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HDCD question...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
If I play an HDCD-encoded album with an HDCD-decoder-equipped CD/DVD player and run it through the digital out to an old non-HDCD external DAC, would I still reap the benefits of HDCD, or would I need an HDCD-capable D/A?
post #2 of 14
You need a DAC that can do HDCD.
post #3 of 14
No, the HDCD decoding is done on a chip in the cd/dvd player and would be cut out when outputting a digital signal to your receiver.
post #4 of 14
Are you sure? I have seen stand alone DAC's that advertise HDCD support, so that is what my answer was based off of.
post #5 of 14
Sorry, I was right, I checked - it is done in the DAC, not the transport.

For examle, MSB Technology's Link DAC III has upgrade boards to enable HDCD decoding available (check at msbtech.com if you like).
post #6 of 14
Ian is correct. The DAC must have HDCD capabilities in order to hear the benefits of HDCD.
post #7 of 14
You're both in agreement, actually. bundee1 was answering the question directly - "would I still reap the benefits of HDCD" - and he answered "NO." He can speak for himself, of course, but I read his thread to say that the HDCD circuit gets "cut out" when using the digital outs, in other words no HDCD out the digital port. This is the same thing that you're saying, ian, so you both agree.

And, in fact, you're both right. HDCD was (or is) an attempt to provide the analog output with a higher-sounding resolution than CD (20bit vs. 16bit), but without the HDCD decoder (at the D/A convertor) you're out of luck. However, some say that HDCD-encoded CDs sound better than non-encoded CDs in a regular player. I have yet to make this comparison, but that's what "some" say.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
If I copy an HDCD using the burner on my PC, would it retain the HDCD encoded data?

Also, I'm confused about the "no HDCD comes out of the digital output of the transport," does this mean that no HDCD info reaches even an HDCD-capable DAC?
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally posted by sTaTIx
If I copy an HDCD using the burner on my PC, would it retain the HDCD encoded data?

Also, I'm confused about the "no HDCD comes out of the digital output of the transport," does this mean that no HDCD info reaches even an HDCD-capable DAC?
Yes, you can burn HDCDs with all the HDCD info intact. Tried it before myself, and the CDR lit up my Arcam's HDCD light.

Think of it this way...the idea behind the digital output is to provide a direct clean signal output from the disc that doesn't pass through the player/transport's DAC. So the HDCD info is within that data stream going out...but you need something to decode that data stream. Thus your external DAC must be able to decode that HDCD signal for you to get HDCD.

What I'm not so sure on is whether your transport has to be HDCD capable to begin with for your DAC to get the HDCD signal, or if all transports will send out the HDCD signals on a CD...

But you know what? In the grand scheme of things...HDCD is REALLY not worth all this trouble. Trust me.
post #10 of 14
There are receivers (e.g. Marantz SR9200) which do HDCD decoding, for CD players that cannot do it themselves. So I would assume that the player simply grabs the data stream from the CD, whether it is HD or regular, and sends it to the digital out.

Quote:
Originally posted by Vertigo-1

But you know what? In the grand scheme of things...HDCD is REALLY not worth all this trouble. Trust me.
Is this because you feel that HDCD does not really add much to the sound quality?
post #11 of 14

Au contraire...

I think HDCD is a major improvement over standard redbook CD's. My own ears-on experience is also that HDCD discs typically sound better than their non-HDCD counterparts, even in a player without HDCD decoding. Comparing Japanese import Yes HDCD's against their U.S. remastered non-HDCD versions, the HDCD's were almost always more open sounding, with a much greater sense of space between instruments. I had two CD players, one with HDCD decoding, the other without. The better sound always traveled with the HDCD disc, regardless of which player it was in. I haven't determined the amount of improvement in an HDCD disc's playback with vs. without decoding, but when the HDCD LED lights up on my Muse Model 2 DAC, I know I'm in for a good show.

BTW, I can't compare to SACD; I've kept away because of the limited repertoire. Toto, Billy Joel, Cindy Lauper and a bunch of classical... no thanks. If Sony still had control of their Pink Floyd catalog, it might have been a different story.
post #12 of 14
See this thread.

dave-the-rave -- those Yes HDCD's are not really a fair comparison, they've been remastered.
post #13 of 14
True, they have been remastered. But still, if you can use it, why not? The improvement may not be major, but its still there. Basically, if you already have it, its free. :-)
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally posted by andrzejpw
True, they have been remastered. But still, if you can use it, why not? The improvement may not be major, but its still there. Basically, if you already have it, its free. :-)
Not sure if I understand. There are CD's out there that have been mastered both HDCD and non-HDCD. Comparing the album versions of the tracks from Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile (non-HDCD) to the versions of the tracks that were duplicated on the singles (HDCD) is one example that comes to mind. Those are the exact same masters, yet one was processed with HDCD encoding. I think that's a more fair comparison. Another one that comes to mind is the version of "Red House" on the City of Angels soundtrack (HDCD) -- compared with whatever the most recent remaster of his greatest hits is (non-HDCD).

I do, in general, agree with the latter portion of your statement, and that is exactly what I have done for myself. But in most situations, the two are mutually exclusive, and I can't recommend the path that I've taken from the perspective of financial soundness.
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