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SACD is a high-resolution audio disc format that was developed by Sony and Philips Electronics. SACD is designed to provide high-resolution audio in both stereo and surround sound modes up to 5.1 channels. Not all discs will contain both stereo and surround tracks as this is dependent on the disc itself.
The SACD format uses a process known as Direct Stream Digital (DSD) to encode audio. DSD has a sampling rate of 2822.4kHz and the resolution is 1 bit. SACD recordings can have a wider frequency and dynamic range than conventional CDs.
SACD discs can be one of three types:
The most typical connection to an audio system for an SACD player is via 6-channel analog connections, thus allowing the SACD player to decode the high resolution audio in the player and stream it to the audio system in an analog format. All current Rotel surround receivers and processors provide an analog multichannel input that would allow connection of an SACD player.
Due to the large bandwidth required to transmit HD audio, the only digital cable with sufficient bandwidth to allow digital streaming of SACD audio is HDMI. However, most HDMI devices will not decode SACD as decoding a DSD signal requires a dedicated circuit solely for the purpose of SACD audio decoding. However, several players that do allow digital streaming of SACD discs will provide an option to convert the digital audio into a more standard PCM digital format, which is a standard digital audio signal that is compatible with most devices.