Originally Posted by kupan787
Clean audio is harder to see benefits from than clean video (plus, who is really clamoring for 5.1 channel CDs). I have had people listen to a CD and a SACD, and they say "Ya, it sounds better, but not remarkably". Then I show them broadcast TV, and HDTV and they fall out of their seats. The difference in video quality is VERY easy to pick out. Even comparing DVD to HDTV you can clearly see a difference. That is the difference between the two format wars. One was a small step forward, while the other is a huge leap.
Agreed. SACD and DVD-A were solutions to an essentially non-existent problem. Snobby audiophile blather to the contrary, stereo CD actually represents very, very good audio fidelity. To the extent that some of these special recordings truly do have spectacular sound, they owe most, if not all, of that sense of quality to meticulous recording engineering, and not to insane sampling sizes and bit rates like 24 bit/192 kHz.
The only thing lacking with standard CDs is realistic sound staging, and, other than for special effects in movies (where surround sound finally took off for popular use) very, very few people actually care that much about sound staging. Olde-fashioned two-channel stereo is good enough to break the flatness of mono, giving a sense of spaciousness to music, and (apart from writers for Stereophile magazine, et al, paid by the word to drone on endlessly about such things) that's more than enough to make 99% of listeners happy, listeners who aren't worried about being able to close their eyes and feel out the exact seating arrangements of the musicians they're listening to.
The improvement of HD video over standard video, is much, much easier to sense and to appreciate
than the difference between SACD and standard CD. HD video, whatever the delivery mechanism, is here to stay and will supplant a lot of SD video applications. Even without a format war, however -- if SACD had been completely unchallenged in the market -- I truly doubt it would have ever become much more than a niche product.