Coping in an Age of Uncertainty

there have been numerous threads here, i know, about sacd v. dvd-a, upsampling, oversampling, etc. a number of these threads have included discussions of which, if any, new digital format will replace what we now call “redbook” cd’s. i don’t wish to rehash these discussions. rather, i’d like to hear from others how they are coping with the “age of uncertainty” in the realm of digital audio. is it better to “roll the dice” and invest in sacd or dvd a? ignore the contenders for the new and get the best possible out of redbook cd’s? buy with upgradeability firmly in mind? follow another path? i don’t post this query out of mere curiosity. i really haven’t figured out what course i should follow. i’d appreciate your giving me a hand. -kelly
This is my take on the whole CD versus LP question.

The sonic benefit of vinyl is due to the fact it is analog. Analog is often described as more liquid, full and involving. Just another way of saying you are hearing a more detailed and complete presentation.

Digital is an approximation, taken from the analog source (instruments and people), converted into bits for storage and sale to the customer where it must converted back again to analog. These processes contain errors that result in tiny pieces of the music being continually omitted.

Both formats do have their advantages. Digital is error by omission, making it more difficult for some listeners to detect its problems. The errors that exist in vinyl playback are more easily identifiable because they are errors by addition. The most obvious being noise or tracking errors. To achieve perfection in vinyl playback requires an enormous investment in both time and money. Few people have had the opportunity to hear analog at its state of the art limit, leaving the majority convinced that digital is superior.

Perhaps a more important part of this debate should include the mention of software availability. A very young person such as my son, will find their favorite music primarily on CD. My interest in music covers the last half century, and I have more music available on vinyl than I can possible listen to.
Personally, I believe software is of much greater importance than hardware. There is a parallel here that hearkens back to the invasion of the compact disc. There was a period where many end users were hesitant to get on board with the new medium, and happily stockpiled vinyl until such time as the sources dried up, especially regarding newer releases. At that point, users had to decide whether adopting the new format was preferable to scratching around for material on vinyl. Many posters here and indeed, many of my audio freak acquaintances, have two dedicated machines available to them: the turntable and the compact disc player.

Once one of the contending formats rises the top, there will most likely be a considerable period of overlap where rebook versions are still available, but this period will certainly be finite. Additionally, the 'new' format, whatever it will be, will likely exclude a large catalog of existing material. Hence, in order to acquire all the material we will want to listen to, an additional front end component will be necessary to play it.

I tend to view the emerging technology as a potential additional component, not one that would replace any of my current equipment. Maybe my purist nature prevents me from believing a multi-format player won’t be a performance/integration compromise. After all, it has taken more than 20 years to reach CD's current level of 'state of the art!' Thus, my philosophy: I want the best available playback I can achieve NOW. Who knows what is going to happen tomorrow? I don't want to wait for the next big thing to reveal itself and risk missing out on material that may not be available 'later.' This means precisely that I want and have a reference Redbook player that I plan to have around for a very long time. At such time as a 'new' format hinders my ability to obtain the music I desire within my current playback capabilities, I will research the component needed to play that material and buy it. Therefore, I see no reason to be bothered with my equipment options until that time arrives.
If I want the best sound, I'll put on an LP. It trumps dvda sacd or whatever four letters you want to come up with. For the titles not available on vinyl I have a wonderful CD player (Redbook) (Cary 308T) - why in the world would I want a 3rd format? I enjoy music and why would I want to screw that up.

I think most people get angst because they feel they are going to miss the boat. Well the boat is moving very slowly. How many years have these new formats been out? And look at the dismal selection. I don't know if there is more than a couple of releases I'd even want to listen to; so there is no reason to worry. And who's to say another "new" format won't come out soon that is better than SACD and DVD-A, I know for a fact engineers are working on it as I type!

Vinyl is alive and the last CES show had more new analog components than it ever had before for the gentleman who said analog is on its way out. Analog is what digital is trying to approach, how can it be on its way out?

If you like, keep stressing over what is compatible with what. I'll be sitting back in my stereo room lost in my music just enjoying the beauty of it...
Enjoyed reading this string - several years long at this point ! Well, I bought a Sony SCD 777 ES a few years ago on demo/closeout and I really loved it. Thought it was definitely an improvement over redbook cd. But now my ears are aging rapidly (56 years old) and suddenly my Pioneer Elite CD burner (model PDR W37) sounds MUCH better than the Sony when playing CDs and, I think, better playing CD versus the Sony playing SACD ! Blasphemy !, I know. Now, I have to add that I have not used the Sony for one year and only recently put it back in the system and it is possible there is something wrong with it. But it never did have much presence playing normal CDs. At first I thought it was fun - to have that 'dark' presentation of CD discs. But, lately, I would call it not only dark but dull, sort of lifeless, maybe even 'gummy'. So, as my hearing gets worse I am able to still enjoy music but now on second-rate compnents !
Who'd a thought of that ?!