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Old 03-13-2008, 12:24 AM   #1
Big Daddy Big Daddy is offline
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For additional information, check my threads on DVD-A and DualDisc and Home Theater Audio CODECs.

A GUIDE TO SUPER AUDIO CD (SACD)

Prepared by Big Daddy

What is SACD?
SACD is not a home theater audio CODEC. It is a high resolution format developed by Sony/Philips in 1999 as a replacement for music CDís.

Is the Sound Quality of SACD Better than CD?
Yes, SACD uses a high resolution format. It has better sampling frequency, better frequency response, and better dynamic range than standard CD. In addition, many SACD titles, but not all, are multi-channel.

How Can I Tell If a Disc Is SACD?
All SACD players and discs have the following logo on them:


What Is a Hybrid SACD?
A Hybrid SACD contains two separate layers. One layer carries the SACD information (a stereo or multi-channel mix) and the other layer carries the normal CD information. Only hybrid SACDs can be played in a standard CD player. Non-hybrid SACDs must be played in a SACD player or a compatible DVD player.

What Is DSD?
SACD audio is stored in a format called Direct Stream Digital (DSD), which differs from the PCM format used by CDs.

DSD is 1-bit and has a sampling rate of 2.8224MHz. This gives the format a greater dynamic range and wider frequency response than the CD. Sony and Philips claim that the system is capable of delivering a dynamic range of 120dB from 20Hz to 20kHz and an extended frequency response up to 100kHz, although most currently available players list an upper limit of 80Ė90kHz.

What Is the Difference Between SACD and DVD-Audio?
SACD uses optical discs and DSD encoding. To listen to SACD content, you need a SACD Player or a SACD-compatible DVD player. You can play the Hybrid SACD (not the standard SACD) in your CD (home or car) and standard DVD player. However, you will only hear the stereo CD content.

DVD-A uses the DVD media and PCM encoding. To listen to DVD-A content, you need a DVD-A compatible DVD player. If you use a standard DVD player, you will only hear the stereo content or Dolby/DTS Digital content, depending on the encoding. You cannot play a DVD-A disc in your home or car CD/SACD player.

Comparison of DSD and PCM
Converting from analog sound to PCM and back to analog sound involves a number of processing steps. Each step causes distortions such as quantization noise (please refer to footnote 1). The noise may result in further deterioration of sound quality and needs to be filtered out. DSD, however, is a very simple way of converting analog signal to digital with a smaller probability of sound deterioration.

Because of the nature of converters used in PCM and DSD, one cannot make a direct comparison between the two formats. An approximation would place DSD in some aspects comparable to a PCM format that has a bit depth of 20 bits and a sampling frequency of 192kHz. PCM sampled at 24 bits provides theoretically an additional 24dB of dynamic range. Due to the effects of quantization noise, the usable bandwidth of the SACD format is approximately 100kHz, which is similar to 192kHz PCM.

For a discussion and debate over DSD versus PCM, read the following:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_Stream_Digital
http://stereophile.com/thefiftheleme...th/index3.html
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/...9&#entry427509
PCM v DSD Comparison: 16/44.1, 24/96, 24/192, 64x DSD, 128x DSD

What Type of Cables Do You Need for SACD?
SACD players are not permitted to digitally output encrypted DSD signals. Therefore, you cannot use Toslink (Optical) or Digital Caoxial S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Information Format) cables. Initially, players supported only multi-channel analog output (please refer to footnote 2). Later, some proprietary digital interfaces such as Denon Link or I-Link (IEEE 1394, Firewire) permitted encrypted transmission of DSD. HDMI (version 1.2 or above) can also be used for transmission of DSD signals. The HDMI version number does not refer to the cable. It refers to the transmission and receiver chips in the player and the receiver.

Should We Set the SACD Player to PCM or DSD?
The biggest headache in digital audio is converting analog to digital and then converting it back to analog again by using D/A chips. Converting DSD to analog is surprisingly very simple. Unfortunately, converting PCM stream to analog is a lot more difficult. In that respect, DSD has an advantage and it makes sense to let the receiver/processor receive the DSD signal and convert it to analog without any processing. At the same time, DSD does not allow the receiver to perform any type of processing such as bass management and DSP (PLIIx, etc) without FIRST converting it to PCM.

If you are using HDMI connection for multi-channel SACD, you basically have two options:
  1. Set the player to DSD and send the SACD signals to the receiver/processor with HDMI 1.2 or higher and let the receiver/processor convert the signal to analog without any processing. The results are generally excellent and make most people happy. Unfortunatly, you wonít be able to perform bass management and this puts people with small/bookshelf speakers at a big disadvantage. Moreover, you will not be hearing bass the most optimum way as the subwoofer only receives the signals that the sound engineer put there. There will be no redirected bass from the front or surround speakers. Remember that the position of the source of the low frequency waves in a small home theater room is an important factor in receiving good bass.
  2. Set the player to PCM and send the PCM streams to the receiver/processor with HDMI 1.1 or higher and let the processor perform all sorts of DSP processing and bass management. Will the signal be degraded? Probably yes. Can we hear the difference? Probably no, although you may hear significantly better bass output in your room. Is the quality still better than CD? Probably yes.
List of Receivers/Processors That Can Handle DSD

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...81&postcount=1

Can I copy a SACD?
SACDs are copy protected and cannot legally be copied. Besides, no SACD recordable discs and no SACD recordable drives are available. However, the CD layer of a hybrid SACD can be copied if it is not copy protected.

How to make a DSD Disc
This guide is intended for users of the Korg MR-1/MR-1000 portable audio recorders that record in 1-bit DSD format.

http://www.ps3sacd.com/dsddiscguide.html

FAQ About PS3's SACD Capability
Sonyís PlayStation 3 (20GB, 60GB, and the old 80GB models) can play music in SACD format through an HDMI cable. However, they do not output DSD over the cable, but instead convert it to PCM. The 40GB PS3 and the new 80GB PS3 models do not play SACD music.

http://www.ps3sacd.com/faq.html

Importance of Calibration
Many SACD and DVD-A titles are available in 5.1 multi-channel sound format. In order to enjoy the music in the most optimum way, you need to calibrate your audio system and adjust your speakers/subwoofer. Although many new receivers have their own built-in calibration programs, I highly recommend the use of an SPL meter in addition to them. Radio Shack offers two excellent choices below $50. I also encourage you to read Calibrating Your Audio with an SPL Meter. Pay close attention to the section at the end on subwoofer positioning and its interaction with the main speakers.

Where Can I Buy SACD Music?
There are approximately 5,000 SACD releases since the introduction of the format, mostly, but not exclusively, in Jazz and Classical music. You can check the following sites for SACD releases:

http://www.sa-cd.net/titles
http://www.sonybmgstore.com/search/sacd.htm
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/se...rocess=default
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/...&album_group=4
http://www.telarc.com/sacd/all.asp?m...17JFHC9&q=cbsa
http://www.chesky.com/core/productli...ctcategoryid=3
http://www.musicdirect.com/category/2
http://www.cduniverse.com/browsecat....cart=693240373
http://www.cdpacific.com/search.asp?...wsacd=1&swlp=0
http://store.acousticsounds.com/sacd...FQgmawodPSZbDA
http://www.jr.com/JRSectionView.proc...=610000#Format
http://search.ebay.com/sacd_W0QQcrlp...Z1205296851390

SACD, DVD-A, and DualDisc Reviews
http://www.audaud.com/index.php
http://www.highfidelityreview.com/index.asp

Popular SACD Players
http://www.oppodigital.com/
http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/...tegoryId=27883
http://usa.denon.com/ProductDetails/...ndChangers.asp
http://us.marantz.com/Products/349.asp
http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PU...liteDVDPlayers
http://www.onkyousa.com/prod_class.cfm?class=DVD
http://www.tacp.toshiba.com/dvd/prod...?model=sd-6980
http://www.teac.com/esoteric/Audio_Players_CD_SACD.html
http://www.arcam.co.uk/prod_diva_DV135_intro.cfm
http://www.arcam.co.uk/prod_diva_DV137_intro.cfm

MORE INFORMATION & REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacd
http://www.sonymusic.com/sacd/faq/index.html
http://www.sa-cd.net/faq
http://www.merging.com/uploads/asset..._pdfs/dsd1.pdf
http://www.merging.com/uploads/asset...on%20Guide.pdf


FOOTNOTES
  1. Quantization is the process of approximating a continuous range of values by a relatively-small set of discrete symbols or integer values (approximating analog signals with discrete digital values.) Quantization Noise is introduced by quantization in the analog-to-digital conversion process.
  2. When a SACD player is connected to a receiver with multi-channel analog cables, the player must perform digital to analog decoding and send the analog signal to the receiver. In this case, calibration and bass management adjustments such as speaker sizes and channel levels should be done in the player's setup menus or the receiver must have bass management for the 5.1 ANALOG inputs. If the player lacks calibration adjustments or the receiver cannot perform adjustments for analog inputs, bass management cannot be performed.

Last edited by Big Daddy; 12-13-2012 at 07:11 AM.
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Old 03-13-2008, 12:39 AM   #2
dvda-sacd dvda-sacd is offline
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Good work!
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Old 03-13-2008, 12:43 AM   #3
ausamerika ausamerika is offline
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My God I wish this format really took off. It's incredible.

And a darn good thing I like jazz so much. I'll be buying SACDs for years to come.
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Old 03-13-2008, 12:49 AM   #4
buckshot buckshot is offline
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you're awesom. i love you.
the avatar is my grandpa 1912-2006
56'' samsung dlp (1080p), ps3, oppo dv-980h, onkyo sr605, jbl, polk & onkyo speakers, acoustech h100 & velodyne vx-10 subs (7.1), 200+ BDs, about 40 sacds, dualdiscs, dvd-a's, & a comfy couch. bedroom: 32'' vizio, BA TVee system & ps3
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:03 AM   #5
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very nice! I would write a dvd-a guide to compliment it but I'm only on a phone right now.
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:05 AM   #6
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just another reason i wish the ps3 had multi-channel analog outs ( pay attention sony, just use a breakout cable like the component cable )
This signature will be updated soon! ps3 games: 5 blu-ray: 57
psn: guitarist155

projector: Epson 8345 Processors:onkyo tx-nr809, and more... and UMC-200 for bedroom sources:PS3 slim, AMPS: about 64 ch at 200w+ power: , APC H10 speakers: Niles pro LCR and di/bipole surround back and sides. Polk CS2 center, monitor 60 fronts, 2 x psw10 subwoofers. (for bedroom) remote Screen: Elite screens 4K acoustic trans
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:06 AM   #7
ausamerika ausamerika is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarist155 View Post
just another reason i wish the ps3 had multi-channel analog outs ( pay attention sony, just use a breakout cable like the component cable )
...and while you're at it... BITSTREAM DSD!
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:18 AM   #8
buckshot buckshot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchglen View Post
very nice! I would write a dvd-a guide to compliment it but I'm only on a phone right now.
how about a dts-cd and dualdisc guide too. they're all so confusing but awesome. thats why i bought a oppo player. it does 'em all.
the avatar is my grandpa 1912-2006
56'' samsung dlp (1080p), ps3, oppo dv-980h, onkyo sr605, jbl, polk & onkyo speakers, acoustech h100 & velodyne vx-10 subs (7.1), 200+ BDs, about 40 sacds, dualdiscs, dvd-a's, & a comfy couch. bedroom: 32'' vizio, BA TVee system & ps3
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:23 AM   #9
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Nice work.



Mike
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:27 AM   #10
dominica dominica is online now
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Excellent Info. Keep up the work

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Old 03-13-2008, 01:29 AM   #11
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how about a list of players that output dsd directly through HDMI instead of converting it to PCM?

Last edited by hoogoosedmoose41; 03-13-2008 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:34 AM   #12
frenchglen frenchglen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckshot View Post
how about a dts-cd and dualdisc guide too. they're all so confusing but awesome. thats why i bought a oppo player. it does 'em all.
that's a great idea. well, I've already got my excuse I would love to do it though...even though I feel lazy right now.

you know I think any dvd player with dts out (and enabled in settings) can play a dts-cd. the disc tricks the player in thinking it's a normal pcm wav cd, and the receiver says "oh - it's dts. I'd better decode it." end of story
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:36 AM   #13
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understand now.. thanks for the info
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Old 03-13-2008, 02:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by un4gvn94538 View Post
understand now.. thanks for the info
Speaking of SACD -- where is that Wish You Were Here SACD we've been promised for the last few years??
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Old 03-13-2008, 02:08 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ausamerika View Post
Speaking of SACD -- where is that Wish You Were Here SACD we've been promised for the last few years??
a real shame the format didnt take off. ill have to resort vinyl for that one
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Old 03-13-2008, 02:12 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by un4gvn94538 View Post
a real shame the format didnt take off. ill have to resort vinyl for that one
I'm tempted to track down an expensive 8-Track player so I can get the old Quadraphonic version. God, I'm a nerd.
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Old 03-13-2008, 02:13 AM   #17
un4gvn94538 un4gvn94538 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ausamerika View Post
I'm tempted to track down an expensive 8-Track player so I can get the old Quadraphonic version. God, I'm a nerd.
i wont tell
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Old 03-13-2008, 02:22 AM   #18
ausamerika ausamerika is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by un4gvn94538 View Post
i wont tell
I guess I may as well go for those reel-to-reel and MiniDisc players I've always wanted too...
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Old 03-13-2008, 02:25 AM   #19
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Quote:
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i wont tell
no, cause he already has.

mind you a bootleg (probably from the 8-track thingy that you ancient guys know all about) dvd-audio has been circulating in bootlegging, uh, circles for a while now.
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Old 03-13-2008, 02:30 AM   #20
ausamerika ausamerika is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchglen View Post
no, cause he already has.

mind you a bootleg (probably from the 8-track thingy that you ancient guys know all about) dvd-audio has been circulating in bootlegging, uh, circles for a while now.
That's why I keep my LPs around just so the whippersnappers will call me ancient.
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