CD-ROM Drives That are SACD Compatible
By Dan Stone
Updated September 22, 2017
CD-ROM drives are not compatible with the Super Audio CD (SA-CD) format. However, CD-ROM drives can play the CD Audio layer on what's called a Hybrid SA-CD. The sound quality from the CD Audio layer on a Hybrid SA-CD is identical to that of a regular CD. SA-CDs contain several times as much data as regular CDs and use a technology that is similar to DVD-ROM to store data.
The SA-CD format is intended to provide higher-fidelity audio in more channels than those available on regular CDs, according to SA-CD.net. While CD Audio is played at 44.1 kilohertz in two channels of sound, SA-CD audio is played at 2.8 megahertz and supports 5.1 channel audio.SA-CD audio is too big to fit on a regular CD so it uses a different data format to hold the data. Consequently, a regular CD-ROM Drive can't read the data on a SA-CD disc. Additionally, computer DVD-ROM and Blu-ray disc drives are not built to read the SA-CD format, according to SA-CD.net.
While a CD-ROM drive can't play the higher-definition audio on a SA-CD, most SA-CD discs feature a second layer that any CD-ROM drive can read. The second layer is identical to what you would find on a regular CD copy of the recording, which makes the discs backwards compatible with existing drives. The majority of SA-CDs are hybrid versions so even if you buy a SA-CD but don't have a SA-CD player you still can play the disc on a regular CD player. A Hybrid SA-CD that's played on a CD-ROM drive will not sound any better or worse than a regular CD. However, some DVD-ROM drives and DVD players have difficulties reading the regular CD Audio on a SA-CD because they mistake the SA-CD layer for DVD-ROM data because the two formats are similar in size, according to SA-CD.net. SA-CD and DVD use different data formats.
Compatible Blu-ray and DVD Players
Unlike CD-ROM drives, some Blu-ray players and DVD players are also able to play the SA-CD format. Compatible players should have the SA-CD logo, which looks like the letters SA and CD are respectively forming a circle and has the words "Super Audio CD" written across the bottom. Several Blu-ray players can read SA-CDs, including the first two generations of the PlayStation 3 video game console. Additionally, several hybrid SA-CD players are designed also to play DVDs. Players designed primarily as DVD players will most likely not be able to play the higher-fidelity audio on the SA-CD.
Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.