Sony SCD-CE775 SACD Changer Page 5

Sony's SCD-CE775 demonstrates just how fantastic SACD playback can be, especially with surround sound recordings. It's increasingly clear that the biggest challenge left for audio reproduction is not improving the playback electronics - the SCD-CE775 seemed completely transparent to me. If you believe that the SACD catalog will eventually contain the music you want to listen to and are more interested in listening to high-quality music than in watching video, then this five-disc changer presents an attractive invitation to the beauties of surround music. But if the format catches on, I'm holding out for an SACD megachanger.


HIGH POINTS:

  • Superlative SACD surround sound.
  • Good range of setup and bass-management options.
  • Reasonable price.

LOW POINTS:

  • Slow to switch between two-channel and multichannel mixes or between SACD and CD layers.
  • No video output.
  • Bass management works only with SACDs.

In The Lab

Multichannel SACD Performance All measurements were made from the Philips SACD test disc. Results were typical for all channels. The MCH Direct setting was used for all tests except of the bass-management filters, which used the 5-small+SW setting.

Maximum output level 2.22 volts Frequency response 20 Hz to 20 kHz +0.01, -0.04 dB (-3 dB at 43.1 kHz) Noise level (re -20-dBFS, digital-silence signal) -81.3 dB Distortion (THD+N, 1 kHz) at 0 dBFS 0.0065% at -20 dBFS 0.058% Subwoofer-output frequency response -12 dB/octave above -3-dB point of 121 Hz

High-pass-filter frequency response -6 dB/octave below -3-dB point of 121 Hz

Standard CD Performance All measurements were made using the Sound & Vision test CD-RW. All signals contained dither, which sets limits on measured distortion and noise performance.

Maximum output level 2.2 volts Frequency response 20 Hz to 20 kHz +0.02, -0.16 dB Noise level (A-wtd) -74.3 dB Excess noise (without/with sine tone) 16-bit (EN16) +1.3/+1.3 dB quasi-20-bit (EN20) +14.4/+14.4 dB Distortion (THD+N, 1 kHz) at 0 dBFS 0.0043% at -20 dBFS 0.024% Noise modulation <0.5 dB Linearity error (499 Hz) at -90 dBFS -0.1 dB Defect tracking (Pierre Verany disc) 1,500 µm

Like all the other SACD players we've tested, the SCD-CD775 had relatively high noise levels above 20 kHz generated by the Direct Stream Digital system, and these contaminated our measurements of the distortion and noise in the audio range. Its measured SACD noise level was only about 6 dB superior to CD playback (or the approximate equivalent of a 17-bit PCM system) and about 9 dB worse than the other multichannel SACD player I've tested. However, a spectrum analysis of the noise showed that below 20 kHz it was quite a bit lower than a CD player's and would be inaudible under all reasonable listening conditions. The CD playback also measured noisier than usual for both an SACD player and a similarly priced DVD player. I would have liked to see the EN16 figure closer to 0 dB and EN20 in single digits. But if you use the player's digital outputs when playing CDs, the noise performance will be set by the downstream equipment's digital-to-analog conversion circuits.

This is the first multichannel player of any variety to contain bass management, a considerable point in its favor. Unfortunately, the bass management turns on only when playing SACDs. So if you use the player's analog outputs and pop in a CD after setting up your system for SACDs, you may end up with a rolloff in the bass and nothing coming out of your subwoofer! Better to use the digital output for CDs so your receiver's bass-management will kick in. So near (to getting it right), and yet so far. - David Ranada


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