How to Rip an SACD

1.0 Introduction

Super Audio CD was introduced in 1999 (i.e., about 20 years after the original, ‘ordinary’, CD). It was intended to be the ‘next generation’ audio format, given its higher fidelity and longer playing times than standard CDs. Unfortunately, those changes from the original CD standard made disks using the new format incompatible with normal CD players, requiring the purchase of new (expensive!) hi-fi kit to experience them to their full potential. As an aside, you usually can play an SACD on a standard CD player, but you’ll only hear standard CD audio quality when doing so. That’s because SACDs contain separate physical layers, one of which contains standard CD audio, which any normal CD player can read. A completely separate layer contains the SACD goodness: it’s this extra layer that you really want to hear, given that you paid a lot more for an SACD than you would have done for an old-style CD -but it’s this SACD layer which standard CD players cannot read. So if you want to hear the SACD layer, you’ll need a brand new SACD player… and that’s where the costs start heading skyward!

Accordingly, SACD never really took off before it got side-swiped entirely by the download and streaming revolution that basically killed off all physical audio and video formats. New releases of SACDs essentially ended in about 2009, so it was a fairly short-lived audio standard.

However, the classical music industry seems lately to have taken a bit of shine to SACD once more, with quite a few new releases coming out in hybrid SACD/CD format -and, quite often, it’s the SACD layer that embodies the results of extensive remastering, whilst the standard CD layer contains the original CD release. As a result, modern classical SACDs often sound much better than their accompanying CD layers… if only you could listen to them!

Hence the desire on the part of many to be able to rip their SACD’s SACD audio, in preference to ripping just their standard CD layer. Unfortunately, ripping an SACD is not much easier than playing them ever was: it requires special hardware and software, for starters. Rather more seriously, however, in my view, is the fact that all the descriptions I’ve ever seen on how to rip SACDs around the Internet consist of half-explained procedures spread out over hundreds of pages of forum posts. See, for example, this forum thread which started off promisingly enough as a simplification of other threads that had got too complex and jumbled… but now consists itself of 138 ‘pages’ of information, questions, possible answers and much else that it, frankly, bewildering to try and sort out into a coherent set of steps!

Having banged my head against that particular brick wall for long enough, I thought I’d better document how I go about ripping my SACDs. To be clear, the steps I outline below are performed, in part, on a Linux desktop PC (Manjaro) and were documented as working in April 2021.

2.0 The Hardware

2.1 The Blu-ray Player

The fundamental problem of ripping or listening to SACDs is the same in either case: you need specialised ‘SACD-aware’ hardware to understand the physical format and layout of the disks themselves. Back in 1999, those specialised players were forbiddingly expensive. Today, however, we call them ‘Blu-ray players’ (since Blu-ray was a Sony invention, and SACD was a Sony/Philips joint invention, it should come as no surprise that most Blu-ray players can at least play SACDs)… and, happily, the fact that streaming services have basically killed off all physical audio/video media means that you can pick up second-hand SACD players for a few tens of pounds or dollars without much difficulty.

Here, for example, is the one I recently purchased from Ebay:

It’s a Sony BDP-S490 Blu-ray player, first reviewed in What Hi-Fi way back in November 2012 -so mine is nearly 9 years old, but functions perfectly and only cost me £60.

So, if you want to rip SACDs, buy yourself a cheap Blu-ray player… but be warned that it can’t be just any old player: only certain models do what we need them to do (which is to basically act as a file server on a home network, allowing ripping software running on your desktop PC to grab data from off the SACD inside the Blu-ray player). The list of Blu-ray player models that can do this is quite short (and largely consists of Sony players):

Sony

  • Using the x86 extraction software: BDP-S390, BDP-S490, BDP-S590, BDV-E190, BDP-S4100, BDP-S5100
  • Using an ARMv7 extraction software: BDP-S6200, BDP-S7200, BDP-S790, BDP-A6000, BDV-NF720, BDP-S6500, UHP-H1

Pioneer

  • Using the x86 extraction software: BDP-80FD, BDP-160, BDP-170
  • Using the ARMv7 extraction software: MCS-FS232

Oppo

  • Using the x86 extraction software: BDP-103 and 103D, BDP-105 and 105D

Cambridge

  • Using the x86 extraction software: Azur 752BD, CXU

Arcam

  • FMJ UDP411, FMJ CDS27

Primare

  • Using the x86 extraction software: BD32 MkII

Electrocompaniet

  • Using the x86 extraction software: EMP3

Denon

  • Using the ARMv7 extraction software: DBT-3313UD and 3313UDCI

Yamaha

  • Using the x86 extraction software: BD-S677

Marantz

  • Using the ARMv7 extraction software: UD7007

You’ll notice that Sony and Pioneer are, by far, the suppliers of the largest number of compatible players. You’ll also find that the Sony S390, 490 and 590 players are probably the most abundant and cheaply-bought at second hand models. I have not used any other models than my Sony S490, so I list the other models here because I’m told that they work, but I have no proof that they do, nor any experience of them doing so.

You’ll also spot from that list that a lot of the players use Intel processor technology, and some (usually the more modern ones) use ARM processors. That makes no difference to the user wanting to play a Blu-ray movie, of course… but it makes a difference later on when it comes to downloading the right software needed to turn your Blu-ray player into a file server.

2.2 The USB Drive

The second hardware component you’ll need to acquire is an easy one: a USB-2 thumb drive that has a capacity of at least 2GB (but it can be more if you have a bigger one handy). I stress USB 2.0, not USB 3.0: most of the older Blu-ray players I just listed come with USB sockets that were built way before USB 3.0 was a thing! So, it’s best to keep things entirely compatible and old-fashioned.

Here’s the one I use:

As you can see, it’s nothing special. Just a very old, worn, knocked about and, frankly, rather knackered 8GB USB 2.0 thumb drive.

You need to format the thumb drive to be using the FAT32 file system (most thumb drives seem to come supplied that way already, but if you’re like me and have used multiple file systems over the years on the same USB drives, you might need to break out the KDE Partition Manager or Gparted to ‘make it so’). From mentioning a possible need to partition, I hope it’s also clear that you should have nothing stored on the USB drive at this point, and anything that is there should be deleted or removed by the new format operation. You want to start with a blank slate!

If you want to put a brand new partition table onto the USB stick to make sure you’re starting from the cleanest of clean slates, make sure it’s an MS-DOS type, not a GPT one.

2.3 The Home Network

As I’ve already mentioned in passing, this ripping process will work because your Blu-ray player will turn itself into a sort-of file server, offering its disk caddy and its contents to software running somewhere else to access. For that to happen, your PC needs to be able to communicate with the Blu-ray player over a network of some kind.

The Blu-ray players I’m familiar with have built-in wireless networking and cabled networking (my S490 ships with a standard RJ45 Ethernet port, for example). I would recommend you use the wired networking if at all possible: there’s a lot of data on an SACD disk which has to be transported from the player to your PC, so unless your wifi network is fast and completely reliable, wired is just a lot quicker and less hassle to get working.

I shall assume you are familiar with the basics of setting up a home network, anyway. You will need to know an IP address you can assign the player, plus the net mask to use, and the details of your gateway and DNS servers. On my desktop PC, I can check all those details out at the command line, like so:

The command ip addr shows that this PC has an IP address of 192.168.137.13 and a netmask of ’24’, which equates to 255.255.255.0. So, my Blu-ray player also needs a 192.168.137.something address, and its netmask will also have to be 255.255.255.0, otherwise they’ll never be able to communicate.

For the other networking configuration settings, some additional commands are needed:

Displaying the contents of the /etc/resolv.conf file should tell you what DNS server to use to resolve Internet names into IP addresses: in my case, I run my own DNS server in-house, so the IP address is another internal 192.168.137.x one. Finally:

The command ip route | grep default should be sufficient to show you how your desktop PC gets out to the Internet: in my case, the router’s IP address of 192.168.137.100.

Technically speaking, you only need the IP address range and netmask to get a PC talking to a Blu-ray player: the DNS and Gateway settings are only needed if the Blu-ray player needs to get to the wider Internet. Generally, that’s not really needed for SACD ripping -but it’s a good idea to make sure your Blu-ray player is using the latest firmware update and Internet access would be required for that, so it’s a good thing to know

3.0 The Software

There are two bits of software that you need to obtain. One runs on your desktop and does the ‘fetching’ of music data of the Blu-ray player’s SACD; the second runs from the USB stick I mentioned earlier, whilst plugged into the Blu-ray player’s USB port.

3.1 AutoScript

I’ll start with the software that runs on the Blu-ray player (from the USB drive), which is called AutoScript. It can be downloaded from this Dropbox, but in case that link ever dies in the future, and if you prefer not to trust to anonymous Dropbox folders discovered on the ‘net, I’ve prepared a single ZIP-file copy which can be downloaded from this very website.

Note that my download is only of the ‘Intel Processor’ x86 variety. If your Blu-ray play requires the use of the ARMv7 version of the software, you’ll have to download that from somewhere other than this site. The specific software to download depends on your precise model. The Sony BDP-S6200, for example, uses a different version of AutoScript from the BDP-S6500. So choose and download carefully!

You need to create a folder called AutoScript (note the capital letters A and S in that lot) on the USB drive itself and then put the three downloaded files (or the three files extracted from the ZIP file I’ve linked to) inside that folder.

This is therefore OK:

That’s the root of the mounted USB drive, onto which I’ve copied the AutoScript.zip, and then I’ve right-clicked the zip file and asked for it to be ‘extracted here’… and an AutoScript folder has been created for me automatically. Within that folder are the three downloadable files:

Note that I’ve now changed to be inside the AutoScript folder, and the three files are present and correct.

I stress this because placing the files correctly on the USB stick sounds so trivially easy to do -yet, from the support forums I’ve seen, it trips everyone up! They put the three files into the root of the USB stick, for example. Or they somehow manage to create an AutoScript/AutoScript foilder/sub-folder pair and put the three files into the sub-folder, which means they are now one folder level too deep. Or they create a folder called ‘autoscript’ (with no capital letters) and that won’t work either!

To summarise this part of the process then, and for the avoidance of doubt: you want a folder called /AutoScript to be at the root of your USB drive, and within that, the three files you see listed in the last screenshot above. There should be nothing else stored on the USB drive. Once you’ve got the USB stick correct, you can safely eject it from your desktop: that half of the job is now complete.

3.2 Sacd_extract

The software we run on the desktop to extract the SACD music over the network is called sacd_extract. Unfortunately, there are about a bazillion versions of the software knocking about the place -including versions which won’t work! Some of these non-working versions are in various Linux distro’s standard repositories, too, so installing the wrong version is very easy to do!

To make life as easy as possible, therefore, I’ve prepared a copy of it which you can obtain just by clicking this link.

Download it to (say) your Downloads folder and then in a terminal session, change to the Downloads folder and make the script executable:

chmod +x sacd_extract

You can then check that the program runs by typing the command:

./sacd_extract

…which should prompt this sort of output:

Don’t worry about that message about ‘can’t open /dev/cdrom’: it’s just a standard error at this stage of proceedings and won’t be an issue once we get things properly prepared. Also don’t get concerned that I’m running my copy of the software from the Desktop folder rather than the Downloads one: it doesn’t matter much where you run the program from, provided you are consistent about it.

With those two pieces of software obtained and prepared, we’re almost ready to start ripping something!

4.0 Preparing the Blu-ray Player

Before we get into SACD ripping, though, there are a few things we need to do to the Blu-ray player itself, so that it is contactable over the network and won’t do silly things like putting itself into hibernation when we’re in mid-rip!

Obviously, the specific options you take and what they look like may well be different for you, if you’re using a Pioneer player, compared to me and my Sony S490. So, take what follows as general advice, rather than specific guidance on where you’ll find the relevant options in your player’s setup menus.

I also offer my apologies in advance for the generally poor quality of the screenshots that are about to come, and the fact that I can be seen lurking in nearly all of them! I have not yet mastered the art of photographing TV screens with reflections in abundance!

Anyway…

4.1 Network Configuration

You first want to make sure your Blu-ray player is connected to your home network correctly and that it can reach the Internet if it has to. First, find your player’s Settings menu, and within that, the Network Settings option:

Next, select the option that lets you configure your home networking details. In Sony’s case, that seems to be called ‘Internet Settings’, though it’s really less to do with the Internet we know and love, but rather ‘networking’ in a general sense:

You probably then get a chance to configure a wired or wireless network:

As I mentioned above in Section 2.3, even if a wireless networking capability is available, I’d strongly recommend using a wired network connection, ethernet cables and switch ports permitting! Thus, I’m taking the ‘wired’ option you see here.

Often, as in this case, the player manufacturer will guide you to setting things up in an automated fashion:

The ‘Auto’ option here, if taken, would basically mean your player became a DHCP client and would seek to configure IP, DNS and Gateway addresses as a DHCP server tells it to. Most ISPs supply routers that offer this DHCP server capability, so chances are good that ‘Auto’ will work. But I prefer to setup my servers with fixed IP addresses assigned by me… and that means having to take the ‘Custom’ option.

Not one to take ‘No Auto’ for an answer, however, Sony basically repeats the question:

Again, I don’t want things auto-configured, so I’ve gone for the ‘Specify an IP address’ option. The next screen is where the configuration actually happens:

As I mentioned back in Section 2.3, these numbers apply to me and my home network: yours are likely to be substantially different. You’ll notice I don’t have a secondary DNS: that’s the only optional entry here, really. Everything else is necessary if the Blu-ray player is to talk to the rest of my home network and talk to the wider Internet.

Next, you are asked if you use a Proxy Server:

Proxy servers are really an old-school thing now (except in corporate environments, where controlling what bits of the Internet are accessed by employees is important), so I doubt you have one at home: by all means specify it if you do though. Me… I’m taking the ‘No’ option!

That’s pretty much all you need to do. Usually, the player will now take the networking information you’ve provided and use it to try to make contact with the wider Internet:

If you got all your network information entered correctly, you’ll soon see this sort of thing:

…and that tells you that everything has been tested and passed. You’re now in Blu-ray business!

4.2 Perform a Full Firmware Update

Now that we have established Internet connectivity, we should really use it to make sure your player’s firmware is as fully updated as it can be. In my case, I need to visit my Setup menu option once more and this time take the ‘Network Update’ option:

Of course, it may not be called precisely that on non-Sony models, but hunt around and see if you can find an equivalent. Shortly after I take that option, I see this response:

…which is Sony’s way of telling me that my firmware is already as up-to-date as it could be. If a firmware update is available, however, the player should auto-detect it and offer to download and install it: follow whatever prompts are offered at this point in order to make that happen. You’ll usually be warned to make sure that once the firmware update starts, you don’t turn the machine off at all (otherwise you’ll probably turn the player into a useless brick of plastic and metal that doesn’t work at all!) So, give yourself plenty of time to let the update happen without you getting impatient about it. Now is probably a good time to get a cup of tea!

4.3 Other Configuration Settings

Finally, there are a handful of settings for a Blu-ray player that probably ought to be set, though it might not be fatal if they aren’t. Again, the precise location of these options and what they’re called will depend on the model of player you’re using, but these screenshots come from my S490, so see if you can find something on your player that sounds approximately equivalent!

In the Audio Settings:

…make sure that DSD Output Mode is set to be OFF:

In the BD/DVD Viewing Settings option:

Make sure that BD Internet Connection is set to Do not allow:

I assume this is to try to stop any SACDs which might have Internet-checking copy protection from being allowed to connect to the Internet, but I can’t be certain. It seems to be a generally-recommended thing for successful SACD ripping, anyway.

Next: in the Music Settings menu:

…Make sure that the option to play back the Super Audio CD playback layer is set to Super Audio CD:

Finally: in the System Settings menu:

…make sure that Quick Start Mode is set to be On:

Fiddly though some of these options are to find and set, it is happily a mostly set-and-thereafter-forget affair, so you only have to experience the pain once!

5.0 Converting the Blu-ray Player into a File Server

With all that updating and configuration sorted out, we’re ready to try actually performing an SACD rip. I’m assuming you actually own a proper SACD, of course! Here’s the one I’ll be using for my test rips:

As you can see, I bought this disk way back in 2015, though I didn’t have an SACD player at the time -so, for about 6 years, I’ve never heard anything other than the standard CD audio layer it contains. Now I get to listen to its SACD goodness for the first time! Anyway: note the big green Super Audio CD logo on the front of this disk: is presence is required if the next steps are going to work.

I will also say at this point that these next steps can be really quite tricky to get right -and there are a lot of false or misleading instructions about them available elsewhere on the Internet. It’s also true that different players behave differently, so not all instructions apply. For example, it’s commonly said that you should ‘insert the USB drive into the Blu-ray player and this will trigger the disk tray to open’. Well, not on my BDP-S490, it doesn’t!

So: I shall document what works on my S490 first, because I know what works on it and in what order things have to be done. On other models, you may get different or unexpected results and you may need to play around a little until things work correctly.

5.1 The Steps for the Blu-ray Player

    1. Power on your Blu-ray Player, normally, by pressing the on/off button on the face or top of the unit. Mine, for example, is over on the left-hand side, above the Sony logo:
    2. The player’s front display should probably start off by displaying the word ‘Empty’ (indicating that no SACD is present) and will end up displaying ‘Home’, to indicate it’s waiting for instructions:
      Open the disk tray and place your SACD in it. Do not close the tray. Just leave the disk ‘hanging’ in the open:

    3. Now insert the USB stick you prepared earlier (the one with the AutoScript folder and its three files contained within):
      As you can see in that screenshot, the red ‘reading’ light on my USB stick is now illuminated -and the disk tray has closed itself. That’s what you want to see happen. Incidentally, there is some debate on various Internet forums whether you can use the front USB port, the one on the back of the player, or either at will. In my experience with the S490, either works just as well, but the front port is more convenient to access, so that’s the only reason I use it in preference to the one on the back. After a while, that ‘Home’ messsage you see will/should change to indicate the total play time of the SACD that has now been inserted into the player:

    4. When you see this state of affairs, briefly press the Off button and wait for the player to turn itself off. This might seem odd: presumably the player has to be ‘on’ to serve music to others? Well, yes: but in this case, though the machine will appear to be off, it’s actually in ‘sleep mode’… and for Sony players, we need the player to be in sleep mode if it is to work properly. Other manufacturer’s players don’t need to be in sleep mode for a rip to work, so you don’t turn off Oppo or Pioneer players, for example… but I have no actual experience of those players, so I’m only reporting what others have claimed. All I can say is: for Sony players, once the SACD duration/play time is displayed, you must touch the off switch to put the player into sleep mode.

By way of a quick summary of these steps, then:

  • switch off
  • switch on
  • eject tray
  • place SACD on tray, but don’t close it
  • insert USB
  • wait for tray to close and total play time to display
  • press the off switch to put the player into a sleep mode

Note that once in this ‘server mode’ state, the player will stay that way until the power cable is physically unplugged. So, once you’ve ripped one SACD, you simply press ‘eject’, place the next one on the disk tray, close the tray, and then touch the power-off button. So long as the player stays in the powered-off ‘sleep mode’ after having once read the USB, it will do what it needs to do. Every new SACD simply needs to be inserted, then the player returned to power-off mode. I’ve seen reports that, after several SACD rips, the Blu-ray player suffers an out-of-memory condition and sort-of crashes itself. I haven’t met that condition as yet -but if you do, simply unplug, wait for 15 seconds, put the plug back in the socket, and start again from step 1 above.

So now the Blu-ray side of things is done: the device is sleeping, but ready to serve music data over the network. Some people advise removing the USB stick at this point (as it’s not technically needed), but I never bother and my rips still work, so I see no need to mess with it further. The real point is that you never want the player to boot up with the USB stick plugged in. So, by removing it now, you make sure that this can’t accidentally happen. Incidentally, even if it does boot up with the USB stick in, nothing bad actually happens: it just won’t be able to rip an SACD disk again until you power it off (actually, you really need to unplug the player from the wall socket for at least 15 seconds) and reboot it without the USB stick being present)

5.2 The Steps on the Desktop PC

So now we switch away from the Blu-ray player (which you leave in its off-but-sleeping mode previously described), and back to our desktop PC. First, we want to make sure we can connect to the player in the first place:

At a new terminal session, a simple ‘ping’ command directed to the known IP address of the Blu-ray player indicates that it’s connected just fine to the home network, and we can talk to it. You’ll need to substitute in the IP address you actually assigned to the Blu-ray play, back at section 4.1 above, of course: the .40 address you see here just happens to be what I assigned my player!

Finally, you downloaded the sacd_extract utility back at Section 3.2 and stored it somewhere on your PC (probably the Downloads folder, but I’m using the Desktop, for no particular reason). In the terminal you just opened, cd to that folder, and type a variant of this command:

./sacd_extract -i 192.168.137.40:2002 -s -z -2 -o /home/hjr/Desktop

That invokes sacd_extract with various options, as follows:

  • It says to connect to the device at IP address 192.168.137.40, on port 2002 (so that’s how sacd_extract knows to talk to my Blu-ray player)
  • The -s switch says to extract the music to DSF files rather than to an ISO (I’ll explain about this more later on)
  • The -z switch is a technical instruction to not ‘zero pad’ the music that’s about to be extracted
  • The -2 switch says to extract the stereo signal from the disk (rather than the multi-channel 5.1 surround sound signal it might contain)
  • And finally, the -o switch says where to write the extracted music files: in this case, I’m saying to dump it on my Desktop.

If the player itself is properly primed to act as an SACD server, you’ll see this sort of thing happen in response to that command:

You might notice that, just disappearing from the top of the screen, is an indication that the Blu-ray player knows the name of the disk or work it’s ripping: ‘…euxtemps_ Violin Concerto No. 5’ is the last part of this SACD’s name, in other words. You’ll find all SACDs have ‘metadata tags’ like this already present, where ordinary CDs do not. The data in those tags is still universally rubbish, though, so you’ll still need to supply your own after the rip completes. But at least you can tell what is being ripped and that the right disk was put into the correct player!

For the rest of the display: well, it’s just a lot of technical hocus-pocus, showing what sectors of the disk have been ripped. The percentage on the right is the percentage of the entire disk ripped so far; that on the left is the percentage of the particular track that’s being ripped.

As these numbers scroll off the screen, you’ll notice a new folder has been created (wherever your -o switch said to put the ripped music). In my case:

…you can see that I have a quite fully-named folder now sitting on my Desktop. Inside that folder, once the rip completes, are this set of files:

That’s a bunch of 10 ‘dsf’ files, which are the ‘native’ format for SACD disks. Few media players know how to play DSF files natively… but my own AUAC tool knows how to convert them to hi-res FLACs. So, in a terminal, I cd to the Desktop/Bruch… folder and issue the command:

auac -i=dsf

…and this happens:

Note that AUAC knows, without being told, to output to high resolution FLAC whenever it encounters a DSF input file, so the conversion process is mostly automatic. It even includes an automatic volume boost, since SACDs tend to be mastered with an absolute peak volume adjustment of around -6dB, making the converted tracks a lot quieter than they really ought to be. Here’s the end of AUAC’s processing for this particular SACD:

As you can see, we’ve actually found a need to boost the volume by 5 decibels, not 6, on this occasion -but the principle of volume-boosting SACD rips is the same, regardless of the specific number involved. Anyway, once the conversion completes, you’ve got this in the folder:

For every DSF file, there is now a FLAC file: AUAC doesn’t convert to FLAC destructively, in other words. It leaves the source DSFs around (by default) until you make the decision to manually remove them. You can see that each FLAC is around half the size of the source DSF (which, if you are familiar with ripping ordinary CDs to FLAC should sound about the right sort of compression ratio: a 600MB ordinary CD usually compresses to around a 300MB FLAC, give or take, so you might reasonably expect a similar compression ratio with SACDs).

These FLACs are a bit special, though. Play them in something like my own AMP program, and if you’ve got a DAC which exposes the sort of music it’s being fed, you’ll see this:

That indicates the DAC recognises that a 24-bit, 88.2KHz audio signal is being received: these are therefore hi-res FLACs, not your bog-standard CD Audio ones!

It is actually nigh-on impossible to say in what way a DSF is best or ‘truly’ represented, in terms of more ‘normal’ or familiar audio files, such as FLAC. The two formats use fundamentally different ways of encoding sound, but the general feel in the music industry seems to be that DSF64 most approximately matches 88.2KHz/24-bit FLAC-style sampling rates. If your SACD contains DSF128, DSF256 or even DSF512, then 88.2KHz might be a little on the low side… in which case, you’ll need to tell AUAC to output to ‘Extremely Hi-Res FLAC’, which is 24-bit at 192KHz sampling -by specifying a -o=xhires switch when launching AUAC. If you don’t mention -o=xhires, the default is -o=hires, which is the 24-bit/88.2KHz ‘standard hi-res’ format I’ve previously mentioned. Be aware that even with AUAC in its default hi-res mode, you’re still getting around 4 times the data you would from a standard CD (44.1KHz doubling to 88.2KHz, plus 16-bit sampling going to 24-bit). That’s why the converted FLACs you see two screenshots back are so large. So these are still genuinely high-resolution FLACs and are currently the best-known fit for ‘standard’ DSFs of the sort that SACDs commonly use.

6.0 An Alternative Ripping Technique

You’ll note that the ripping method mentioned in Section 5.2 above generates a series of discrete DSF files, which then have to be converted to a playable format by one tool or another.

A slight variation on this is possible, however: instead of ripping to separate DSF tracks, rip to a single ISO file. The ISO file then contains all the tracks, but ‘inside’ a single file on disk. That will still need to be split and converted before you’ve got anything playable, but some people prefer the ISO rip to the DSF one (I used to be amongst them: AUAC has long had an ISO-conversion capability, but only recently got the DSF-conversion one).

A command such as:

./sacd_extract -i 192.168.137.40:2002 -I -z -2 -o /home/hjr/Desktop

…is almost the same as I used before, but this time I’ve specified a -I switch instead of a -s one, just after the mention of the player’s IP address and port. The -s is what says ‘rip to separate DSF files’; the -I (capital i) says ‘rip to a single ISO’.

When that command completes, you’ll see this on your PC’s desktop:

You will again need to process that ISO before you can listen to it. A command such as:

auac -i=iso

…will eventually yield this sort of thing:

You’ll see that the source ISO is still there at the bottom of the file listing (AUAC always leaves the source untouched by the splitting process, unless you explicitly add a -d=y switch when launching it). Alongside the ISO, however, are all the individual tracks, converted into high resolution stereo FLACs: the “-24” in the file names tells you that they’re 24-bit files (and they’ll also have an 88.2KHz sampling rate, though that’s not shown). The screenshot doesn’t tell you, however, that all these FLACs have been volume-corrected, too, but that’s part of the ISO-splitting service AUAC performs, too, by default.

I should mention, too, that both the conversion of DSFs and ISOs to FLACs shown above have implicitly used the output switch -o=hires (which is the default output format for both DSF and ISO inputs, from AUAC version 2.07 and above). But it’s also possible from version 2.07 to explicitly add the output switch: -o=xhires …and ‘xhires’ is short for ‘extremely high resolution’: FLACs produced in this way will still have 24-bit samples, but the sampling frequency will be 192KHz, not 88.2KHz. The output files will, accordingly, be about twice the size of ‘hires’ files, because the sampling rate is just about doubled.

A final thought, too: output to and subsequent processing of DSFs is much faster than for ISOs, regardless of whether you are extracting to ‘hires’ or ‘xhires’. ISOs have to be extracted to WAVs first and only then can the WAVs be converted to FLACs. DSFs, however, can be converted directly to FLAC… so there are two fewer processing stages when working with DSFs than there are when dealing with ISOs… and given the file sizes we’re dealing with, that can add up to several minutes of saved time when processing DSFs.

So: it’s up to you whether you want to go the ISO or DSF route. In the end, you’ll end up with playable high-resolution FLACs either way, so it’s really just a matter of personal choice.

And to wrap things up, a little tip: don’t forget that on Linux, you can ‘alias’ complex commands with snappy, short-form names in your .bashrc file (or equivalent environment profile setting file). So, on my desktop, I have this in my .bashrc:

alias ripsacd=’/usr/bin/sacd_extract -i 192.168.137.40:2002 -s -z -2 -o /home/hjr/Music’

You’ll spot quickly enough, I hope, that I’ve copied the sacd_extract program to my /usr/bin folder, so the command can find it there when it needs it. But once I’ve done that, and assuming my Blu-ray player is sitting there with a disk inside it, in sleep-and-serve mode, I can now rip an SACD simply by typing the command ripsacd in a new terminal session. The rips then always end up in my personal Music folder, where I can convert them, tag them and then move them into their permanent home in my complete music library.

7.0 Conclusion

Ripping SACDs isn’t terribly hard -but finding a coherent explanation of how to do it can be! The main secrets to success are, firstly, to own one of the suitable Blu-ray players; secondly, connect it to your home network correctly; third to prepare the USB stick properly; and fourthly, to get the sequence of what you do to the Blu-ray player to get it into sleep-and-serve mode correct. That last one is where it can get frustrating, because if you power-on with the USB stick already in-place, it won’t work. If you close the tray door yourself, after placing the SACD on it, it probably won’t work. If you forget to power-off after the tray closes, it won’t work. Only when you get the power-on -> open tray -> place SACD on tray, but leave it open -> insert USB stick -> power-off routine down pat does this stuff become effortlessly successful!

And once you’ve ripped your SACD, you’ll need to post-process the ripped file to turn them into playble, but hi-res, FLACs… but AUAC has you covered in that department, whether you decide to rip to ISO or DSF.

Remember, too, that though SACDs automatically supply plenty of metadata tags for your newly-ripped music files, most of it is complete garbage and will need to be corrected by manually tagging the files after the rip is complete: CCDT has you covered there, too!

In any event, I hope this article has clarified what’s involved in getting access to your SACD data, though it is perhaps 15 years late!