Definition

Super Audio CD (SACD)

Super Audio Compact Disk (SACD) is a high-resolution audio CD format. Version 1.0 specifications were described by Philips and Sony in March of 1999, in the Scarlet Book. SACD and DVD-Audio (DVD-A) are the two formats competing to replace the standard audio CD. Most of the industry is backing DVD-A, with Philips and Sony being the major exceptions.

Like SACD, DVD-A offers 5.1 channel surround sound in addition to 2-channel stereo. Both formats improve the complexity of sound by increasing the bit rate and the sample rate, and can be played on existing CD players, although only at quality levels similar to those of traditional CDs. SACD uses Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recording, a proprietary Sony technology that converts an analog waveform to a 1-bit signal for direct recording, instead of the pulse code modulation (PCM) and filtering used by standard CDs. DSD uses lossless compression (so-called because none of the data is lost in the compression process) and a sampling rate of 2.8MHz to improve the complexity and realism of sound. SACD can also contain extra information, such as text, graphics, and video clips.

The first SACD player was released in North America in December of 1999, with an $8000 price tag. In late 2000, Sony released a new model, priced at $1000.

This was first published in September 2005

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