Sony's New Super Audio CD Sounds Too Good To Be True

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I first heard Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" on the way to the mall about 10 years ago, riding shotgun in my friend's 1973 Buick Riviera. I was in college, and though the old cassette, with its wobbly pitch and rubbed-out highs, sounded terrible, Dylan's songs stuck in my mind. Soon after that fateful trip I bought the CD, but my favorite version of Dylan's recording turned out to be the original gatefold album with its two vinyl LPs, the red-and-white labels promising "360-degree sound." My favorite, that is, until this week, when I heard the new "Blonde on Blonde" Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) played on Sony's latest SACD player, the SCD-777ES.

So what's a SACD anyway?

When Philips and Sony introduced the CD in 1982, the new digital disk was marketed as offering "perfect sound forever." CDs got rid of pops and skips, eliminated the need for fussy tonearms and fragile styluses, and were supposedly indestructible. For a discerning and obstinate minority, however, the cold, brittle sound of CDs never equaled the sonic realism of analog LPs, and the faithful few hung on to their record collections.