HDCD ripping properly to 24bit FLAC

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by captainsolo, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. captainsolo

    captainsolo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Hi all,

    I’m trying to work with a sleeper hdcd a friend told me about and simply rip it to 24/44.1 files to preserve any fidelity increase. Dbpoweramp will do this but asks if I want to have the files lowered by 6db.
    As far as I can understand this is for titles that have peak extension but according to my foobar plug-in this disc has none of the HDCD features other than the encoding which suggests that the engineer may have simply utilized the superior hardware in making the CD.

    So for one of these should I have it lowered by 6db or not, or is there a better way/program to use?

    The disc in question is David Arnold’s score for The World is Not Enough. No credits other than a blurb saying it is a “contometrically processed recording”.
     
  2. wgallupe

    wgallupe New Member

    Location:
    Boston
    Since you're only dealing with one CD, why not rip it with and without the 6db attenuation and keep the one that sounds better?
     
  3. nosliw

    nosliw Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    If you rip and compress the CD to lossless FLAC straight from say Exact Audio Copy, all data related to HDCD will still be retained. The foobar2000 plug-in for HDCD will automatically use Peak Extend or Low Level Range Extend if it's detected. In your case with The World Is Not Enough, it didn't utilize the said features and is not worth ripping it to 24-bit, 44.1KHz.
     
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  4. Duke Fame

    Duke Fame Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    I'd say no, I've never used it on discs that have peak extension. And on top of that, if there isn't any peak extension I'm not sure there is anything to be gained from ripping using the HDCD decoding function.
     
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  5. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Often times when you rip an HDCD, the output at 24/44 will increase the dynamic range over ripping it as a standard Redbook CD. In this case I think that is what the 6db refers to. If it were me I would go ahead and check "yes" for that feature assuming that the CD actually has peak extension. Not familiar with this album so I can't say whether it has it or not.

    If you are too confused by the DBPoweramp settings, try MusicBee instead.
     
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  6. nosliw

    nosliw Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    The score in question indeed does use the PM A/D and D/D converter during the mastering process. It will be flagged as "HDCD" but there is no decoding involved since Peak Extend and Low Level Range Extend are not enabled by the mastering engineer, as you already found out.

    And speaking of David Arnold, the official Independence Day soundtrack, released by RCA Victor, does use Peak Extend and thus uses HDCD.

    Many thanks to @boiledbeans for pointing out CHansen's posts about HDCD from page 35 to 38 (see here: HDCD list ).
     
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  7. Dr Tone

    Dr Tone Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    I only rip HDCDs with peak extension using the dbpoweramp HDCD plug in. Leave 6db boost off as it's been known to cause clipping.

    All other HDCDs are ripped as normal CDs.
     
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  8. nosliw

    nosliw Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    I just realized today that CHansen is none other than Charles Hansen of Ayre Acoustics, who passed away November 28th, 2017. RIP, Charles. :(
     
  9. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    So the 6db checkbox feature is a boost and doesn't lower the overall volume? OP's post says "lower".
     
  10. MacMan2007

    MacMan2007 Member

    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    I've just been down this rabbit hole. The 6db issue on dbpower amp asks whether you want to boost the decoded file by 6db. This option is available because a decoded HDCD is actually a 20 bit file placed in a 24 bit container (I don't think any modern DACs read 20 bit). This causes the converted file to be slightly quieter. I agree with the poster above who said you should not check this box because it can result in clipping. Just turn the volume up a bit! I also agree that unless you verify the HDCD uses peak extension, there is no reason to bother converting. Even if it does, any added dynamics of the decoded version is barely noticeable (and hard to compare because level matching is tough given the reduction in gain). YMMV.
     
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  11. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker sh.tv member number 666

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    Since it's a 20 bit stream in a 24 bit container I would suggest ripping with the 6dB pad and then normalizing to -0.1dB after the rip. That way you get the full bit depth and the volume and you don't need to worry about clipping.
     
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  12. Dr Tone

    Dr Tone Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    FYI: I ran foobar's dynamic range add-in on the resultant files after decoding Emmylou Harris's "Wrecking Ball" and you could see a small increase in dynamic range on all tracks in comparison to the un-decoded HDCD files.
     
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  13. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I may try that sometime. I haven't had a problem with volume just ripping to 24/44 using MusicBee. The only reason I don't use EAC for ripping HDCD (which I do use for everything else) is because I like to play the HDCD files on my phone and none of the programs I use have an HDCD decoder AFAIK.
     
  14. Dr Tone

    Dr Tone Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    Having to turn up a preamp's volume isn't a bad thing. In fact if it gets you closer to unity gain it's a good thing. :)
     
  15. Do two rips. One rip as a regular 16/44.1 CD without doing HDCD decoding. One rip as a 24/44.1 with dBpoweramp doing the HDCD decoding. Don't do the 6dB boost.

    Afterwards you can figure out if the CD has peak extend and/or gain. If it doesn't have peak extend or gain then you can delete the 24/44.1 files because there is no benefit to the decoded files over the regular 16/44.1 files.

    You can use Foobar or CUETools to check if the CD has peak extend or gain. I use CUETools. Configure the settings in CUETools to "Detect HDCD encoding". Do a rip of the CD to a CUE file (using EAC or CUERipper). Have CUETools verify the CUE rip. It will check for HDCD encoding during the verify process. Then you can look in the CUETools log file and see if HDCD peak extend or gain was detected.

    HDCD allows for different levels of peak extend. Peak extend can be configured to be subtle. Or it can be configured to be much more noticeable. It all depends on how the mastering engineer twiddled with the settings. Don't assume that every HDCD title with peak extend has the same amount of peak extend. Some will be subtle. Some won't be. Even with the subtle settings I would hope that people here have the ears and equipment and listening experience to be able to hear the benefit of decoding the peak extend.
     
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  16. vwestlife

    vwestlife Member

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
  17. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Hope this isn't a thread hijack, but I was wondering if there is a site that lists "stealth HDCD"'s? At this point, I'm only aware of 2 HDCD's in my posession (out of nearly 2000 presumably-Redbook discs). Or, is that not even feasible due to the logo being a requirement of HDCD's?
     
  18. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

  19. Goodwin's High End has a list of HDCD CDs: Goodwin's High End - HDCD Recordings

    I posted a list of the HDCD discs that I own and what HDCD features they have. Some of them are "stealth", meaning there is no HDCD logo. I don't indicate which ones are stealth, and right now I don't know. HDCDs with Peak Extend
     
  20. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Thanks, Mr. Sandwich! I owe you a pickle!
     
  21. rbbert

    rbbert Forum Resident

    Location:
    Reno, NV, USA
    If you have an audio editor (Audacity is free) you can easily “see” what is happening when ripping an HDCD using dBPoweramp. In order to make use of Peak Extend, the level needs to be lowered by 6 dB to allow for however much peak extension was used (6 dB is the maximum allowed). Since most HDCD’s with Peak Extend only use 1.5 - 3 dB of that (more tends to make the undecoded CD sound bad), the decoded peaks will be well below 0 dB when the “+ 6 dB” is unchecked. I will typically then amplify everything by 3 dB after decoding to bring the volume up to a more typical level; the peaks are still well below 0 dB
     
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  22. Whole dill pickles go well with a deli style ham sandwich. :D

    Keep in mind that some of the stealth HDCD titles show up as HDCD only because the Pacific Microsonics AD converter was used as a compressor or for final dithering but not as an AD converter. If the Pacific Microsonics AD converter was used only to dither the final conversion the HDCD magic dither bits will be present, and an HDCD CD player will detect that and show that it's HDCD, but will not be what I would consider an HDCD disc. To me an HDCD disc needs to have used the Pacific Microsonics AD converter for actual analog to digital conversion. It's the AD conversion that makes the HDCD discs sound so good. It's a very good AD converter that has a sound that I happen to like.

    If a the Pacific Microsonics was used as an AD converter and for final dithering to 16 bits then the HDCD bits will show up and it will be what I consider a true HDCD disc. However, if the Pacific Microsonics was used only for final dithering the HDCD bits will show up but will not be what I consider a true HDCD disc. It will show up as a stealth HDCD disc, but won't have the special sound of the AD converter.
     
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  23. vwestlife

    vwestlife Member

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    I have plenty of CDs on which some or all tracks were HDCD encoded, even though there's no HDCD logo to be seen anywhere on them.

    If you don't have a proper HDCD player, the easy way to tell is to get an old PC still using Windows Media Player 9. It'll show the HDCD logo as soon as you pop in an encoded disc. (For some reason Microsoft removed the logo from later versions of WMP, even though they still support HDCD decoding, as long as you have 24-bit audio enabled in the options.)

    I also have a few discs, from major U.S. record companies, which have the HDCD logo on them, but are not actually HDCD encoded! That shows how much people cared about it...
     
  24. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    That always seemed to be a half-baked technology rollout to me, not even as well communicated to the buying public as even the SACD and DVD-A. And of course, in light of those two, that's just added confusion in the marketplace. No wonder they threw their hands up into the air.

    If the engineers couldn't even convince a band that "make my instrument louder!" was not a good use of technology, how could they hope to keep consumers informed about the advantages of an innovation that they don't really wanna go gaga over (because then, what would that say about all the other titles a label would put out withOUT a logo this month). And, how little time was it after the advent of HDCD, was the introduction of yet another new format, the benefits of which you wouldn't get unless you bought a whole 'nother player? Ridiculous.
     
  25. vwestlife

    vwestlife Member

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
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