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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.
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...
100 SHM-SACDs reissues reissued
Yes, these albums may be decades old and have been reissued very recently on SHM-SACD but since they're limited edition, many of them were already out-of-print and unavailable again, so due to popular demand UMG Japan reissues them once more. Here are 100 titles, to be rereleased November 26 this year at a price of ¥3,500.
Soul (CD Japan lists it as 'Dance')
Free SHM-SACD in August + more U.K. SHM-SACDs in September, and another Steely Dan
In July, UMG Japan issued some Free SHM-SACDs and in August another one followed. No, you will need to pay for them (¥ 4,286 each) but if you like Free music this'll be good news. If you like U.K. – another U.K. band (actually a progresive rock supergroup) – you'll be pleased to see three of their albums including their self-titled debut album released on SHM-SACD. And then there's another Steely Dan album finally out on (SHM) SACD for the first time.
Here are last month's and this month's releases:
August 27, 2014
September 24, 2014
It looks like there will be no new SHM-SACDs in October but in November UMG Japan will reissue 100 earlier, out-of-print SHM-SACDs. Yes, reissues of reissues if you will, but great news for collectors. A complete list will follow on this page in the coming days. In the meantie you can take a look here.
At the same time, CD Japan runs a special promotion offering 10% extra points on all SHM-SACDs. There are also promotion on regular SHM-CDs and on Blu-Spec CDs. Check the website for more details.
SHM-SACDs due in June and July
UMG has announced a new range of pop/rock SHM-SACDs for this month and next month.
Due June 25:
Due July 30:
Then there is a set of classical SHM-SACDs, all six of them with works by Richard Strauss performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker. For some odd reason these albums are priced ¥4300 instead of the usual ¥4286. Whence the 14-yen difference? Release date June 25.
SHM-SACDs for the month of May
It's great to see that Universal Music Japan is releasing pop/rock SHM-SACDs on a monthly basis again. For the 28th of this month, they've announced these titles:
All come in Cardboard Sleeve 'mini LP' (Limited edition release). Price: ¥4286 (¥4629 incl. tax in Japan).
Amused to Death in Surround
It's been well over a year since the reiusse of Roger Waters' album Amused to Death on SACD was announced by Analogue Productions, and we still need to wait until September 23, 2014, but great news has surfaced in the meantime: the album will be released on hybrid multichannel SACD. Acoustic Sounds writes: "Amused to Death was mixed by Pink Floyd's producer/engineer James Guthrie, and now, using those same analog tapes, he's mastering the album for multichannel SACD."
The album can be pre-ordered here.
Pop/rock SHM-SACDs for April
Not a large batch of 'new' albums slated for reissue on SHM-SACD in April but for sure of great interest to some, because they include five artists who have had few or no albums on SACD so far, including some seventies Prog Rock – a genre that so far has been better represented on DVD-Audio.
Summary: all these titles are stereo-only non-hybrid SHM-SACDs and limited edition releases in 'mini LP' carton sleeves, released by UMG Japan, priced ¥4,286 and scheduled for April 23rd.
More HFPA Blu-rays
Universal Music Group is continuing to reissue back catalog albums in all genres on High-Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray Disc. Here's an update of newly released titles (since late October) including some that were announced but not yet listed back then:
All of these can be found here.
In the meantime, Universal Music France has released quite a few more HFPA BDs, mostly by the same artists as the earlier titles: Johnny Hallyday, Jacques Brel, Noir Désir, Zazie, Eddy Mitchell, Alain Bashung. One new artist: Vanessa Paradis. These French releases can be found here.
New batch of SHM-SACD pop titles in March
Asia - Alpha (SHM-CD pictured)
All are scheduled for March 26, 2013, priced 4286 Yen, designated as "Limited Release" and reissuesd in "mini LP" cardboard sleeve. And the fact they're SHM-SACDs means they're single-layer stereo-only SACDs.
CES 2014: Continued SACD support in Sony BDP range
For the fifth year in a row, Sony uses the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to launch a range of Blu-ray Disc players to support Super Audio CD. Also, Sony Europe announced this year's line-up of BD players and Home Cinema Systems. The 2014 range looks as follows:
It appears Sony Electronics North America has not announced any new Home Theater System products for 2014, at least not in the sense of Blu-ray Disc players integrated with AV receivers and bundled with multi-channel speaker packages – only some wireless (2.1ch) audio products.
Sony BDP-S6200 SACD/DVD/BD player
For the Home Theatre Systems, not all specs are clear in detail. Disc playback is not specified here. They do support high-resolution audio of up to 192kHz/24-bit in a range of formats including WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC (Apple Lossless), Linear PCM, MP3, WMA and AAC-LC2. They also feature new surround modes such as Cinema Studio 9.1ch. No mention of DSD support here however. That's limited to Sony's High-Resolution Audio products, already announced at IFA and CEDIA 2013.
Hardly a range of SACD players then, but continued SACD support.
The BDP-Sx200 models are the successors to the 2013 BDP-Sx100 series. You can find previous ranges here:
Top 20 bestsellers of 2013
A very different looking chart of best-selling titles at PS3SACD.com this year. Ok, the number one is the same but a lot of new titles have entered the top 20, especially albums by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
All are SACDs except where noted. No more Dark Side of the Moon? Sold out? Or does everybody own a copy by now of what is probably the best-selling SACD of all time? Not quite yet – it landed on #21 in 2013.
The hardware top 5 looks as follows:
The Sony models all play SACD; the Panasonic one plays DVD-Audio; the Oppo model supports both.
SACD-compatible, of course.
BD-Audio catalog grows, but not quite like SACD
2013 has finally seen a serious effort to establish Blu-ray Disc as an audio-only effort. Some 40-odd titles have been released, multiplying the total catalog that so far consisted of literally just a handful of titles. Although there appears to be no central source keeping track of the exact BD-A numbers it's quite clear the number of releases per year as well as the total catalog size are still far outstripped by SACD's: Despite a minor decline compared to 2012, with 692 new titles in 2013 the SACD catalog has grown to over 9,000 titles.
As new options for distribution of high-quality become available in the form of BD-Audio, high-resolution PCM, FLAC and DSD downloads become available, SACD steadily marches on.
Numbers: credit sa-cd.net
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 for PS4
As reported below, PlayStation 4 has been designed from the start to deliver Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. This in contrast to PlayStation 3, which only obtained these features in its fourth hardware iteration in 2009, with the launch of PS3 Slim. These features were never added to the earlier PS3 models in a firmware upgrade because the constraint was in the HDMI chips used. PS4's HDMI chips may also have limitations that we'll learn about in the future (already it seems HDMI 2.0 with full 1080p 3D isn't supported) but for audio there seems to be less reason to worry. Already it's announced that now PS4 is launched, it will not 'just' have DTS-HD Master Audio but the 7.1-channel version of it, and it'll be the first product to support this. The logo on the consoles coming out of the factory already show the alternate logo, with the HD letters skewed and "7.1" added.
Probably the standard offers flexibility to handle any of the above.
It's nice to see that while PS4 has little or no true audiophile aspirations like PS3 originally did, high-quality multichannel sound does apparently play an important role.
PlayStation 4: No audio support?
For many, 2013 will be the year of (the run-up to) PlayStation 4 launch. On January 31, SCEI announced an event for February 20, titled 'PlayStation 2013' where, like expected, PS4 was officially announced. The design was not yet revealed at that event – that only happened June 10.
In the days following, more detailed, high-resolution images of the console surfaced, which seemed to confirm our expectations PS4 (essentially based on a PC architecture) would not support Super Audio CD. Unsurprising, as Sony must have realized early on during the lifetime of PS3 that the overlap between gamers and audiophiles is probably rather narrow.
DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby True HD are supported from launch (as opposed to PS3, which only introduced output of these streaming formats via HDMI with the fourth-generation console design, the PS3 Slim, in 2009). Sony hasn't bothered to include DVD and CD logos.
Now, with the publication of the official 'PlayStation 4 Ultimate FAQ', it occurs that PS4 does not support plain Red Book Audio CD playback. For DVD-Video and even Blu-ray Disc playback, apparently an upgrade to launch firmware v1.50 is needed. PAL territories can contact SCEE Consumer Services to request a Blu-ray activation disc by mail. Other reports indicate that also MP3, Blu-ray 3D and DLNA support are lacking, even in FW1.50. The HDD capacity should not exceed 160 GB.
This is in stark contrast with previous Sony consoles, which have always been position as omni-potent true multi-media players. This started with PlayStation 1, which has often been hailed as a very capable Audio CD player; then was expanded with PlayStation 2, which featured DVD-Video playback from launch. PlayStation 3 has raised the bar way further with support for SACD (initially), Blu-ray Disc and a wide range of online video services.
It's unlikely then that SCEI will have thought of DSD support, in spite of Sony's recent Hi-Res Audio initiative. More about that and the DSD products Sony's announced within that in a separate article soon.
For now: No CD-DA, SACD, DSD, MP3, 3D BD or DLNA on PS4.
Update: President of Sony's Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida has announced that they (the system people in Japan, that is) are working on CD and MP3 support for PS4, and that the omission was not some ploy for forcing people to use the Music Unlimited streaming service. He did not announce when the features would become available and did not mention DLNA.
UMG resumes pop/rock reissues on SHM-SACD
After the good news that UMG Japan resumed the release of SHM-SACD titles this fall, even greater news comes in the form of new pop/rock albums. Normally, they'd be released the last Wednesday of the month but because inb December this year that's on Christmas day, we get the following titles on December 18, all of them in 'Mini LP' cardboard sleeves:
They are available at ¥ 4,286 through CD Japan.
SHM-SACD program continued, apparently
A few months ago it seemed Universal Music Japan has stopped issuing SHM-SACD discs altogether. No new titles had been announced since December. Fortunately, it seems the hiatus was only temporary: for October and November, ten new titles have been announced – not classical this time, but all jazz.
October 23, 2013:
November 27, 2013:
To celebrate the occasion, CD Japan is offering a special bonus points promotion on SHM-SACDs (and SHM-CDs) starting this month and running until January 31, 2014.
More and more DSD download services
Now we have:
Plus various individual recordings listed on this page which lately has become a lot harder to maintain for very positive reasons.
Universal Music launches High-Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray Disc program
Universal Music Group (UMG), after doing initial market testing in France, now launches High Fidelity Pure Audio (HFPA), a roster of albums reissued on Pure Audio Blu-Ray – presumably, though none of the articles refer to this, with the Pure Audio Blu-ray format of msm Studios reported about on various previous occasions. UMG does specifically mention there is no video on these discs. Let's hope they adopted the technique that lets you play and navigate such discs without having to use the screen.
All discs will contain audio in PCM, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. Minimum sampling rate and frequency is 24-bit 96 kHz. 192 kHz appears to be optional. At least the BD format supports that. It's not entirely clear what the position of multichannel audio is but also that seems to be an option, though not a mandatory track.
All of this means HFPA discs are no or not much better than DVD-Audio, but the new format has the benefit of a huge installed base of compatible hardware, namely all Blu-ray Disc players, of course including all PlayStation 3 consoles. That's a far larger base than SACD or DVD-Audio ever could achieve.
What's also not entirely clear is what other record labels besides Universal Music Group participate in the HFPA Group – or how. What HiFi mentions backing from Warner Music Group, Bose, Bang & Olufsen, Dolby, DTS but all except UMG and WMG are hardware or technology licensing companies. DTS could reissue many multichannel albums but their only involvement thus far is use of their audio codec and Warner's contribution seems non-existent.
The initial release slate contains some three dozen titles, a mixture of pop/rock, jazz/blues and classical, some of which have been issued on SACD before – notably Verver artists such as Diana Krall, John Coltrane and Stan Getz, whose collaboration with João Gilberto has already seen four (!) SACD issues – some on DVD-Audio while quite a few others appear to be entirely new, such as Ascenseur pour l'échafaud that we've been asking for since years.
A statement on the HFPA Facebook page explains a sort of 'digital copy' concept:
To confirm, every High Fidelity Pure Audio product will contain a download code which will enable you to one-time-download an MP3 version of the album you purchased. That way you can enjoy the Blu-ray version with your home equipment, but also not lose out on the portability of having an MP3 album. This is available in Europe, Asia, Australia/NZ, Africa and South America.
Why everywhere but North America? Rights issues probably, but how come the record company that holds all these IP rights cannot sort this out? Or are HFPA discs actually not available in the US? The CE Daily article stated so (in addition to UK, France, Germany and Japan) but no mention is made on UMG's US site and almost no titles can be found on Amazon.com. The fact that the lauch took place at Dolby EMEA's office at Soho Square in London may be significant. There is a UK store and you can find a handful of titles on Amazon.co.uk plus many more on Amazon France. What doesn't help is that there is no clear category or tag used to search for. CD Japan also lists a number of titles.
UMG's UK webstore lists a couple of additional titles not yet found on Amazon:
Listed elsewhere is a new reissue of Queen's A Night at the Opera.
Of course, with physical media sales declining since many years and SACD and DVD-Audio having remained niche formars the new carrier has no shortage of skeptics, judging by coverage by Engadget, Forbes and TNT-Audio. Considering the wavering support for earlier premium audio formats by UMG as well as other record labels our recommendation is: Grab 'em while you can. This effort may be over before you know it.
MSM Studios in the meantime does list a fair number of new Pure Audio Blu-ray titles, including many by Norwegian label 2L (for instance Hommage a Grieg vol 3 and Fartein Valen String Quartets), plus another album for Hong Kong artist Hok-E (Bondy Chiu): Chanteur.
Complete Yes on SACD, and CttE in 5.1
After Yes' albums Close to the Edge and Going for the One became available on SACD earlier this year, now all 13 studio albums of Yes are issued on stereo SACD – in Japan. The albums are not sold separately but as a box set titled High Vibration. The set includes a bonus disc with remixes and alternate takes.
If you care more for multichannel than (high-resolution) stereo, you may be more interested in the 5.1 remix/remaster of Close to the Edge. It's not out on SACD but on DVD-Audio and Blu-ray Disc, both bundled with a CD. The remastering and remixing was done by Steven Wilson, like so many other Prog Rock reissues, also including XTC's Nonsuch, again on CD+DVDA and CD+BD. Of course, the Blu-ray Discs will play on PS3.
UMG offers crowdfunding service... for vinyl
Several sources including Billboard, Spin and Mashable that Universal Music Group is setting up Uvinyl, a "crowd-funded vinyl service" that will release limited-edition records of old, 'deleted' albums if there's enough demand. The Vinyl Project will re-press deleted and rare records into vinyl, and release them with digital downloads and personalized art prints.
If all this is feasible, could Universal please catch up with the times and offer such a service for SACD?
On a different note, another vinyl-related fun development is the possibility to create records using 3D printing. As this article explains, the result is truly low-fidelity, equating to a sampling rate of about 11 kHz and a resolution of 5-6 bits. That is probably not overestimated.
New Universal Players by Cambridge Audio and Pioneer
Cambridge Audio has announced a successor to its 2011 model 751BD: the Azur 752BD. It's equipped with five 24-bit/192kHz Wolfson audio DACs. Their third-generation Universal BD Player is available here.
All SACD-compatible BD players and home theater systems will be included in our overview shortly.
Rush and Vangelis reissues on SACD
A fair number of progessive rock albums have been remixed and remastered in 5.1 lately, mostly thanks to Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame, and all of them have been released on DVD-Audio, including Rush's Moving Pictures and 2112. It comes as quite a surprise then that, a few years after earlier plans had been abandoned, we're getting a Rush reissue on SACD. It's not in multichannel, but Kevin Gray of Cohearent Audio has remastered Hemispheres and Counterparts for Audio Fidelity.
Other AF reissues include Touch by Sarah McLachlan, America's eponymous album, Welcome to the Club by Nat King Cole, King Creole by Elvis Presley, Calypso by Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol.II, Pickin' up the pieces by Poco.
DSD playback with Oppo Universal Players
Oppo Digital, whose Universal Blu-ray/DVD/SACD/CD players we've covered many times here, has now made DSD playback a lot more affordable, at least to owners of their latest generation of universal disc players – types BDP-103 and BDP-105.
The company has issued a Public Beta Test Release Firmware that adds support for AIFF, exFAT USB drives and, most importantly, DSD of both DFF and DSF flavors. Not only stereo but also multichannel DSD is supported. Kal Rubinson has all the details here.
DSD downloads from Opus 3 and M∙A
Swedish audiophile record label Opus 3, known from many (mostly classical and jazz) SACDs dating back to the earliest days of the format, has opened up a DSD download store, DSDfile. Some of the titles are available in standard DSD64 (2.8MHz) as well as DSD128 (5.6 MHz).
Meanwhile, audiophile record label from neighboring Norway 2L and M.A Recordings have made their high-resolution music available through Japan's e-onkyo music service. Again, some of it in double-rate DSD.
Note that besides plain vanilla 64fs DSD and 128fs DSD studios now also have the option to work with 256fs DSD (11.2 MHz) or 'Quad DSD' thanks to Merging Technologies' new Horus Digital Audio Workstation.
Roger Waters' Amused to Death on SACD
The reissue, cut from the master tapes, will be overseen by engineer James Guthrie who was there for the original release. The Q Sound spatial enhancement effects are on the master tape so get ready for stuff appearing in the mix at your next door neighbor's house.
That's despite this SACD likely being stereo only.
SHM-SACD program ended, apparently
A few months after they stopped issuing pop/rock SHM-SACDs, it appears Universal Music Japan has stopped issuing discs in the audiophile format altogether. No new titles have been announced for January or February. Remarkable, as you'de think with such high prices and relatively modest production and replication cost (no multichannel mixing and mastering, no hybrid disc) margins must have been great.
Sony SACD/BD range 2013
At CES 2013, Sony has revealed its fourth consecutive range of SACD-compatible Blu-ray Disc players. This time, not quite all models got equipped with SACD support – only the higher-end models did. Here's an overview of the new BD players and home theater systems. The BDP-Sx100 models are the successors to the 2012 BDP-Sx90 series and the BDP-Sx80 and BDP-Sx70 before that.
Sony BDP-S5100 SACD/DVD/BD player
Sony BDV-9100W SACD/DVD/BD Home Theater System
Similarly, home cinema systems (in this case BD players with integrated AV receivers and typically bundled with surround sound speaker packages) BDV-N9100W and BDV-N7100W will properly play SACDs while BDV-E6100, BDV-E4100, BDV-E3100, BDV-E2100 and BDV-EF1100 will not. Note that most of these systems are not released in North America and that availability in Europe may vary from country to country.
We'll update our overview of SACD-compatible BD players with the 'BDP-Sx100' models shortly.
Top 20 bestsellers of 2012
Better late than never, here are the music discs that shifted most copies through this site in the past year. Sincere thanks to all visitors who've purchased stuff this way. The number 1 album has changed compared to 2011 but the band hasn't:
The best-selling SACD players, universal and otherwise, were these:
All of these play BD. The Oppo and Pioneer are universal (also play DVD-Audio), the Sonys lack this format. Runner-up was a universal DVD player: Pioneer DV-610.
The best-selling AV Receiver here was the Onkyo TX-NR509 5.1 Channel Network A/V Receiver.
Natually, all games consoles sold were PS3s. In order of popularity they were:
Note that the Super Slim models do not play SACD.
For a visual overview of 2012, click here.
SACD release rate stable in 2012
No further uptick this past year (like the two years before) but the number of SACD titles released in 2012 – 740 – is pretty much in line with the annual average across the past nine years: 728.
Numbers are based on the database of sa-cd.net. In the course of 2012 the site switched from a system entirely run by the admin to one where users need to submit all details for new entries but this does not seem to have affected the numbers. A positive sign: in the past month, December, the number of new entries reached an all-time high: 146.
If SACD releases continue at the current rate, by the end of next year the total catalog will approach 10,000 titles.
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