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Welcome to PS3SACD.com. This site aims to be the most extensive Super Audio CD resource for PlayStation3 users. Considering it seems to be the only dedicated SA-CD site for PS3, we're confident it actually is. We also cover other aspects of the versatile media player that PS3 is, other SACD-compatible BD players, DSD, audio-only Blu-ray Discs, and other high-resolution multi-channel music formats, especially for pop/rock music.
Recently we've started covering PlayStation4, as far as media playback, especially audio, is concerned.
Sony and Oppo launch new generation of universal disc players
Èarlier this year, at CES, Sony announced its first truly universal disc player – the UHP-H1. Besides Blu-ray Disc, DVD-Video, SACD and CDDA, like so many Sony players before it, this also supported DVD-Audio – the first Sony model to do so. Since then however, an important change has taken place: A new optical disc format has been launched – Ultra HD Blu-ray. With this, the definition of 'universal' has changed. The first Ultra HD Blu-ray players by Samsung, Panasonic and Philips focused on video playback. Although the Panasonic DMP-UB900 has some good audio features including DSD playback and analog multichannel outputs, none of these players supported SACD or DVD-Audio.
At CEDIA, this has changed. Sony unveiled its UBP-X1000ES while Oppo Digital did the same with its UDP-203. Both players can handle the complete range of disc formats including Ultra HD Blu-ray, BD 3D, regular BD, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, SACD and CDDA. Presumably even Video CD, although that probably willl not look nice on an Ultra HD TV.
The Sony UBP-X1000ES, previewed a week earlier at IFA, looks just like the UHP-H1, but looks can be deceiving. A lot more has been added than merely the triple-layer format with 66 and 100GB capacities: It also features Quad DSD processing, RS-232C, IP control, an IEC power cord and more to appral to the tier 1 CE segment. In fact, the player will only be available through Sony-certified retailers and custom installers. It may not look like the ES Series of old but it does come with 3-year warranty. It will be available from Q1 2017.
The Oppo unit will be available sooner: "late 2016", according to the company. This player, with a custom-developed MediaTek processor, will be the first UHD BD player to support Dolby Vision HDR in addition to the mandatory HDR10. It will also have 7.1-channel analog outputs.
In the area of games consoles meanwhile, Microsoft has launched the Xbox One S, which adds an HDR video option for gaming, and supports UHD+HDR video from streaming platforms as well as Ultra HD Blu-ray. Naturally, this raised expectations for Sony's reported PlayStation 4 UHD/HDR update, codename PS4 Neo. Eventually however, Sony has taken the quite unbelievable decision not to equip PS4 Pro, as the product is actually called, with an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive. A thorough analysis of this debacle you can find here.
Sony starts supporting DVD-Audio for the first time
Around the same time that SACD was launched – at the turn of the century – competing format DVD-Audio came to market. For years, there has been what many perceive as a format battle, and this may have hampered mass market success of both. There is of course an elegant solution to such issues: Hardware supporting both formats. Pretty soon, universal DVD players and Home Theater Systems came to market from various brands, followed later by universal Blu-ray Disc players. The one notable hold-out has of course been Sony. Their players were near-universal but lacking DVD-A support.
The same held true for PlayStation 3: Technically, all units were probably perfectly capable of handling DVD-Audio's multichannel, high-resolution PCM streams but not enabled to do so.
Until 2016, that is. Even Sony has apparently become more pragmatic. At CES 2016, reports suggested Sony's new premium A/V player UHP-H1 would accept DVD-Audio as well as Super Audio CD. However unlikely that seemed after all this time, close-ups of the player that is now becoming available reveal it's actually the case.
Two shots of the rear connection panel with decent resolution are in circulation and although the position of the DVD logo differs, in both cases it's the DVD-Audio/Video logo. (Actually there's a third one; see the inside on Inside CI.)
The Sony UHP-H1 specifications include support for Blu-ray Disc, 3D BD, DVD-A/V, SACD, CD, DSD (DSDIFF/DSF), FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, HEAAC v.1 / v.2 / level 2, MP3, LDAC, DLNA and PlayStationNow. Sony's own page even lists the two separate DVD logos, to eliminate any possible doubt.
Ironically, the definition of universal has just shifted, making this versatile player still not qualify for that designation – Ultra HD Blu-ray has come to market and the UHP-H1 does not support the new format; it merely upscales HD to '4K' UHD.
Times have changed, and although Sony was the driving force behind the original Blu-ray Disc fornat and one of the first brands to launch '4K' consumer products back in 2013 and covering pretty much the whole 4K content production chain, Sony was not ready, or rather not prepared, to be among the companies launching the ultimate optical disc standard, leaving that honor to Panasonic and Samsung.
In the meantime, Sony has committed to introducing an Ultra HD Blu-ray player within the current fiscal year FY 2017 i.e. by end of Q1/March 0f the next calendar year. Let's hope that one will also support SACD. And maybe DVD-Audio as well.
First surround sound music recording using Dolby Atmos
In classical music news, the Choir of King's College has recorded a performance at the King's College Chapel in Cambridge – 13 pieces of Gabrieli's posthumously published collections from 1615. The recording. The acoustic recording has been mastered for stereo, 5.1 and Dolby Atmos. The latter is only available on Blu-ray Disc. The disc in this case uses msm Studios' Pure Audio Blu-ray format, like other albums written about here previously. The BD comes bundles with a hybrid SACD.
New Sony SACD/BD player: UHP-H1
Sony continues its line of near-universal Blu-ray Disc players with SACD support in 2016, with a brand new design. Many observers had been expecting an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player but according to TWICE, Sony is waiting until that market is a little more mature and is going to release such a player later this year or early 2017 (still better than earlier statements). For now they're leaving the market to Samsung, Panasonic and Philips, and release a 4K-upscaling BD player, the UHP-H1.
This unit handles not only Blu-ray, 3D BD, DVD-Video, CD and Super Audio CD but also high-resolution audio including DSD (DSDIFF and DSF but up to what frequency Sony hasn't specified yet) and PCM up to 24-bit/192kHz. Other audio formats include FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, HE-AAC. Other new features are support for the SongPal Link app, Spotify and Deezer.
Amused to Death actually out now on SACD (and BD)
Never mind the time it's taken from the first announcement to the next one until actual release. What matters is that Roger Waters' album is available now for purchase on Hybrid SACD and Blu-ray Disc, both with the stereo mix and a 5.1 mix in high resolution. The BD comes bundled with a CD. The SACD is available in the UK through Amazon; in the US it seems to be sold only through Acoustic Sounds. You can also order it from CD Japan.
Most successful Beatles songs released in 5.1 multichannel sound
9 years ago George Martin and his son Giles made new high-resolution digital transfers of all Beatles multi-track master tapes and remixed them into Love – an 80-minute megamix blending together elements from the band's entire reportoire. The compilation, in 5.1-channel audio and stereo, was released on DVD-Audio + CD (the latter being 2 minutes shorter).
Now, Giles Martin and Sam Okell (with support from Jeff Lynne and Steve Jay) have given the multi-channel high-resolution treatment to the 2000 compilation album '1', that contains all 27 US/UK number-one hits as full tracks.
The new reissues come in eight variants, some of which include a disc with all associated music videos, which have been carefully restored in 4K from the original 35mm films. The '1+' Deluxe editions come with a second video disc containing 23 additional videos, a 124-page hardcover book and special box set packaging. The CD contains new stereo mixes; the audio on the video discs is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS (HD on the BD).
The various editions will be available through Amazon. Below are the links for the US and UK releases. The new reissues are also going to be available in Japan but with an interesting twist: Instead of a regular CD they will contain an SHM-CD (Japan links for cdJapan).
Here's a visual overview of all the optical disc versions:
Classic pop albums on SACD 4.0 by Audio Fidelity
There haven't been any updates here for a while but that's not for lack of news. Those who follow @PS3SACD on Twitter will have noticed a number of postings and retweets about SACD reissues of pop/rock albums by Audio Fidelity, all of them in multichannel – most of them not in 5.1 but in 4.0 'Quad' Surround. Here are some of the highlights:
Simple Minds' Sparke in the Rain reissued in 5.1
Steven Wilson's latest remix project is Sparkle in the Rain, the Simple Minds album. He's remixed it in 5.1 and it's been released in more or less the same configurations as his previous project, Tears For Fears' Songs from the Big Chair. There is no SACD but there are several other high-res options, both for stereo and multichannel.
Two other Simple Minds albums, New Gold Dream and Once Upon a Time, respectively the album preceding and the one succeeding Sparkle in the Rain, have been issued on SACD but in stereo only. Both those albums have been issued on DVD-Audio as well, but these releases (stereo + multichannel!) are based on entirely different masterings.
The 30th anniversary superdeluxe edition collectors box set consists of 4 CDs and a DVD:
The other editions are:
Multichannel SACDs from Audio Fidelity for the first time
Audio Fidelity has been reissung great albums from just about any genre on SACD for a number of years. Until recently, those were stere only. Now AF finally seems to have discovered the wonderful possibilities of SACD and started to issue albums in 5.1 surround sound and, where 'quad' masters existed, in 4.0. Recently released and announced titles include the following:
The channel count is prominently on the cover of each of the new discs. For more details, check Audio Fidelity.
New brands launching universal SACD/BD players – Sharp and Arcam
Usually this time of the year – at least that how it went the last four years – there are lots of new SACD/BD players to report, following Sony's announcement of the new year's range at the annual CES show in Las Vegas, first week of January. The embattled company will launch just three new models, all of them low-prices 'no frills' players – no displays, and even 3D Blu-ray playback has been left out of the basic model, which is no doubt an artificial limitation for the sake of differentiation between the respective models but surely there are people who don't need that. The models are:
No SACD playback here, but Sony will continue to offer last year's 'top model', the BDP-S7200 (that one might call a no-frills SACD player).
Towards the end of 2015 we can expect Sony to introduce however an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player. That's the name given to the new standard – possibly the last consumer optical disc format we're going to see. It will offer discs of 2 or 3 layers with 33 GB capacity each, enabling 66-100 GB of storage space, which should be enough for a feature-length movie in 3840×2160 Ultra HD "4K" resolution, up to 60fps frame rate, with 10-bit color depth, a wider color gamut (up to Rec.2020 or BT.2020) and High Dynamic Range (HDR) of some flavor, possible Dolby Vision, encoded in H.265/HEVC, the successor to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. At CES, Panasonic was the only brand showing a prototype player. Sony, Samsung, LG, Philips and other brands will likely follow at IFA and CEDIA 2015, in September.
Two other AV brands however have recently joined the fray and introduced universal disc players. The first is Sharp – an early SACD supporter of SACD and DSD, that they typically referred to as '1-bit audio'. Both technologies feature in the new player, the SD-WH100U, with an intersting addition: WiSA or Wireless Speakers and Audio, a new standard that promises high-quality transmission of digital sound. Video of up to 1080p HD is transmitted with the WiHD protocol. Via the USB port it will handle PCM (24/96) and DSD of 2.8 or 5.6 MHz frequency.
The other brand to surprise us with its first more or less universal disc player is Arcam. The UDP411 supports at least Blu-ray 3D, DVD-Video, Super Audio CD and CD. DVD-Audio seems to have been left out (as with the Sharp). It uses a TI/Burr Brown PCM1794 DAC and a bespoke power supply, "with discreet sub-regulated power supplies on the drive, audio and DAC board." It supports with UPnP (Universal Plug-and-Play) and CIFS (Common Internet File System) to allow integration into home networks and easy access to stored content.
Arcam has two related produdcts: a simpler one – an SACD/CD player with the same DAC and networking technology: the CDS27...
... and one where the multi-format disc player is integrated with an AV receiver: the Solo Movie 'home cinema in a box' system. At the time of writing it's not yet listed on the company's website but What HiFi covered it.
In the area of dedicated DSD DACs there has been an overwhelming amount of product news in the past year, with many portable headphone amps now sporting asynchronous DACs that support not only high-res PCM but DSD64 (2.8 MHz), DSD128 (5.6 MHz) and sometimes even higher resolutions such as DXD. As it's uncertain when or whether undersigned will find the time to list them all here, in the meantime best check out the twitter feeds @DSD_Audio and @DXD_Audio.
Tears For Fears gets the multichannel treatment
Less then 5 months ago, UMG's Japanese branch reissues Tears For Fears' Songs from the Big Chair on SHM-SACD (available on import via Amazon but not part of UMG Japan's upcoming re-reissue program for November.) Now fans who may not have ordered that edition yet are faced with a dilemma, like with the recent Yes reissues: go with the high-resolution but stereo-only SACD or choose the multi-channel mix on a different format, though based on ones personal preferences and playback capabilities that might be easy to solve.
Anyway, after fans of (mostly seventies) Progressive Rock have been treated royally in recent years by a long string of 5.1 remixes by Steven Wilson, now fans of decent eighties pop/rock get a chance to enjoy what he can do with multi-track originals: He's remixed Tears For Fears' second album, and it'll be coming out on DVD-Audio and 'High-Fidelity Pure Audio' Blu-ray Disc (HFPA BD) next month. Steven Wilson writes the following about his latest work (apparently his first for Universal Music Group):
The album reissue will be available on various formats in the following five configurations:
The 2-disc Deluxe edition consists of two CDs (the main CD and the 'edits') so if you're mainly after the 5.1 mix you have to go either with the 6-disc box set which includes the DVD-Audio (it's particularly attracticely priced at Amazon UK: £37.99) or with the Blu-ray Disc, which will be available as a stand-alone product (as isn't even included in the Superdeluxe Edition), at least in some European markets: Germany and France. This Deluxe edition should not be confused with the 2006 2-CD Deluxe edition, which you can rcognize by its familiar semi-transparent outer sleeve used on many other Universal deluxe editions:
Neil Wilkes, who did the authoring of the DVD-Audio, DVD-Video and the HFPA Blu-ray Disc, adds the following:
The HFPA contains Steven's excellent stereo & 5.1 mixes. Stereo is 24/96 LPCM, 5.1 is defaulted to DTS-HD but does have an LPCM stream as well.
Streams are switchable on the fly using the coloured buttons on the remote and the disc will run completely headlessly (defaults to 2014 mixes) as the bonus stream - the Original Mix - can be accessed from the remote too as well as the individual tracks from the remote numbers, just like regular CD.
I have no knowledge of release date on the standalone HFPA but can assure you that there are 3 mixes included.
Video presentation is what it is, so before anybody complains that a couple of the films are smaller than they might be, please remember these were letterboxed in a 4:3 frame & there is sod all I can do about it unless budgets start to run to printing a film from U-matic tape sources (AKA "Pro VHS" if that's not an oxymoron) and then scanning in that negative then blowing up digitally would be the only option & that would look substantially worse, believe me. Most are in 4:3 full frame and will be pillarboxed on a 16:9 display so the "Danny DeVito Effect" is not possible. Audio content is 24/48 LPCM for these films.
Also included are a stack of BBC-TV appearances too - mainly TOTP but also a couple from the old "Wogan" show (trivia guide - the old BBC theatre, where that show was filmed, is now the Shepherds Bush Empire) and these are in 16/48 as we had run out of space on the DVD by this time and 24-bit did not fit.
According to Amazon, release dates of the various editions vary between November 3 and November 11 – nicely in time for this year's holiday season...
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