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(Super Audio CD) A high-resolution audio format from Sony and Philips. Designed as an optical disc format with higher-quality sound than a CD, SACD never caught on. Neither did DVD-Audio, a competing next-generation disc format. However, high-resolution music downloads are available in DVD-Audio resolutions as well as the DSD format used in SACD discs (see DVD-Audio, 88.2/24, 176.4/24 and high-resolution audio).

In 1999, Sony introduced the first SACD player. The SCD-1's USD $5,000 price placed it squarely in the audiophile league, but subsequent players moved SACD well into the consumer realm, with combo CD/DVD/SACD/DVD-Audio units less than $200.

SACD Uses Direct Stream Digital (DSD)
Sony's SACD uses a 1-bit pulse density modulation (PDM) method that encodes 2,822,400 samples per second. For more details, see DSD.

Multi-Channel and Hybrid Discs
Introduced in only stereo, 5.1 channel support was later added. In 2003, hybrid SACD discs included a separate CD layer with the same titles for playback in regular CD players.

The DSD Approach
Sony's SACD audio format is a dramatic departure from PCM, the common way audio is sampled. Direct Stream Digital (DSD) 1-bit samples are either 0 or 1 (up or down) depending on the previous sample point (see DSD).

SACD, DVD-Audio and More
This BDP-83 player from Oppo Digital not only plays SACD and DVD-Audio discs, but regular CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray videos. (Image courtesy of Oppo Digital, Inc.,

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