Question 2.0 and 5.1 tracks on SACDs and BluRay audio discs. How many versions do I have?

jwlawler

Active Member
I just bought Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. It came with two discs and three or more versions.

A BluRay audio disc and an SACD / CD hybrid. So, the hybrid disc will necessarily have different layers for the SACD and CD. The next complication is that both the SACD and the BluRay offer 5.1 and 2.0 versions.

Is it possible / likely that the 5.1 and 2.0 version are different tracks on the discs or is it more likely that there are just the 5.1 tracks and the player will downmix them to get the 2.0 versions?

I expect that the SACD and BluRay versions were mastered differently than the CD as they are both high definition formats but maybe the same master was used for the SACD and the BluRay.

So, I might have as few as two significantly different versions or as many as five. It is going to be tough to figure out which is best and I am inclined to skip the 2.0 SACD and BluRay versions as I like the extra channels and it seems unlikely that they are better than the 5.1 in the same format.
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
I just bought Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. It came with two discs and three or more versions.

A BluRay audio disc and an SACD / CD hybrid. So, the hybrid disc will necessarily have different layers for the SACD and CD. The next complication is that both the SACD and the BluRay offer 5.1 and 2.0 versions.

Is it possible / likely that the 5.1 and 2.0 version are different tracks on the discs or is it more likely that there are just the 5.1 tracks and the player will downmix them to get the 2.0 versions?

I expect that the SACD and BluRay versions were mastered differently than the CD as they are both high definition formats but maybe the same master was used for the SACD and the BluRay.

So, I might have as few as two significantly different versions or as many as five. It is going to be tough to figure out which is best and I am inclined to skip the 2.0 SACD and BluRay versions as I like the extra channels and it seems unlikely that they are better than the 5.1 in the same format.

Super Audio CD is likely to have superior sound but only in stereo. Dolby Digital 5.1 is more compressed. DTS 5.1 has higher dynamic range, Best of all is lossless HD audio you will find on Bluray disks.
 

k-spin

Active Member
Looking at the back of the disc you've bought, the Blu-ray disc appears to contain the music in stereo (2.0) 24bit/192kHz PCM and surround (5.1) DTS-HD MA 24bit/192kHz.

The SACD will have separate 2.0 and 5.1 high resolution DSD versions on the SACD layer and a standard stereo 16bit/44.1kHz PCM version on the CD layer.

Your playback equipment might be able to downmix the surround versions to 2.0 but the discs themselves contain separate stereo and surround mixes.

Would be interested to know which of the surround versions sounds better to you.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
Thanks both. I am just about to start my listening but I doubt that I will get through all five versions before the wife wants to take over the A/V room. I'll start with the CD but probably just a taste for comparison. I doubt that it is going to be the best version.

I will be playing them with a Sony X500 connected to a Denon X3200W. My main speakers are Tannoy R3.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
Super Audio CD is likely to have superior sound but only in stereo. Dolby Digital 5.1 is more compressed. DTS 5.1 has higher dynamic range, Best of all is lossless HD audio you will find on Bluray disks.

According to the case, the BluRay 5.1 track is DTS-HD MA so potentially good.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
BTW, there's a positive review of that disc over on HRAudio.net: HRAudio.net - Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique - Gergiev

It doesn't cover whether the SACD and Blu-ray versions of the recording differ in sound quality at all but the reviewer scored it 4/5 for sound quality (I think the Barbican's acoustics were the only slight complaint).

Yes, the reviews are good which is why I selected it. I am new to SACD and so far have only played a hybrid set of Beethoven Piano Sonatas which I have had for a while. I am familiar with the CD layers and I am already convinced that the SACD ie better (not necessarily why it is better - better technology or mastered with a discerning audience in mind). The Berlioz should be a very different test of the format: the other extreme of classical music: solo piano to large orchestra.
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
Yes, the reviews are good which is why I selected it. I am new to SACD and so far have only played a hybrid set of Beethoven Piano Sonatas which I have had for a while. I am familiar with the CD layers and I am already convinced that the SACD ie better (not necessarily why it is better - better technology or mastered with a discerning audience in mind). The Berlioz should be a very different test of the format: the other extreme of classical music: solo piano to large orchestra.


The higher the sampling frequency when converted to analogue to send to speakers the closer the waveform sent to the transducers (Microphones) is to the original source

Sampling frequency normal CD 44.1 kHz

Audio channels 2

Sampling Frequency SACD 2,822.4 kHz

Audio channels Up to 6 (discrete surround)
 

jwlawler

Active Member
The higher the sampling frequency when converted to analogue to send to speakers the closer the waveform sent to the transducers (Microphones) is to the original source

Sampling frequency normal CD 44.1 kHz

Audio channels 2

Sampling Frequency SACD 2,822.4 kHz

Audio channels Up to 6 (discrete surround)

Though for the CD that is 44.1k samples of 16 bits per channel per second but the SACD is 2.8M bits per second (not sure whether per channel or not). So, still better but not by quite as much as the raw numbers suggest. I love the extra channels though.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
Only four versions, not five. The second disc is labelled: "SACD hybrid. Includes stereo and 5.1 surround mixes." The stereo refers to the CD layer and the SACD layer has only the 5.1 mix. I could use the player to downmix it but I don't see any good reason to do that. So, I have been short changed: only four versions for my £10 (joke, see below).

I have now tried two versions. I played the CD layer but only the first movement. With so many to hear, there seemed no need to play what was probably the poorest version in full. Also, it meant that I went from the first movement of the CD version to the first movement of the next version directly. I noted a few places where I hoped that it could sound better.

Next I went to the SACD layer which I now know is only 5.1. I followed along with a miniature score (I am that geeky) to ensure that they didn't miss a note. It was great and definitely much better than the CD. Better technology or better mastering? I don't know but it is definitely much better. The first thing that I noticed was that the lower instruments, e.g. bassoons and double basses were much clearer. I noticed the same on the solo piano music, the low notes sounded better. This is a little odd as you might expect the extra frequency range of the SACD to improve the high instruments more. The SACD layer has a much better dynamic range, again either because it can handle more or just because it has been less compressed. This piece demonstrates it well. There are very quiet patches, e.g. a solo flute playing pppp (super quiet) or an off stage solo oboe playing quietly, and very loud patches with an entire large orchestra making lots of noise drums, cymbals, brass, etc. At all points, each instrument was perfectly clear and could be heard in the complex mix. The extra channels helped a lot with the sound stage and I could place each instrument.

If you like this music and can play an SACD through a decent surround system then I highly recommend this disc. I have heard it better but only when I had a real orchestra in front of me.

If I had known that SACD could be this good, I would have switched years ago. It's a shame that it has not really taken off. Hybrid discs could a great compromise. A CD layer that you play in the car or an iPod while in the gym or some other LoFi environment which is mastered with a compromise in mind. An SACD layer that is mastered with HiFi playing in mind.

What about the BluRay? Is it as good as the SACD? I don't know yet and the wife is waiting to watch TV so that will need to wait for tomorrow.
 

k-spin

Active Member
That's very unusual. I've never come across a SACD that didn't have a Stereo DSD mix before.

Glad you're enjoying it though :)
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I know I listen to different genres that you do but all of my hybrids come with a redbook layer as well as a stereo and multi channel in DSD. Multi channel will sound the best with orchestral works. Much more room for the engineers to play with. You can also fit more information on SACD than you can on redbook.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
That's very unusual. I've never come across a SACD that didn't have a Stereo DSD mix before.

Glad you're enjoying it though :)
I know I listen to different genres that you do but all of my hybrids come with a redbook layer as well as a stereo and multi channel in DSD. Multi channel will sound the best with orchestral works. Much more room for the engineers to play with. You can also fit more information on SACD than you can on redbook.

My other SACDs, the piano sonatas, are more as you would expect 2.0 and 5.0. I guess that the LFE channel was not needed for solo piano. The Berlioz was 5.1 and it made good use of the sub.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
A very non-scientific test: not double blind, not even single blind. The SACD had the advantage of being played immediately after the CD giving a "Wow, this is good" reaction. The BluRay was played after the impressive SACD so it had a tough target to beat. Worse still, there was a few hour gap during which I had a few glasses of wine. I only played the 5.1 track fully

So, with that warning, what's the verdict? It's good, clearly better than the CD. It was not obviously better than the SACD; maybe the same, maybe even slightly poorer. More testing is required.

I discovered the video that was mentioned in the review cited by k-spin. That is a very nice bonus. So, I got five versions after all. Very good picture quality, decent audio but only LPCM 48kHz 2.0.

Excellent value for £10.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
Though for the CD that is 44.1k samples of 16 bits per channel per second but the SACD is 2.8M bits per second (not sure whether per channel or not). So, still better but not by quite as much as the raw numbers suggest. I love the extra channels though.

Some stats from the player.

CD 2.0: 44.1kHz / 16 bit / 1.4Mbps. The bit rate fits with my calculation of two 16 bit samples 44.1K times a second.

SACD 5.1: 2.8MHz / 1 bit. So, twice the data rate but there were 6 channels.

BD 2.0: 24 bit / 192 kHz / 9.2Mbps steady.

BD 5.1 24 bit / 192 kHz / 10Mbps fluctuating.

Video 2.0: LPCM 48kHz / 24 bit / 2.3Mbps.

So, the BD tracks have the highest data rate by a large margin yet, as mentioned in my previous post, this was not immediately apparent.
 
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casmey

Member
Only four versions, not five. The second disc is labelled: "SACD hybrid. Includes stereo and 5.1 surround mixes." The stereo refers to the CD layer and the SACD layer has only the 5.1 mix. I could use the player to downmix it but I don't see any good reason to do that. So, I have been short changed: only four versions for my £10 (joke, see below).

I have now tried two versions. I played the CD layer but only the first movement. With so many to hear, there seemed no need to play what was probably the poorest version in full. Also, it meant that I went from the first movement of the CD version to the first movement of the next version directly. I noted a few places where I hoped that it could sound better.

Next I went to the SACD layer which I now know is only 5.1. I followed along with a miniature score (I am that geeky) to ensure that they didn't miss a note. It was great and definitely much better than the CD. Better technology or better mastering? I don't know but it is definitely much better. The first thing that I noticed was that the lower instruments, e.g. bassoons and double basses were much clearer. I noticed the same on the solo piano music, the low notes sounded better. This is a little odd as you might expect the extra frequency range of the SACD to improve the high instruments more. The SACD layer has a much better dynamic range, again either because it can handle more or just because it has been less compressed. This piece demonstrates it well. There are very quiet patches, e.g. a solo flute playing pppp (super quiet) or an off stage solo oboe playing quietly, and very loud patches with an entire large orchestra making lots of noise drums, cymbals, brass, etc. At all points, each instrument was perfectly clear and could be heard in the complex mix. The extra channels helped a lot with the sound stage and I could place each instrument.

If you like this music and can play an SACD through a decent surround system then I highly recommend this disc. I have heard it better but only when I had a real orchestra in front of me.

If I had known that SACD could be this good, I would have switched years ago. It's a shame that it has not really taken off. Hybrid discs could a great compromise. A CD layer that you play in the car or an iPod while in the gym or some other LoFi environment which is mastered with a compromise in mind. An SACD layer that is mastered with HiFi playing in mind.

What about the BluRay? Is it as good as the SACD? I don't know yet and the wife is waiting to watch TV so that will need to wait for tomorrow. HRAudio.net - Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique - Gergiev
 

jwlawler

Active Member
According to HRAudio.net your hybrid disc should contain both stereo and multichannel SACD tracks ie.
  • 2.0 LPCM 24bit/192kHz
  • 5.1 DTS HD MA 24bit/192kHz
I have 2 other LSO hybrid SACD discs and they certainly contain stereo SACD content - it shows up as such on the display of my Cambridge Audio 650BD!

See:- HRAudio.net - Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique - Gergiev
I am not home at the moment so I cannot check but I am fairly sure that my list above is correct. There is a 2.0 LPCM track but it is on the BluRay disc. It was a surprise so I checked carefully. If it was an SACD track then it would be DSD rather than LCPM. The description you quote matches the BluRay not the SACD disc.

I have two more LSO discs and each is a little different. One has a bonus DVD and the other is just an SACD. In these cases, there is a 2.0 SACD track.

If you go to my link to Amazon in my original post, you can see the pictures of the disc. For disc 2, it says: includes stereo and 5.1 mixes. It does but the stereo is the CD layer.
 
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