HomeCD JunkiesCD Junkies: Richard Montes de Oca (SACD Edition)

CD Junkies: Richard Montes de Oca (SACD Edition)

For this installment of our long-running CD Junkies series, we bring you another special SACD edition. SACD, which stands for Super Audio Compact Disc, is a high-resolution format developed by Sony and Phillips in the late 1990s. SACD offers higher quality sound than a CD, but it never went mainstream. However, SACDs are still very much in demand in audiophile circles. Out-of-production SACDs can fetch large sums of money on Discogs and eBay. A number of audiophile labels, such as Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MoFi) and Analogue Productions (AP), continue to produce SACDs.

We caught up with Tampa, Florida-based SACD collector Richard Montes de Oca. The 42-year-old has been collecting SACDs for four years and has about 200 SACDs in his collection. Along with CD Junkie Kenny Fleshman, Richard is active in the Facebook group SACD Enthusiasts, where he often shows off his recent purchases. In this interview, Richard talks about the best-sounding SACDs in his collection, why he’s optimistic about the format’s future, and much more.

Richard Montes de Oca

360°Sound: In general, what do you love about the SACD format?

Richard Montes de Oca: Many things. They sound fantastic. You get more bang for your buck. They’re very versatile and prone to less quality control issues that seem to plague their vinyl counterpart.

Tell us a little about the system you use to listen to SACDs.

My SACD player is a Marantz SA 8004, and my receiver is a Marantz 2235. I use Epos loudspeakers.

Have you done an A/B comparison between a CD and an SACD? If so, what were your impressions? Was the difference significant?

I don’t do many A/B comparisons, to be honest, but when I do, SACDs have always sounded better – more punch and full of life. I can’t say that that’s always going to be the case, but from the comparisons I’ve done, it has been.

What are some of the best-sounding SACDs in your collection? What makes them so special?

Some of the best are Roxy Music’s Avalon, Chet Baker’s Chet, and Beck’s Sea Change. I’m an ‘80s guy so I love pretty much anything that came out of the ‘80s. Avalon is up there in my list of the best albums ever produced in that decade. Ironically, I didn’t know about this album growing up. It took my watching Lost In Translation to discover Roxy Music.

Chet is so mellow, and it’s just a classic. It’s one of the best albums he ever made – brilliant sound stage and just pure goodness. Sea Change is a modern classic – it’s one of those desert island albums for me. Brilliantly made and the best breakup album ever.

What genres of music do you listen to the most? Who are some of your favorite artists?  

I find myself listening to jazz most of the time – John Coltrane, Grant Green, Miles Davis, and Lou Donaldson, to name a few.

What SACDs are at the top of your want list? 

Right now, I would say the Dead Can Dance Japanese MoFi box set. It’s nearly impossible to find within a reasonable price.

Do you collect Blu-Ray Audio, DVD-Audio, and other high-res disc formats? Which is your favorite format? 

I have a few Blu-Ray and a handful of DVD-A, but I like SACD the best because it’s the more common format (at least compared to DVD-A) and easier to find. Also, I like the size of the cases they come in.

Do you listen to SACDs in surround or just stereo? 

Unfortunately, I do not have surround setup or the room to fully take advantage of it. That being said, my wife’s uncle does. I’ve taken some of my SACDs over to his place and was blown away, especially with Sea Change and Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms 20th Anniversary.

What are some of your favorite labels that currently put out SACDs? 

For jazz, I would definitely say Analogue Productions, and for everything else, MoFi.

Where do you buy SACDs? What are some of your favorite SACD retailers?  

AcousticSounds.com and MusicDirect.com. For everything that’s out of print, Discogs or eBay.

Any upcoming SACD releases that you’re excited for? 

Dire Straits’ On Every Street (MoFi) and Steely Dan’s Aja (AP).

There’s been discussion about a CD revival. Some think CDs will see a resurgence similar to what we’ve seen with vinyl. Are you optimistic about the future of the SACD?

I’m very optimistic. With the rising cost of vinyl and the many quality control issues, SACDs are a great alternative with amazing sound.

What advice would you have for the CD collector who’s intrigued by the SACD format but doesn’t have a player or discs and isn’t sure where to start?

Definitely do your homework on SACD players. When I got started, I went through a rash of older players that played the red-book layer just fine, but the SACD layer was shot. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

also for SACD fans

CD Junkies (SACD Edition): Kenny Fleshman


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