Sunday, March 05, 2006

Super Audio CD

by Brian
A little while back I got a new DVD player that also has Super Audio CD capability. I haven't had much chance to put the SACD side to good use, since I'm usually in the car when I listen to CDs and there aren't a ton of SACD discs out there.

Yet that doesn't explain why it took until today to notice how awesome it is. The occasion was the 5.1 channel version of Peter Gabriel's Up, which isn't a great album but is a tremendous demo disc for the technological capabilities of SACD. "Growing Up" especially has sound swirling around from all directions ... very cool.

Now I'm listening to Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline, which is only SACD stereo and not 5.1, but sounds amazing all the same (a 5.1 remix would sound odd for that album anyway). I've had this disc for a while, but I guess I never listened to it close enough. Funny how that works.

But like I said, there's not a great selection available on the format yet. I would assume that this is primarily due to competition with DVD-Audio, which I have not had the opportunity to hear yet. Has anyone been able to do a comparison between the two?


Blogger Chris said...

I have The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails on SACD and The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips on DVD audio. They both sound excellent, far superior to the CD versions.

I was more impressed with the surround sound presentation of The Soft Bulletin; the album was completely re-mastered to work with 5.1. You can even read the liner notes of the CD for a short description of which sounds should be coming from each speaker. The DVD format allows for some beautifully rendered title screens with bonus videos and songs. There are even individual visualizations that play for each song.

I only have one CD for each format, but I would say that DVD audio is far better than SACD. It could be that the production values on the Lips album were superior and that's why it sounds better, but NIN is known for immaculate production quality too and their SACD album just doesn't sound as good. I'll still give it to DVD audio simply for the special features that can be included on the disc.

If you are looking for a DVD audio album to test your system on, I would highly reccomend The Soft Bulletin. In my opinion, it is the most important album that has been released in the past 10 years. I promise that it is unlike anything you have ever heard, and I mean that in the best way.

3/06/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

I was all excited about SACD and DVD-A years ago, but they just took too long to come out, the competing formats didn't help, and when it was time for me to buy a new DVD player a couple of years ago, there was exactly one that played both new audio formats and it didn't have some other features I absolutely had to have, so I cheaped out and got one without support for either format (though with infinite region setting, PAL->NTSC conversion, and Macrovision defeat). And so far I don't feel like I'm missing all that much--I have exactly one DVD-A disc that came packaged with its companion CD, and I have no SACDs. I've become too accustomed to burning my own mix CDs or just backups to use in the car, I don't have SACD or DVD-A for the car, and lately I'm getting this feeling that flash-memory-based players are on the verge of supplanting everything else audio-wise in my listening experience. I'm just waiting for the right moment to take the plunge there.

I do still enjoy my small collection of DTS CDs (though not in the car), and it looks like they're already having a much longer useful lifespan than dbx-encoded LPs ever did....

3/06/2006 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Hear, hear on the Soft Bulletin. Best album ever made.

3/06/2006 05:41:00 PM  

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