Philips SACD 1000 SACD/DVD Player
A friend of mine came up to me a few weeks ago and made the following announcement. " Dan, do you want to borrow my SACD 1000 player with a bunch of SACD hybrid discs for a week?" Talk about an offer you can't refuse.
I sat back and did some casual listening using the SACD discs and selected the red book CD output on the Phillips SACD 1000. This allowed me to playback the red book CD layer of the SACD. It sounded like the typical one bit consumer player (which the unit is not) that I have learned to detest over the years. Not enough dynamic range to suit my tastes. I then switched to SACD playback and said to myself, now we are getting somewhere; this has more of the dynamics I am used to and definitely prefer.
At this point it was time to do some serious listening. I tried some of the hybrid SACD's in my transport and none of them would play. I guess the modified Pioneer unit that I use is not among the 600 million units that can play a hybrid SACD. However, of the hybrid SACD discs I was given, three of these I also had on regular CD. A quick check found that the output of the Phillips SACD 1000 is at 2 V rms at 0 db full scale, and my DAC is also 2 V rms at 0 db full scale. The outputs of both players were connected to my pre amp so all I had to do was throw a selector switch for comparison.
I started with the Patricia Barber release, Modern Cool . Switching back and forth comparing one song at a time I found them to be very similar; and many times I could not reliably tell them apart. I got the same results for the Telarc release of McCoy Tyner with Al Foster, and Stanley Clarke. I then started to compare the SACD version of the Weather Report release Heavy Weather . The SACD version appears to have been remixed and remastered. This version was definitely better than my old reissue on CD. The engineers responsible did an excellent job. Things like this make die hard jazz fusion junkies like myself scream: " The least you could do was put this out on a CD that I could play in my unit."
The test was repeated the next day and I did observe a small but perceptible broadband noise in the SACD playback that is not there on my red book playback. (I have a very low noise system and a pretty dead room; this may not be audible on many systems) At this time I was out of comparisons so I sat back and enjoyed some of the other SACD's given me. The recording of Ivan Fischer presents The Budapest Festival Orchestra, a live DSD multi channel recording was simply superb and the musicianship was excellent. We music lovers need more recordings like this!!!
I then took a look inside the SACD 1000. I was pleasantly surprised to see a well thought out board layout for the DAC's and analog filters. Massive ground plane, shielded circuitry, and a common sense board layout; these are engineering techniques for good overall performance. The real cost of this only amounts to a little more time in engineering. Mass producing this section should not be an issue. It's great to see major players in this market realizing that this is what it takes to effectively enhance performance. I did notice that the unit uses a Crystal Semiconductor CS 4397 DAC/Digital Filter/8X interpolator chip. I opened up the spec sheet on the web and noticed that the output of this DAC is a multi-bit switched capacitor DAC. I have observed the same DAC used in Linear PCM DAC's that offer higher over sampling rates than red book CD.
I am impressed at the audio performance here, to come this close to a reasonably well
designed 16 bit 44.1 kHz is impressive for a player at this price point. That it is capable of
multi-channel audio high resolution audio is even more impressive. When one considers that the SACD 1000
does DVD video, (MPEG 2) Dolby, DTS, and VCD (MPEG1) this gets even more impressive at the $2,000 retail
price. This player has recently been discontinued by Philips, but there are some retailers closing it out
for around $400 or less, making it a steal for audiophiles who also occasionally enjoy watching DVD. If
this is what is in store for us in multi-channel high resolution audio than the future is looking very
Special thanks to Dan Banquer from R.E. Designs for this article.
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