Eton John SACD vs. DVD-Audio


Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 18
Registered: Nov-04
I'm just getting into this hi-res audio since I got my Pioneer DV578a player. The first disc I bought was Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" since it won an SACD award and I'm an Elton fan. But I bought the Audio-DVD version of it rather than the SACD because, to my understanding, it sounds as if, in theory, the format should be able to produce a less distorted signal than SACD.

I was really impressed with the release... until I got Elton's "Honky Cheatau" on SACD. It sounds much more natural, clear, and beefy. The piano sounds awesome. I popped in the "Yellow Brick" disc again to see if the difference was just my imagination, but it wasn't at all.

Now, my guess is it's the source material. But "Yellow" was recorded two albums after "Cheatau," and they both were recorded in the same studio. So that seems odd.

It also could be my player. I don't know if there's any significance to this, but for the DVD-Audio disc, I have to crank up the LFE channel 12db, but for SACD, it's only 7db. Again, it could be differences in the source material. But they both were engineered by the same guy.

Since "Yellow" has been released in both formats, it's actually a very good disc to compare the relative quality of both formats. I'm almost tempted to buy an SACD of "Yellow," but it's not a cheap title. :-)

Has anyone on here actually made such a comparison on a title that is available in both formats? Any thoughts?

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 2662
Registered: Dec-03
That's interesting, Sandman. Thanks. Not many people have reported on a comparison of SACD vs DVD-A for sound quality. Maybe you could just borrow the same album in the format you do not have, to compare?

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 20
Registered: Nov-04
I think I'll pull out the CDs of the albums tonight and see if maybe they just sound really different from each other.

Bronze Member
Username: Culp4684

Post Number: 91
Registered: Aug-04

I've been very tempted to do the same thing with my Diana Krall collection. Someone here once posted a link on a audio test done on her album "The Look of Love". I believe the measurements favored the SACD version over the DVD-A.

Like you, I have better things to do with my money than to purchase the same title in both formats!

What I find interesting is that both Elton John and Diana Krall are now releasing titles strictly in SACD. It's almost like we have another VHS vs. beta war here with SACD slowly becoming the winner...

John A.-

I would love to borrow a title from a friend to compare differences. Trouble is, these are such niche formats that nearly none of mine know what SACD or DVD-A are!

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 22
Registered: Nov-04
>I would love to borrow a title from a friend to
> compare differences. Trouble is, these are such
> niche formats that nearly none of mine know
> what SACD or DVD-A are!


I still haven't done the comparison of the CDs. I'll probably post some more findings next week.

(Last night, it seemed like the difference in the LFE levels between the two titles and their two formats was more comperable, contrary to my earlier observations... which makes me wonder if I'm taking drugs or something.)

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 23
Registered: Nov-04
> What I find interesting is that both Elton John
> and Diana Krall are now releasing titles
> strictly in SACD. It's almost like we have
> another VHS vs. beta war here with SACD slowly
> becoming the winner...

I think we do. There's a lot of promotion behind the new SACD Elton releases. There's probably strings attached. But after hearing Honky Cheteau on SACD, I'm not bothered to buy the other albums on SACD. It sounded great to MY ears!

John in Md
Unregistered guest
I have Elton John "Yellow brick road" on SACD and it is the best thing Ive ever herd. Benny and the jets Is awesome. I have various discs in dvd-a and SACD and Yellow Brick Road is the by far the best!

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 24
Registered: Nov-04
John, can you come over to my house and we can compare it to the DVD-Adio vesion? 8)

That tempts me to buy the SACD. It's such a good album, I hate to be missing out on something. (...I guess I could sell the extra one on e-bay.)

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 25
Registered: Nov-04
Well, I gave in to the temptation and bought the SACD version of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Guess what? It sounds different than the DVD-Audio version!

It's hard to describe the difference, but it definitely exists. (I assume the source recording on these discs was the same.)

The only think I can think of is to say the SACD sounds "silky." The music just sounds "smoother." (I think this is the quality I was noticing in the Honky Chateau SACD.)

For example, on the SACD, the piano at the beginning of "Danny Baily" sounds like a really fine, smooth sounding piano. On the DVD-Audio, it sounds more like a regular piano; but it's also more "ballsy," like the midrange and low end are fuller.

The song "Jamacia Jerkoff" is MUCH better on the DVD-Audio version. It rocks the house with very distinct, punchy bass. On the SACD version, the bass seems much less distinct and blends more in with the other instruments in a less desirable, less impactful way.

Overall, the DVD-Audio sounds a lot rougher edged, which, for a rock record such as this, makes the songs rock harder. (The difference is similar to the difference we heard when we went from LP's to CD's way back when, the LP's having a more full, punchy sound, the CD's having a "sweeter" high end.)

Subjectively, it seems like SACD is probably more pleasing for recordings with a lot of strings. But for music with an edge, DVD-Audio might be a better choice.

But really, the RIGHT question to be asking is, which format is truer to the original source tape? You'd alsomst have to be the mixing engineer to know. (This reminds me that no system exists that doesn't "color" the sound.)

Is there something intrensic in the technology for encoding SACD's that tends to round the edges off of rough waveforms? Or is what I'm hearing all that ultra high frequency SACD noise? (I doubt it.) Is there something about DVD-Audio that roughens the waveforms?

Of course, another thing to consider is whether my player actually has equally good digital-to-analog converters for both formats. (I have a Pioneer DV-578A.)

Just for reference, I'm listening with Boston Acustics VR950 speakers, a good BA center speaker, so-so quality BA rear speakers, a good 100w/channel Yamaha receiver, and a couple of floor-firing 15" speakers, both powered by their own channel of a Pioneer 100w receiver. It's a pretty good sounding system.

I would LOVE for someone else to try this test with different components and share his impressions. (I found that I could get this title for $15 from Amazon sellers even though it retails for about $28.)

By the way, for everyone who considers Goodbye Yellow Brick Road to be one of their best discs, get Honky Cheteau. It sounds even better (considerably).

Silver Member
Username: Bleustar

Pensacola, Florida

Post Number: 215
Registered: Jul-04
You have put your finger on the basic difference between DVD Audio and SACD. The term "silkier" is often mentioned referring to the sound of SACD.

I own the SACD's of Honky Chateau, Madman Across Water, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic. I love the Hybrid concept of being able to play the CD layer in my car or on jobsites on a boombox. "Honky" & "GYBR" sound the best in multichannel. Captain Fantastic (one of my favorites) sounds a little thin, although I believe this is due to the limitations of the source material. I have tried DVD Audio (Frampton Comes Alive)and find the format to be lacking in flexability.

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 29
Registered: Nov-04
I also got the SACD of "Tumbleweed Connection" for Christmas. I was listening to it last night, and it's also a very good sounding disc.

The Elton John titles are really good because the guy who's been doing the 5.1 re-mixes, Greg Penny, has been very faithful to the original mixes (levels and EQ), and very liberal with using the rear channels to their potential. And evidently, the original recordings were very good to begin with. They're a real treat to listen to.

Eric Goldinak
Unregistered guest
New guy here.
I just bought the SACD of self-titled "Elton John" disc.
My Pioneeer is only playing it as a 2 channel disc.
I'm just getting into this stuff and sometimes reading the back of the case can be confusing.
There's a spot that clearly says Surround Sound program produced by...........
Any ideas why I can't access the surround mode?

Silver Member
Username: Sem

New York USA

Post Number: 404
Registered: Mar-04
What model is the Player?
Is the player set to SACD 5.1 output?
Are other SACD's playing in surround ok?


Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 30
Registered: Nov-04
Eric, you need to go to the SACD setting on the player and choose the option that is labled something related to surround. My guess is, yours is set to stereo, or 2 channel, or something like that. That's the way you switch between the two if you're playing an SACD. (Not the most convenient thing. It would be nice if it was on the reomote control.)

Maybe later you can post as to your impression of the quality of that disc. I haven't gotten that one, because I never thought the album sounded like it was recorded all that well to begin with.

Unregistered guest
Hello - new guy on the board - i also just discovered sacd and dvd-a recently. I'm using the same pioneer player that Sandman has, which lets me play both formats. however i don't have a surround receiver, yet. here are my impressions:

Honky Chateau is truly awesome - the piano jumps right out of the speakers and into the room (and that's in stereo!). i keep going back to that one. now i gotta get Yellow Brick Road

Another great one is Getz/Gilberto- Bossa Nova album with Girl from ipanema. incredible, clean original recording (done in 30inches per second back in the 60's)- excellent in sacd -you can feel the music.

Toys in the Attic - also a great sounding sacd title.

Peter Gabriel - So - another good one.

Pink Floyd - Dark Side - OK, but not as impressive(if you can belive it) as Honky Ch, at least in stereo, I've heard surround is incredible.

I only have one DVD-a so far - Queen's a night at the opera - which doesn't do much for me.

I have read a TON of stuff online to figure out which format is better. seems like they both sound better than CD, but mixing and mastering could account for a lot of differences. Also, everything i've read seems to indicate sacd has the edge in sales, but then, most studio processing gear is PCM based, like dvd-a, so I wonder what's the point of sacd's for new albums recorded and mixed in digital 24/96 pcm format to begin with. I have yet to purchase a modern album in sacd, like Beck or something, but i'd be curious. all of my sacd titles are from old analog albums...actually, not true, I got as a gift a live Who album(Royal Albert Hall, recorded in late 90's), which doesn't sound that good, hmm.

Still, I can't help loving sacd for 2 reasons - 1 the technology is simpler and uses less digital filters, etc., and 2 - Honky Chateau sounds so incredible. plus, at some point you gotta turn off the TV to enjoy music.

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 39
Registered: Nov-04
What a great post!

> Honky Chateau is truly awesome - the piano
> jumps right out of the speakers and into the
> room (and that's in stereo!).

I've concluded that that album was recorded extremely well. (I can't wait until Don't Shoot Me comes out!)

> Toys in the Attic - also a great sounding sacd
> title. on my wish list.

> I only have one DVD-a so far - Queen's a night
> at the opera - which doesn't do much for me.

The 5.1 mix is REALLY cool. Actually, the stereo sounds better than I expected it to.

I also have Fleetwood Mac's Roumours and Foreigner's first album on DVD-Audio, and they both sound really good -- especially the Fleetwood Mac. (That one also provides the option of listening to the instruments alone with band commentary over them.)

> Still, I can't help loving sacd for 2 reasons -
> 1 the technology is simpler and uses less
> digital filters, etc., and 2 - Honky Chateau
> sounds so incredible. plus, at some point you
> gotta turn off the TV to enjoy music.


For me, in recent years, my best sounding music had been on concert DVDs. So I wasn't buying CDs anymore, and I hadn't been listening to music just by itself. With hi res audio, I'm now once again enjoying shutting off the lights, closing my eyes, and just absorbing.

What I would like to see is Jimmy Page go through the Led Zeppelin archives and prepare some 5.1 mixes of things like Achilles Last Stand and Ten Years Gone. Wouldn't that be cool!

New member
Username: Goofy007

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-05

The Pioneer 578 is not the best universal player to compare the two formats. It is actually worse in the audio department than the previous 563A as it does not do pure DSD decoding (the 563A did as long as all speaker settings were set to LARGE with sub ON). All DSD material, regardless of using bass management, etc., is converted to 88.2 kHz PCM with the 578.

Regarding DSD vs. LPCM vs. DSD->LPCM vs. LPCM->DSD recording techniques, there are issues with both formats. 24/96 LPCM, at higher frequencies, is cleaner with less ultrasonic noise, but can sound slightly digital due to various filter banks utilized. DSD has more high frequency noise, but has somewhat greater dynamics over the spectrum. One of the things about DSD and vinyl is that they use steep filtering due to the upper band noise which rounds the 20-30 kHz range causing a somewhat "warmer" presentation.

However, except for ultra high end pro stuff, the issues of consumer playback devices tend to somewhat even out both with neither format giving us their ultimate potential. To my ears SACD sounds more lush and somewhat more pleasing (again due to the filtering), but then again 24/96 and 24/192 LPCM, when engineered correctly, can sound very good too.

We still have a ways to go before the original analog waveform is accurately reproduced digitally. With crappy MP3's ruling the day, it may be a long time in coming to a store near you.


Unregistered guest
Dan - thanks a bunch for that information. It's pretty confusion trying to figure out what equipment I need to hear the new formats. I'm still questioning my ears and wondering if I'm hearing th emperor's new clothes!

I have the 563A player but no surround receiver - just yamaha stereo into two full range speakers (old school). does the 563A do DSD decoding in 2 channel stereo mode?


Silver Member
Username: Arnold_layne


Post Number: 317
Registered: Jun-04
There was a discussion in AudioCircles forum last year involving a "Modder", Alex Paychev. Conclusions were that DV-563A does true DSD if bass management is disabled, at least for stereo and probably for 5.1 too.

Before buying my DV-565A (EU version) I listened to it in the store precisely on a Yamaha with full range speakers. Sound was richer, more musical in that configuration than in my own gear(bookshelf mains, small surrounds and decent sub). But IMO a 5.1 configuration can provide more detail for complex music.

Happy listening

Unregistered guest
Thanks Arnold - I can definitely tell that the sound is better than cd (much more dynamic range and detail), but I couldn't say if I'm hearing "true" DSD or something in between. I appreciate the info

Really enjoyed this thread,, there really should be some serious test's conducted by some mag's. We as consumers obviously have expressed our intrest.

Anyway,, having both SACD and DVD-audio, somewhere approx 20 of each, but no title on both formats, I can't help out with an real judgement.

But,, I'll say this,
with my quite "ok" setup, Integra DVsp1000, Krell KCT / Krell FPB300Cx and Infinity Omega speakers, I so far much more appriciated DVD-audio.

For me,, SACD is more the type of sound that "audiophiles" like,, say like Martin Logan speakers.. It displays an revealing "image" of the sound and/or the recording.
DVD-Audio on the other hand is a really high revealing format,, sounds like Im sitting in fron of the speakers at the mixing-desk, NOT the sweet, silky adjusted "image", but instead the full spectrum "in your face"....

Sure,, I do like some of the sacd titles, Clapton's old slowhand as an example,, But,,not beeing crazy about Eagles,, some tracks from Hotel Californina,, Victim of love and last resort, It is totaly unlike ANYTHING I've ever heard.. Frightenly "real",,

In the best of worlds,, the dualdisc would be SACD and DVD-audio on a single disc.
But THAT wont happend....
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