SACD - Dying already?

I just read the industry blurb in this month's TAS which described how it seems the stream of SACDs from Sony has pretty much dried up. I was in the largest local independent record store in my area last week and actually bought a SACD because it was music not available on CD. The SACD/DVD-A section was a bit smaller than a year ago and I asked the manager about it. He laughed and said they only sell 2-3 a month combined and he doesn't order many anymore.

Except for audiophiles, is anyone buying these things? Or, are all hopes and dreams of SACD slowly fading away (for at least Sony)?
Apparently the only SACDs that have sold in any numbers are the hybrids--e.g., the Stones--that get put in the regular CD bins and are bought mostly by people who've never heard of SACD. (And it looks like they never will.)

SACD was a desperate stab at retaining some royalties after the CD patents ran out. It didn't work. Some minor labels may continue to use it as a way to offer a "premium product," but that'll be the extent of it. It'll never be bigger than new vinyl is today.
I think that SACD and DVD-A will be a very small niche market. Mainstream public thinks we are all a bunch of crackheads for spending what we do on gear, and they are perfectly happy with Redbook.
Hell, they are happy with MP3.

For the masses, convenience has always been the driving factor.

Tape was more conveniend than LP because they were small, durable, and portable.

CD was more convenient for tape because they are durable and you can select and skip tracks.

MP3 is pretty much the pinnacle of musicdom for the masses, because you can store a ga-zillion songs on one small device that fits in yer pocket, and it is cheap.

The masses use music for the background, not many people will buy a Cd then plop down on the couch with thier eyes closed and listen to it.
They put it in when they are working on thier ford.

SACD and DVD-A Will only get big if anything can play them and they cost less than CD's.

It was doomed from the start. the majority of consumers just want convenience and comfort. They dont care abough High-Res audio.

at BEST, SACD and DVD-A may end up with a small nice market (auidiophiles) and odds are the only place you will be able to pick these up are in HighEnd Retail shops or on the net.

If you see em at a music store, buy em while you can, or you will have to order everything over the net.
Someone is buying SACD's.
I find used ones all the time in the used CD bin at my small,local CD shop.
I think non-audiophiles buy them because they just figure its a regular remastered CD.Plus the prices are around what redbooks go for.
Many SACD's only have DSS on the back cover.When you open it up,you may find a SACD marking but I think most dont know or care either way.Just another CD to them..I dont think I answered your question,sorry.Just venting.
Boycott Sony,they dont give a damn..
Slappy, I fear you might be right.

I fear it as I have recenty dove into the high res format thing and LOVE them! I do find some discs (usually SACD and DVD-A are grouped together) in some local chains, fewer in the local shops.... I have always wondered how many people out there (many of whom know I'm into stereo and like to bring me out to show me the Bose stereo in there new car) would even notice a difference. I for one am whole heartedly hooked on these new formats, and will continue to buy everything I can find of interest to me on them.

I have also considered that DVD-A has some advantage to the masses as most can be played on any DVD player, granted not with the same fidelity, but let's face facts, the guy with the $399 HTIB likely isn't going to notice any difference.

I for one will continue to buy discs on line, and check the sites regularly for new releases….. Hopefully it will catch on as I want every Tori Amos on SACD……. I guy can dream can’t he!
I heard that a re-issue of the Kinks catalog on SACD is coming soon. I tend to agree that these new formats aren't going to sweep aside all others and will likely remain a niche market. But, if you think about it, if a time comes when 5 SACDs that I want are released every month, that will be good enough for me. We're almost there now.
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The average Joe does not even understand when to use a digital cable and when to use analog cables. Most Sales Clerks in Major Record Stores give you that glazed eye look if you ask where the "high res" section is. If their even is a "high res" section. While many SACD's sound excellent, their are many that are just average sounding at best, and if you want to call something "Super" its should be consistently outstanding. And the killer is I dont beleive their is major money in it, for the artists and the retailer's. So add it all up and I dont believe it will ever be mainstream. I enjoy it as a supplement to my music listening and hope it will remain a "niche" market for years to come.
Why should "local stores" expect to sell SACDS? One can get them more inexpensively on the 'net and if you buy from Amazon UK, you can get them months earlier than their US release. Next. Dying already? Some of you guys have short memories: Three years after the introduction of CDs I remember driving to San Francisco because I heard of their "vast" selections available--over 300 CD! (There are now 2144 SACDs available and an average of three new releases a year.) And what's with all the "Sony this and Sony that?" Let 'em collect they're proprietary fees and make machines; the musical products I've been purchasing from the Indie labels are *so* much better than what the majors have been putting out in the last few years. The only stuff worth listening repeatedly can be found in the niche markets anyway.
The main reason Sony has cut back on SACD production has to do with royalties. There are some greedy folks who think that because a hybrid SACD disc has three different versions (redbook CD, 2 channel SACD and multi-channel SACD) that it means they should get paid three times. Pffft!
I agree that SACD remains the product of internet and direct-mail purchases. I'm not sure about the future of the format, but if we audiophiles can keep vinyl alive, surely we can do the same for SACD. The question is whether or not it's worth the effort.
I look at it another way and think it's major failing has been in not attracting more Audiophiles.

Slappy is bang on with his general analysis which many here have been making for a few years,their policy has been flawed from the start but their new policy as in the case of the Dylan remasters where a few months after the hybrids they release the same discs as Redbook only( and at a much lower price) seems pretty crazy to me.

I also believe at the mid-level of high end playback machines there is a gap in the market currently not filled.

If the Meitner/EMM Labs Dac is the state of the art (and all indications are that it is)where are the machines in the price ranges downwards that offer playback where SACD could be seen as a bonus?

A decent strategy would probably have doubled (at least)SACD purchases.

I've always said that SACD would survive (at best)as an Audiophile format and nothing else.

It's future will probably now be determined by those early adopters staying loyal and a decent push to establish SACD as the Audiophile standard however I see no evidence to suggest anything other than a slow withdrawal into the background .
The format will, of course, survive. All of the above is just postulating, which at best is an educated guess and at worse just opinionated speculation. 3 things will ensure it's survival (if not others):

1) Sony has yet to ever give up on a format they have introduced, no matter how dismal public acceptance. (Minidisc, Beta - still with us. thriving in their niche)

2) Multichannel.

3) Ability for single disc inventory (e.g. Hybrids)

I have what I feel is a very revealing system (certainly one of the best audio system of anyone I know personally) and find the SACDs and DVD-As I have to be only slightly better (if at all) than well recorded CDs. I don't have a $5000 player with mega-buck amps and speakers(I have a $1000 Pioneer 47ai with a Naim pre, McCormack DNA2 amp, and Thiel CS6s up front) but if my system is not good enough to hear a noticable difference, the formats are doomed. I think the quality of the recording has way more impact on sound than the format it is encoded in. I very much wanted the Hi Res format to be everything they claimed it was but lately I've been contemplating a high quality CD player and focusing my upgrades on High Def Video. HDTV is a format that clearly is superior and much more rewarding vs. I can't wait for HD DVD to become mainstream.
I buy SACD every chance I get. I either buy them online or from local store such as Best Buy or Frys. To me SACD bring me closer to the music and that's why I am buying them every chance I get. Every time I goes to the store or went online I found new SACD titles. Is SACD dying? Not in my book! If this is a Audiophile format at best, so be it! If it becomes a popular format, great! I can buy it cheaper. Meanwhile I just enjoy it every chance I get. Life is short.
I think you might be right. My local Tower Records has recently removed the SACD section. The Best Buy, I used to be able to find SACD at a very reasonable price, has not stocked a new title for many months. I hope it will have a second life because I have already invested a lot in it.
I never think to buy discs anywhere except the net.

DVD-A will survive because it is a very flexible protocol, that can offer something for everyone. The audio quality is obviously better than CD (same PCM code with more bits and higher sampling rate).

With SACD Sony has painted themselves into a corner. Audio quality is about the same as DVD-A, but with none of the extra DVD features.
It's interesting timing of this post as I just purchased my 100th SACD and have been concerned about the viability of this format. I don't have a mega buck SACD player but a Marantz SA 14 v2 and have been very pleased with it. I have a large collection of CDs and vinyl and enjoy vinyl playback immensely. I am also very impressed with SACD, to me there is no question about it's superior sound over Redbook CD.( I didn't always think that until I heard a good player in my system) The biggest problem as I see it is the availability and price of SACD disc. Sony has done a poor job in this area, one of the biggest selling points of SACDS is backword capability but Sony continues to put out many only single layer disc, no simultaneous new releases of new titles and of course the biggest problem is limited catalog selection. Sony doesn't even put out same day SACD releases of their own catalog.

I believe the format will survive, at what level remains to be seen, you know vinyl is a niche format and doing quite well. We need more product at a cheaper price to really jump start this format.
“I have also considered that DVD-A has some advantage to the masses as most can be played on any DVD player”
“DVD-A will survive because it is a very flexible protocol, that can offer something for everyone”

The flip side to those positions are that SACD has the advantage because they can be listened to in a average car stereo. That is more flexible. A majority of music sales is targeted to the youth of America and the youth mostly care about whether they can listen to it in car as far away from their parents living room DVD player as possible.
IMHO, intentional purchases on the part of the mainstream public of SACD will probably never materialize. Even if SACD doesn't survive, it has been instrumental in finally delivering the promise of the cd format, "perfect sound forever". Since the introduction of SACD and DVD-A(to a lesser extent), the quality of redbook players has far exceeded what they were prior to the SACD revolution.

Regardless of what ultimately happens to SACD, I say kudos to Philips and Sony for forcing the industry to raise the bar in the sound quality of redbook players.
Just my $.02.
Just a correction to my above posting: That was "3 new SACD releases a *month,*" not 3 new SACD releases a year, LOL. Yes, one cannot judge a product anymore by how well it sells in "local" stores; not with the internet around. (Plus Tower is too expensive.) With regards to DVD-A, reality is my favorite indicator indicator of its health--there are only 1/4 the titles available and how long has the format been available? DVDs have been selling *extremely* well, but what that tells me is that people are satisfied with them as they are. Hard core music buffs have been complaining about the sound quality of CDs for years which created a hunger for SACD within this particular niche. Many SACDs I buy on line are on back order--reality check again: the inventories, however small, are being exhausted. There *are* mid-fi SACD players available--Denon has one for $3K that even does bass management in the analog domain. It's just that the name is Denon and not audiophile brand X.
Some cars have DVD headunits and there are portable DVD walkman-style handhelds. You could play the the DD, DTS, 24/96 'DAD' audio mixes on those devices. I think the days of "CD-only " playback devices are numbered. everyone wants DVD now. :-( DVD-A could piggyback onto that better than SACD, IMO.
They are both dead. Mass storage device based music systems will make physical media obsolete soon enough. Witness iPOD, and the steady advancements in Media PCs. This will be a boon to both the music industry (reduced distribution costs) and the audiophile (true high resolution audio and reduced mechanical playback issues).
It has never been off life support.You slice the music listener pie and remove all who are either happy with redbook,or pursuing other delivery schemes and what's left is small consumer minority at best.Sony probably will support it fora long time,but new software is going to require visions of "big bank" to get steady rollouts of new releases from copyright holders.How many times have you wondered why "___" movie not out remastered on dvd.If that can happen on a format with large active base of money fisted ,consumers?Then multitude of new titles on SACD will remain tough.Someone pointed out Hybrids cast a wide net which is good.But when big selling SACD releases cause debate of quality or mastering choices,then war is still in the trenches.At the start when the world at large was paying attention,no hybrids from Sony,Bad start.No mobile either.I know moving car is not best enviroment,but the young set shows off thier gear for the most part parked and multi-channel would shine in mobile.It's about getting a coalition of willing adoptors to make labels take note.Labels like young consumers.Another pointed to hardball copyright owners wanting extra for hybrid plus a kicker for multi,par for the course in that world which is about number$.New format ideas may send SACD to Elcaset graveyard(worst case)or it may linger comatose many years(not worst case)like the mini.The longer it lingers the better chance something comes along that grabs hearts and purse strings.And "BIG" success will force labels to deal,exhibit"A" dvd.The saltwater has backed up on standard redbook CeeDees too which have struggled of late.
The history of high end audio has always been taking mass media and squeezing the most out of it through great equipment. First with vinyl and later with CDs. I really believe that Sony set back the high resolution digital movement by introducing SACD to compete with DVD-A. DVD is the new mass media, witnessed by the unprecedented sales of DVD players since their introduction, not SACD. DVD-A is the next logical step, but Sony had to try to keep their market share and tried to get a leg up on the competition by introducing SACD before DVD-A was ready. DVD-A in turn was forced to rush out before it was really ready. It worked for the short term, but only appealed to audiophiles who were prepared to buy still more new equipment to play the new format. This only confused the public and alienated older folks like myself who recall the betamax debacle.

If not for SACD, DVD-A would be the new standard, we would have a hi-res format that was accepted by the public since they could be played in their new dvd players, and we would have started to fine tune the new format to everyones delight.

Now we are in danger of having mp3 become the new mass media, which will probably never (never say never?)have hi-res capability. Yes, SACD is dying, lets just hope it didn't kill hi-res digital in the process.
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Tony writes:

DVD is the new mass media, witnessed by the unprecedented sales of DVD players since their introduction, not SACD. DVD-A is the next logical step, but Sony had to try to keep their market share and tried to get a leg up on the competition by introducing SACD before DVD-A was ready.

A company can do what it wants. Sorry. You're saying DVD movies sell well, much better than CDs, therefore music on DVD or DVD-A will sell just as well. You're confusing correlation with cause. (It's like saying expensive 10-speed bikes *cause* middle age, pattern balding, road rage, and obscene use of spandex in men, though there is a correlation, 10 speeds aren't a cause.) Just because people buy more movies in the DVD format doesn't mean they will buy more music in the DVD-A format, and a reminder--one must buy a DVD-A machine. Music DVDs have been around for years; surely they would have obviated CDs if people were *that* hungry for media with their music. Another thing. SACD is a *recording technology* not a product. Any company that wishes may use it, depending upon what their target consumer wants, regardless of what happens to Sony. How hard is this? Finally, it's interesting to me that the high-rez crowd doesn't feel it necessary to say "Redbook CD is dead" every time a new SACD comes out, which suggests to me a confidence in the format. What I see reading many of your posts between the lines is a lot of self-reassurance, that your CD player and collection still have relevance. If I had recently put a $10K CD player on a high-interest credit card, I'd be shouting "SACD is dead" every chance I got. Thou doth protest too much. Relax, if your Redbook sounds so good.
Jdaniel, you misunderstand some of my opinions. In saying Sony "had" to try to keep their market share, I wasn't implying they shouldn't make business decisions that are in their best interests. For them it was the right thing, they risked losing a very profitable sector of their business and "had" to try and save it. My point was that a result of Sony's business decision was to cause confusion among the public, slowing the growth of hi-res digital.

Also, just as most people were content to play vinyl on their integrated Panasonic radios/turntables in the past, and cds on $150 cd players, they would also be content playing DVD-A on their dvd players. It's the audiophiles that would have to go out and buy the DVD-A players to extract the full benefit of the format. The point is one disc, we don't need two competing formats for digital audio. Elizabeth is partially correct in saying competing formats KILL any chances of one or the other becomming mainstream. Betamax didn't kill VHS, it just made it take longer to become the standard and resulted in lots of people buying betamax players that became obsolete once Sony gave up the fight.

As far as cd being dead, no, not yet, just look at the numbers. For most people it's still the only game in town.
Even the profusion of cheap universal players has not sparked an increased interest among the general population for hi-rez formats. Even among audiophiles the most excitement recently has been around the 2 channel 3950/3960. If the hi-rez formats have not already taken off after years of exposure it's unlikely they ever will. SACD may remain around as an audiophile format for things like classical music. But I agree that computer-based systems are more likely to take off in time.
I think Sony came up with SACD to get back money lost when CD royalties ended 2-3 years ago. There is also a concept in business which says "keep the pot boiling" which means keep talk, action, stuff going on - it will spark interest and keep customers occupied which makes it eaiser for them to spend. You always want potential customers coming in and out of your store/business and activity is the best way to do it sometimes. SACD advertising, articles in newspapers, etc., and some word of mouth was supposed to get this actiicty going - looks like it didn't work.

And what's this stuff about "local record stores"? I can just see someone sitting in a half darkened room with the glow of a computer screen shining on their face, eyes glazed and fingers flicking away. Get out and see the world every once in a while, for God's sake! I have actually met people at record stores who have become friends, even met a great girlfriend there once (long before I was married!). Ever hear of socialization?
My point was that a result of Sony's business decision was to cause confusion among the public, slowing the growth of hi-res digital.

When I have talked about SACD with my non-audiophile friends and acquaintances, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM has said, "SACD? What's that? I've never heard of it."

Amongst that same group of people, if I mention DVD-Audio, they all think I'm talking about concert DVDs or movie soundtracks. They have no idea that there might be special music-only DVDs.

So I ask you: how can something the public has never even heard of and doesn't even know exists cause confusion?

The "public" isn't confused about hi-rez digital, because the "public" isn't even aware of it.
(1)You suggest that SACD is dying because they don't sell in local record shops, without realizing that record stores are dying both because of competition from the net and mega-stores.(BTW, I socialize where all the action is, not in places where the has-beens go.) : ) 2) Some claim that multi-inventory products, (competing formats) can only spell disaster, without realizing that it's not 1980: multi, or redundant inventory only causes space problems and extra inventory expense for the local middle man, (see issue (1)), who, in the 2004's, is not an issue anymore. (3) Sony came up with SACD because there were more than a few people who had been complaining for years about PCM and digital harshness. EMI/Warner came out with DVD-A for people who...weren't complaining. (4) While there are classic turntables, classic amps, speakers, etc.; there are no classic redbook CD/PCM players. (Type "classic CD player" into ebay if you must.) (5) According to one of this month's Hi-Fi mags, Japanese companies are no longer mass-producing CD players, only Universals. (6) People buy DVDs because they want to collect movies, not because they love the format. (7)"Let's just buy all our music on DVD...." Do you know how many people are going to have their hands in the royalty cookie jar then? You ready to shell out even more money to pay Madonna'a hair-dresser? (8) Cheap Universals have only been out for a year. When I bought my Marantz SA-14 v.2 SACD/CD player, I had to wait because it was on back-order--the US inventory had sold out. Hmmm. No one is going to want SACDs after paying 3K for a player? Question: how many of you have a decent hi-rez player, have listened to it in your home with a broad range of recordings for at least 3 months, THEN came on here with an educated point of view. Uh huh, I thought so.
Your right, DVD is for those who aren't complaining, and they're the ones who are going to determine the market. Socialize wherever you like, just remember those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it.
It doesn't matter whether or not your friends have heard of hi-rez. Let's play a game to show how silly this is. "My friends have never heard of Cardas Cable." "My friends have never heard of Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs." My friends have never heard of Telarc." If these companies are doomed, they and I don't know about it. Silly.

Many of you still need to get out of your 1980's pre-internet thinking, which goes thusly: SACD = niche market = death. Mass market = life. I read in The Economist that we are no longer mass-market consumers--the internet has transformed consumers--esp. with regards to entertainment--into a massive community of niche market enthusiasts. Because we suddenly have a global inventory at our fingertips, and all the information we want regarding that inventory, we've been able to sharpen our tastes and desires and make direct connections with those companies ready to fulfill our wants. It's no longer the case that the local buyers for Sears shape our tastes and limit what's available to us. Are you following? If SACD becomes a niche market, so be it. According to The Economist, it's the Age of the Niche Market. You gotta know this stuff before making such near-sighted assertions.
I have been involved in this hobby for over 40 years, started with valves went to transistors and back to valves and now have both in my system. Worked briefly as a recording engineer and been to more live concerts than I care to count. I guess what I am trying to say is that I have a lot of experience listening to music and I would like to add to this post.

I love the sound of well recorded SACD. It is as close to the source as I have heard with probably the exception of the master tapes. Any audiophile worth his salt that listens to SACD in a good system should be able to tell the difference between cd and SACD. SACD is not competing in the marketplace with DVD-A, it is competing with cds. CDs will be the benchmark music product for a long time with no end in site. The general public just doesn't care that much about audio quality and will settle for less.

How many of the posters have really listened to SACD out there in a good system and I don't mean a 200.00 Sony player. Give it a listen, enjoy the best we have today. If it becomes a niche market so be it, I will still enjoy it.After all there are still a lot of folks out there still listening to 78s and having the time of their lives.Good listening to all.
I agree with the mass market MP3\cmptr outlook! I do not like their quality and will always try to buy what I can locally instead of through a website.

I have been scouring Pawn Shops for used CD's and they are a bargain for myself. What others paid $5-$15 I am getting for less than $2 which is fine by me. While I still like to used remastered or good recordings because my system and speakers are revealing also,if it is not a good recording it will sound like trash.

I sat out the whole SACD and now DVD-A thing till the dust settled. It sometimes is best to do so until a clear winner is shown.

Now I can get on with my listening without being concerned about Formats.
Well, jdaniel - your theory sounds quite clever, but there's one small problem with it:

The companies that are the driving force behind SACD and DVD-A (Sony/Philips/Warner/EMI/Universal/BMG etc.) are all still firmly entrenched in what you call "1980's pre-internet thinking."

It shows in their distribution model, it shows in their profit/loss model, and it clearly shows in their total inability to understand how the Internet has changed music and music distribution.

So here you are accusing the consumers of antiquated thinking, but it's the companies making hi-rez possible that are engaged in the antiquated thinking; they still think that mass market = life, not the consumers.

Contrary to some others here who are waiting for a "clear winner" in the hi-rez format war, I don't think either will "win." It's entirely likely that both will be abandoned by the majors. EMI has already said that it sees little movement in SACDs and none in DVD-As.

Ultimately, the Niche Market as you describe it will prevail - there is a demand for hi-rez digital, and it will be filled by someone. It may not be the companies everyone here wants it to be though.
Rex: EMI doesn't manufacture SACDs...yet. They are looking into it. Again, what the Majors do doesn't matter. SACD is a recording technology that is *portable,* If you want to record something in DSD, the service is now offered by many recording companies not affiliated with Sony or any of the other Majors--dCs for one, makers of the $35K CD player. Philips is also introducing DSD plug-ins so that *any* recording engineer may record in the format. (Yes, editing must be done in PCM but it's still better.)Sony and Philips will get a cut, but the cat's out or the bag.
There is no allure to recording in DSD. There is a multitude of small recording contractors using many different technologies. The fact that SACD is represented as one of the niche recording technologies is meaningless to this this discussion. It doesn't relate to DSD as a distribution media. Those DSD recordings are being distributed as redbook CDs.
Robert said very well: "the general public just doesn't care that much about audio quality and will settle for less." They're not aware about hi-rez formats not because of wrong marketing, but because they don't need it, at all. iTune is much more appropriate and promising feature for them. Unlike cassette tapes, CD is good enough, so I don't see how hi-rez may become really widespread in the nearest feature.

Rex, the companies you listed are mostly relate to a mass market, and not always provide the quality we're talking about, regardless of the format. If we're talking about niche market, I'd rather wait for smaller better-quality labels.
jdaniel writes:

Rex: EMI doesn't manufacture SACDs...yet. They are looking into it.

Well, that's weird - I guess the EMI SACDs in my collection don't actually exist. They must be a figment of my imagination! Perhaps you're right - maybe I dreamed that I bought them, and maybe they don't clearly say "EMI" on them.

Then again, since other people own them too, and they are readily available on the market, and the #1 selling SACD in the world is an EMI SACD, perhaps you're wrong. I think that's more likely.

One more thing: DSD is a digital encoding technology, not a format. Just because someone uses DSD to encode a recording does not mean that there will ever be an SACD version of that recording. There are DSD recordings that have been released as Redbook-only, and there are a number of DSD-mastered vinyl LPs.

Dmitry - it's hard to argue with what you're saying; however, the "mass market" companies produce a lot of music that I and others like to listen to. They do occasionally produce a quality product, and quality products deserve to be released in hi-rez. If they stop because of a perception of no market, then all that will be left is obscure music by obscure musicians on obscure labels. I like "Favorite Chinese Instrumentals" as much as the next guy, but I do want some variety. ;-)
In my local shop, Hybrid SACD's are still thriving. There are new titles in almost every week. However, single layer SACD's sat in the bins untouched for months. The same can be said for DVD-A's. You can find used copies of the last 2 formats at around $5.99-$7.99 easily.
Even NAXOS label is now replicating their DVD-A titles in SACD format.

However, this trend doesn't seem to be shared by ARCAM chairman as excerpted below:

"An Arcam Technical Paper by John Dawson, Arcam's Chairman"
""We believe that the most important property of any player should be that it is optimised for the major uses to which it is to be put. In the case of DVD players this means outstanding picture quality, including interlaced video as well as progressive, matched by excellent sonic abilities for DVDs and CDs.The overall picture quality is determined by many factors, including the player's MPEG decoder, its de-interlacer (for progressive video) and its video DACs, filters and output stages. That these are not created equal was shown in the "blind" viewing tests recently conducted by Paul Miller in AV Tech magazine*. Here the picture quality of the Arcam DV88 Plus (powered by Zoran's Vaddis 5 DVD decoder) was found to be clearly superior to comparably priced offerings from Pioneer, Sony and Onkyo. As to sonic abilities - these demand a top quality low jitter digital output and, in the case of CDs - and in my experience most people have lots of CDs - outstanding two channel audio replay through the player's analogue outputs. Many special techniques are incorporated into Arcam's DVD players, including phase locked power supplies, low jitter master clocks and audiophile DACs and output stages, to ensure that the quality of CD sound reproduction is similar to a high performance dedicated CD player. To summarise - we believe the DV88 Plus's overall performance in both video and audio is better than any other player on the market, right up to the price of our own DV27A. The new lower cost DV78 has similar video quality and makes only small compromises to the audio performance.For the future, Arcam is fully committed to DVD-Audio. We believe strongly that this format will be the most popular and thus most successful of the two high resolution audio formats long term for a number of reasons: 1. DVD-A is already supported by four of the world's five biggest record companies - Warners, BMG, EMI and, most recently, Universal Music. We believe that by the middle of next year, it will have support from all five of the major record companies. 2. The installed base of home DVD-Audio players is much higher than SACD, and is growing much faster. Additionally DVD-Audio is already supported in-car and on the PC, whereas this is currently simply not possible for SACD. 3. Every DVD-A disc carries a DVD-V part that will replay on all 90 million DVD-V players out there in both stereo and, where applicable, multi-channel. So no-one buying such a disc is unable to play it. 4. For stereo music buffs, the 2 channel performance of DVD-A is remarkable. Nearly all DVD-A discs include dedicated stereo mixes. At 176.4 and 192 KHz sampling rates the overall noise and high frequency performance is vastly superior to SACD.5. DVD-A discs can and do carry still video content, such as slide shows, lyrics etc - which can be pretty compelling - as well as dedicated DVD-V content such as interviews with the band, "making of" documentaries and so on. This adds value and desirability over a plain audio disc. 6. New hybrid dual sided DVD-A discs, which include a red book layer on them on one side for complete backwards compatibility, are soon coming to market. This in principle can mean single inventory stocking for music retailers and compatibility with both CD and DVD players. Arcam's new DV89 and DV27A players support high resolution stereo and multi-channel DVD Audio. They also include a comprehensive bass manager to allow for non-ideal speaker setups, including speaker time delays, level management and variable crossover frequencies. This all runs on the Vaddis 5's 32 bit audio DSP. For multi-channel audio (including Dolby Digital and DTS decoding) we added a board with the necessary extra DACs and audio output circuitry to the DV88 Plus platform, which has thoughtfully been designed to accommodate this, even as a retrofit. Unfortunately we are not able to add SACD so simply - in fact this would require a new and different DVD transport (because SACD watermarking is verified on the transport), and a whole side chain of chippery to decode SACD. Also the navigation would have to be integrated into the main operating system and currently this would mean a new (and in several respects inferior) MPEG decoder/audio decoder chipset from another vendor. So it is not something we can currently offer nor, to be frank, do we really want to, as it would to some degree compromise the ultimate quality of the main purposes of the player as described above. The description "Jack of all trades, master of none" often comes to my mind when considering the present crop of universal offerings. Having said that, you can still buy SACDs if you want to! All Arcam DVD players recognise the CD layer of hybrid SACD discs (which most are these days) and replay these with exceptional fidelity. In my opinion, you can favourably compare the CD replay quality of an Arcam DVD player with the replay quality of 2-channel SACD obtained from many of today's universal players.The recent activities of the DVD-Audio Group, including seminars and conferences to the music industry, has greatly heightened the awareness of the DVD-Audio format. There are now over 600 music titles available and over 50 DVD-Audio/Video players from leading manufacturers.* AV Tech magazine, November 2003, published alongside November's Hi-Fi News. "Without doubt, the very natural, fluid and cinematic quality of its (DV88 Plus's) progressive images proved the high point of our group viewing session. With no multi-channel decoder on board, every ounce of its engineering is focused on MPEG video quality… and it shows.""…it was Arcam's DV88 Plus that really stole the show by combining both a high resolution of fine detail with smooth, free flowing, natural-looking images. Do not make the mistake of judging this particularly dour looking piece of machinery by its cover, because its storytelling is about as thrilling as it gets."Other models in the test included Pioneer DV-757Ai, Sony DVP-NS999ES, Onkyo DV-SP800""
Well, my final word, (which will be a relief to many of you who don't want to believe there's a prettier woman on the block than the one you have in your Redbook CD player and collection), and this is what I've been saying all along. It doesn't matter what Sony, EMI, or Universal does. It doesn't matter what the lowest common denominator of the mass-market wants. At one time it did, but as I said in my first posting, it doesn't anymore. If it did, no one would be able to buy vinyl, would they. Just as the internet has kept vinyl alive for those who want it, the internet will keep SACD alive for those who want it. I understand your frustration with regards to the majors sitting on such vast catalogs of music, but surely with 2055 SACD titles available today and an average of 100 new releases a month, (not 3, I goofed again), there is *something* good enough for you? And players from $250 to $8000? (The Absolute Sound found that the $250 Sony Universal had astonishingly good sound that appoached vinyl in its ease of presentation; I know--that would make one eye dart sideways in my head too if I still believed in redbook. Oh well. What angers me is all the armchair prediction here may cause many to deny themselves a very special listening experience, (yeah yeah, I goof with regards to EMI; I listened to redbook for an hour as punishment).
I leave you with the harshest question of all: Years down the road, let's say SACD finds it niche, DVD-A finds it's niche, (doubtful), and of course vinyl already has it's niche...tell me with a straight face that sure, there'll be a niche called "Redbook-lover's Corner," where people pay more to have their favorite artists remastered down to 16bit...
jd I think you are looking at things in a very simplistic fashion.

Both CD replay and the quality of remastered Redbook discs have increased beyond recognition.

The SACD debate is a very complicated one,with many different levels and considerations,it is not black and white.
Any reasonable Audiophile would be foolish not to consider SACD replay at their level and some of us have experimented with it.
As I state there are various reasons why it hasn't appealed to some of us.

To me it is not a matter of self justifaction nor smugness or whatever you wan't to call it,it is a logical considered opinion to walk away from the format at this stage and I find it disappointing that this has happened.

I stand by my statement the format has been botched to the very people it should have appealed to and more worryingly I see no real push to make up on lost ground.

However it would also be folly not to consider that the format may survive and progress and indeed make some of us invest in it or indeed return to it.

It's my opinion the defensive,nah nah na nah nah arguments add little to the debate.

People take sides and frankly these debates seldom throw up anything new of any worth to anybody.
>> Both CD replay and the quality of remastered Redbook discs have increased beyond recognition.

The reason they have is because recording studios are using hi-rez recording methods, like DSD, 192/24 PCM.

Whether SACD, DVD-A survives or not there will be high-rez music available for the masses, especially as digital technology accelerates, hard drive capacity goes up, flash ram prices come down.

At some point in the not-too-distant future you'll probably be able to download a full album's worth of hi-rez audio to your credit-card sized iPod with a terrabyte of flash RAM on your Walmart GigE connection to the internet ;-)
"I socialize where the action is..." Sorry, but I don't visit so maybe I am missing the real action. Hey, is Amazon making any moeny yet? I mean on music? Last I heard (a couple years ago) they had closed a number of warehouses and 1/2 the customer service department. That's when I noticed a real deterioration in service from them and I only now use them or any other internet store as a last chance provider. That is, except for Red Trumpet, Music Direct, etc. but then I can actually call them and talk to a fellow human.

By the way, my wife loved using,, but somehow or another they went belly up when the internet nearly collapsed. Maybe I should catch up on economist Lou Dobbs', but hey!! They're gone, too! Another $85,000,000.00 up in internet smoke.

I do have to admit that SACD and DVD-A will end up being niche markets with possibly every limited releases. I'm still waiting for The Beatles, Hendrix, etc. etc. etc. to be released on real quality editions. Although, Red Trumpet has the Japanese Beatles CDs which sound damn good, but then, my old, stupid, slow moving "local store" (whose owner is a 30 yr friend) can order them for me and will do so over the phone. Then I get to drive my sports car (which I enjoy immensely), pick them up, eat at a good restaurant or grab some take-out, maybe even relate to another human being in a normal physical why (you know, eye to eye contact, etc.). May even check out the latest vodka or a new tequila addition in my favorite liquor store. Might see my neighbor and her beautiful 3 yr old daughter or her husband's new bicycle, might be inspired driving up to my house to enjoy the flowers, help my wife pull a few weeds, make a quick summer dinner, sit on the rear patio and see if the raccoons will come get our leftovers. Not "where the action is" but a damn good life nonetheless.

Oh yeah, my DAC and CD transport sound pretty damn good, as good as the $800.00 Sony SACD player I borrowed for 4 days a year ago. Maybe I'm missing something but if so, it ain't bothering me.
How much do your reasonable good transport and DAC cost? I have seen many try to beat up $500 SONY SACD player by several K red book player. It is not a fair fight. Dollar to dollar, give it a chance!
$2,800.00 transport, $1,300.00 for DAC. Also use a $500.00 Marantz SE multidisc as transport which sounds 90% of CEC trans. I understand your point but since I've already got these things, and they sound terrific, I have no intention of starting over. Just on principal, I also have no intention of buying "Kind of Blue" one more damn time. The Sony sounded nice, not as good as my redbook system. I could also spend a bunch more for an amp, speakers, wires, etc. but I just won't. Got better things to do - Hawaii, new car, early retirement (yay!!), etc. If I could find a $1,000.00 SACD player that'd beat by CD system, I'd buy it.
From the SACD conference in Hong Kong.......

"In spite of new media on the horizon, SA-CD is likely to remain to highest resolution audio format for maybe twenty years. This from the people whose role it is to promote Blu-ray. Those hanging out for something "better" may want to look into cryonics."