Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) Players and Discs

Two optical discs
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

What is a Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD)?

SACD is an optical disc format aimed at high-performance audio playback. SACD was developed by Sony and Philips, the same companies that introduced the CD. SACD players and discs are based on DSD (Direct Stream Digital) processing, a 1-bit format with a sampling rate of 2.8224MHz, 64 times the rate of a standard compact disc. A compact disc is recorded with 16-bits of resolution at a sampling rate of 44.1kHz.

The higher sampling rate results in wider frequency response and audio reproduction with more detail. SACD discs have no video content, only audio.

Types of SACD Discs

There are three types of Super Audio Compact Discs: Hybrid, Dual-Layer and Single Layer

  • Hybrid discs have two layers, a higher performance layer that can play only on SACD equipped players and a CD layer that will play on standard CD players. Additionally, some Hybrid SACD discs have both a 5.1 channel surround track and a stereo track. The multichannel track can only be played on multichannel SACD players.
  • Single layer SACD discs will play only on SACD equipped players and not on CD players
  • Dual Layer discs store twice as much music as a single layer disc but will not play on CD players and are not as common.

Advantages of SACD

Even a modest stereo system can benefit from the increased clarity and fidelity of SACD discs. The higher sampling rate (2.8224MHz) contributes to extended frequency response and SACD discs are capable of greater dynamic range playback and detail.

Since many SACD discs are Hybrid types, they will play on SACD and standard CD players, so they can be enjoyed on a home audio and a car audio or portable system as well. They cost slightly more than regular CDs but many think their increased sound quality is worth the higher cost.

SACD Players and Connections

Some SACD players require an analog connection (either 2 channel or 5.1 channel) to a receiver to play the higher quality SACD layer because of copy protection issues.

The CD layer can be played via a coaxial or optical digital connection. Some newer SACD players permit a single digital connection (sometimes called iLink) between the player and the receiver, which eliminates the need for the analog connections.

Was this page helpful?