say, very few SACD releases aren't also on CD then I've been led up the garden path.

All of these titles are checkable on arkivmusic.com. Off the top of my head, both the Beethoven and Gandolfi are available in both CD-only and hybrid-SACD format. Chandos' SACDs are also hybrids. I'm not familiar with the other two and shall leave the web search to you.

With few exceptions, the only company to release single-layer SACDs was Sony, and it abandoned that dead end a few years ago.

jason

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Re: Doing things backwards


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With few exceptions, the only company to release single-layer SACDs was Sony, and it abandoned that dead end a few years ago.jason


So, I now have to be convinced SACD is superior in most cases to the CD layer on hybrid disks for the purchase of a higher-resolution player make sense. The SACD's I heard on my friends Marantz sure sounded impressive via his modified Quad 22/202 amps and Quad 57's + Velodyne DD12. He didn't reveal they could also be played back as standard CD's. This will be interesting and as soon as I've arrived at a conclusion I'll report back. As you can guess I'm far from up with the latest. In fact, the complexity of todays high definition video & surround options scare the hell out of me let alone trying to get my head around hard disks as multi room sources etc. I house sat last year for a friend who had a Sonos/PC etc based networked system that controlled everything from the tv to the bloody garden watering system. It drove me totally insane. This silly old twit is almost ready for the retired audiophools home.

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Re: Doing things backwards


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Respighi:Ballad of the Gnomes: Three Boticelli Pictures: etc Cala (mulittichannel) SACD CACDS4028
Beethoven Piano Sonatas: Paul Lewis: Harmonia Mundi ( I've misplaced the disk number)
Michael Gandolfi:The Garden of Cosmic Speculation: Orchestral Suites: Telarc MC SACD 60696
Fantaisie Triomphale: French Symphonic ORgan Works: Chandos SACD CHSA 5048
Don Gilles: Symphony X:Tulsa, Symphony No 3: Sinfonia Varsovia: Ian Hobson:Albany SACD TROY 933


I have 4/5 of these and they are all hybrids with both a CD layer as well as dedicated stereo and MCH DSD tracks. If you want reliable and encyclopedic information, the site is www.sa-cd.net


Quote:
If as you say, very few SACD releases aren't also on CD then I've been led up the garden path. This changes my whole take on the idea of buying a dedicated SACD player.
I now have to ask myself if Red Book CD on my player will be all that inferior to what I'd get from SACD and is the difference worth the money ?

Well, for me, the issue is the huge advantage of mch but I acknowledge the difficulties of transforming your system, especially with dipole speakers. IMHO, dipoles are generally inappropriate for mch.


Quote:
So, It looks like I'll still have to do some auditioning of SACD players anyway and also stop trusting record librarians . Thanks for the info KAL. Maybe I shouldn't have given up reading the audioporn magazines some years ago? I'd might have a better idea of what was going on out there if I hadn't.


Well, I try.

Kal

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So, I now have to be convinced SACD is superior in most cases to the CD layer on hybrid disks for the purchase of a higher-resolution player make sense.


The problem with determining this in two-channel by comparing the performance of CD to SACD on a single multi-format player is that, quite often, the manufacturer has paid far more attention to SACD playback than CD playback. Hence SACD sounds better simply because the CD playback is so mediocre.

A better way to begin to determine for yourself is to compare your current CD player, or a player in your price range whose performance pleases you, with the SACD playback of a CD/SACD player in your price range. And if you, like me, own a separate CD transport and DAC, you need to compare its performance with a stand-alone SACD player in your price range.

Of course, multi-channel is a whole other thing. I'll leave that one to Kal, since I haven't gone that route.

jason

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Re: Doing things backwards

I don't know that I would spend much time searching for the Oppo if your budget allows for better. The Oppo is an excellent way to become familiar with the superior qualities of SACD at a budget price while allowing money left over - to buy more music. It is certainly not an all-round giant killer in the strictest sense of not having detectable flaws of its own. http://www.stereophile.com/budgetcomponents/507oppo/index.html

Most SACD's I own can be played back as two channel Redbook quality discs or multichannel 5.1 "surround". Most if not all players allow for downmixing to two channel output if the disc does not contain a two channel SACD layer. Problems can arise in budget payers that will not automatically shift to the desired layer and must be manually reset at the beginning of each disc.

A vast number of SACD's have been taken from older analog recordings with many coming from two/three channel masters. Most of what I own, however, have not had the benefit of even a decent remix or remaster on the Redbook layer to accommodate a recording that quite possibly was made decades ago. This makes many hybrids all the more obvious in the differences separating Redbook playback and SACD quality.

Keep in mind there is no digital out for the SACD portion of the disc and, therefore, taking the signal from the analog outputs and downmixing from multichannel to two channel within the player will involve a conversion to PCM at some stage of the game. (Interesting to me was the fact that many of the studio devices used to produce SACD discs also require this conversion from DSD to PCM and then back to DSD format. What does a disc sound like when it has remained in DSD format at all times?) Kal is far more familiar with the workings of multichannel and he can provide further details but to my knowledge SACD's true nature is only available from most players when heard through the 5.1 analog outputs of most players.

IMO the disadvantage here is too many engineers feet they need to take advantage of multichannel's ability to surround you with instruments and the effort has been put into placing you in the center of the performers and not at the front row of the audience. Not everyone finds this persective bothersome but for me it makes two channel the choice even if the overall quality of the disc is somewhat compromised by the downmixing process.

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Re: Doing things backwards


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Kal is far more familiar with the workings of multichannel and he can provide further details but to my knowledge SACD's true nature is only available from most players when heard through the 5.1 analog outputs of most players.

From "most," perhaps, but not the best way. The new players that permit SACD digital output (DSD or PCM) via HDMI permit even better performance when teamed with an appropriately capable preamp/processor.


Quote:
IMO the disadvantage here is too many engineers feet they need to take advantage of multichannel's ability to surround you with instruments and the effort has been put into placing you in the center of the performers and not at the front row of the audience. Not everyone finds this persective bothersome but for me it makes two channel the choice even if the overall quality of the disc is somewhat compromised by the downmixing process.

I agree that random, undisciplined redistribution of sounds is awful but, fortunately, this is rare in the classical field since there is a real performance structure to reference. With pop/rock, the producers are accustomed to complete "artistic" freedom and, often, misuse their new tools.

Kal

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Because quality is not a factor in the mass market. Convenience, features, novelty are

With respect, I seem to recall the format began as ultra expensive with very limited and mostly crap media and that situation lasted for a good while. When CD's were introduced, a product obviously missing all vinyl issues, the price of the players dropped 50% in a year and the media was out in big numbers very, very quickly. One can argue if early players were better than good vinyl but one cannot pretend the media was not there and worked. Within two years there were thousands of CD's and player prices had fallen 2/3.

By the time the $300 SACD player was out with decent media, the train had already left the station.

When I bought a SACD player on a deep sale it was still over $400 and my initial dip into the media pool found a lot of poor performances by unknown folk at very pricy cost. I stopped buying after the 5th clunker SACD disk. The SACD player sat in a box for years as I replaced it with a CD player that played Red Book standard CD's better.

It was not that the public could care less, but that the public was not ready to pay a very steep penalty for a system with limited and expensive media options.

Imagine if todays vinyl revival was accompanied by only $2000 turntables, $1000 cartridges, $2000 phono amps, that all old used vinyl didn't exist and that new vinyl all cost over $20 and was mostly substandard performances...why I expect the vinyl revival would be limited to a few elites and folk with very deep pockets and little sense.

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Re: Doing things backwards


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With respect, I seem to recall the format began as ultra expensive with very limited and mostly crap media and that situation lasted for a good while. When CD's were introduced, a product obviously missing all vinyl issues, the price of the players dropped 50% in a year and the media was out in big numbers very, very quickly. One can argue if early players were better than good vinyl but one cannot pretend the media was not there and worked. Within two years there were thousands of CD's and player prices had fallen 2/3...

It was not that the public could care less, but that the public was not ready to pay a very steep penalty for a system with limited and expensive media options.

Imagine if todays vinyl revival was accompanied by only $2000 turntables, $1000 cartridges, $2000 phono amps, that all old used vinyl didn't exist and that new vinyl all cost over $20 and was mostly substandard performances...why I expect the vinyl revival would be limited to a few elites and folk with very deep pockets and little sense.


This is a great point, JIMV. As much as I love the SACD performance, the software choice is still limited at best, and the sad decline of SACD as format should be examined from your perspective.

The vinyl analogy is right on the mark, too. There will always be die-hard audiophiles with $5-figure set-ups, but the vanguards who are really pushing through this remarkable vinyl resurgence are the less-moneyed, young listeners.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/fashio...;pagewanted=all

Audiophiles may scoff at articles like this and say that these young kids playing LPs on beat-up Technics are not "true" vinyl lovers. That's rubbish, IMO. Who's buying these albums en masse, raising up the sales figures for indie bands, etc., prompting the labels to press more LPs, prompting stores like Virgin Mega to clear floor space for LPs?

It's the kids! They're the ones out there really buying up the new Deerhunter LP, the new Fucked Up LP, while audiophiles are slitting wrists over colors of vinyl and weirdly over-worshipping Rickie Lee Jones and Jacintha and Antal Dorati.

It's about the music. It's about the software, period. And if that's not widely and easily accessible (i.e. SACD), I don't care how divine it sounds. It hasn't done its job in what any music delivery system is supposed to do, which is, umm, to connect people to the music.

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Re: Doing things backwards

sd: you are right about the young folks. during the holiday, i was playing some music and a younger niece took a little interest, then i mentioned that i just got a recent jack johnson album on LP. you should have seen her face "you've got jack johnson on vinyl?" she said, i couldn't believe it, she made me play all 4 sides.
this was like the reaction i first got 25 years ago when i had one of the very first sony cd players and everyone wanted to know what it was.
i never thought i would see the day when old-school vinyl would create excitement among the young. i hope they keep up the interest because i like being able to get new releases on vinyl again after all these years.

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Re: Doing things backwards

I look at the Music direct catalog...a few years ago the vinyl section was pretty skimpy and pretty expensive, now every issue has more vinyl and the average price is down. Now add to that the stuff being sold is well known performances by well known artists and you have a recipe for success.

I belong the Vinyl Preservation Society of Idaho, a group tat consists of a wide mix of folk from 21 to 70, men and women and most of their gear costs less than a decent CD player. Most of the action is in used vinyl and there is a lot of enthusiasm.

SACD is doomed to be a niche product as it missed its chance for a successful format launch.

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Re: Doing things backwards


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It was not that the public could care less, but that the public was not ready to pay a very steep penalty for a system with limited and expensive media options.


Hard to be so determinate since the experiment as performed in the real world cannot distinguish between the two variables, i.e., whether cost was the barrier or whether lack of interest was. What I can contribute is that I know many people for whom cost is not an issue and, yet, they continue to rely on MP3s/iPods, even on their home systems, because it is sufficient for them. I know your thesis is otherwise but your history of posts suggests some bias in that direction.

Kal

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Re: Doing things backwards

Thanks everyone for the carefully thought out exposition of the ups and downs of SACD. I'm getting to the point I don't want to even start auditioning the players on my short list.
One of you commented electrostatic dipoles weren't the best for surround. With that I find myself wanting to argue as I've have the joy of being frequently exposed to such a system and, to my ears, it works brilliantly with surround off standard DVD's. http://aca.gr/pop_coulson.htm
Granted getting all those stats to function at their best requires a lot of space but I've got that. It's just that the way I live ( & my loathing for the kind of crap my relatives and visitors want to watch) means I'll always keep the HT stuff in one room and the music only gear in another.
OK, I'm a regressive old two channel git, but that's me.

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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:

Quote:
It was not that the public could care less, but that the public was not ready to pay a very steep penalty for a system with limited and expensive media options.


Hard to be so determinate since the experiment as performed in the real world cannot distinguish between the two variables, i.e., whether cost was the barrier or whether lack of interest was. What I can contribute is that I know many people for whom cost is not an issue and, yet, they continue to rely on MP3s/iPods, even on their home systems, because it is sufficient for them. I know your thesis is otherwise but your history of posts suggests some bias in that direction.

Kal

It is most assuredly true that I expect audio gear to be 'worth' their cost and really affordable for most folk and not just the lucky few. All that said, my description of the rollout of SACD, such as it was, is true. They screwed up the launch. It is not the consumers job to apreciate the art and artistry of the manufacturers but those companies to sell the quality of their product. They failed.

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Re: Doing things backwards


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It is most assuredly true that I expect audio gear to be 'worth' their cost and really affordable for most folk and not just the lucky few. All that said, my description of the rollout of SACD, such as it was, is true. They screwed up the launch. It is not the consumers job to apreciate the art and artistry of the manufacturers but those companies to sell the quality of their product. They failed.

Of course, they screwed it up; I think there is great consensus on that issue. I do not think that price was a big issue (judging as I am from my vantage point as you do from yours) although going to single-inventory would have helped. It would have made SACD the standard medium for everyone and, by sheer volume, have lowered the prices faster.

BTW, my first SACD player was a $120 Magnavox.

Kal

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Re: Doing things backwards

Boy you have that right. Single inventory might have saved the idea.

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Re: Doing things backwards


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Boy you have that right. Single inventory might have saved the idea.


Yes, but from what I read between the lines, the difficulty of copying SACD's may have been a case of the industry shooting itself in the foot. OK, I know there are now ways around that but does the buying public know, or care now they've found a vast amount of low-resolution crap can be downloaded for free?

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Re: Doing things backwards


Quote:

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Boy you have that right. Single inventory might have saved the idea.


Yes, but from what I read between the lines, the difficulty of copying SACD's may have been a case of the industry shooting itself in the foot. OK, I know there are now ways around that but does the buying public know, or care now they've found a vast amount of low-resolution crap can be downloaded for free?

I don't know about that issue. One could always copy the CD layer and that was/is certainly good enough for mobile applications.

BTW, it is still very difficult to copy the DSD tracks.

Kal

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Re: Doing things backwards


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One could always copy the CD layer and that was/is certainly good enough for mobile applications.

Yes, but for most, that defeats the whole point of paying a premium for premium quality sound, especially now that people are expecting to instal everything they own on a networked hard disk.
Which reminds me, even if it's off topic. My tech friend tells me he's getting an increasing number of hard disks returned with all their contents wiped and their owners expecting him to recover their music collections because, once they've put everything onto hard disk, they've sold the originals on eBay. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread?

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Which reminds me, even if it's off topic. My tech friend tells me he's getting an increasing number of hard disks returned with all their contents wiped and their owners expecting him to recover their music collections because, once they've put everything onto hard disk, they've sold the originals on eBay. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread?

http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/showf...part=1&vc=1

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