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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.
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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