is a SACD+CD player better than a universal player

Many people argue that separates are better in audio, whether it's amp/pre-amp, sources, etc.

So, based on experience with the available models, is it better to go with a unit that is SACD+CD and do video (and if you want it DVD-Audio) separately?

Carrying this to its extreme, do you think it should be all three -- one source that maximizes redbook CD peformance, one that maximizes SACD and one that maximizes video.

And the wrinkle in all this is HD-DVD/Blu-Ray which is beginning to appear as a rationale for separating audio and video once and for all.....

Your thoughts?
I hope I am not hijacking your post here, but I have been wondering why a universal player isn't as good or "musical" as a straight CD player or SACD player.

I mean, do they(a DVD player and CD player) not operate on the same principles with the servo system, pickup, processor/DAC, etc.? And neglecting the quality of the component parts, wouldn't a DVD player do a better job on these tasks, given the higher standards of DVD and the need for greater precision?

As for your question: I apologize, as I of course do not know the answer.

However, I would think that using seperates would allow each part, each player, to be specialized to playing that particular type(CD, SACD, DVD, etc.) and aspect(audio/video) of media and therefore maximize its potential.

But my question is: in the arena of digital audio, WHY? For example, why would a straight CD player sound better than a DVD player? Again, disregarding the quality of the components, woulnd't both players read, process, and output the same audio information?
Hey I'm just glad someone responded. Not sure why people aren't weighing in on this. Your question isn't too different than mine.

I have a fairly high end universal player (Bel Canto PL-1A) that I am very happy with. It's video performance is perhaps marginally less good than it's audio performance, and I've trialed in my home a couple of UDP's with video that seemed to be slightly better (but based on memory only, it wasn't a head-to-head shoot out) but I'm okay with that since I'm more of an audiophile than a videophile.

As far as audio, the PL-1A is among the very best I have heard on both CD and SACD. I don't listen to enough DVD-Audio to be able to speak to that.

But that is the motivation for my question -- since I don't listen to very much DVD-Audio and wouldn't miss it if I lost it AND since Blu-Ray/HD-DVD are making the debut, I'm wondering if switching out the PL-1A for a high end SACD/CD player and having a separate high definition video disc player isn't the way to go.

If so, then the SACD/CD player would have to beat the SACD/CD performance of my PL-1A....
Yeah, if you're like me, being more of an audiophile than a videophile then I would imagine that you would probably get better audio performance out of a SACD/CD player than a universal.

Because of the extra circuitry needed to process the picture in DVD players the sound would probably get degraded a bit. Although, there are some players where you can bypass the video circuitry if you are playing an audio only disc such as CD or SACD. You may want to check if your Bel Canto has this feature.

If not, I am sure you already know this, but Musical Fidelity makes some great SACD/CD players along with dCS, and if you can afford it, unlike me, you should probably get some very much improved sound. Then, if you want, you can maybe sell your Bel Canto PL-1A to get a Blu-Ray/HD-DVD player for better picture.

This is the way I would go, if I had the money of course.

Anyway, you should probably take these words with a pound of salt as I am just a crazy audio obsessed novice who doesn't know half as much that the he thinks he does, and even less about what he talks about.

Well, until you decide what to do, just relax and enjoy the music.

Take it easy,
I think a dedicated unit for music only in most cases would be better because of the lack of extra electronics in signal path as noted above. My father has an Esoteric unit that you can bypass video for such things as DVD-A where you dont care to watch any video. Both my father and I use Universal units his I mentioned, mine is a Lexicon, I used to use lower quality seperate players with DAC for music but I just wanted to cut down on gear and wires, to my ears the Lexicon is pretty it isnt perfect but I didnt spend a pile of cash either. Both Esoteric and Ayre make very good music-only units for the purist's in audio.
How the new Hidef disc war will end up is anyones guess but if you dont have a large display (I have a 30in hidef) it really isnt as big of issue, larger the unit the more it makes sense. If it were me I would get a player that can handle both formats, it looks like HDDVD will likely loose the battle but you never know, cost and selection of movies is still an issue aswell. To me it just isnt worth it, and I am one of those "first on the block to own it" guys, I did that with Laser Disc, DVD, games systems when I was younger, HiDef TV, DVR....but this isnt something I want to get mixed up with just yet.
Chadnliz --

Interesting! I had a Lexicon RT-20 before the Bel Canto. The Lexicon was a bit better than the BC on video for sure. The Bel Canto was substantially superior on audio (as it should be given the difference in price). So I went with the BC given my preferences. It does have a video circuitry defeat. In fact it has a dedicated button on the front of the unit for this purpose.

The question is, does the Esoteric SACD/CD unit beat out universal players (including Esoteric's own UDPs and my Bel Canto)? Or the Ayre unit (although I think that may be 2-channel only, and I have a lot of multi-channel SACDs).

Maybe I should post a more specific thread aimed at owners of those units.
I am not qualified or experienced enough to add anything more, maybe another thread would get more takers.
My only input is this: yes, the Ayre is two-channel only, and for that it misses my mark (I have hundreds of mch hirez discs). My Modwright 3910, like most universals, has a video and digital out defeat mechanism called "all off" that likely gives you some large percentage of isolation that a gutted audio-only player would give. It is very difficult on 10% of my DVD-A's to live without ANY video, however, as they are authored so poorly (not sonically, just navigation) that finding the right layer or group is nearly impossible without a video feed.

The Esoteric line is a bit confusing but the SA-60 and DV-60 offer the mch universal player as audio-only or with video, and I haven't heard anyone say the SA-60 blows the DV version away or anything. My $.02 is that the video circuitry is easy to bypass, and that the differences in DACs and analog sections is a lot more evident sonically and a lot more worthy of evaluation than audio-only vs video-included (i realize you first asked about SACD/CD vs universal but assume you are mainly asking to discern whther onboard video is a large gremlin or not).
Yeah Ted, you pretty much nailed it, and your answer is very helpful to me. That has been my thinking as well. I was wondering if anyone had a good case to be made for the alternative.
If they only have to concentrate on SACD/CD those resources can be used to make Sacd/cd better than if the unit plays everything. That is the Concept with Marantz Sa11, it designed only for SACD /CD so it can be a great player for those 2 modes of playback only.