Friday 12 July 2013

LIST: Suspected 44 or 48kHz PCM upsampled SACDs.

 The sentence says "supported by Japanese SACD manufacturer" (whatever that means!). An example of how the term SACD gets thrown around in cheap domestic and pirated Asian markets (this wasn't a true XRCD either)...

As I mentioned previously in my post on SACD (and DSD), there are a number of SACDs I have digitally ripped over the years that appear to be sourced from 44kHz PCM. This is of course the same sample rate as good ol' RedBook CD and therefore it's unlikely that these titles should sound any "better" than the CD release since the PCM-to-DSD conversion process will add some distortion to the original signal.

It's not difficult to detect these releases because of the "brickwall" loss of frequencies beyond 22kHz. Note that this list is of course unofficial and even though there's evidence that these come from 44 or 48kHz PCM, it's still possible they're from 24-bit data which could still be "hi-res".

An example of the 22kHz brickwall - Thelonious Monk's "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" off Straight, No Chaser SACD. Notice the typical ultrasonic 'noise shaped' SACD quantization noise from 22kHz up - filtered off in this case before 40kHz.

The reason I decided to post this list up was because even to this day, some folks will use questionable albums such as these to prop up the putative superiority of the SACD format or compare the DSD rip with the CD layer...  Even as recently as the May 2013 edition of Home Theater magazine - David Vaughn reviewing the Marantz AV8801 & MM8077 spoke of how he preferred the two-channel SACD layer of Norah Jones' Come Away With Me (p.41). There is of course one "inconvenient" problem; we've known since 2004 that this SACD was in fact a RedBook CD upsample! Therefore, the preference must be the result of perceptual bias, euphonic distortion by the DSD conversion, or maybe his SACD player is poor at playing CD. I have seen these kinds of comparisons and biases based on resampled SACDs made over the years both in the print magazines as well as on-line (eg. see this review) and in forums.

By no means do I believe this is a complete list - just ones I've run into over the years or confirmed by friends. I have tried to comment on these SACDs as part of my reviews on places like but notice that these comments tend to get censored over time - I guess I can't blame them since they have something to sell :-).

Similar situations exist in the DVD-A world especially with upsampled 24/192 material (alas I never kept track of all these but remember Frank Sinatra At The Sands was likely upsampled). Here's an example from Donald Fagen's Kamakiriad DVD-A:

From "Countermoon" - 5.1 24/96, actually just 24/44 at best. Probably run through an analog path at some point which added the noise >22.05kHz.

In alphabetical order of artists by common first names (threw in a few spectral screenshots):

Aaron Neville - Nature Boy (2004, 44.1kHz stereo, 48kHz 5.1 mix)

Air Supply - The Definitive Collection (2003 SACD)

Alan Parsons Project - Eye In The Sky (2021 MFSL UltraDisc UHR SACD)
From "Eye In The Sky"

Al Di Meola - Consequence Of Chaos (2006 Telarc, multichannel mix looks good though)
From "San Marco"

Albert King - I'll Play The Blues For You (2004 release)

Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan - In Session (Probably 48kHz upsample, 2003)

Alison Krauss - Forget About It (2003 SACD, probably 48kHz upsample)
From "Maybe"
Alison Krauss - Now That I've Found You: A Collection (2002 release)
From "Baby, Now That I've Found You"
Andrea Bocelli - Andrea (2004 SACD, 48kHz source)

Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Phantom Of The Opera OST (2004 Joel Schumacher movie)

Antonio Carlos Jobim - The Composer of Desfinado, Plays (2011 SHM-SACD)
"O Morro"
Art Of Noise - Daft (2008 SACD release - both 2.0 and 5.1 look 44kHz sourced - what else to expect from 1980's synth/electronic!?)

Art Pepper - New York Album (2016 Analogie Productions DSD, 48kHz source)
"A Night in Tunisia"
Art Pepper - So In Love (2016 Analogue Productions DSD, as above - 48kHz)

Babatunde Olatunji - Circle of Drums (2005 Chesky Records)
From "Embracement"
Babyface - The Day (2001 SACD)

Baiba Skride - Bach Bartok Ysaye (2004 SACD)
From "Corrente - Partita No. 2"
Barb Jungr - Love Me Tender (2005 SACD 2.0 & 5.1; clearly 44kHz. Ahem... Linn, this sucks...)
From "Wooden Heart"

Barbra Streisand - The Movie Album (2003 SACD, 2.0 44.1kHz, 5.1 looks like 48kHz)

Benny Carter - Jazz Giant (2004)
From "Blue Lou"

Beoga - Live At Stockfisch Studio (2010)
From "Factory Girl"
Bernard Allison, Larry McCray & Carl Weathersby - Triple Fret (both 2.0 and 5.1 mixes either 48/44kHz upsamples)

Bill Evans - You Must Believe In Spring (2011 Japanese SHM-SACD)
From "Without A Song"
Bill Withers - Bill Withers' Greatest Hits (2016 MFSL SACD. Looks like 48kHz original.)

Billie Holiday - Body And Soul (2011 Analogue Productions SACD)
From "They Can't Take That Away From Me"
Blue Öyster Cult - Agent Of Fortune (2001 release, both stereo & multichannel layers likely from 44kHz)

Bon Jovi - This Left Feels Right (2004 SACD, 5.1 mix is OK!)
From "Bad Medicine"
Brooke Miller - Familiar (2012 SACD - as usual, Stockfisch SACDs originate from 44kHz sources. This one has an album DR9 so IMO it's easily good enough as 16/44 CD.)
From "You Can See Everything"
Bruno Walter & The Columbia Symphony Orchestra - Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Minor "Pastorale" (1999 Sony release)
From "Thunderstorm, Allegro"
Bryan Ferry - Frantic (both stereo & multichannel layers likely from 44kHz)

Carolyn Sampson - Victorious Love (2007 BIS) - 44.1kHz stereo and multichannel mixes.

Cat Stevens - Tea For The Tillerman (2011 Analogue Productions - surprising! Maybe 48kHz source)
From "Wild World"
Celine Dion - All The Way... A Decade of Song (2001 SACD) - both stereo & multichannel appear to be 44.1kHz sourced.
From "Beauty And The Beast"
Celine Dion - A New Day Has Come (2002 - no surprise with pop albums, maybe 48kHz source)

Charles Mingus - Supreme Jazz (Arizona, 1922 - Mexico, 1979) (2006 release by Membran Music. 44kHz samplerate both 2.0 and 5.1.) I believe the David Brubeck Supreme Jazz release is like this as well.

Chicago (Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2002 SACD - both 2.0 and 5.1 appear 44kHz upsampled)

Christian Schmitt & Bamberger Symphoniker - Charles-Marie Widor: Symphony for Organ & Orchestra Op. 42, Sinfonia Sacra Op. 81 (2009 SACD - both 2.0 and 5.0 look like 24/44)

Claire Martin & Richard Rodney Bennett - When Lights Are Low (2005 Linn SACD - both 2.0 and 5.1 frequency limited to ~20kHz)
From "My One & Only"
Count Basie - Live At The Sands (Before Frank) (2013 MFSL SACD Remaster)
From "I Can't Stop Loving You"
Cowboy Junkies - Whites Off Earth Now!! (MFSL 2006 release - originally PCM recording)

Dana Winner - Unforgettable Too (2002)

David Bowie - Reality (2003, clearly just 44.1kHz for both 2.0 and 5.1 mixes)

Dead Can Dance - MFSL SACD Box Set (2008)
From "The Carnival Is Over" on Into The Labyrinth
Depeche Mode - Playing The Angel (2005, 2.0 is a 48kHz upsample, 5.1 is a 44.1kHz upsample) - Note that all the Depeche Mode SACDs from 2003-2006 are upsampled PCM. This one is worth mentioning because the CD is awful DR5 while the SACD 2.0 is DR11.

Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms (2005 release - well known PCM recording)
From "Money For Nothing"
Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms (2013 MFSL UDSACD 2099, no surprise)

Don McLean - American Pie (2016 SACD of 2003 remaster)
From "American Pie"
Donald Fagen - The Nightfly (2011 release - well known PCM recording, DVD-V version better IMO)

Duke Ellington & Count Basie - First Time! The Count Meets The Duke (1999 Sony SACD)
From "Battle Royal"
Duran Duran - Astronaut (2004 release - both 2.0 and 5.1 are 44kHz upsampled, no surprise for this pop album - an odd "mirroring" of frequencies is seen pivoting at 22kHz)
From "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise"
Elvis Presley - Elvis Is Back (2012 Analogue Productions - maybe so old there's no high frequencies!)

Enigma - MCMXC a.D. (2016 Virgin SACD - I'm guessing this was recorded at 44kHz.)
From "Principles of Lust"
Ennio Morricone - The Mission (2003 SACD)
From "Gabriel's Oboe"
eRa - The Very Best Of (2004 release, both 2.0 and 5.1 are 44kHz source)
From "Ameno"
Eric Bibb, Rory Block, Maria Muldaur - Sisters & Brothers (2004 Telarc - stereo mix is compressed DR9 as well - 16/44 good enough IMO, the 5.1 mix is better DR13.)
From "Give A Little More"
Eric Clapton - Journeyman (2014 Audio Fidelity AFZ 180 - being a 1989 album, likely recorded PCM in any case).
From "Running On Faith"
Eric Clapton & B.B. King - Riding With The King (2015 Audio Fidelity SACD - looks like 44kHz original source, was this way with the DVD-A as well back in the day. DR13 much better than previous DR9 though!)
From "Ten Long Years"
Eugene Ruffolo - Santa Sings The Blues (2009 release, Stockfisch)

Five For Fighting - America Town (2003 Release, both 2.0 & 5.1 at best 48kHz)
From "Superman (It's Not Easy)"
Fourplay - Energy (2008, probably 48kHz upsampled both 2.0 & 5.1, 2.0 layer is DR12 so still better mix than DR9 CD)

Free - Tons of Sobs (2014 Japanese SHM-SACD)
From "Wild Indian Woman"
Gloria Estefan - Greatest Hits (2002 Sony) - same DR as 1992 CD. Does have a multichannel mix however that looks like it came from higher quality source.
From "Conga"
Gloria Estefan - Alma Caribeña (2000 Sony)

Goldfrapp - Supernature (2005, clearly 44kHz 2.0 material, likely 48kHz 5.1 mix)

Grover Washington, Jr. - Prime Cuts: The Columbia Years 1987-1999 (1999 SACD - looks like just 44kHz)

Harry Connick, Jr. - We Are In Love (2000 Sony)
From "Recipe For Love"
Heart - Alive In Seattle (2003 SACD, 2.0 looks 44kHz, 5.1 looks 48kHz)
From "Crazy On You"
Herbie Hancock - Gershwin's World (2004 Verve) - multichannel mix appears to be higher quality source.
From "Overture"
Indigo Girls - All That We Let In (2004 SACD - both 2.0 and 5.1 look like 48kHz. Stereo layer nasty DR7.)
From "Fill It Up Again"
Itzhak Perlman - Cinema Serenade (2015 Sony SACD, clearly 44kHz upsample - very dissappointed in this one!)

Jacques Loussier - Impressions On Chopin's Nocturnes (2004 Telarc) - says 24-bit PCM on box, looks like 44kHz both stereo & multichannel.

Jacques Loussier Trio - The Best of Play Bach (2004 Telarc) - says PCM on the box, looks like 48kHz surround and multichannel.
From "Toccata & Fugue in D Minor"
James Horner - Titanic OST (2003 SACD, both 2.0 and 5.1 sourced from 44kHz)
From "Leaving Port"
James Peterson & Lucky Peterson - If You Can't Fix It (2004 SACD, 2.0 looks like 44.1kHz and DR7 only, 5.1 looks 96kHz and DR13)

James Taylor - Hourglass - very disappointed by this one!
From "Gaia"
James Taylor - October Road (2002, looks like 44kHz)

Jennifer Warnes - The Well (2003 SACD, probably 48kHz upsample)
From "The Well"
Joe Satriani - Engines Of Creation (2000)
     - Also, the CD layer has DR7 vs. SACD stereo layer with DR11.  Different mixes with very dynamically compressed CD layer!

John Eliot Gardiner & Philharmonia Orchestra - Grainger: The Warriors & Holst: The Planets (2003)

John Williams - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Soundtrack. 44.1kHz both stereo and multichannel as per Kiko.

Joshua Bell & Philharmonia Orchestra - Bernstein: West Side Story Suite (both 2.0 and multichannel originated as 44.1kHz)

Journey - Greatest Hits. 22kHz cut as per Kiko.

Keane - Hopes And Fears (2004 SACD - 2.0 layer looks like 48kHz and better DR master than CD release, 5.1 layer clearly 44kHz)

Keb' Mo' - Just Like You (2002 SACD - same DR as CD, 5.1 also looks like 44kHz upsample)
From 'Perpetual Blues Machine'
Keb' Mo' - The Door (2000 release)

Ken Ishiwata's Band - Marantz: Ken Ishiwata's 30th Anniversary (2009)

Kenny Loggins - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: The Greatest Hits
From "This Is It"
Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Long Walk To Freedom (2006 SACD, confirmed same DR6 master as the CD)
From "Homeless"
Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Raise Your Spirit Higher (2004 SACD)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu (2008 SACD)

Lee Ann Womack - Greatest Hits (2004 SACD - looks like analogue tape conversion of music recorded in 44kHz for 2.0. Multichannel looks like 48kHz.)
From "You've Got To Talk To Me"

Lenny Kravitz - Greatest Hits (2000 SACD) - basically looks like 44.1kHz CD upsample.

Los Lobos - Kiko (2014 MFSL SACD)
From "Arizona Skies"

Louis Armstrong - Satch Plays Fats (2000 Sony SACD, 44.1kHz)

Ludacris - Chicken -N- Beer (2003 SACD - at best 48kHz 2.0 and 5.1)

Mandelring Quartett - Mendelssohn Complete String Chamber Music Vol. 1 (Audite SACD, 2012)
From Track 3
Martin Taylor - Artistry (2004 Linn SACD) - looks like 44kHz source, multichannel similar.
From 'Georgia On My Mind'
Martin Taylor - Spirit of Django (2004 Linn SACD) - looks like 44kHz source, multichannel similar.
From 'Nuages'
Martin Taylor - Masterpiece Guitars (2003 Japanese SACD)
From 'Thank Heaven For Little Girls'
McCoy Tyner Quartet - New York Reunion (2007 Chesky Records SACD) - a very bizarre mix of 44.1kHz and analogue. Certain songs like track 3 "What Is This Thing Called Love" just 44.kHz upsampled. In any event, dither to 16-bits, not worth 24-bits due to noise floor.

Michael Bolton - Greatest Hits 1985-1995 (2001 Sony/Columbia SACD - no surprise; DR8 so IMO never needed 24-bit anyway!)
From 'That's What Love Is All About'
Michael McDonald - Motown (2003 - both stereo & multichannel 44kHz, DVD-A probably more accurate)

Michael McDonald - Motown 2 (2004)

Mike Stern - These Times (2004 - stereo looks like a 16/44 with DR9, multichannel 48kHz)

Miles Davis - Seven Steps To Heaven (2010 Analogue Productions release, 3.0 multichannel track looks OK though!)
From "Basin Street Blues"
Miles Davis - Sorcerer (2014 MFSL UDSACD  2145, some tracks like "Limbo" appear to be 44kHz source in parts)

Monty Alexander - Monty Meets Sly and Robbie (2000 Telarc SACD - both stereo and multichannel look like 48kHz source)

Moya Brennan - Two Horizons (2003 SACD. 2.0 layer is same as CD. 5.1 layer 48kHz.)

Nancy Sinatra - Super Audio Best (2011 Japanese SACD release) - noisy and 22kHz limited - might as well convert to 16/44.

Nat King Cole - Welcome To The Club (2013 Audio Fidelity)
From "The Blues Don't Care"
Nick Drake - A Treasury (2004)

Nicki Parrott - Moon River (2014 Japanese SACD, only DR8 - keep it 16/44!)

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Arnold Schoenberg Chor & Concentus Musicus Wien - Handel Messiah (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 2005 SACD) - both 2.0 & multichannel upsampled.
From "Air Ev'ry Valley Shall Be Exalted" (CD1)
Norah Jones - Come Away With Me (2003) [for completeness, there is a 2012 Analogue Productions SACD remaster with proper non-44kHz-derived stereo layer.]

Original Broadway Cast - A Chorus Line (1998 SACD)
From "Nothing"
Oscar Peterson Trio - We Get Requests (2011 Analogue Productions) - both stereo and 3.0 multichannel look to be either 44.1/48kHz source.
From "Have You Met Miss Jones?"
Patricia Barber - Café Blue (2002 MFSL UDSACD 2002) - remarkable reviews on the net on this SACD! If this was a digital recording from 1994, one would also wonder about the capabilities of the ADC.
Patricia Barber - Companion (2003 MFSL UDSACD 2023) - at best a 48kHz recording.

Patricia Barber - A Distortion Of Love (2013 MFSL UDSACD 2100)
"Parts Parallels"
Patricia Barber - Modern Cool (2002 MFSL UDSACD 2003)

Peter Gabriel - So (2003 release - I suspect 44kHz recording but transferred from magnetic tape to DSD, thus the tape bias in the high frequencies and higher noise)
Peter Gabriel - Up (2003 release)

Peter Tosh - Legalize It (2002 Sony). Multichannel track looks like a 48kHz source.
From "Legalize It"
Pixies - Bassanova (2008 MFSL)

Poncho Sanchez - Conga Blue (2003 Release, multichannel looks good)
From "Conga Blue"
Queen - A Kind of Magic. Japanese SHM-SACD as per Kiko.

Ricky Martin - Sound Loaded (was there ever any doubt!?)
"She Bangs"
Roger Waters - The Wall: Live In Berlin (2-disk, 2003 SACD - stereo version looks like 44kHz, multichannel version 48kHz)

Rush - Presto (2014 Audio Fidelity SACD... Likely recorded in 44kHz in 1989.)
From "Show Don't Tell"
Ryan Adams - Rock N Roll (stereo layer looks sourced from 44kHz, multichannel mix seems OK)

Sam Cooke - Ain't That Good News (2003 SACD)
From "Tennessee Waltz"
Sam Cooke - Night Beat (2009 Analogue Productions SACD by George Marino)
From "Shake, Rattle and Roll"
Sarah Brightman - Eden (both stereo & multichannel, stereo layer DR7 seems even more dynamically compressed than CD DR8)

Sarah Brightman - La Luna (like above, stereo SACD layer DR8 vs. CD layer DR9)

Sarah Brightman & The London Symphony Orchestra - Time To Say Goodbye (2004 SACD. Stereo DR7, multichannel DR9. Both look like 48kHz source. Probably no point keeping 24-bits due to poor DR.)
From "Time To Say Goodbye"
Sennheiser HD 800 Experience (2009 Stockfisch - isn't it bizarre that an audiophile demo SACD should be sourced from 44kHz material!?)
From Steve Strauss - "Closer"
Shirley Horn - Here's To Life (2004 Verve SACD, multichannel mix looks good though)
From "How Am I To Know"
Simon Rattle, Libera & Berliner Philharmoniker - Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (2010)

Spyro Gyra - In Modern Times (2001 SACD release - 44kHz upsample both 2.0 & 5.1, the original HDTracks 24/96 was upsampled 44kHz as well)
From "Feelin' Fine"
Spyro Gyra - Wrapped In A Dream (2006 SACD release - looks like 48kHz both 2.0 & multichannel)

Spyro Gyra - Original Cinema (2.0 appears to be 44kHz but better master than CD [DR12 vs. DR8], 5.1 looks good though)
From "Bump It Up"
Steve Strauss - Just Like Love (2005, Stockfisch's usual 44kHz recordings)
From "Closer"

Suitcase Pimps - Love Is Grand (2003)

Tears For Fears - Songs From The Big Chair (2014 SHM-SACD, I suspect it's a PCM recording source)
From "Head Over Heels"
The Allman Brothers Band - At Fillmore East (2015 MoFi SACD remaster!)
From "Stormy Monday"
The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out (Columbia/Legacy & 2000 SME Japanese stereo layers)
     - Note the multichannel Columbia/Legacy layer seems to be OK.
From "Take Five" original Columbia/Legacy SACD.
The Gadd Gang (Steve Gadd) - The Gadd Gang (2008 Japanese release. Both 2.0 and 5.1 versions appear to be 44kHz sourced.)

The InTime Quintet & Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra - Piazzolla In Time (2004) - both 2.0 and 5.0 look like 44kHz upsamples.
From "Imperial"
The Norwegian Soloists' Choir (Det Norske Solistkor / Grete Pedersen - Grieg: Choir Music (2007 BIS SACD) - 44.1kHz for both stereo and multichannel mixes.

The Police - Synchronicity (2016 SHM-SACD, was this album recorded in digital?)
From "Synchronicity"
Thelonious Monk - Straight, No Chaser (1999 release, see image above)

The Spirit of Gambo - John Jenkins: Late Chamber Music (2021, Stockfisch, at best 48kHz)

The Who - Live At The Royal Albert Hall (2003, the 5.1 is clearly 48kHz)

Toby Keith - Shock'N Y'All (2004 SACD, both 2.0 and 5.1 appear to be 48kHz source)
From "I Love This Bar"
Tony Bennett - MTV Unplugged (1999, clearly 44kHz upsample)

Tony Bennett - Playin' With My Friends (2001 release)

Tony Bennett & k.d. lang - A Wonderful World (2002 release, both stereo & multichannel from 44kHz)
From "La Vie en Rose"
Tower Of Power - Soul Vaccination [Live] (1999 Release - another example where the mastering better on SACD with DR11 vs. DR7 for the CD)
From "Willin' To Learn"
Uriah Heep - Magic Night (2004)

Vanessa-Mae - The Violin Player (2004 SACD - appears to be 24/48 at best both stereo & multichannel)

Vangelis - Blade Runner Soundtrack (2013 Audio Fidelity SACD) - I suspect the original recording was done in 44.1kHz.
From "Wait For Me"
Valery Gergiev & Kirov Orchestra - Shostakovich Symphonies No. 5 & 9 (2003 SACD - 2.0 track looks 44kHz, 5.1 track maybe 48kHz)

Various - Linn Records Surround Sampler Volume 2 (2006 - both 2.0 and 5.1 layers contain either 44.1 or 48kHz upsampled material. Isn't this rather disappointing as an audiophile demo disk?)

Various - Natural Jazz Recordings (30th Anniversary Fone Records SACD130 from, this is interesting, I tested the 1st 3 tracks and they all looked 44/48kHz upsampled.)

Josh Sklair "Beyond Words"
Various - Top Gun Soundtrack.  22kHz cut as per Kiko.

Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Boy Named Charlie Brown (2004 release, 48kHz source?)

Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas (2003 release)

Waylon Jennings - Analog Pearls Vol. 1 (2014 Stockfisch SACD, old analog recording, why release an SACD like this in 2014?!)
From "River Boy"
Wishbone Ash - Almighty Blues London & Beyond (2004)

Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer & Mark O'Connor - Appalachian Journey (2000)

Yo-Yo Ma - Soul Of The Tango (2003 release)

Zoot Sims - Zoot Sims And The Gershwin Brothers (2003 Release, looks like 48kHz upsample)

Zucchero "Sugar" Fornaciari - Blue's (2004 SACD - DR9 compression and no better than 16/44 for both 2.0 and 5.1! Original 1987 CD was DR13 BTW.)

Zucchero "Sugar" Fornaciari - Rispetto (2004 SACD - DR6 dynamic compression, no better than 16/44. 5.1 track looks like DSP-derived "virtual surround". Just awful release.)

Interesting how the list includes "audiophile" labels and even demo/promo material like the Ken Ishiwata Marantz SACD, MFSL, Linn, even Japanese SHM-SACD. I think it also doesn't help the SACD cause that early Sony SACDs like the Brubeck and Monk are among these. I estimate about a quarter of the SACDs I've had a chance to evaluate consisting of eclectic rock, classical, and jazz disks are of the suspected-44/48kHz-upsampled variety.

Remember that I'm not saying these SACDs are bad sounding, just that in principle, the CD layer could be a more accurate representation of the music since there's no PCM-DSD conversion going on. In fact, many of these sound great and suggests that CD quality may be good enough. Unless there's a multichannel mix that you want on these disks or the mastering is somehow different (eg. less dynamic compression), IMO, there's no point paying extra for these SACDs.

Feel free to drop me a note if you know more about the releases (eg. can confirm if 24-bit source) or if you know of other upsampled disks.

Musical selection tonight: On an 80's kick right now. Going to have a re-listen to Midnight Oil's Diesel And Dust to get into the weekend mood... First pressing from 1987 of course. :-)


  1. I'm so glad you wrote about this!
    I think I'll stay away from SACDs, because if I'm not sure about the improved quality why the hell should I pay for it on a deck and medium.

    1. I remember in 2004 thinking the controversy around "Come Away With Me" was a warning about the provenance of SACDs. The media did not persist in continuing to question this over the years with other releases. Given the DVD-A fiasco with needing a monitor to navigate and the craziness around watermarking, I still thought hybrid SACD was the best option for music delivery.

      It's well known that some of these recordings were done on PCM such as Dire Straits or Don Fagen but the average music lover probably would not know this. At least there were multichannel mixes on those disks.

      I've always thought it important of the press - those audiophile magazines - to question and help ensure the best product. Unfortunately I think the audiophile press has done a mediocre job of digging deep and doing their job both in terms of the software side as well as weeding out fringe products or putting expensive equipment and accessories in perspective to help readers determine *value* (eg. hundreds-to-thousands dollars cables any one?). Many have instead promoted products with no evident basis in science and engineering.

      Although I was critical of Hi-Fi News for their USB cable test in a previous post, I certainly can appreciate their reviews of hi-res downloads where they look at the spectrum and try to ensure indeed the data isn't just obvious upsampling. It's good to see newer HDTracks releases appear better in this regard also.

      These days, I still will keep an eye out for new SACDs *if* the music is verifiably DSD in origin (or high quality PCM like DXD if a good PCM release isn't available).

    2. There are PLENTY of SACDs that are full spectrum recordings. Kraftwerk Minimum Maximum is a good example of very high sampling used to make this disc. Most decent classical music SACDs are recorded at least to 96 kHz and some of the older Telarc are in pure DSD. But as long as the master is of higher quality than the DSD64 there is no problem with a PCM to DSD conversion. The Vangelis 'Blade Runner' I also discovered to be a 44.1 kHz master, and there is no 5.1 surround mix, so on this one the quality is just fine on CD.
      Good work on compiling the list!

    3. @Jake Purches — Quick Question - where did you learn that the original Blade Runner master was 44.1kHz?

  2. Hello Archimago,

    personally i wont be so decisive with judgements all of these SACDs only by averaged frequency response. It is slightly more complex. Excluding those labels, who re-releasing old music produced completely analog and evidently didn't touch original masters. Lots of music in 90-00's was tracked at 44 and 48k, or mixed thru digital consoles (e.g. Sony Oxford R3 in case of Gabriel records), but often mastered thru analog chain, sometimes from 1/2" master tape.
    At that point, it makes sense to me to capture output in DSD or HiRes PCM, if it sounds more transparent (comparing recorded pre-master from this chain to output from last analog outboard gear). It it bit touchy subject, which involves lot of variables.. Like, sweet spot of last used A/D converter (some performs really better at higher sample rate or DSD mode, some not), summed phase and impulse response of all antialiasing filters from all A/D converters used during recording, mixing, mastering.. etc. So sometimes DSD or HiRes PCM pre-master, could bring positive things to the table, although source multitrack was recorded at lower sample rate.
    It's very hard to judge it, if you we didn't sit at room with mastering engineer.
    Another thing to mention, before lossless music download era, SACDs or DVD-A was only medium, which allowed labels to distribute music without reducing bit-depth to 16bit. This is IME also beneficial in some cases.

    Few small things for your observations,
    - 28.8kHz pitched frequency at some plots comes from servo of U.S. ATR reel to reel machines, so as you pointed out, you can guess analog master tape here. But european Studers or japanese Otaris doesn't have it, so it is not 100% sign :-) and you will also need to watch noise floor.
    - Next thing is, that some SACD shows low level harmonic content or modulated noise floor at frequencies higher than brickwall of original source and it varies with time (hardly visible from averaged plots), that is from analog processors at mastering chain. If it was pure digital upsampling from 44.1 or just remodulation do DSD, it will be clean.
    - Donald Fagen's Nightfly was recorded to 3M PCM recorder at unusual 50k fs, then mixed and mastered completely in analog. This recorder predated following 44.1 or 48k standard.

    Best regards


    P.S.: All those visual graphs are interesting cues, IMO, but doesn't explain all decisions, which were done during production.

    1. Thanks Michael for the detailed summary!

      Yes, I agree that the plots do not tell the whole story and like most things in life, the details are much more complicated (and perhaps even more interesting!).

    2. You can add a few more, I can send you spectrums of them if you want. These are E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Stereo/Multichannel both seem sourced from a 44.1 Khz source. The Piano Japan/Hong Kong SACD, this is either a 44.1 Khz recording or sourced from a 44.1 Khz digital copy. Queen A Kind Of Magic, Japanese SHM SACD, the linear notes state that the master was transferred to 96/24 and mastered by Bernie Grundman, yet there's a sharp cut off at around 22 Khz, the original 1986 CD had a DDD SPARS code. Top Gun soundtrack released by Sony Music, there's a cut off at around 22 Khz. so this SACD may have used the same master as the 1999 remastered CD. Journey Greatest Hits, there's also a cut off at around 22 Khz, this SACD may have used the SBM remastered CD as a source. I think these are all the ones I've detected from my small collection. I get the spectograms by first converting the stracted DSD tracks to 176.4/24 with Weiss Saracon adding TPDF dither and then checking the converted tracks with Spek.

    3. Thanks Kiko,
      Sounds good - will add them to the list above with credit to you.

      Over the years I've also bought a few CantoPop SACDs from HK. Almost every one of them consist of upsampled 44.1kHz audio. Bottom line I think is that unless the SACD is specified to have been of hi-res source, it's good to be suspicious about provenance.

  3. I'm not a recording engineer, but I am well versed in Mathematics. Would you elaborate on your conclusion from these graphs. I think it has something to do with what you see beyond 22khz in these graphs. But what? I can see that it's ultrasonic noise as expected from SACD that is behind a brickwall filter, but what is it that you see that tells you the source is 44.1 or 48 khz? Perhaps a legend that explains what your graph colors mean? IDK.

    1. Hi HelpfulDad,
      First, don't worry about the colors... For the most part they're just the default colors with the audio program and since these albums were submitted or discovered over the years, different software was used.

      The key is basically the noticeable Nyquist cut-offs as you alluded to. DSD will show a rise in noise generally after 20kHz but the exact amount will depend on the noise shaping used. When we see either those 22.05 or 24kHz discontinuities, that's pretty indicative that the source from which the SACD was created is from 44.1/48kHz PCM. Hi-res PCM source will not look like this and native DSD likewise will not have these tell-tale anomalies.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this list!! I've been getting into SACD and DVD-A as a hobby over the last few months while stuck inside during COVID, trying to chase sound quality on my Oppo BDP-103 and Luxman R-115. Then I read recently about the upsampling dilemma on the Norah Jones CD and became a little skeptical. I had a few of these releases on my Discogs watch list, so I appreciate that you saved me a couple of dollars by not buying the SACD versions. I do wonder if, since it was recorded in PCM, what the master used for the DualDisc and DVD-Audio releases of Donald Fagen's The Nightfly is if it was indeed recorded in PCM 50khz.

    Shame what has become for those who are seeking to get the best sound that they can for the buck, when even the hi-resolution releases are just another marketing gimmick that Paul Aczel would lambast.

    Please keep updating this list, and never take it down. It is invaluable.

  5. Interesting and valuable research in this article, thank you for posting this. I think some of the analysis, however, is not correct. You can have original material recorded at 16/44.1kHz (e.g. digital recording of each individual instrument will have the brickwall filter above 20kHz), but mixed to an analogue tape for the final master. So at that point (of course assuming the mix is done in the analogue domain), the final mix will not be 16 bits/44.1, it will become an analogue recording of the multiple 16/44.1 tracks.
    In some cases, the material was recorded and mixed in a US studio, so the format will be 48kHz (during the 1970s, the US broadcasting industry adopted 48kHz as a standard for video to protect its market from European vendors, which had adopted 44.1kHz.. and to this day, the entire industry has to deal with two incompatible standards — this is in fact why DSD was developed by Sony engineers ��). So many recordings made in US studios were recorded on 48kHz equipment, even if they were mixed to tape in the analogue domain.
    To summarize: the article highlights the recording format (and that is very valuable information), but it is misleading in concluding that the final DSD transfer is 'upsampled' from 44.1 or 48 PCM. In fact, as for Analogue Productions titles, they are quite clearly transferred from the master tapes, which are analogue (even if the original recording was done at legacy PCM resolution)

  6. Very very interesting. Thanks

  7. HI Archimago, here's some more to add to your list.

    aiko - Akatsuki no Love Letter (48khz, transfer from analog tape)
    aiko - Aki Soba ni Iru yo (48khz, transfer from analog tape)
    aiko - Natsufuku (48khz, transfer from analog tape)
    aiko - Sakura no Ki no Shita (48khz, transfer from analog tape)
    Akira Inoue, Masataka Matsutoya, & Hiroshi Sato - Seaside Lovers (Memories In Beach House) (44khz, transfer from analog tape)
    Bjork - Vespertine (48khz, digital)
    Cardigans - Long Gone Before Daylight (48khz, digital)
    Chris Botti - Night Sessions (44khz, digital)
    Dan Gibson - Ocean Surf (44khz, digital)
    DJ Krush - Jaku (44khz, tape transfer? digital? unclear)
    Ennio Morricone - The Very Best of Ennio Morricone (44khz, digital)
    Groove Armada - Vertigo (48khz, digital)
    Groove Armada - Lovebox (48khz, digital)
    Isao Tomita - The Tale Of Genji: Symphonic Fantasy (likely 48khz, digital)
    John Legend - Get Lifted (48khz, digital)
    Kelly Rowland - Simply Deep (44khz on some tracks, 88.2khz on others, digital and analog tape transfer mix)
    Koji Tamaki - Wine Red No Kokoro (44khz, digital)
    Masanori Ikeda - The Loud Works (48khz, digital)
    Mezzoforte - Forward Motion (48khz, digital)
    Moloko - Statues (44khz, digital)
    Mr. Afternoon - The Golden Bonana (48khz, digital)
    Peter White - Glow (48khz, digital)
    Sheryl Crow - The Globe Sessions (44khz for stereo, 48khz for surround, digital)
    Spyro Gyra - Good to Go-Go (44khz, digital)

    1. I should add that Seaside Lovers (Memories In Beach House) and The Very Best of Ennio Morricone are the only ones on this list from 16-bit sources. Everything else is at least 24-bit.