Saturday, November 18, 2006

SACD is simply great

OK I know that the vinyl RCA Living Stereo versions of Charles Munch and the BSO's performance of Daphnis et Chloe, now 50 years old, represent the pinnacle of stereo recording to some. This two channel representation of the incredibly dramatic work by Ravel has withstood a half a century of critical listening, and it still amazes listeners with its startling realism. Keeping the complex phase of a performance intact can often do that. The human ear/brain knows quality when it hears it.

Perhaps that's why Blumlein recording has had such a resurgence. The magic of the live performance, the sense of being there, the realism and unadorned, unmolested character of the mix, a "less is more" representation but done very well, is quite refreshing.

You can now listen to these historic recordings on SACD, otherwise known as DSD or Direct Stream Digital.

SACD as a format is not exactly thriving despite its advantage of being playable as an ordinary CD in addition to DSD, so you can still listen to it in your car CD payer. DVD audio, which is not as good in my opinion, is winning in some cases. Of course DVD audio is the place for movie and television audio, which is perhaps the more important corner of the music biz today.

In any case, if you happen to go into Best Buy, Circuit City, or other big box mass retailers, you will see SACD capable multiformat players for not much money. Naturally, you can also spend much more. But at least get one, and do plug in your headphones, sit in a comfortable listening position, and experience the excellent and open sound of this format. Warning: You might not care for those MP3s anymore. robert j crowley

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