SACD vs CD's

CD / SACD Discussion
robotczar
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F1nut comments

Post by robotczar » Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:01 pm

This will be my last word on this topic as I said I won't debate. But, F1nut has offered up several views typical of audiophiles who prefer to believe rather than resort to rationality and evidence to guide their thinking about audio. I don't wish to offend him and I don't want to debate him, but I clearly don't agree with any of his assertions. I could quote plenty of people who say Harley is full of crap and many more who would say that blind testing is a valid scientific procedure that is the ONLY way to just what people really hear, but, as has been pointed out, that is a hopeless exercise.

It is a well known psychological principle that human sensory perception is subject to influence. We are not totally accurate perceivers, we are subjective perceivers. Expectations, for example, influence what we sense. So, "There is no better evidence than that heard by the ears, none" is a misleading statement that requires qualification and specification. The ears can be deceived by the brain. As an example using visual perception consider optical illusions. We cannot simply trust our ears unless we control for factors that could cause us to hear differences or mislead us to hear differences. That is what blind, controlled testing does. There is no better evidence that what is heard provided that evidence is done is a carefully controlled manner. When such care is taken, the ears tell us the truth and that truth is not what Bob Harley is selling. Ask yourself if you are willing to believe a person who says he hears differences but can only demonstrate his ability if he knows which device is which (e.g., he can tell the difference only when he knows which is the CD and which is the SACD, but can't if he doesn't).

Let me also point out that F1nut says that there is no other way to judge audio reproduction than by ears, but he goes on to give numbers about the SACD and CD formats. Well, by his first assertion, they don't matter. What we can hear matters.

So, bottom line: If you are new to the home audio reproduction hobby, know that there are two radically different view points about the reality of listening and what can be heard via our audio systems. Many quite smart people (including most scientists) do not agree with much of what you will hear from audio companies, magazines, and fans. Make up your own mind, but get all the facts, not simply opinions. That is really all I have to say in this forum.

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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by elgrau » Sat Apr 04, 2009 8:52 pm

Robot,
As much as I love to disagree with F1nut (and poke the bear with a stick! :lol: ), in this issue I very much agree with him: what we hear (or even what we THINK we hear) as sounding superior trumps all other arguments (and yes, even the sacred "blind testing", which (e.g.) can only be as good as the "audiophile" test subject's ears! But can, ironically, be used to prove that SACD - or any "tweak" - IS superior, but not that it has no effect!) There's way too many variables involved with one's "Hi-Fi system", ears, brain (and lack of understanding of the entire process) to ever say what is absolutely good for someone else's "system" and what is NOT!
Last edited by elgrau on Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by weitrhino » Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:40 pm

To choose which is the superior sound reproduction, redbook or SACD, requires a qualitative judgment. So we first need a definition of the term 'quality.'

What is quality? We can discuss the improvement or degradation of a quality, or simple changes in a quality, but the definition of 'quality' remains elusive. I submit that 'quality' is the interaction between subject and object. Now, considering redbook and SACD as the object and each individual listener as the subject, we are bound to come up with differing degrees of quality. We are dealing with a finite object: SACD and Redbook. However, the subject is infinitely individual. There will never be %100 consensus.

End this thread.

That being said, SACD just flat out crushes redbook. C'mon! Get real!
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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by robotczar » Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:25 am

Here is a short video clarifying the definition of open-mindedness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOuqaqXI

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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by BillD » Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:15 am

It is a fact and can be measured that DSD (Direct Stream Digital that is used in SACD) has frequency response up to 100kHz, whereas CD (multi-bit PCM) response extends only to 20kHz at best. Moreover, where CD dynamic range can reach 96dB, DSD can achieve 120dB. You might argue that frequency response above 20kHz is inaudible, but there have been studies that have concluded that ultrasonic harmonics can affect the appreciation of the majors. No one can argue that superior dynamic range is better, especially with recordings that don't have the crap compressed out of them like normal Redbook CDs these days.

In short, there is some technical and abundant anecdotal evidence that SACD is superior to Redbook. The current state of the recording industry might minimize the differences on most recordings, but I can hear it. Look, I am an engineer, and do like technical validation of what I hear. But I'm not a slave to it. We are talking about the capabilities of the human ear. Each one is different. No two people are wired exactly the same.

So, my bottom line here is that if you can't hear the difference, don't waste your money on SACDs, or for that matter, other high-end equipment. You might even consider a different hobby.
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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by F1nut » Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:57 am

Let me also point out that F1nut says that there is no other way to judge audio reproduction than by ears, but he goes on to give numbers about the SACD and CD formats. Well, by his first assertion, they don't matter. What we can hear matters.
It would seem that you missed the point. You asked, "Why would more bits matter?" A statement that indicates you believe SACD (1 bit) has more bits than Redboook (16 bit) when in fact it has less, hence my posting of the numbers to correct your mistake!
The ears can be deceived by the brain. As an example using visual perception consider optical illusions.
You are assuming quite a lot by that comment as the two are very different perceptors and the fact that we, mankind, still do not fully understand how these perceptors actually work, especially the ear.

This all reminds me of a famous speaker builder who, with the ad of science, made a pair that measured a perfectly flat frequency response.....the ultimate speaker. When asked what they sounded like, he said like crap. He then went back to tuning by ear.

You keep your scientific procedures, I'll enjoy the music and the superior sound of SACD.
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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by BillD » Sun Apr 05, 2009 3:18 pm

Actually, if you want to play the numbers game, you must include time into the equation, or bits/second. SACD has a high sampling rate (2.8224 MHz, one bit at a time, or 2.8224 Mb/sec). CDs are 44.1kHz, but 16 bits at a time, or 705.4 kb/sec. Now, DTS or DVD-A can use 24 bits and up to 192 kHz. At that extreme the signal will be 4.608 Mb/sec, more bits per second than SACD. However, normal DTS/DVD-A recordings are only 96 kHz, which would render them slightly less that SACD (2.304 Mb/sec).
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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by elgrau » Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:15 pm

Other then buffer size, I'm not sure what effect transmission rate (Mbits/sec) would implicitly have on musical quality (and of course if no buffer, then transmission rate must be high enough to "keep up"). Bits per byte (which would determine the amount of loudness variation per sample) and samples per second of music (bytes sampled per second) would determine the musical quality. 2.8224 Mbits/sec is all well and good, but those bits need to be grouped into N bits per byte to do any good (can't do anything with just a stream of 1's and 0's). I suspect that SACD probably uses more bits per byte in order to allow a wider range of "loudness" per sample (more dynamic range), and of course uses more sampling bytes per second of music as well. To properly sample 20k Hz, you'd need ~160,000 bytes or samples per second. If (e.g.) 20 bits per byte were used, that would then require 3.2 Mbits/sec. So SACD might be around 18 bits per byte?
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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by BillD » Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:23 pm

That's correct, Ed. Well, close enough. 20 bits word length at 192kHz would be an approximate for multi-bit PCM.
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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by aharitt » Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:07 pm

I am a newbie in audio world. And I have only one SACD yet :( But I can tell that SACD sounds better than CD. I compared the sound of CD layer and SACD stereo layer back and forth and I really can tell the difference.

But the difference is not significant as like audio system. I tried SACD surround with my decent-but-not-great HT system. I can see that there is surround effect, but I couldn't stand to hear it after I enjoyed same music with a better system.

BTW, I have universal player from Sherwood Castle. I didn't have a chance to hear other players. But this player gives me great sound. Specially with music only mode, it performs very well.

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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by robotczar » Mon May 04, 2009 2:54 pm

Okay, I lied, if people are going to persist in only presenting their opinions and/or uncontrolled perceptions, I must respond.

First, I said that you can convince yourself that something sounds better when it really doesn't. If such imaginary improvement is all you really need, then what are the extra bits for? I have nothing against you "hearing" better sound from SACD, etc. I object to you claiming it IS better. If you can't tell the improvement when you don't know which is which, then you haven't demonstrated you are really hearing actual differences as opposed to illusion. Note that people CAN identify real differences that are quite subtle in blind tests.

Second, the point is that the real extra bit sampling rate and depth of SACD is not perceptible--cannot be heard. It really does not matter if it records more bits of sound pressure waves IF WE CAN'T HEAR IT. And, musical instruments cannot produce it. The correct analogy would be that CD is not just HD TV, but high enough resolution that nobody can see a difference. There must be some point in improvement in resolution that cannot be perceived, our senses do not have infinite resolution. If one makes a TV that has 10 times the resolution we can see, then it is a waste. We cannot tell that TV from one that merely just exceeds our perceptual limits. SACD records frequencies that no human can hear (I'm not sure bats can). The increased bit depth makes possible signal to noise ratios that far exceed what makes sense in real world listening environments. Do you think that a format that recorded higher frequencies and had a potential signal to noise ratio higher than SACD would sound better than SACD? If not, then merely having more bits cannot be used to determine if a format is superior aurally.

Third, SACD is a playback medium. What was the medium of the recording? Some have similar bit rates to SACD, others don't. A playback medium cannot make the recording sound better. A recording can be screwed up in many ways, and they often are (I am talking Classical recordings, nobody know what a pop/rock recording is supposed to sound like--they have no real ambient sound). SACD is not going to make a poor recording sound good. A superior recording on CD would sound better than SACD even if we could hear a difference in the formats.

Fourth, there is evidence that people cannot distinguish SACD playback from CD playback of an identical recording. Get that? Scientific evidence. Until somebody comes up with evidence to the contrary (which, because it defies logic, is not worth holding your breath for) no amount of English-major high-end pundits writing critiques of scientifically required blind testing is going to amount to a hill of beans (let alone a bunch of listers reporting they hear big differences in uncontrolled listening tests). The "you're crazy, dude, SACD blows away Red Book" comments are less than useless and illustrate rather well that people should be checking "facts" the get from the audiophile public and magazines.

People say they want to trust their ears. But, when they fail to distinguish differences in their pet beliefs, they suddenly don't trust their ears. I can think of a dozen things that would lead you to "hear" improvements in recorded music, but the main one is that you simply tend to hear what you expect to hear. Humans are built that way. So until you control for that bias by blinding, your reports are worthless.

We are not talking about improvements in sound. Improvement in sound reproduction requires a standard on which to judge accuracy, live music in my view, not just perceived beauty of the sound. We are talking about whether of not people can even hear a difference. They can't. So waste you money if you must. It really doesn't matter because compression formats are way more popular and SACD is struggling. Wake up and see that SACD was merely a marketing plan to get you to replace your old disks with new "improved" ones. You don't need more bits as an excuse, properly remastered redbook CDs are big improvements over the mixes used to overcome vinyl limitations.

I am not out to ruin your fun. But, if you pay attention to what really matters you will get better home audio reproduction for less money. You can buy more music with your savings. You fun will increase when rationality is your guide.

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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by BillD » Mon May 04, 2009 3:13 pm

Troll alert...

I'll get the popcorn going. :D

BTW, why does it matter to you what others believe? Are you that insecure?
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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by frankieD » Mon May 04, 2009 4:24 pm

These kind of arguments go on and on and are never settled (proved?).

Bill said it best: If you hear the difference (real or imagined) buy it, if not, don't.

The rest is all bullshit on both sides. It's like trying to "prove" that Chicago Pizza is best. No one from Brooklyn would ever believe that bullshit. However there actually are people in Brooklyn who buy pizza from Pizza Hut. Go figure.

No one can "experience" what another is experiencing through their ears (or eyes etc.) so this is a waste of time.

Now don't make me come over there!

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by elgrau » Mon May 04, 2009 8:37 pm

robotczar,
I nominate you for the poster child of convuluted, technically ignorant "mid-fi is great and cannot be improved....because" flawed arguments. Very entertaining BS.....stick around tho; if willing to learn (and spend a little!), you too can be learnt how to be a 1st rate "audiophile" someday! Hang in there!
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LR: AudioEngine wireless link from family room preamp to Barcus-Berry 2002R Sonic Maximizer to GlowPower Zyxt IC's to Sunfire 300x2 to Nordost 6M bi-source wires to AOS 28" MDF spherical speakers using six 6.5" woofers and eight 1" dome tweeters symm. arranged around the surface.
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Re: SACD vs CD's

Post by F1nut » Tue May 05, 2009 1:27 am

robotczar wrote:Okay, I lied
I stopped there. :roll:
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