SA-CD Crossroads?


SA-CD Crossroads

Am I at the SA-CD crossroads?  Universal Japan continues to schedule new SHM-SA-CD’s @ 4,500 yen each – all are “single layer” and require an SA-CD player to play ‘em; so far, all have been ‘stereo only’, too – even ones that had previously been multi-channel.  I do remain interested, because if they pick any more titles I am truly interested in, they do sound amazing.

In April, they have scheduled a few that have not previously been released as SA-CDs, notably Stevie Wonder “Talking Book” and Elvis Costello “My Aim Is True”.  How ‘bout another Caravan title, Universal Japan?

So, I can now clearly divide the SA-CD world into 2 camps:

1)     Superb DSD Mastering in stereo

2)     Multi-channel Mastering

Having a Sony 5.1 system set-up in my home, I am fairly interested in multi-channel entertainment.  Am I less likely to buy ‘stereo only’ SA-CD’s now?  Well, probably.  When I first got an SA-CD player in the summer of 2009, I wanted any and everything on SA-CD, even classical titles! I wanted the little blue light to come on!

The Sony 5.1 system is by no means an ‘audiophile set-up’; in my bedroom (on the big stereo), I can clearly hear the difference between a regular CD and an SA-CD – a large difference usually made possible by the DSD mastering.  The same disc played in the living room on the 5.1 will sound good, but…not necessarily “amazing”.

The charm having gone from ‘stereo only’ SA-CD’s, I have now crossed a few things off of my ‘want list’ – I am no longer in the market for either of the Koch SA-CD boxed sets from The Kinks – all of the discs therein are ‘stereo only’.  And I’ll probably stay out of the classical world, too – unless I read about a particularly spectacular multi-channel title.  I do think I’ll keep all of the RCA “Living Stereo” 3-channel SA-CD’s that I have found, those are really super recordings!

In 2009, I think I would’ve bought anything as an SA-CD – in 2011, this is no longer true.  I am also now unwilling to pay big bucks for desirable SA-CD titles, when a comparable DVD-A version might be available for a ‘regular’ price – such as Kraftwerk “Minimum Maximum” (DVD) or Mike Oldfield “Tubular Bells” (SHM-CD + NTSC DVD-A).

But if Universal Japan keeps up with the re-issue program – 4,500 yen SHM-SA-CD titles, I will continue to inspect their release notices, as the DSD mastering on this series can be spectacular (such as Blind Faith “Blind Faith” or Black Sabbath “Paranoid” or 10cc “The Original Soundtrack”).

But it’s true – I am at the SA-CD crossroads.

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