Sunday, November 1, 2009

Where to get SACDs

One might be forgiven for thinking the industry has given up on SACD despite, to my ears, their sonic improvements over standard red book in most, but definitely not all, cases. But it's frustrating to me, as purchaser of SACDs where appropriate, that Amazon does not even list the SACD as an available format even when they carry one for the very album you are seeking. I recently picked up a regular CD of the the Wes Montgomery Trio's "A Dynamic New Sound" ( a fine album, by the way) and was frustrated to learn only after I'd received it that they also carried an SACD version for only $4 more. You would never know from their listing of the album, you have to search specifically for an SACD version to find it. I battled further with their site to find a contact address to inform them of my disappointment with their search structure and a little while later I received a polite reply telling me they would pass this comment along. Of course, if you wanted to download an MP3 version, you'd get a pointer directly on the listing.

In my more paranoid moments I think this is all part of the general plan to dissuade anyone form buying a physical disk again. I now have a small knife as part of my personal toolbox for my audio set up, purely to cut open the wrapping on most CDs. Does this really help deter theft? I cannot imagine such wrapping is really cost effective but it sure as hell annoys me everytime I receive a new CD. And to add insult to injury, I still find 1 in 10 delivered CDs from Amazon come with a split plastic case. You can let Amazon know about this problem but they hide the link deep within their site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Opening CD packaging is a royal PITA.
I have lived in other countries and CD packaging is often better. The non-jewel box SACD/CD sleeve packaging is far superior as an example. Agree - jewel cases are easily damaged in shipping. I buy extra jewel case in bulk and replace the cracked/broken ones. Amazon definitely should differentiate whether a disc is a SACD or CD, and it really does make one wonder why Amazon does not correct this deficiency given their professionalism in most other areas of inventory, ordering, sales, and shipping. There are actually quite a few fine labels selling SACD's. For SACD's (and CD's) I really like Linn and PentaTone. Telarc was once admired by audiophiles, but it is all but gone now. Of course SACD is certainly no guarantee of superior audio quality. Many SACD's are bested by non-SACD's. Look no further than the K2 HD discs released by First Impression Music. I have more than a few CD titles that I prefer over their SACD counterparts. The smart audiophile will compare before purchasing SACD's whenever possible, especially in light of the fact that multichannel and stereo two-channel systems present differing staging and different sonic characters depending on the specific SACD disc. The line separating multiplex theater sound from two-channel audiophile sound has been forever altered by the merging of at-home A/V systems and the typical consumer belief that more (speakers/bass) must be better. I believe there are authentic visceral sound experiences and exaggerated ones, and the latter is winning more converts in home audio.