Re: SACD Worth IT?
SACD & DVD-Audio is definitely worth it if:
• You Appreciate High End Audio Quality (regardless of music tastes)
Although I listen to and enjoy many formats from MP3 to Blu-Ray Audio, the audio qualities of MP3 and other 'lossy' formats really do not hold a candle compared to what SACD, DVD-Audio & Blu-Ray audio (or video for that matter) are capable of. I will always prefer a higher quality when it's available.
• Have a Decent A/V System
Your system does not have to be expensive either. I initially got into DVD-Audio & SACD years ago because I purchased an affordable DVD players that also played those audio formats. As I was curious about what these new formats might offer, I bought Queen's Night at the Opera on DVD-Audio to compare with my CD and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon SACD to compare them with my Mobile Fidelity Gold Disc Edition of the CD. My response for each was WOW!!! I really was amazed. The music was full but crystal clear and very detailed. Even the songs I least favored impressed me greatly.
CliffH, judging from your sound system (Yamaha 3900, DefTech speakers), you do seem like the kind of person who cares about sound quality at least some of the time. With your components, being able to hear the differences in audio quality won't be an issue.
BTW, congratulations on the purchase of your A/V receiver, I almost bought one myself. And, I've owned Def Tech speakers for almost 15 years now and still enjoy listening to them.
• You Have No Problems Purchasing Online
I've bought most (though not all) of my SACDs and DVD-Audios online. I've also purchased most of them easily affordable prices well within the price range of standard CDs, sometimes even less than the cost of a standard CD. And sure, there have been a couple of instances where I've paid a more premium price for some of the harder-to-find DVD-Audios and SACDs.
Here are some other things to note:
There are more SACD titles available than DVD-Audio titles.
Not all SACDs will provide a wow factor in sound quality. There are some that are poorly mastered or not much different than their CD counterparts. Check online for SACD and/or DVD-Audio reviews of available titles.
Most but not all SACDs have a CD layer. Oftentimes the CD layer is remastered so that it also sounds better than a previous standard issue CD. Any CD player will play the CD layer. An SACD player with properly configured settings will automatically read and play the SACD layer.
Some SACDs are multi-channel, some stereo, some contain both. Some prefer one over the other. It's all a matter of preference. SACD players capable of playing multi-channel can be configured to select your preferred format as the default.
Depending on your musical tastes, you may or may not find a lot of titles available. There are loads of classical and jazz titles, and there's some, but not much, of everything else.
SACD is more prominent in Europe than the US. I've purchased many titles online from international vendors (eg.: Amazon UK, eBay). SACDs and DVD-Audios are not region coded, so it doesn't matter where you buy them.
SACD capable PS3s, some SACD players, and some up-converting DVD players allow SACD output through HDMI. I've tested some SACDs on my PS3 through HDMI and found the audio quality to surpass that of my older DVD player which used analog output connections. As far as which method is better, that will ultimately depend on the quality and combination of the audio components. As the Yamaha 3900 has both HDMI and analog inputs I would encourage you to run tests for your own satisfaction and to find what works best for you. Even if you don't have an SACD player, you can still use CDs to get an idea of HDMI vs analog results. What sounds best to your ears should be the deciding factor.
Blu-Ray is capable of audio quality that can easily surpass that of either DVD-Audio or SACD. Blu-Ray can support Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio, both of which are higher resolution, higher bandwidth, lossless formats. These are the highest quality technologies ever produced for audio. One interesting anecdote: Dolby bought Meridian, the company that created MLP, the lossless format technology used in many DVD-Audios. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe it's incorporated in their Dolby TrueHD format.
Blu-Ray audio-only discs are starting to enter the market. Post 17 provided link to a Norwegian site now offering some classical music titles in this medium. I have the TrondheimSolistene: Divertimenti audio-only Blu-Ray and it sounds excellent. Even if you're not a fan of classical music it's easy to enjoy it on the sound quality merits alone. BTW, that Blu-Ray also includes a bonus SACD disc of the same music (though at the time of this post I've not yet tested it to compare with the Blu-Ray audio-only disc)
Some Blu-Ray (video) discs to consider for excellent high resolution audio as well as musical performances:
- Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds - Live at Radio City Music Hall (Live Performance)
- David Gilmour: Remember That Night - Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Live Performance)
- Within Temptation - Black Symphony (Live Performance)
- Roy Orbison - Black And White Night (Live Performance)
- Foo Fighters - Live at Wembley Stadium (Live Performance)
- The Phantom Of The Opera (Movie)
Hope this all helps.