NAIM SACD Player, why not?

Is there a reason NAIM has never, to my knowledge produced an SACD player? Possibly with streaming, they are surperflous.

Just pondering for comments and an interesting discussion topic.

Possibly this post should be in the “Lounge,” though I was unsure.

Warm regards,

Mitch in Oz.

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I suspect in the UK, Naim’s home market, SACD was regarded as a niche within what was becoming a niche (CD) with the investment needed unlikely to be recovered. I think SACD was more widely adopted in other markets esp Japan.



There is a graph in another forum showing the peak in SACD sales in 2003 I think. You need a magnifying glass to see it against cd and lp. :wink:. I fact you might not even see it with a magnifying glass.

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My CDS II player would occasionally flash the letters ‘hdcd’ when a CD was inserted, to indicate that the CD was HDCD-encoded. (A number of Neil Young CDs were HDCD compatible.)

I believe that Microsoft thought that HDCD-encoded discs threatened their technology, so they bought the company and, from that period onwards, no HDCD discs have been released.

As Paul has said above SACD’s were only sold in small quantities. In 2007 Meyer and Moran, American recording engineers, did a large double blind experiment to see if people could tell the difference between cd’s and SACD’s and overall they couldn’t. By a small margin more people chose cd as the better recording. Older men did slightly better in preferring SACD’s.

As you might expect Hi-fi reviewers found faults with the study and said they would have done better if they had participated!

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Naim did do some SACD evaluation work and played around with some Philips SACD bits for a little while. I remember the player in R&D. IIRC they decided against further development as it was felt that in certain key performance areas PCM performed better, the SACD catalogue was very limited, and that even CD had some much more to give, and so resource instead went into developing the CD555, and for Hi-res purposes, Naim developed the DVD5, which would also work for AV.

At the time, the early Rolling Stones catalogue was being released on dual-layer SACD/CDs and I was buying them all. It just so happened that the DVD player I had was a fairly high end Sony that would also play SACDs, so it gave me a chance to compare the same disc on my Sony SACD player and on my CD5/FC2, which I used in the same AV system. The result was a clear win for the CD layer played on the Naim CD5/FC2…


SACD recordings are still being issued in the classical sector. Witness many excellent sounding recordings from the likes of Chandos, BIS, Channel Classics and on the LSO’s own label. The best SACDs still sound superb and hold up well even against some hi-res downloads.


Sacd do sound better than the normal cd recording when comparing the same music.
As always it just needs to be done right, from tranport to dac.
If i was ever going to buy a cd transport to play cd’s, then 100% it would have to read sacd, as why wouldn’t you want this, especially if you want to get the best out off it.
Obviously don’t know why naim didn’t offer this, probably a few different reasons, but it’s a shame that the top cd players can’t offer this.
Obviously the transport is different, and these cost quite a bit more than the more normal ones, plus you need the software, maybe these two items push it too far for naim at the time.
But i would bet if they still made a cd player or transport it now would read sacd

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HDCD releases unfortunately stopped years ago but SPARKS somehow released one earlier this year.
The re-issue of their electro album BALLS sounds fantastic on my CDX2.
The CD display lights up HDCD even though it’s not advertised on the sleeve.

My CD5X flashes “HDCD” when one is put on and a red light shows on the fascia. Does this mean it is playing at HDCD quality or is it just an indication of the type of encoding on the disc?

I really like SACD (my favourite digital format), and for me that’s a dealbreaker, which is why I’ve never really considered a Naim disc spinner (although I did really like the CDs3). So, if and when I replace the Oppo 205, it will be for a Luxman, Marantz, Denon, Technics, Yamaha or Accuphase machine, all of which can play SACDs.

On a related note, I was speaking to someone high up at Sony last year and they said that one act (Pink Floyd) have accounted for more than 50% of all SACD sales since the format’s launch - and they’ve only issued three SACDs! This is probably due to the fact that all copies of “Dark Side Of The Moon” shipped or sold between March 2003 and September 2011 were hybrid SACDs.

SACDs are still being made, especially in Japan, where the format is still popular and Universal and Sony still make them. A lot of classical music – and to a lesser degree, jazz – is still being issued on SACD, and of course audiophile labels such as AP and MFSL remain committed. As apparently, is James Guthrie (Pink Floyd engineer/audio archivist) and old Rog himself (three of his solo albums have been released on SACD so far).


G’day Kev,

I think I am in your boat. I was considering purchasing a spare transport for my CD5 XS, though I am now pondering maybe a Marantz or ND5 XS2.

Thank you, everyone, for your valuable comments. It has been an interesting learning experience.

Warm regards,

Mitch in Oz.


Likewise. I find a good SACD sounds as good as a good vinyl - with both being better that a CD. Sadly quite a few SACD releases do sound the same as the CD because the lazy producers used the same low-res source material for both layers.

I also found it odd that NAIM never supported SACD as a format, and it is why my disk spinner is a Marantz SA12SE rather than a naim box. MOFI is still a good source of well produced SACD’s, i think they have done a great job with the Dire Straights and Eagles albums in the last couple of years.


SACD’s are encoded in DSD, not PCM. Perhaps that is the reason we didn’t see so many?

Unfortunately not many agree that SACD was an improvement over CD and it therefore died. Most people prefer streaming. Personally I prefer streaming over having to store thousands of CDs. The market prevails.

Except that it didn’t. SACDs, and SACD players, are still being made. It’s an admittedly a niche (and upmarket) format, but it survives.


I think years ago I was surprised that neither SACD or DVD-Audio gained much traction in the UK markets as even modest DVD players could often play both formats.

In hindsight it probably foreshadowed the success of lossy music purchasing and streaming services - most people just didn’t care enough about high audio quality and certainly don’t now.

The amount of music available back then was also very limited and I only ever bought a handful of SACDs - without the vast amount of music available as there was with CD, perhaps little surprise Naim never released an SACD player.

It took a bit of ferreting as to why Naim never incorporated SACD in any of their players especially the 555, Apparently it was felt CD and SACD didn’t work well together, the SACD compromising CD ability.

Post 6 in this thread by Richard sets out a fuller version of the story.

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Thank’s for fleshing out the Naim CD/SACD reasoning.