SACD?

1200px-SACDlogo.svgMy recently acquired media player plays SACD disks.  I recently acquired a review copy of one such.  It’s the Chandos recording of Berlioz’ L’enface du Christ recorded by Andrew Davis and the Melbourne Symphony.  It comes with three “tracks”; standard (more or less) CD which will play on a CD player and both stereo and surround tracks in SACD format.  Now “standard CD” for Chandos is a bit higher definition than most CDs.  24 bit at 48kHz versus 16 bit at 44.1 kHz.  Is there a detectable difference?

This, of course, is the question a normal person wants answered.  It doesn’t really matter what tech specs or measurements made by machines suggest, the acid test is can a human hear a difference?  Not having the means to do a proper double blind triangle test (no minion) I just listened in different ways to the same passage.  First up I compared the CD track with the stereo SACD track using headphones.  Usually I find that if there are subtle things on a recording I’m more likely to hear them on the ‘phones.  I might have detected a bit more channel separation on the SACD but I’m pretty sure I would not have picked it consistently on a double blind.  The second test was CD versus surround sound SACD on a 5.1 speaker set up.  Again, no detectable difference except that I had to turn the volume setting up on surround to get the same perceived loudness.  That often happens switching between stereo and surround on video disks so no surprise.  On a normal concert hall recording like this I don’t think surround sound makes a huge difference anyway.  I guess if one wanted to listen to some Renaissance polyphony recorded on all sides of a basilica it might be a different story but that’s not my usual listening.

So bottom line; little or no difference.  If this format comes bundled with other features you want then fine but I wouldn’t pay for it.

1 thought on “SACD?

  1. Pingback: L’Enfance du Christ | operaramblings

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