Is SACD necessary anymore?

Forgive me if this question has already been asked. Since the Directstream DAC upsamples everything to DSD, would a rebook CD sound the same as an SACD? If it does, I am thinking there is no need to purchase an SACD player. I currently do now own any SACD’s and I have already decided at some point to get the Directstream DAC to go along with a transport. But if there is still some benefit to getting SACD’s I would think it might be nice to start collecting them and get a player. Thanks everyone

No. You can get better quality from rebook by upsampling it, but native DSD is higher resolution, and all things being equal, will sound better. The only real competition to SACD is DSD file downloads, and even those don’t have all the titles that are on SACD.


As I understand it, SACD discs were primarily used for multi-channel audio because they can store 5 or 7 channels rather than the 2 you get on a CD.
There are still a few specialist labels that do that, but you can stream multi-channel on Qobuz.
DSD has two separate uses, initially as a high volume storage format for analogue transfers before digital storage became cheaper than a SACD disc.
Then someone decided SACD could be used for 2-channel at higher bitrates, which is now much more easily done with PCM.
Plus you cannot edit DSD other than conveying it to DXD or analogue, which rather defeats the object.
So you have to decide if (a) you are an audiophile who believes DSD via SACD is the greatest lost opportunity in the history of audio, or (b) it is one of many formats that failed commercially because there was no need for it and the consumer is always right.

Add to that Sony, who own the rights to SACD decoding, insist that the DSD stream must be decoded by the same device, so as far as Sony is concerned an SACD transport and the matching DAC is a single SACD player.

Add the fact that there are only two companies in the world that make SACD transports and they charge a fortune to buy the transport as an OEM component, so those companies’ own players will be a lot cheaper and using the same parts.

Then you have to contend with the fact that only about 1% of titles are on SACD compared to PCM.

The above provides certain audiophiles with multiple reasons why SACD is absolutely necessary and that their SACD collection is not complete until they have the 2005 Barney and Friends Christmas Special SACD in their collection.

To other people, these are multiple reasons why it is a waste of time.

What Paul often says is overlooked is that, by all accounts, the latest PS Audio SACD transport is a magnificent CD transport and worth the money for that alone. It also has the advantage that the Marantz transport it uses will not become redundant anytime soon as it is probably in most good SACD machines being sold today.

Entirely separate to using SACD as a medium to carry DSD format data files, it seems often to be confused with using DSD as part of an upsampling process that by a series of magic tricks seems to be able to improve PCM files fed into it. Some systems. like the one I use, upsample to DXD, which is just a higher bitrate PCM.

Thanks for the input everyone. I must say the Barney and Friends Christmas Special is tempting and would go along great with my Alvin and the Chipmunks collection. Ok, I better say I’m joking before I get in trouble. The PST sounds great even for Redbook. Would have to find one on the used market though because that is a hefty price tag brand new.

I actually saw Barney Live with statutory equal opportunities cast, the tragedy being it was at the same venue I used to go and see the likes of Genesis, The Police etc 20+ years earlier. Now you mention it, I regret trashing our Alvin and the Chipmunks CD collection, but my kids gave up on CDs for streaming when they were about 8, they are now in their 20s.

i can recommend seeing Basil Brush live - our son is 26 now but we still talk about that show :slight_smile:
(Scooby Doo live at the Liverpool Empire was great too, but none can match the genuine comic genius that was the Chuckle Brothers at the same venue :slight_smile: )

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also, SACD? market failure (as should every format that uses DRM!!!).

useful as a niche archival format though i guess and nicely engineered (apart from the DRM!!!).

BTW i don’t like DRM.

edit - the forum appears to be limiting the number of exclamation marks it will display…

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Yea forum!


i’d make some or other gag about freedom of speech but it would only be censored (or charged at by cops on horseback, but that’s another story) :slight_smile:

I love SACD but I also curse my small collection.

First problem, ripping them is done only by a small number of machines and is a bit kludgy. So, unlike CDs, you may very well be required to re-purchase anything you buy on SACD if you ever decide the media isn’t for you. Case in point: Not all Octave Records SACD purchases comes with the digital files forcing you to buy the album twice if you cannot rip from SACD and want to listen on your file based transport.

Multichannel is a mess which is sad. I’m not a huge fan of multichannel as almost all mixes sound ridiculous compared to their 2-channel counterpart. But, oh man, when an engineer gets multichannel right? That’s a whole different level of listening nirvana. The first multichannel players had analog out. Pretty simple setup. Run a fist full of interconnects from the SACD player to the pre-inputs / multi-in on your pre and you’re good to go. I don’t think anyone makes a SACD player with multi analog out anymore. So, how does multi work today? HDMI. And, like all things HDMI, compatibility can be a problem. Basically, multichannel has become a real PITA for SACD. On top of all of this, it can be even more complicated if you rip your SACDs to multichannel DSD. That requires puting together a new playback system (either HDMI from a multimedia PC or having multiple DACs to make-up all the channels).

To answer your first question: No. You cannot replace what isn’t there. Upsampling has advantages and does make redbook sound better. But, DSD has its own sound and holds a ton more information than the redbook. Ultimately it comes down to the recording and mastering. DSD is not a fix for a bad recording but the extra resolution gives you better presence and detail in a good recording.

I don’t think its wise to buy SACDs. I do think, if you’re able to play them back, buy DSD digital albums. You’ll have the advantage of SACD sound quality without the rapidly degrading consumer options to actually use the media. And, whatever you do, don’t dive into multichannel without having a clear, future-proof, way of playback.

If you want to hear the difference for yourself 2L provides an excellent collection of files for testing:

Going to a local school, we were often asked to go and see shows at the BBC TV Theatre on Shepherds Bush Green, where Basil Brush was recorded. Boom! Boom! Also lots of Crackerjack shows. I think they were a low point in the history of TV, until Barney came along.

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You were in the Crackerjack audience? Must have been very loud (though as a 7 or 8 year old it was cool to me :slight_smile: )

Edit: looks like 3 is the limit.

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The forum expects a certain level of entropy.


Another Flanders and Swann reference beckons…

We were there in our school uniforms. It was all very proper. Actually, it was pretty rubbish most of the time, Ed Stewart was a total idiot, it was broadcast live and they had a warm up guy who used to tell us when to make a noise. Even at 9 years old I think we were past Sooty.

Another childhood myth shattered :wink:

Basil Brush will always be cool though…

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Let’s see how this plays out.

!!! !!! !!! !!! !!! !!! !!! !!! !!!

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The issue I see is that there are no more affordable SACD players in the market. One must start at $2K to enter the game and most people will not do that. SACD and DSD are the best formats IMHO.

There is no “affordable” way to up-sample redbook releases that, to me, would make a crippled format worth while. It is sad that Sony can’t even support a superior format they created. Just a better DAC for a disc spinner would be a great start.

I will stick with more DSD downloads and enjoy music in the best possible way.