Monday, April 20, 2009

Super Audio CD

You may not have heard of Super Audio CDs (SACD) before, which is understandable since it was a high definition format that was never able to really take flight due to the release of the DVD. SACDs require different players than a regular CD player, but the technology has been integrated into a few DVD players.

I recently tested my first SACD and was rather impressed with the quality and the much richer experience of a multichannel mix on my 5.1 surround sound home theater. It has a much wider and expansive feel than a regular stereo CD mix and I'm sure it was more fun for the mixers to put together. It is almost a shame that the SACD never grew in the marketplace, but we do have DVD-Audio discs that are much more common with a similar higher quality compared to CDs. My next step will actually be testing one of these out. It may be interesting to see if there is any (perceivable) difference between a DVD-Audio disc and an SACD.

Even though the format never made it mainstream, SACDs continue to be made, primarily for classical or instrumental albums. There is an excellent site for browsing and searching albums available in SACD at

Friday, April 17, 2009

HD Home Videos with Surround Sound

It looks like Sony is focusing its efforts on camcorders that record directly to the internal hard drive rather than to tape. A recent camera (the HDR-XR500V) records in HD quality with Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator. This is an impressive surround sound feature that helps match HD video with a much better quality and realistic surround sound experience. The microphone zooms as the picture zooms and sounds from other directions are captured in a way that the listener can recognize where those sounds were coming from at the time of recording. The tests that I've heard using such cameras have been a much more enjoyable listening experience than having all the audio coming out of the center channel.

In addition to the stunning video and surround sound, this also has a 12-mexapixel still camera using the same lens. Since the camera is small (especially considering its capabilities) it can be the only camera you carry, useful for both video and still shots.

Sony HDR-XR500V