Originally published in 2015
Super Audio Compact Disc, better known as SACD, is the Blu-Ray based optical medium that Sony developed as a next generation storage mechanism to the original Compact Disc.
Instead of PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) as the format, like that of CD’s and most high resolution audio today, SACDs use DSD which is technically known as PDM (Pulse Density Modulation). PCM is a digital code that needs a decoder to play it back while DSD needs only a relatively simple filter to play it back. Both can make great sounding music.
I don’t own an SACD player. Many of you ask why not. It seems to make no sense that I don’t since we now have DirectStream that plays back both PCM and DSD.
Here’s the thing: there are no SACD players that output DSD to a DAC. You can’t get there from here. Certainly there’s the wonderful Oppo player but it’s digital out won’t give you DSD, only PCM and that from the CD layer found on SACD discs. The Oppo has an HDMI output that does stream DSD, but that stream is encrypted and can only be opened by a special chipset Sony sells that performs all the decoding and D/A duties in the chip. I have never liked the way that chip sounds.
Now you know why I don’t have an SACD player. I would be forced to listen to an analog output from a product I do not think sounds that great as such.
My CD library has had new life breathed into it and a CD like I described the other day, Shelby Lynne’s masterpiece, sounds remarkable. Far better as a CD, I am certain, than listening through the analog outputs of an off-the-shelf SACD player.