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is HDCD dead?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by rjp, May 22, 2012.

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  1. rjp

    rjp Senior Member Thread Starter

    i've read both yes and no that HDCD is dead.

    does anyone know for sure?

    do they still make CD players with HDCD chips?
  2. farmingdad

    farmingdad Forum Resident

    albany, oregon
    HDCD is must have if you are a Grateful Dead fan as all "new" releases are still HDCD
    Daedalus likes this.
  3. Snashforce

    Snashforce Forum Resident

    Appalachia, USA
    I think the oppos and other "universal" disc players decode hdcd.
    hdcd is owned by microsoft. I guess that means a manufacturer has to pay them in order for their player to be able decode it?
  4. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Yes they do
  5. Digital-G

    Digital-G Forum Resident

    Dayton, OH
    :sarcasm on:

    Yep, HDCD is dead. So are CDs. And SACDs. And vinyl. Audio itself is actually dead.

    :sarcasm off:

    p.s. My Oppo BDP-95 that I bought last year has HDCD. But my Oppo BDP-95 is probably dead. ;)
  6. mwheelerk

    mwheelerk Aging Gracefully...Nope!

    Gilbert Arizona
    HDCD was stillborn.
    delmonaco likes this.
  7. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    south florida, usa
    What's HDCD?

    Guess I missed that one.

    Oh well...life goes on.
  8. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    I don't see any sarcasm. I think this is true in 2012, sadly, in terms of physical media.

    HDCD defined:



    I think HDCD was really dead after Pacific Microsonics sold it all to Microsoft in 2000, and it got rolled into Windows Media. I don't think they've built any A/D converters or encoders for years, but the decoders do still exist, plus it was reverse-engineered in software.

    I still believe to this day that HDCD was a crock, in that it was just an attempt to cram more than 16 bits of information into a Red Book-compatible format with smoke and mirrors. SACD and DVD-A made much more sense, and actually could reproduce real 20-bit or 24-bit music without any hocus pocus.
    rxcory and jeffcdo like this.
  9. weirdo12

    weirdo12 Forum Resident

    In that case one would not hear a difference between playing an HDCD disc on a compatible player and that other player - right? And yes you can hear smoke and mirrors. I know Steve Hoffman is no longer a fan. Maybe point the OP to the post were he disowns the 'format'.
  10. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    AF didn't use the peak extend or the gain features of HDCD. They only used the transient filter feature, which is something that is only relevant for the encoding or mastering stage. The transient filters don't get decoded during playback. Only the peak extend and/or the gain are features that need decoding by the DAC. AF made HDCD discs that don't need any decoding to sound as they should.

    You won't hear a difference playing an AF title on a HDCD DAC vs. a normal DAC, other than the intrinsic sonic differences of the two different DACs.
    mds and Dino like this.
  11. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Beaver Stadium
    Some people contend that HDCD discs that use peak extension sound better on HDCD-capable players. I've never heard an improvement with HDCD discs on HDCD players. In fact, I've often heard an improvement on non-HDCD players since my best players non-HDCD models -- Sony SCD-777ES and 'XA5400ES. Maybe I haven't been listening to discs with peak extension.
  12. Balthazar

    Balthazar Forum Resident

    Yeah, I went to the funeral last week. It's too bad you guys weren't there. Not a lot of people showed up. It was kinda depressing.
    Coricama likes this.
  13. Claude

    Claude Senior Member

    Avoid the term "dead" with products, except when they stop working :)
  14. This should be a poll with never alive an option since nothing can be decided, it is just a matter of opinion as some HDCD releases have been seen in 2012. I am probably going to vote never alive since I think it was ignored by 99% of the music buying public and nobody I know ever looked on the back of CD cases to find HDCD to justify buying the disc but if HDCD had been a deciding factor for anybody, it would have been a pain since most HDCDs I have don't even have the logo. Not all music companies were involved and only the tiniest niche within a tiny niche cared about HDCD and there was no universal agreement it was even audible. I thought I could tell and looked for the HDCD indicator to light up but after years, I wouldn't give odds I could get it right more than half the time without knowing in advance which discs used it.

    No market, no impact and no agreement it could ever matter means never alive to my way of thinking. Microsoft bought a stillborn product and I have no idea why.
  15. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Microsoft bought it for the patents and the technology. The ability to encode extra info in the audio without it being heard. Maybe it was useful to them for some DRM research? Maybe it was useful for something in their WMA or WMV codec plans or development? I don't know. It must have been worth something to them.

    Microsoft does have licensing and royalties posted for HDCD.
    Dino likes this.
  16. emmodad

    emmodad Forum Resident

    bay area, ca
    re MS acquisition of Pacific Microsonics IP

    this is some info I originally posted several years ago in a head-fi thread:


    MS interest was less about audio, and far more about the underlying intellectual property (and associated patents) pertaining to the pseudo-random noise encrypted control signalling technique which passes HDCD control signals utilizing the audio signal LSB for a very small portion of the time.


    in audio discussions about "bit-perfect" transmission, you will often see as commentary the simplification that if one transmits a 16- or 24-bit HDCD-encoded signal over a digital interface (ie from a computer, over USB/SPDIF/FW/etc, to a DAC), and the receiving unit can correctly distinguish the presence of the HDCD subcode, then the transmission was "bit-perfect."

    the HDCD subcode information exists only within LSBs of the audio signal, and only for a small percentage of the time. here, "small percentage of the time" = generally only around 2-3% of all audio samples have their LSB "stolen" by the HDCD process in order to transmit the HDCD subcode.

    so, "bit-perfect" audio transmission implies that HDCD subcode information has made it through the transmission process without corruption. or looked at another way, the transmission of data completed successfully, and did not corrupt the LSBs of the audio signal (which contain the HDCD subcode info).


    if you are Big Software MegaCo, and you want:

    • to be sure that large software distributions are correctly received by developers, with not a single bit of the product changed;
    • software distributions to consumers (via "transmission channel" of bits burned on a DVD") are authentic;
    • an anti-piracy measure to prove if software distributions are "authentic"; or
    • if you had/have aspirations about distributing audio and/or video content to consumers and wanted/want to have a method of controlling "authorized" playback

    well, the Pacific Microsonics technology is quite useful...

    call this use of hidden subcodes something like "watermarking" if you will.... not quite correct terminology, but you get the idea.


    Dino likes this.
  17. weirdo12

    weirdo12 Forum Resident

    Okay, so they are HDCD but that's really irrelevant since you gain absolutely nothing by playing them on and HDCD compatible player? Was that a well none fact? Just curious.
  18. rbbert

    rbbert Forum Resident

    Reno, NV, USA
    I wish HDCD was dead because all new and recent Neil Young and Grateful Dead CD's are encoded with peak extend, which certainly sounds better decoded. That can be done with software if your disc player isn't capable, but any way you look at it it's a pain.
    wilejoe and rxcory like this.
  19. JA Fant

    JA Fant Well-Known Member

    I like the HDCD concept. Big fan of The Grateful Dead + Neil Young!
  20. robertawillisjr

    robertawillisjr Music Lover

    Hampton, VA
    Are a good number of CD's encoded with HDCD and don't include the logo on the disc? Do a good number of players decode HDCD and don't include the logo on the unit?
  21. Hoser Rob

    Hoser Rob Member

    Regular redbook cd's aren't long for this world, never mind hdcd etc. DVD's will be next. It's all going to move to the cloud, and sooner than you'd think.
    Coricama likes this.
  22. BIG ED

    BIG ED Forum Resident

    HDCD media is dead.
    HDCD decoding lives on!
  23. ElizabethH

    ElizabethH Forum Resident

    SE Wisconsin,USA
    HDCD discs are still showing up. Some artists like it.
    I can hear the difference on discs with it.
    With HDCD on the music does sound better.
    My decoder is an Adcom DA700 DAC.
    The fact that it is not a required decode, that is the disc play Ok without the additional HDCD decoding is a plus for folks not interested in HDCD.
  24. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    I don't know if it is well known. But it's not really a secret. In the thread that Steve started "I've decided not to run my masterings through an HDCD converter" it is mentioned that peak extend is not used. The people who do software HDCD decoding in Foobar or use a tool like CUETools to decode HDCD can also see which HDCD features are present and being decoded. But most people who just have a hardware HDCD decoder won't know which HDCD features are being used because the hardware decoder doesn't tell them. All they know is that the HDCD light comes on.

    There are three features that HDCD can enable:
    1) peak extend: which is a peak limiter that HDCD decoding can undo so you get the peaks back
    2) transient filters: which are the digital filters used by that ADC during the encoding. It can switch between two different filters during the encoding. One filter gives better transient response than the other. The special filter is only active a very brief time then back to the normal filter. This is just something done during the encoding stage. There is nothing for the decoder to do. The decoder does not switch filters during playback.
    3) gain: this applies some gain to some low level signals. It can kick in when there is a reverb tail and similar low level signals and can make the reverb tail easier to hear.

    If the only feature that is enabled by the mastering engineer is the transient filter then there is nothing to decode. But the HDCD light on a HDCD player will still turn on.

    I do software decoding. I don't own a hardware HDCD player. I decode discs that have peak extend or gain. I do not decode disks that just have transient filters. In this post in the thread HDCDs with Peak Extend I list a bunch of HDCD titles and the HDCD features in each.
    Dino likes this.
  25. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    I don't consider HDCD dead. As long as I have CDs that have HDCD that I want to play, HDCD will be alive for me.

    We've got software decoders now. You don't need old HDCD hardware to get the benefits of the HDCD decoding. As long as I have a software decoder that will work I am reasonably future-proofed and will be able to enjoy my HDCD tiles for decades to come.

    New releases with HDCD will decrease as studios upgrade to more modern gear from the old Pacific Microsonics HDCD gear. New technology eventually replaces the old, even if the old is still good. It will be a slow die-off of new titles using HDCD. Old titles with HDCD will continue to be in the used bins for years to come.
    Dino likes this.
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