Thad Aerts
HifiZine writer and reviewer

Eh Say See Dea

I have a buddy named Erik who sometimes goes by the moniker/nickname/alias “Donk,” which is short for Donkey. You don’t know him very well yet but if you follow my contributions to both this blog as well as my reviews for HIFI Zine, you’ll get to know him better.

Erik’s a great guy and despite his nickname, is anything but an ass. He’s a really nice person, matter of fact, who is kind of like an older brother I never had. Among his many stellar qualities, Erik is a clever gift-giver. It has gotten to the point with him that when it comes time for my kids to open their gift from him on their birthdays, a subtle hush drifts over the other family members that are there in order to hear Erik’s explanation for the gift he gave.

Erik's Donkey Tattoo

For example, recently my daughter had a birthday and Erik gave her a gift certificate – which in and of itself is not necessarily anything witty. However, the gift card was attached to a red rug. As has become par for these events, everyone looked a bit bewildered, obviously wondering why Erik had given a girl celebrating her seventh birthday a red rug that was meant to go in a kitchen or bathroom. Erik went on to explain that every time he came to our house, my daughter was the first to greet him as she typically comes outside to say hello before he can even get to the front door. He went on to explain that this behavior always made him feel as if my daughter was rolling out the red carpet for him and since it was her birthday, he wanted the red carpet to be hers. See – pretty clever. Wouldn’t you agree?

So, along with being a great gift-giver, Erik is also a music lover and audiophile. I was over at his place the other day where he brought to my attention that he was currently going through a minimizing of his possessions – removing some clutter so to speak. Before I knew it, I had been given a Sony SCD-CE595 SACD player. Erik has been a fan of the format for years now and had accumulated a number of SACD players – having not one but two SCD-CE595’s. I guess it was stuff like this that he wanted out of his life. His only instructions were that if I didn’t care for the player, I needed to return it to him so he could pass it on to someone else.

Plain-Jane looking disc player

I’ve had brief experiences with the SACD format in my own system and though I thought it sounded better than red book CD, I was never completely sold on the format to the point that I was willing to buy a player and start accumulating SACD’s. That said, though Erik’s gesture of giving me the Sony was very thoughtful and generous (he could have sold it on eBay), I was kind of dreading hooking the thing up and giving it a listen. As someone who reviews audio equipment, these types of things can sometimes be a drag. At the same time, I would be an idiot to pass on the opportunity to at least play the thing a time or two and give it a fair shake. So along with the player, Erik leant me a handful of discs to play. What a guy.

I went home and hooked the thing up and loaded it with discs – it’s a 5 disc carousel. How un-audiophile! Its aesthetics aren’t very audiophile either as it shares the same look as its older, yet less refined siblings that just played CD’s decades earlier.

I’m not exactly sure what had me doubting the format earlier but I’m in Heaven now as the entry level Sony sounds absolutely wonderful.  SACD has been around for over a decade now so I’m not proposing that I’m shedding some new light on a format that appears to be heading for extinction. I am just sharing my experience with the format that I wish would stick around longer.

Miles Davis’ ‘Round About Midnight SACD is plush and textured and detailed. I’m experiencing all the things I have been reading about for so many years. Another SACD believing buddy of mine leant me Beck’s Sea Change – a record I love and am already very familiar with, owning it both on CD and LP. It sounds amazing – waaay better than the CD and toe to toe with the LP. There is just so much more information there and the subtleties are so much more apparent. When I switched to the CD version, the music became dull and lifeless and flat in comparison to the SACD.

Chich Corea’s Rendezvous in New York is another great sounding title with stellar playing to match – though I could probably do without the Bobby McFerrin.

The only SACD’s that I have been a bit disappointed in have been the various Blue Note’s that have been released. They don’t sound horrible but compared to the other SACD’s that I have been enjoying, I think they could sound better.

I would love any input and recommendations of particular SACD’s to seek out now that I have decided to commit on a format that is nearing extinction. Better late than never.

Thanks for the player Erik.

Erik and Thad

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