First thing to ask, is it new? It may be a refurb unit, it may also be a gray market item. Refurbs, I generally don't have a problem with. (As a matter of fact, in some cases the refurbs have to go through tougher requirements than it originally did when it came off the assembly line) Gray market, on the other hand, you're taking more of a risk on. (no warranty, except what the seller wants to give you) Plus, are there currently any SACD discs out there? So you'll have a player with little or no software. (also just because its SACD doesn't mean it'll sound better, it just means they had to put more money into the software, and put the same crappy electronics in it that they put in their mainstream players) As you can probably see, I'm very leary of 'good' deals, and don't genreally like to jump on the bandwagon too early. But, you wanted thoughts, so there they are.
After I saw that ad, I call 2 of the local stores in my areas and they all said that they're brand new in the box. One of the store clerk told me that the way the unit is priced - i.e. 94cts instead of 99cts - is because they have bought a lot of this model and they're able to transfer the discount to the consumer. I don't know how true that is because that's a lot of discount compared to what they normally sell for at about $600.
I brought this subject up is because I saw a similar heavy discount to a Technics DVD-Audio player a few months ago - I don't remember the model number. It's also discounted to $400 with a MSRP of $1100. I thought you guys might have read something that I have not not. May be both DVD-Audio and SACD are both dying (similar to DCC?) or at least they are phasing them out and they're trying to concentrate on selling Multi-Channel SACD player with DVD capability.
hmm... i don't buy the "volume" argument.. other suppliers must get these things in volume too. I wonder if there's a problem with these players, or if they're refurbished, factory seconds, or whatever. As well, it may be that there was a design problem or something with an early production run / bad batch. Occasionally, manufacturers experience problems that didn't come up during development QA testing when a product is first mass-produced. Personally, I'd wait until the technology is more mature and also to see how much content actually becomes available on the market. If you remember when HDCD first came out, it took a long time till there was more than just a handful of HDCD albums.
I purchased a SCD-C333ES from Good Guys yesterday for the $399 price, a new unit in a factory sealed box. The 333 is a discontinued model, being replaced by the SCD-C222ES which is a multi-channel unit. This could explain the close-out pricing.
So, I take it that you are one of those guys don't care too much about those multi-channel SACD players? From what I have read so far, the earlier multi-channel SACD disc sounds "not right" on the surround channels. Just wondering if that's the reason why you did not buy the multi-channel unit.
I bought the 333 because I thought it was a good buy. It will allow me to experiment with the SACD format, and it also plays my regular CDs quite well, for not a lot of money. Actually, I think mutlti-channel might be fun to experiment with also, and may consider the purchase of a XA777ES when they become available.
I can't resist, so I bought one too!
I would like to compare notes with you on the sound quality of this unit.
With everything else being the same (i.e. same pre-amp, power amp, speakers, volume level etc.), I played the Mile Davis "So What" track (Track 3 of the included Sony SACD sampler) and I was shock by how "boring" the sound is. My high expectation of the SACD sound quality just went down the drain. For your information, I have never heard SACD or DVD-Audio in a control environment before.
Thinking that the sound can not be this bad, I did some investigation. With the Stereophile test disc (playing the 1kz tone) & Radio Shack sound level meter, I was able to determine that the SACD player has a sound level which is 2.4db lower than my regular CD player. I then proceed to turn up the volume level of my pre-amp by 2.4db and then played the same track again. This time, it sounds much better. I think we all know that whichever plays louder always sounds better. In my case, I have always listened to the same sound level for my regular CD player and without the 2.4db compensation for the SACD player, it just sounds "boring".
Next, I proceed to compare the sound quality of the SACD player and my regular CD player with the appropriate volume level for each test. To cut the story short, I have to conclude that the sound quality of this new player (playing regular CD or SACD CD) falls far short of my expectation. I'm very disappointed. It almost sounds like all the higher frequencies has been filtered out. It's like you're only getting 20hz to 15kz instead of 20hz to 20kz. I know, a lot of us can't hear that high up but I'm just trying to make a point.
For those of you who have this particular model, could you provide some feedback so that we can compare notes? I don't recall ever reading a bad review on any SACD player. May be HiFiZen is right, this could be a design problem for this particular model. Bad filter circuit???
First, let me state that I haven't heard the unit in question.
Let me suggest a possibility, though. If you're comparing the SACD player to a CD player, is there a chance that your CD player is bright? I am currently playing CDs through a DVD player (Sony something-or-other, don't remember the model number) which is quite bright. By comparison, everything else sounds 'dull,' but it's the DVD player that's at fault, not everything else.
First, I must say that my CD players prior to the 333 were quite "dated". A Magnavox 650, modified, in use since 1988, and a TEAC PD-D1200 changer modified by Stan Warren, in use since 1997. So, given that my CD listening has been with those players, I find the 333 to be a noticeable improvement with standard CDs, and I am happy.
With about 4 hours of time on the new 333, I and two other listeners compared Rebecca Pidgeon's THE RAVEN on SACD and a Dave Brubeck on SACD to their standard CDs. We put the SACD in slot 1 and the standard CD in slot 2. Switching back and forth, we listened hard, almost too hard. After a while we began to notice subtle differences, in favour of the SACD. Things like a little more ambiance, background instruments and vocals seemed to have more detail, and at times certain notes seemed to have more impact. We even agreed that the SACDs started to sound more "musical", but none of us could really define what we meant by that, and the listening session ended at that point with us agreeing to get together in a couple of more weeks and listen again. For what it is worth, the other two also purchased new 333's. The system used in this session is a DIY setup comprised of Lynn Olson's MKII Ariel speakers, AKSA 55W amp, 22K passive volume control, and a very "live" sounding room.