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CD, SACD, DVD-A: Is this a good time to buy?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by potterd, Jan 16, 2005.

  1. potterd

    potterd
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    Hi,

    I have recently upgraded my amp/speaker setup but am currently making do with an old Toshiba SD-3109 as my source for CD and DVD until I find a suitable upgrade.

    My current setup is a Tag Mclaren AV32R feeding PMC OB1/CB6 with Bryston PP120s. Unfortunately I don't have room at the moment for suitable surrounds so have had to make do with a small wall mounted pair. I also feed the video output into a Panasonic AE500E projector, currently by S-Video since it is all the Toshiba is capable of, and would ideally like to make use of the component or DVI inputs. However, my main priority is getting the best music quality out of my system, with movie sound and picture quality following in that order. I guess that up to £3000 is a reasonable figure for the upgrade.

    My questions are:

    Should I be looking at a dedicated CD player or should I consider SACD/DVD-A?

    Is this a good time to be buying since universal players are starting to come out?

    With the advent of HDMI and the various digital sound connectors - firewire, i-link, etc - is it worth waiting 6 months or so?


    Looking forward to hearing your opinions.

    Dave
     
  2. Knightshade

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    You have a few options:
    Something like an ex dem Linn Unidisk 1.1 which is very good for everything but still a compromise for CD music. Not a patch on the CD12. The addition of a really good DAC would sort the music side of things out.
    A cheapish DVD player (Pioneer) and Chord DAC64. Would give you superb playback with CD music, DVD, SACD etc. It can be a pain for multiple devices as there's no remote. This would however, give you excellent upgrade choices for the future.
    Whatever you decide I think the external DAC route would be a good investment for multiple inputs.
     
  3. potterd

    potterd
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    Thanks Knightshade,

    One of the reasons I was considering waiting a while is that I have heard that the use of one of the alternative audio connections gets over the jitter problems that plague spdif. If this is true then presumably the advantages that the Chord DAC64 offers would become obsolete. However, I cannot find any detailed reports into the advantages/disadvantages of the new digital connections as yet so I have nothing to back that up with.

    Dave
     
  4. Knightshade

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    Depends if you buy into the hype about jitter. Personally I don't. It's a good way to spend more money though. You'll find it's up there with cabling as a contentious issue. Fair play to those who think that it makes a difference.
     
  5. SKA.face

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    Dave,my transport & DAC,allow RCA and balanced conections,I can instantly flick between the two,no difference at all to my ears,RCA would be fine.Personally I see no future for SACD or DVD-A.

    I would also try a DAC,there is a few knocking around at the moment,some very cheap of ebay,the people have repoted exellent results,I would be tempted by one of these,but am very happy with the valved California Audio Lab I use.

    Have you considerd a Turntable,it seems to be getting popular again,and for good reason.
     
  6. potterd

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    I wasn't considering a balanced connection between transport and DAC since the distance between them shouldn't cause any noticable interference. The issue is the digital protocol used by s/pdif which was designed back in the early eighties before jitter was really understood. A better protocol has taken a long time to arrive - lets hope they show some good results.

    As for SACD and DVD-A they should, in theory at least, produce a response at higher frequencies than vinyl. CD does not produce frequencies higher than 22kHz since it was thought that they could not be heard by the human ear. It is now more widely believed that although we cannot hear those higher frequencies they do affect our perception of the timing of the sounds that we hear and hence affect the accuracy and depth of the soundstage. This could partly explain why CD has not been considered as good as vinyl despite CD delivering a much flatter frequency response.

    There is the option of upgrading the Tag to its 192kHz DAC. This could be a possible option perhaps with the pioneer suggested by Knightshade. I have just written to Tag to ask about the upgrade price. If I can hold out I may just wait for 6 months to see if any reviews of decent HDMI or i-link equipment become available. I don't have a great deal of self discipline though!

    Dave
     
  7. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Right now,the various HiRes formats are on the verge of collapsing,with Sony rumoured to be ready to run down SACD,and the various problems such as lack of software,and patent issues and manufacturing difficulties plaguing DVD-A,I'd not be putting huge amounts into a player myself right now...I'd just wait a bit and see how it all settles out...as to using alternative digital connections,such as the variants of Firewire(i-Link and DenonLink),they will only work with the appropriate manufacturer's enabled gear,and not with anything else,due to copyright and DRM issues...more wait and see!
     
  8. potterd

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    Thanks. I was not aware of the potential demise of SACD.
     
  9. Ovation

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    SACD is NOT going to die, not anytime soon. It will likely remain a niche product with primarily jazz and classical releases, but labels like Pentatone, Telarc, Naxos and others have invested too much to let the format die. DVD-A is in the same boat, though it seems to be less popular if releases are any judge. So long as media remains on 5 inch optical discs, someone will build players with multiformat capabilities and hi-res audio will be available. It won't become mainstream, however, not in its present state. Perhaps when hi-def DVD (whichever format wins out) is mainstream, hi-res audio will be mainstream as well (the two formats have signed on to have lossless encoded audio--hi-res capable). At that point, SACD and DVD-A might start phasing out entirely, but that's several years down the road and, I suspect, players will be backwards compatible. Besides, here in Canada, you can buy a NEW reel to reel player/recorder at Sears, so no format really dies, does it?
     
  10. potterd

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    Have you had any experience with universal players?
     
  11. dynamic turtle

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    Potterd,

    You could do worse than buy a Pioneer 575/565/656 and try SACD/DVDA for yourself. They're only £150-£200. You also get very good dvd & fair cd playback thrown in for free!

    I think you'll be impressed by the potential of the formats even through these budget dvdp's. I warn you though - it might be hard going back to cd once you've tried them. DVDA is dying, and has very limited software availability, so I'd be careful about spending lots on that particular format.

    SACD has a much larger back catalogue (tiny compared to cd though). They incorporate a cd layer on each disc though, which offers some downside protection to the buyer should the SACD format "fail".

    Should sound great through your kit. :smashin:

    DT
     
  12. overkill

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    Thats the problem - in theory. I have all four mediums (Vinyl, CD, SACD, DVD-A) and although the high res are much (much) better than CD, the discs still lack the performance I demand from the vinyl source. Having said that, they would be the natural option for a digital based system if it wasn't for:-

    Lack of support as mentioned on other threads.
    Lack of back catalogue.
    The concentration on poor quality 5.1 mixes rather then high res stereo mixes.
    No clearly mapped, rolling out process, for high res, the opposite in fact.
    Public disinterest. Vinyl, a dead medium, outsold SACD and DVD-A combined last year, with sales dropping this.

    I would concentrate on improving the stereo source for CD and 5.1 for DVD-V. Just my twopence worth.
     
  13. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    For me, the difference between (copy-protected) DVDA and well recorded (Naim, MFSL, Living presence) CD is almost negligible. In fact sometimes I think cd sounds better!

    Vinyl is best, but a huge pain in the ar*e to buy, set-up, maintain and listen to (have to flip it, dust it etc. every 20 minutes :suicide: ).

    DT
     
  14. CJROSS

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    Yep I would agree totally with that, CD is a fantastic medium and when recorded properly its as audiophile as my ears can get DT. Funnily enough one of the best pieces of digital software I own or have ever heard, is Dave Gilmours Meltdown concert on DVD-V 24 bit – 48Khz stereo. But properly recorded CD can and does sound truly stunning to these ears – for example, I defy anyone to listen to Jean Michells Aero CD and say that CD is a sub standard medium. Stings – Living Sea Or Joni Mitchell on HDCDs Both Sides Now for that matter. Im very lucky in that I rate CD up there with vinyl. SACD – DVD-A well TBPH there nice to have, a bit like a HDCD CD recording but good CD is where it happens for me. Recent dabblings with DVD-A via the XLR output of my Tosh 9500 and Primare in balanced mode, have shown small differences in CD quality.

    There is no harm though having a player that can play ALL, the best solution for that would seem to be the Denon 2900 with a good DAC bolted onto it, like your AV32R Potter.
     
  15. overkill

    overkill
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    Actually, once you have a good cleaner it all becomes much, much, easier.......... :D Setting up intially is a pain, but after that the little tweaks keep you on your toes.

    The twenty mins a side thing is a bonus for me. I rarely have time to listen to a whole album anyway. Plus the extra room on a CD has become a limiting factor not a plus. How many artists really maintain the quality over 13-16 tracks as a modern CD holds? None. I haven't a single CD (released with CD in mind) where I haven't thought, "christ that track, (or those three tracks) is crap!" :laugh: I think most, (most that is!) artists only have 8 good tracks in them for an album, ten at a pinch. After that it becomes stuff they would have left on the cutting room floor............. Sorry for the digression there!

    I wouldn't argue. However, I think that's down to poor recording/engineering on the SACD/DVD-A not neccarily down to the quality of the CD. The Hi-res should be better. Some CD's are, having said that, quite excellent though.

    As an aside (and on the ergonomics point) I nearly murdered the cat last night! He was annoyed we went away for the weekend and sprayed my CD's (they're at ground level in a rack) when we got back!! Imagine what would have happened it that'd been the lps! :eek:
     
  16. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    But DVD-A have either a DD or DTS soundtrack that can be played on any DVD player and has the advantage (for some people at least) that it is still a multichannel mix.

    Mark.
     
  17. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Yep, good point.

    DD & DTS still sound a bit rough for pure listening though (hence why I tend to avoid music dvd's - unless they have a PCM track), compared to CD, IMO.
     
  18. MartinImber

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    I prefer the couple of DVD-A I have over CD

    Doors LA Woman is excellent
     
  19. alwyn

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    I have the Esoteric universal player the UX-1 It is a superb player in all formats and is certainly a great unit to have,to hear sacd played on this and then hear someone say that it is on its way out is unbeleavable.
     
  20. alexs2

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    All that I'd originally said was that Sony had been rumoured to have been considering this(as quoted in this month's HiFi News),and obviously the only test of this is whether or not they do persist with SACD....the real problem for both SACD and DVD-A is to get enough product,and in a wide enough range of types(rock/jazz/classical etc) onto the market at prices that people will buy.

    The current situation of poor catalogues,and availability,plus the manufacturing and patent issues relating to DualDiscs,are doing the long term future of high-res formats no good at all.

    I'd love to go and buy a really good player(and I mean one to replace my CD/DAC combinations,at a higher quality and thus price level),but right now I'm quite happy to wait and see.

    For those that already have universal players of good quality,then nothing is lost,as they'll play everything that you already have,but for the sake of all of us who love good music,and good quality recordings,I for one,wish that the manufacturers would either go ahead at full tilt,or just bury it....hopefully the former.
     
  21. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    It's not just a matter of wheather a style of music is released on DVD-A/SACD or not. What is also stopping the formats from becoming popular with Joe Public is the fact that it is next to impossible to get hold of the disks that are available. I mentioned in another thread a while back that I was in Oxford Street a few months ago and tried to buy Pink Floyds DSOTM on SACD. Neither HMV or Vergin had a dedicated SACD (or DVD-A for that matter) section in their stores. When I asked at the information counter I was told that SACDs were in with the standard CDs. I spent about half an hour looking and still could not find the disk I was after. I only found 1 DVD-A in with the standard music DVDs.
    I am happy to buy music from internet stores and wait for delivery, but the children that buy most music can't easily do this as they don't have a credit card. But even on the internet you have to know where to look to find the disks.

    Mark.
     
  22. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I think I mentioned the availablity problems in my post above as well....the only high street outlet I have round here with a DVD-A/SACD area is MVC,but even that's all mixed in with US imports etc.

    Our local Virgin store used to have a DVD-A/SACD section,but that vanished several months ago,along with the paltry selection of discs it contained.

    Both formats are seriously in need of a full re-launch,with plenty of available discs and a decent range,if they are to stand any chance of progress.
     

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