Does the CD layer of an SACD sound better?

January 19, 2023
 by Paul McGowan

16 comments on “Does the CD layer of an SACD sound better?”

    1. I think in order to store a DSD recording onto a disk it has to be stored on a SACD disk and played back on an SACD capable player otherwise if played on a standard CD player you would only hear the standard pressing and not DSD.

      1. Joe,
        That’s providing that it’s a ‘hybrid disc’, ie. it has both
        DSD & PCM layers in the disc, otherwise your standard
        CD player won’t read it & the display will show ‘NO DISC’

  1. I’m not Paul, but … SACD is the name of the physical disc – “Super Audio Compact Disc”. DSD is the digital encoding type. An SACD layer is, by necessity, a DSD bit stream. So in some sense the terms are used synonymously.

    SACD players, by design, are able to read the Redbook CD, 16/44.1K layer, if present. I have some SACDs that only have the SACD layer, so they cannot be played on a Redbook CD player. All Redbook only, 16/44.1K discs can be played on either type of player/transport.

        1. Another vote for HDCD. It never really caught on because like SACD, it only appeals to audiophiles. I am sometimes surprised by the sound of a disc, turn round and see the HDCD light illuminated on my DAC even though there is no mention on the cover or disc itself. Covert HDCD discs are out there. The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler is one.

  2. Interesting about the Dire Straits HDCD disc. Covert indeed my paperwork and transport say nothing. Another format that can sound great is Blu-spec 2. I am especially loving The Road East-LIve in Japan by Jackson Browne.

    1. Yes. Blu spec CD is excellent. I recently picked up “DIRECT” by Vangelis.
      It is awesome. Best copy I own. It is a matter of taste however, but the clean sound really works with a ton of electronic music. 🙂

  3. My fifteen HDCDs do sound great & I wish there were more available.
    Before single bit DSD there was SBM (single bit mapping) in 44.1/16…
    my Pink Floyd – ‘Wish You Were Here’ 24K gold plated CD is proof of that.

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