Question UHD BluRay and SACD player recommendation

jwlawler

Active Member
I'm so glad I backed-up all my HD DVD movies several years ago (using a LG GGC-H20L ROM drive) because just about all of the disc's have delaminated/rotted and don't play at all now...

A few of my discs have rotted. Some did not matter too much as I had bought them mainly because they were bargains. Others, e.g. Blade Runner The Final Cut, did and I had to rebuy them on BluRay.

There are a few left that I am sad that I can no longer play.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
My Sony X500 just arrived and I sneaked off work to have a quick play. It is not properly installed in the rack. It's on a small table in front and connected to the auxiliary HDMI input on the front of the Denon.

I sampled some of my SACDs and confirmed that I was getting the multi-channel layer.

I tried the Bohemian Rhapsody UHD and confirmed that I was getting Atmos. I forgot to check that the TV was getting a 2160p signal.

I did a regression test, i.e. played a few other discs that I could already play: a regular BluRay, a DVD, an audio only BluRay, and a regular CD. All looks and sounded good in the brief test. I am pleased with it so far.

So, some more play tonight if the wife will let me. Bohemian Rhapsody already looked and sounded good in 1080 and DTSHD 7.1. It is going to be a challenge to see and hear the benefit of 2160 and Atmos.

An odd problem is that the player is very small. The Tivo might not be stable on top of it but it won't be stable on top of the Tivo as its top is not flat and it has ventilation vents. The X500 does not.

As the various upgrades that I have experienced: vinyl to CD, VHS to DVD, and DVD to BluRay go, this probably has the poorest bang for the buck but I am using lockdown and no holiday to justify it.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
For the benefit of UHD BluRay over regular BluRay, I will need some more discs and tests.

However, I am enjoying my SACDs. The difference is more than I expected. The extra channels are nice as expected but it is more than that. All of my material so far is similar: solo classical piano. I played a few tracks four ways:

1. A lossless rip to my iPod which is connected via a digital dock. This is my usual method. It is very convenient and beats my old disc player as that had a noticeable mechanical noise.

2. Using the new player but the CD layer. I could not distinguish this from test 1. The new player is quieter so that previous benefit of the iPod is negated.

3. The SACD layer in two channel mode. I had expected this to be very similar to the previous tests but I was surprised. It was noticeably better. Oddly, this was most obvious on the low notes.

4. The SACD layer in multi-channel mode. Similar to the previous test but subtly better. There are no special surround effects, just reverb but that does add to the realism.

So, I am pleasantly surprised that the SACD is noticeably better and not just due to the extra channels. Of course, this does not necessarily prove that SACD is a superior format. It might have been mastered differently since the expected audience for SACDs is probably using good equipment and is more discerning than the typical CD audience. They need not care how it will sound in a Discman or a car (does anyone have an SACD player in their car).
 

gibbsy

Moderator
So, I am pleasantly surprised that the SACD is noticeably better and not just due to the extra channels. Of course, this does not necessarily prove that SACD is a superior format. It might have been mastered differently since the expected audience for SACDs is probably using good equipment and is more discerning than the typical CD audience. They need not care how it will sound in a Discman or a car (does anyone have an SACD player in their car).
CDs sample at 44.1 kHz but SACD sample at 2.884 mHz that the technical bit. SACD also has a depth of 1bit as opposed to 16 bit on the redbooks. Storage space is also far higher on SACD than CD. Sound wise most SACDs will come from remastered stock and that sample rate will give a far better depth and soundstage. The CD layer on hybrid discs will also benefit as it usually comes from that same remaster.

Some SACD titles have a better 5.1 performance than the stereo layer, beit SACD or redbook. Certainly true of six out of seven Moody Blues' SACD releases which proves the exception to the rule I mention above. Those discs have a superior 4.1 soundtrack on them coming from the original quad remasters.

The Pink Floyd multi channel SACDs use the surrounds to great effect and are superb examples of the media.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
CDs sample at 44.1 kHz but SACD sample at 2.884 mHz that the technical bit. SACD also has a depth of 1bit as opposed to 16 bit on the redbooks. Storage space is also far higher on SACD than CD. Sound wise most SACDs will come from remastered stock and that sample rate will give a far better depth and soundstage. The CD layer on hybrid discs will also benefit as it usually comes from that same remaster.

Some SACD titles have a better 5.1 performance than the stereo layer, beit SACD or redbook. Certainly true of six out of seven Moody Blues' SACD releases which proves the exception to the rule I mention above. Those discs have a superior 4.1 soundtrack on them coming from the original quad remasters.

The Pink Floyd multi channel SACDs use the surrounds to great effect and are superb examples of the media.

Indeed, I am getting a lot more data and, in theory, better quality. The interesting question is whether I can hear this improvement; that's the controversial part. These are not old remastered old recordings but new recordings with the CD and SACD versions created at the same time. I rather doubt that the differences that I am hearing are due to extra bitrate of the SACDs; I am inclined to suspect that the SACD was mastered differently with an audiophile audience in mind.

Anyway, good is good and I am happy.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Indeed, I am getting a lot more data and, in theory, better quality. The interesting question is whether I can hear this improvement; that's the controversial part. These are not old remastered old recordings but new recordings with the CD and SACD versions created at the same time. I rather doubt that the differences that I am hearing are due to extra bitrate of the SACDs; I am inclined to suspect that the SACD was mastered differently with an audiophile audience in mind.

Anyway, good is good and I am happy.
It's little nuances that you can hear, the gentle strike on a high hat, the better decay of that strike. Something that's not there on redbooks and dare I say it vinyl. I do a lot of listening with a combination of a Denon stereo SACD player, Lehmann Linear headphone amp and Oppo PM1 planars a combination that will let every thing, good or bad, show itself to the full.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
It's little nuances that you can hear, the gentle strike on a high hat, the better decay of that strike. Something that's not there on redbooks and dare I say it vinyl. I do a lot of listening with a combination of a Denon stereo SACD player, Lehmann Linear headphone amp and Oppo PM1 planars a combination that will let every thing, good or bad, show itself to the full.

I don't like headphones so for my serious listening I need the A/V room to myself.

I am happy with the everything good or bad aspect. My ideal for classical music listening is to close my eyes and not be able to tell whether the performer is in the room with me. These SACDs have probably come as close to that as ever. It helps that they are solo piano as a piano would just about fit into the room; it's harder to achieve with a whole orchestra. This is where I find that the extra channels help even if it is just to add a little reverb.

On the everything good or bad front, there is a debate in classical music about sounds such as the mechanical noises from the piano keys. Some want a better than reality in which they cannot be heard. I am happy with the reality of hearing these sounds.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I don't like headphones so for my serious listening I need the A/V room to myself.
I much prefer to listen to my full system. More relaxing as you say and I love the wider soundstage afforded by SACD. I do have to use headphones a lot especially late at night. My wife has a dicky ticker and gets tired and so goes to be bed fairly early hence the considerable investment in quality headphones.

Piano is one of the hardest instruments to portray on any media. Speakers are so important with piano as the notes can be so fast and have such changes in octaves that speakers can often muddy them.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
Piano is one of the hardest instruments to portray on any media. Speakers are so important with piano as the notes can be so fast and have such changes in octaves that speakers can often muddy them.

Exactly, for that reason, when I review new equipment, I start with solo piano music. I started this habit back in vinyl days as wow and flutter are very obvious with a piano. The habit continues to this day.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Exactly, for that reason, when I review new equipment, I start with solo piano music. I started this habit back in vinyl days as wow and flutter are very obvious with a piano. The habit continues to this day.
I always take Joni Mitchell's wonderful Blue album with me to any audition. Any amp, speaker or headphones than can control her highs gets a good seal of approval. Vocals are my main concern.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
I always take Joni Mitchell's wonderful Blue album with me to any audition. Any amp, speaker or headphones than can control her highs gets a good seal of approval. Vocals are my main concern.

I like Joni Mitchell though I have not considered using her as test material. Another test of mine is Beethoven's Violin Concerto. It has a very soft opening with four light kettle drum notes. It is good for testing the noise floor which is important for classical music. I want silence between movements and be able to appreciate the very quiet moments.
 
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jwlawler

Active Member
I'm still loving my new ability to play SACDs. I have 9 but they are all very similar: a box set of Beethoven piano sonatas. I find the SACDs better. This is partly due to the extra channels but there are other differences e.g. the tone of the low piano notes sounds more realistic and the dynamic range seems to be greater. I don't know whether this is due to the technical superiority of the format or just that the SACD layers have been mastered differently with audiophiles in mind.

I have just ordered another disc with a quite different piece: Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. Interestingly, it comes with a BluRay audio version so I can do a 3-way comparison (including the CD layer of the SACD). I hope that this will be another good test.

Tonight, I'll try another UHD: Mamma Mia Here We Go Again. Not my scene but the wife likes it and it was cheap. Given that the benefit of UHD for Bohemian Rhapsody was slight, I am not expecting a lot. It is hard to imagine that this film will make a lot of use of Atmos.

I'm glad that I went for a player that can do SACD as well as UHD.
 

Nayfne

Distinguished Member
Having read this thread, i am also curious and tempted to invest in some SACD, seem a tad pricey? But hey, im happy to drop £25 on a new 4k UHD release.

I have the Sony X700 4k player, I've never heard the quality of SACD before, but was a big 2 channel stereo type of guy, buying hundreds of CDs before i turned to Home Cinema...any recommendations for good quality sounding SACD discs? I don't have a type of music as such, my taste is quite varied.
 

Steve356

Distinguished Member
Having read this thread, i am also curious and tempted to invest in some SACD, seem a tad pricey? But hey, im happy to drop £25 on a new 4k UHD release.

I have the Sony X700 4k player, I've never heard the quality of SACD before, but was a big 2 channel stereo type of guy, buying hundreds of CDs before i turned to Home Cinema...any recommendations for good quality sounding SACD discs? I don't have a type of music as such, my taste is quite varied.

If you just want to ry a hybrid SACD that also has 5.1 surround, try Mark Knopfler Shangri-La. Should be less than £12 from Amazon. It's a very good recording in stereo and surround.

Dire Straits Brothers In Arms is also less than £12.
 

xavster

Active Member
I have hundreds of SACDs. Mostly classical, but a few others too. All multi-channel.
While solo piano is a good test, SACD comes into its own with orchestral or choral music where it just sounds much more real. If you can hear the surrounds as separate speakers then it’s not set up right - the vast majority of the recordings use the surrounds for ambience and room sound. It works stunningly well and gives an uncanny 3D depth to the front image.
So many discs are good, but you should try some on the Chandos label, or Pentatone. I find these two to be most reliable for great performances and stunning sound.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Having read this thread, i am also curious and tempted to invest in some SACD, seem a tad pricey? But hey, im happy to drop £25 on a new 4k UHD release.

I have the Sony X700 4k player, I've never heard the quality of SACD before, but was a big 2 channel stereo type of guy, buying hundreds of CDs before i turned to Home Cinema...any recommendations for good quality sounding SACD discs? I don't have a type of music as such, my taste is quite varied.
Depends on what you want to buy. Classical pieces are very easy to source and won't cost a fortune. There are a few good SACDs new for little money and two have been mentioned above. Art Garfunkel has two excellent multi channel offerings that can be picked up for £12 as well.

Sometimes you can get a good price on Amazon, but not often. Discogs and flea bay are your best bet for rock. Some bargains to be had but few and far between. Expect to pay around the £30 mark. Depends on who you like and how much you're prepared to pay. Not all are multi channel and most of my collection is just stereo. I bought two in the last couple of weeks, one from the US and the second from Japan, both stereo, both over £30 plus postage.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
Having read this thread, i am also curious and tempted to invest in some SACD, seem a tad pricey? But hey, im happy to drop £25 on a new 4k UHD release.

I have the Sony X700 4k player, I've never heard the quality of SACD before, but was a big 2 channel stereo type of guy, buying hundreds of CDs before i turned to Home Cinema...any recommendations for good quality sounding SACD discs? I don't have a type of music as such, my taste is quite varied.

In a way, my ability to play SACDs was free. I wanted a UHD BluRay player so by choosing a Sony, I was able to get that ability and also SACD. If you already have UHD ability or don't want it then there will be a cost.

Now you need some discs. I already had a boxed set of hybrid CD / SACD discs: Beethoven piano sonatas. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the SACD layers sounded noticeably better. As xavster says, you can hope for a better benefit with orchestral music. Next I bought Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. This is a large complex orchestral piece. This also sounded considerably better in SACD than CD. The extra channels were very effective. Not a blatant effect as in action movies but more subtle. I could place the instruments very accurately.

I am now hunting for other favourite pieces in SACD and I have two on order. I wish that I had discovered SACDs years ago.

You can see some further comments from me in this other post.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
If you are very patient and lucky, bargains can be had on eBay (evilbay according to @gibbsy). I picked up Goldfrapp Supernature for £6.50 plus postage. It was advertised as a CD but the photos clearly showed the hybrid SACD version
 

gibbsy

Moderator
If you are very patient and lucky, bargains can be had on eBay (evilbay according to @gibbsy). I picked up Goldfrapp Supernature for £6.50 plus postage. It was advertised as a CD but the photos clearly showed the hybrid SACD version
Good catch.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
I cannot think of any non-classical music that I like enough to deserve tracking down and buying an SACD.

I have more classical on its way: Rakhmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 and Dvorak New World Symphony. I have several versions of each already but I can fit in some more.
 

LX200GPS

Member
Depends on what you want to buy. Classical pieces are very easy to source and won't cost a fortune. There are a few good SACDs new for little money and two have been mentioned above. Art Garfunkel has two excellent multi channel offerings that can be picked up for £12 as well.

Sometimes you can get a good price on Amazon, but not often. Discogs and flea bay are your best bet for rock. Some bargains to be had but few and far between. Expect to pay around the £30 mark. Depends on who you like and how much you're prepared to pay. Not all are multi channel and most of my collection is just stereo. I bought two in the last couple of weeks, one from the US and the second from Japan, both stereo, both over £30 plus postage.
The Art Garfunkel discs are really nice sounding sacd's but there's a hell of a lot more choice if you like classical music and multi-channel is your thing.

A fantastic sounding blu ray disc is the Bob Marley 30th Anniversary Legend album. A CD/Blu-ray 5.1 audio set in a very nice package. High resolution 2 channel stereo and a 5.1 DTS and also a 5.1 True HD track. Paid less than £15 for it a few years back.
 

xavster

Active Member
I cannot think of any non-classical music that I like enough to deserve tracking down and buying an SACD.

I have more classical on its way: Rakhmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 and Dvorak New World Symphony. I have several versions of each already but I can fit in some more.
For the Rachmaninov - this is beautiful:
Rach
For the Dvorak - Dvorak. This was originally released on Philips label, but then remastered I believe by Channel. The original release was one of the first SACDs that I bought in 2003. It is again wonderful - the first big brass chord in the 2nd movt is stunning.
I’m a bit of a music geek (It’s also my job...!)
 

Steven

Senior Moderator

jwlawler

Active Member
For the Rachmaninov - this is beautiful:
Rach
For the Dvorak - Dvorak. This was originally released on Philips label, but then remastered I believe by Channel. The original release was one of the first SACDs that I bought in 2003. It is again wonderful - the first big brass chord in the 2nd movt is stunning.
I’m a bit of a music geek (It’s also my job...!)

Neither one is the recording that I just ordered: Rakh and Dvorak. But, as great pieces of music, I could find space for yet more.

I have resisted Beethoven as I already have a lot on BluRay which is also excellent quality. Some of my classical BluRays are audio only and some have video. Obviously, the video adds more for opera and ballet but my wife likes the video for all genres. She is less fussy on audio quality and sees less value in SACDs and BluRay audio.

Which is better SACD or BluRay audio? I don't know or much care - both can be great. I am just enjoying the extra choice that I have now that I can play both.
 

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