HDCD makes (dollars and sense) = bang for buck!Microsoft bought the parent/licensing company for HDCD last year. So we have Mr. Softie in the format fray with Sony/Philips and the DVD-A folks. Remember how Microsoft sometimes likes to resolve things?
My inexpensive Denon DCM-370 was a major sound improvement over the 1-bit eight-year-old Yamaha it replaced last year, both on Redbook and HDCD discs. This year, I've redone my analog front end, and am enjoying my old vinyl like never before. I am not buying any more vinyl, but vinyl is in my cultural history for at least half of my listening life. And the new analog equipment makes the old LPs sound MUCH better than old or cheap digital. (That's some crow I've had to eat . . . )
HDCD seems to license a lot of material for a couple of extra bucks per CD, or about half of SACD/DVD-A prices. HDCD represents a quantum step up from redbook, but the artists who license under it are already more concerned than most about the sound quality of their recordings. I think I will go to a better Denon with 24 bit decoding, as I have already scored a bunch of good CDs at good discounts which would benefit from this. On the cheap, the Denon DVM-3700 offers HDCD and 24 bit and is discounted to around $550 as it is being superceded by the DVM-4800.