Beyond SACD with Redbook: Price No Object

I just read the SACD/DVD-A is Dead thread which bummed me out a bit as I have been pondering the purchase a Sony SCD-1.

If it is true that redbook has already or will soon eclipse SACD, is there any consensus on state of the art CD players or DACs that can actually approach the fun of analogue.

Some of you have suggested that the Sony SCD-1 offers glorious redbook, the new Musical Fidelity DAC seems to be chateau Lafite to some and snake oil to others.

Is there any consensus on world class, undisputed heavy weight champ redbook players and/or DACs these days?

I would especially appreciate your opinions on what you think is the best of the best -- not "sleepers", good for their price range etc.

I don't mind spending the big bucks, just want to enjoy music again.
Cwlondon, I will catch heck for this comment, but in a test in my own system the Sony SCD-1 and the Sony ES 9000 were more a personality issue than a real performance issue.

In the deepest bass, particularly classical music, the SCD-1 does go deeper and with slightly more accurate timbre. The 9000 actually excelled in soundstage depth and midrange resolution, Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Couldn't Stand The Weather" comes immediately to mind.

The looser in the contest was the two year old Levinson transport and converter that was bettered by both players. The owner of the SCD-1 kept his unit, I kept my ES 9000, and the Levinson owner sold his gear on Audiogon the very next week. Used the cash to buy a used VPI turntable and arm and a new Sony just like mine.

Of course he got to hear all this in a direct comparison. Makes the decision much easier than talking about it.
Jadem6 - What is and what is not is relative to personal preference. The "shimmer and sparkle" quality that you speak of is clearly a quality present in SACD music reproduction (on early players). Whether that quality is something "George Lucas" added or the first generation SACD players emphasize, I do not know. If you were to compare SACD to vinyl or live music - I think you would find less "shimmer and sparkle" in both live music and vinyl.

The newer SACD players seem to lean toward less emphasis on shimmer and sparkle and attempt to present a more analog or life like - organic quality of the music.

With a new Sony SACD player, the difference between Hybrid layers is diminished simply because the SACD layer on these machines has less "shimmer and sparkle" making the differences less apparent. I too have the Allison Kraus SACD Hybrid disk.

Yes - the capability of SACD is greater than CD but ultimately the outcome depends upon consumer acceptance and the various implementations of the technology. Today we hear so many different sonic signatures in redbook players, just wait and see what happens when the well respected high-end companies really get going on development for the SACD format!!
Cwlondon: I own both the Audio Meca and the Sony ES 9000. I can tell you that I no longer even look at SACD releases. I never listen to any of the SACD disks I own. I only use the Sony for movies. For the first time, I'm satisified with my system and it was the addition of the Audio Meca Dac (an upgrade from a Dodson Audio Dac) that made the difference. It is a very special player... I can listen to it for hours and still get goose bumps!
From what I understand, the Sony players use the same SACD DAC chip to output the SACD and CD signal. This could account for the improved performance some of us seem to hear in Redbook on the Sony players. I also might mention that it was reported in a CES article that Mark Levinson was using a Sony DVP-S9000ES SACD player as a source to demo his audio products at the show. I guess he thinks it is pretty good, or he wouldn't use it for something a critical as a CES Show demo.
Getting back to the DAC issue, I gather that the SACD DAC acts like a high-rez upsampler to the CD signal. And being a 1-box player, the jitter inherent in Transport/Cable/DAC systems is lessened by 1-box construction, limited to whatever the transport produces, which I heard somewhere was quite low. So you get less jitter, upsampled CD, and SACD capability. And DVD that is par excellance. I have never heard a Linn CD12, or Capitole, or Mephisto, so I cannot comment on their particular performance, but I, like Albert, and Mark Levinson, have decided that the S9000ES is good enough for me. At least until the Mk2 comes out!
Eadese: Thank you.

Do you use just the Audiomeca DAC? With the Sony 9000 ES as a transport? Or do you use another transport?

And Twl, that is a very interesting point about the CES show. The one box theory makes sense as well.

Just for further discussion, one of Mark Levinsons salespeople at Red Rose recently told me that they now consider the new multichannel (777?) their SACD reference (although use it in 2 ch mode), perhaps even better than the SCD-1.

But I think it is very nice that the SCD-1 is really built like a tank.

So maybe I should buy one, the Audiomeca DAC and the 9000 for DVDs......

.....and a new turntable.......and......

Can anyone lend me some money?