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Old 03-13-2008, 12:24 AM   #1
Big Daddy Big Daddy is offline
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Default A Guide to SACD

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 CD’s.

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 80–90kHz.

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 won’t 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
Sony’s 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
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you're awesom. i love you.
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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, 01:18 AM   #6
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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.
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:05 AM   #7
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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 )
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:06 AM   #8
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 03-17-2008, 03:41 PM   #9
dvda-sacd dvda-sacd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Daddy View Post
SACD uses the CD media
Unless I am misinterpreting these words, this is incorrect. The SACD format uses the DVD media, with a wavelength of 650 nm.

BR,

Leo
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Old 03-18-2008, 02:04 AM   #10
Big Daddy Big Daddy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvda-sacd View Post
Unless I am misinterpreting these words, this is incorrect. The SACD format uses the DVD media, with a wavelength of 650 nm.

BR,

Leo
You are correct. It is a poor choice of words on my part. I meant to say that it is a different format than DVD. I replaced CD Media with Optical Discs.
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Old 04-08-2008, 01:38 AM   #11
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I've got a question, maybe one of you guys can help me out. I bought a couple of SACD's to check them out on my PS3 and for some reason they will not play on my TV. Do I have to have a reciever? Right now I am running the PS3 via hdmi directlyto the TV and I am wanting to use the TV for sound. When I try to play the SACD the TV seems like isn't recieving a signal from the PS3. Anyone got any ideas? Thanks,
Cory
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:34 AM   #12
Jodi Jodi is offline
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Let's not forget two awesome SACD players from Arcam.

www.arcam.co.uk/prod_diva_DV135_intro.cfm

www.arcam.co.uk/prod_diva_DV137_intro.cfm

Jodi
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:58 AM   #13
Clark Kent Clark Kent is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cygtr View Post
I've got a question, maybe one of you guys can help me out. I bought a couple of SACD's to check them out on my PS3 and for some reason they will not play on my TV. Do I have to have a reciever? Right now I am running the PS3 via hdmi directlyto the TV and I am wanting to use the TV for sound. When I try to play the SACD the TV seems like isn't recieving a signal from the PS3. Anyone got any ideas? Thanks,
Cory
First off which PS3 do you have? The 40 GB model does not play SACDs at all. You do not need a receiver to play SACDs. A HDMI connection or even an analog stereo connection to your television is fine for two channel SACDs from the PS3. Also check the audio settings in your PS3. You may have unchecked something during channel configuration.
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Old 04-09-2008, 10:01 AM   #14
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Anyone who wants to get in on SACD on the cheap - REAL cheap.

$55.00 shipped, cheap:

http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/...5730&langId=-1


1) Go to Sony Style with the URL above.
2) Do it between Tuesday and Thursday to get the free shipping. (free shipping on everything between Tuesday and Thursday apparently.)
3) Before checkout, enter coupon code "AFFB10" for another 10% off.

bammo. sacd player for 55 bucks shipped. (+/- $1 according to tax...)

Not the highest end machine, but actually based on the 2000ES model (same dacs and boards; Burr-Brown DSD1751 dacs, which while custom-made for sony, seem to have very decent specs.)

... Now if only they'd finally get Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here" on SACD...

Last edited by aryntha; 04-09-2008 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 04-20-2008, 05:56 AM   #15
doctorsteve doctorsteve is offline
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just to quickly clarify... so, the Almighty PS3 can't play SACD? But COULD it - with firmware update?

Last edited by doctorsteve; 04-20-2008 at 05:56 AM. Reason: Spellling...
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Old 04-21-2008, 12:31 AM   #16
Clark Kent Clark Kent is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doctorsteve View Post
just to quickly clarify... so, the Almighty PS3 can't play SACD? But COULD it - with firmware update?
All versions made so far worldwide of the PS3 except the 40 GB model play SACD. The 40 GB model will never play SACD because Sony removed the SACD chip from it. My 60 GB PS3 is a decent SACD player, though it's not really an ideal audiophile solution.
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Old 05-24-2009, 04:06 AM   #17
zicmubleu zicmubleu is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Daddy View Post
How Can I Tell If a Disc Is SACD?
All SACD players and discs have the following logo on them:

I have a Moody Blues SACD album "In Search of the Lost Chord" that does not appear to have the SACD label anywhere on it but my Pioneer DV-49A player says it is SACD. They sell the disc as SACD and my player says it is SACD so I would think it has to be SACD but the lack of the logo is very odd. The disc set is made by DERAM in the E.U. and I think the original label said it was from Germany. Anyone have an explanation for just what this disc set is?
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:37 AM   #18
Big Daddy Big Daddy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zicmubleu View Post
I have a Moody Blues SACD album "In Search of the Lost Chord" that does not appear to have the SACD label anywhere on it but my Pioneer DV-49A player says it is SACD. They sell the disc as SACD and my player says it is SACD so I would think it has to be SACD but the lack of the logo is very odd. The disc set is made by DERAM in the E.U. and I think the original label said it was from Germany. Anyone have an explanation for just what this disc set is?
These may help.

http://www.elusivedisc.com/search/POLSAI2147.htm

Quote:
Although this release doesn't indicate on the 1st disc or packaging that it is an SACD, it is indeed a Super Audio Compact Disc. We have tested it and verified that although it does not say this in print, the 1st disc is the Digitally Remastered Deluxe SACD Edition. - Elusive Disc, Inc.

The Moody Blues 2nd album from 1968 has now been digitally remastered from the original master tapes by Justin Hayward. A second CD has now been added featuring previously unreleased demos, BBC Radio 1 sessions and the single B-side Simple Game.

In Search of the Lost Chord is the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns. They dumped the orchestra this time out in favor of Mike Pinder's Mellotron, which was a more than adequate substitute, and the rest of the band joined in with flutes, sitar, tablas, and cellos, the playing of which was mostly learned on the spot. The whole album was one big experiment to see how far the group could go with any instruments they could find, thus making this album a rather close cousin to the Beatles records of the same era. It is all beautiful and elegant, and Legend of a Mind's chorus about Timothy Leary's dead/Oh, no — he's outside, looking in ended up anticipating reality; upon his death in 1996, Leary was cremated and launched into space on a privately owned satellite, with the remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (another '60s pop culture icon) and other well-heeled clients.

Features:
• Digitally Remastered Deluxe Edition
• Original Stereo Album on SACD
• 15 Bonus Tracks on CD
• Expansive booklet with sleeve notes and rare photos

Selections:
SACD (Disc 1)
1. Departure
2. Ride My See-Saw
3. Dr. Livingstone, I Presume
4. House Of Four Doors
5. Legend Of A Mind
6. House Of Four Doors (Part 2)
7. Voices In The Sky
8. The Best Way To Travel
9. Visions Of Paradise
10. The Actor
11. The Word
12. Om
CD (Disc 2)
1. Departure (alternate mix)
2. The Best Way to Travel
3. Legend of a Mind (alternate mix)
4. Visions of Paradise (instrumental version)
5. What Am I Doing Here? (original version)
6. The Word (Mellotron Mix)
7. Om (Extended version)
8. A Simple Game (Justin Hayward vocal mix)
9. King and Queen (1968 studio recording)
10. Doctor Livingstone I Presume
11. Voices in the Sky
12. Thinking is the Best Way to Travel
13. Ride My See Saw
14. Tuesday Afternoon
15. Simple Game (1968 single "B" side)

http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/stor...647575,00.html

Quote:
This is the second expanded edition of this 1968 paean to psychedelia to have appeared in just 28 months -- it was preceded by a "Deluxe Edition" two-disc hybrid SACD/CD edition from Polydor's European division in the late winter of 2006; apparently, those in charge of the label either didn't think the U.S. could support that high-priced package, or that the Super-Audio CD market is purely a European and Japanese phenomenon. Whatever the reason, this edition has shown up here with no multi-channel SACD layer, but with the remastered CD sound from that hybrid release. In Search of the Lost Chord was originally the most poorly-served of all the Moodies' original albums on CD, with a late-'80s edition from Polydor that literally had a crack in the sound on one song. Since then successive remasterings have made it one of the group's more satisfying CDs, as the nuances and layers are brought out -- the original album was done in a spirit of experimentation that was unusual for a pop album, with the members very consciously seeking out the richest, most outre sounds that they could generate in the studio, piling on one exotic instrument after another, along with many layers of voices; they would get better and bolder at this process over the next two albums (until they realized, in 1969, that they'd painted themselves into a corner as far as actually performing their new material on-stage); but beneath the psychedelic sensibilities on numbers like "Voices in the Sky," "The Best Way to Travel," "Legend of a Mind" etc., as one listens to the cleanest, crispest mix the record has yet had on CD (and one should state here that the multi-channel SACD mix on the European Deluxe Edition does outdo it), in the layers of finely nuanced playing, one does get a real sense of five musicians reveling in their own skills (and perhaps a recently ingested controlled substance or two) and the freedom to take them as far as the moment will carry them. That experimental nature has always resided just below the surface of what was otherwise a very pretty and smooth exercise in pop music mysticism ("Visions of Paradise" is still one of the most profoundly beautiful records this reviewer has ever heard from the psychedelic era) -- but here it's a little more up front, amid the enhanced clarity, and one would like to think it could help this album hold and renew its audience for another 40 years. The sound is so good that it's almost a shame that anything was put on here after "Om," the original album closer, but it was obligatory in these times that there be bonus tracks -- and as there was less room here than on the Disc Two of the Deluxe Edition, some decisions had to be made about removing some extras. The released Mike Pinder-sung version and the alternate Justin Hayward-sung take of "A Simple Game" are present, bookending the bonus tracks, whilst the rest includes the Mellotron track for "The Word," the lost Hayward song "What Am I Doing Here," two BBC performances ("Dr. Livingston, I Presume," "Thinking Is the Best Way to Travel"), and extended, unfaded versions of "Om" etc. They would be certain to delight serious fans, except that it's hard to imagine too many of the latter not having already bought them on the Deluxe Edition of this album over the preceding two years. Still, they may open the door to the group's sound a little further for the casually curious. [A deluxe CD/SACD version of the album was also released.] ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

Read the reviews at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Search-Lost-Ch...owViewpoints=1
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Old 05-24-2009, 03:45 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Daddy View Post
These may help.

Thanks Big Daddy for such complete, quick and pertinent answers. So unfortunately not all SACD albums have the logo, but maybe this is the only exception so far. Also thanks for some more SACD recommendations as you gave for JJ. In a totally different genre' I would recommend Andrea Bocelli's "Andrea" as an excellent example of SACD music. I don't have the expertise that most 'hear' (sic) have for music but this album really impressed me with its precision and depth of sound. Thanks again for the suggestion of the Pioneer DV-49A player some months ago, it has been great.
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Old 01-21-2010, 02:49 AM   #20
doctorsteve doctorsteve is offline
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Just ordered an allegedly new Japanese import copy of Genesis' 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway' off Amazon-Japan... $55 Plus about $21 s/h...

Who has it, wadda ya think, will it be worth the $76???
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