Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by siebrand, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. siebrand

    siebrand Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've never had a CDP with the HDCD For about ten years, however, I have a CDP that also reads the sacd, (Labtek HiEnd, which also reads the DVD).
    3 years ago I also got another CDP with the sacd (Yamaha CD-S3000). Both readers like me a lot.
    The Labtek is slightly "warmer" (so to speak), while the Yamaha is a little more detailed, even if I do not think it's right to say "colder" on the contrary!
    I have hundreds of CDs in sacd format, some pure sacd, almost all "hybrids".
    Some of these also have HDCD. I have never heard the difference between SACD and HDCD.
    For your experience ... How much difference is there between one and the other? and ... What are these differences? Is it worth it, to buy a CDP with HDCD?

    Neil Young records, for example, are often HDCD encoded but do not have the sacd. I quote the great Neil, but, of course, CD with the HDCD I have others too.
    I think there are about fifty, those with HDCD, on my shelves. The word is yours. :unhunh:
    mace likes this.
  2. puddleduck

    puddleduck Forum Resident

    Lake District
    HDCD is an attempt to fake high res. and generally is more likely to have a detrimental impact on sound quality.

    SACD is generally real hi res, although beware as most as SACD are converted to DSD from PCM so there is no inherant advantage, unless the DSD was created natively with a DSD recorder.

    Many older CD players will support HDCD but its certainly not worth hunting for a player specifically.

    Both formats are dead and generally offer (with few exceptions) no audible advantage over Redbook CD - and I say this as someone who has loads of SACDs.
    bhazen, Phasecorrect, apesfan and 2 others like this.
  3. siebrand

    siebrand Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I don't think sacd is dead....

    now that the patents of the sacd are expiring, and therefore the various royalties are no longer paid.
    Even Technics produced a very good player sacd, just like Pioneer.
    as for the software ... well ... of sacd come out, still, many editions.
    Much for classical music, much in jazz, less in rock / pop blues .....

    what to say about HDCD... I think you're right...

    Thanks for you reply.. :thumbsup:
  4. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Scottish Borders
    HDCD has a detrimental impact on sound quality? As someone who has loads of both formats, I'm yet to be convinced that mastering and production values come first, and way ahead of format. That said, I feel stating that it's detrimental is perhaps misleading.
    Simon A and vegafleet like this.
  5. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    I have HDCD that play fine on non HDCD enabled players. If anything some may sound a little better for it but certainly not an upgrade on standard CD. SACD mastered properly is in a different league to CD though some still claim they can't hear the difference.
    luckybaer and TarnishedEars like this.
  6. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Katy, TX
    HDCD is definitely dead. Microsoft bought the technology and did nothing with it. Perhaps they were thinking they could add it as a feature to the XBOX in response to Sony's inclusion of SACD to the PS3. However, Sony dropped the capability and likely MS didn't see the need to implement the it.

    SACDs aren't dead. Well, not dead yet. The fact that AP is re-issuing DSotM points in that direction as it's actually one of the more widely available SACDs. AP and MoFi have continued to support the format. As far as the major labels go, I think it is dead and has been. If they convert to DSD, I think they will stick to downloads to avoid physical pressings. The audiophile labels will continue to support is as it's a simple mechanism to limit for the copyright owners to control licensing.

    I actually have no idea of the benefits of HDCD. I own 5 titles with HDCD encoding. The are Springsteen's Tracks, AF's pressing of Jane's Addiction's Nothing's Shocking, a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade, Brubeck's Time Out and the Redbook layer of Roxy's Avalon SACD. I don't own a player and finding one seem silly to me consider I don't have much of collection. On the other hand. I do have close have close to a hundred SACDs, most of them being Rolling Stones Hybrids. The only SACDs I own that sourced from PCM transfers are the Japanese Rumours and Hotel California with 5.1 layers that were obviously included on DVD-A releases. I bought them because DVD-A was the dumbest format ever. Every DVD-A I've ever owned required me to enter a menu on my TV to get to the Hi-Rez layers. My Hybrid SACDs just play the DSD layer by default.
  7. rjp

    rjp Senior Member

    i like the slightly 'expanded (if you will) sound of HDCD.

    it is, for all intents and purposes, dead. some blame can be placed on neil young, who bought into it, used it constantly, and then abandoned it.
    vegafleet likes this.
  8. Brando4905

    Brando4905 Forum Resident

    Marion, NC
    Not sure what is considered “dead” in terms of HDCD? I mean, I’m still purchasing new releases in the format. The GD, “Dave’s Picks” series is still HDCD. I‘ve been a subscriber for many years and just received the first quarterly offering last week, sounds fabulous. Also, relatively recent Doug Macleod releases are HDCD. I enjoy both formats, SACD and HDCD, hard to tell the difference between the two even though I’ve always heard SACD as being superior.

    In terms of is it worth it to by into a player that supports HDCD, I guess that all depends on how many disks of the format you own or plan to buy. I don’t consider it a dead format when new HDCD’s are still being pressed.

    Maybe it is a Grateful “Dead” format. :)
    The Beave, Simon A, vegafleet and 3 others like this.
  9. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker member number 666

    Northern VA, USA
    HDCD and SACD are in no way related or comparable.

    HDCD was an attempt to add resolution to the CD format using a proprietary Pacific Microsonics Analog-to-Digital converter on the mastering side. There is an option to use something called "peak extend". This technology can make HDCDs have a higher resolution (extend the bit depth to 20 bit over 16 bit) than CD on players that are so equipped. However, the extended peaks are brickwalled on "regular" CD players, making for a compromised sound. HDCDs with Peak Extend

    The Pacific Microsonics Analog-to-Digital converter is not well regarded by our host, and I don't think it's used very much any more. I believe it can be bettered - mastering engineers will get better sound from a better ADC at 16 bit than from the trick of adding extra resolution using an inferior ADC.

    SACD allows for DSD, a whole different digital encoding method, and 5.1 sound which is awesome. I love 5.1 SACDs though I don't have that many of them.
    gregr, nightenrock, mcd4959 and 5 others like this.
  10. siebrand

    siebrand Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have some, too, of this 5.1
    But... I don't have surround at home.
    I choose for stereo.
    (not saying Stereo is better... but I cannot put all that speakers in my listening room...)
    PhilBiker likes this.
  11. fml

    fml New Member

    If you compare the original Grateful Dead cds to the HDCD copy there is a big difference. The HDCD has more detail, deeper base and over all fuller sound.
  12. Lenny

    Lenny Forum Resident

    New York
    Decoded HDCD is 44.1MHz x 24 bits rather than the Redbook standard of 44.1 MHz x 16 bits. Some would therefore call HDCD a high resolution format. Some high resolution formats are more high resolution than others. Can the difference betweed decoded HDCD and Redbook be heard? Can the difference between SACD and Redbook be heard? And other high resolution formats? That seems to depend upon recording/mastering, listener and home equipment.
    The Beave, vegafleet and Doc Diego like this.
  13. Omnio

    Omnio _ _ _ ____ ____ _ _ _

    I only have a couple of true HDCDs in my collection, and boy, it makes a difference. In one case the dynamic range gets extended almost double compared to the redbook version. Alas, most HDCDs are, in fact, won't use the full range of qualities of this format. Get ahold of Nevermore's Dreaming Neon Black album (first eddition). We are talking about a DR6 VS DR11.

    I think HDCDs has had a great potential back in the day. I have a hybryd SACD disc which contains the redbook version, and HDCD encoded version, DSD stereo and DSD 5.1 of the same audio material. Now that could have been the future of the compact disc. You get 4 versions on one disc of the same music.
    nosliw likes this.
  14. Kal Rubinson

    Kal Rubinson Forum Resident

    Apparently, you do not care much about classical music where original multichannel SACDs (and not just remastered oldies) continue to be released weekly. Sure, the future for them is in files but that applies to all physical media.

    Not any more and not for a while. Many ripping options.

    That is due to your player's setup, not something built into the SACD.
    jeffmackwood likes this.
  15. Personally, the HDCDs I have with peak extension don't compare to any real Hi-Rez (PCM or DSD) I've heard. Even great HDCDs were very marginal improvements over regular redbook CDs.
    PhilBiker likes this.
  16. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker member number 666

    Northern VA, USA
    At best. Limited by the performance of the ADC.
  17. redeyedandblue

    redeyedandblue Forum Resident

    If you decode HDCD on your computer then you *will* get a 24-bit/44.1kHz output file, but most of those extra bits will just be padded with zeroes, which is not really true hi-res.

    Pacific Microsonics claimed the system provided the “equivalent” of 20-bit resolution, but most of that was supposedly accomplished through dithering (which is now standard on pretty much all other modern ADCs).

    The proprietary parts of the HDCD system - peak extend and low level range extend - only offered a maximum of around 1.5 bits of additional resolution, and even then you’d only get that on particularly dynamic classical recordings.

    But 17.5 (or 20) bit isn’t a standard word length for digital audio files, so it’s placed in a 24-bit container to avoid causing compatibility problems.

    As to whether you can hear a difference: well, an HDCD disc with peak extend enabled will sound worse when played back on a non-HDCD-capable Redbook player because the top 9dB of level is soft limited so it fits into 3dB of level on the disc.

    If you’re starting from scratch then, given that most rock and pop recordings don’t use anywhere near the dynamic range afforded by Redbook CD, and given the marginal improvements offered by HDCD, I’d wager you could produce a Redbook transfer that’s comparable in quality to a peak-extended HDCD transfer by simply dialling back the levels a little bit.
  18. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    I had a DVD Player with HDCD a Toshiba SD was pretty good but I don't miss it...I like SACD better...
    Bill Mac likes this.
  19. TeleCaster

    TeleCaster Forum Resident

    Québec, Canada
    Tons of classical stuff coming out on SACD. The rock realm remains more reissue stuff. Pink Floyd's Animals in 5.1 SACD is supposed to drop soon. WYWH was recently reissued again.

    To your last point, if you don't hear any audible advantage between SACD and redbook cd, you are not experiencing SACD. The SACD media I have (multi, quad, stereo) revivals vinyl when it comes to warmth and blows the CD equivalent away in all depts.
    I do run my transport (OPPO player) through a quad 6L6 tube amp.
    PhantomStranger likes this.
  20. vegafleet

    vegafleet Forum Resident

    If like me you have 70+ HDCD releases (Neil Young, Jerry Garcia, GD, King Crimson, Yes and others), why would you not want to play what you already have at its best possible resolution and presentation? The HDCDs exist and are in the fan's and buyer's hands already. We paid for them and we listen to them. They are still in the marketplace.

    It is not an either/or choice. All these formats coexist and compete with each other. Some have lasted more than others and some have sold more than others but they are not extinct. I have CD, HDCD, SACD, DVD-A, BR-A and why not? Part of the fun and variety of the hobby.

    As far as which format is better, I think the implementation and application (mixing and mastering) done by the artist and engineers for each individual release is as important as the tech specs of any format.

    I like HDCD and the decoding results I have noted range from no difference from the red book to a nice extra headroom and detail. But they are really all over the place.
    Brando4905 and TarnishedEars like this.
  21. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA
    Many HDCDs sound identical with or without decoding. As I understand it, unless the peak extend feature is used on an HDCD, there is nothing to actually decode.

    IMO SACD is the better sounding of the two formats by a small degree. But the quality of the mastering can make or break either format, and is often more audible than is the choice of format.
  22. Mr D

    Mr D Forum Resident

    I started looking into HDCD the past year or so as a curiosity as I knew I had a few discs but no way to decode. I was surprised to find I have 24 HDCDs since half are not labeled as such. I picked up an HDCD compatible unit cheap at a thrift store (Panasonic DVD S97). Unfortunately after researching the discs, the majority 90% didn't utilize the peak extend feature anyway. Turns out it doesn't matter as I pulled an online manual and found in the fine print that my player "does not support the Peak Extend function". WTF? Not sure the point of placing the HDCD stamp on the player if the one thing HDCD is known for is not supported unless its to get suckers like me to purchase. In short, experiment fail, but at least I didn't cost me much.

    Seems like the whole HDCD concept was a fail since most sound engineers either did not understand the technology or they did understand and intentionally turned off the features. So there are all these HDCD discs floating around that are not labeled as such and/or do not utilize Peak Extend.

    I am still curious about a couple statements and quotes I picked up somewhere online, probably thru other threads and links on this site:

    "Compared to conventional CD's, HDCD-encoded CDs can sound markedly superior [because of] the superb sonic quality provided by the Pacific Microsonics A-D converters which still to this day are considered by many to be the finest sounding A-D converters ever made." (Keep in context this is 25 year old tech). And

    "HDCD recordings will always sound better than conventional CDs when played on any CD player. You will hear fuller, richer sound on all types of players, from portables to high-end systems. And, best of all, the HDCD decoder chip used in consumer products also contains the HDCD high-precision digital filter that improves the sound quality of all types of digital audio recordings. This means that any A/V receiver, CD player, and DVD player equipped with HDCD will produce significantly better sound from your entire collection of CDs and DVDs."

    Seems like a bunch of marketing nonsense to me or is there any truth to those statements?
    PhilBiker likes this.
  23. rdog

    rdog Forum Resident

    In my case, HDCDs do not sound better because there is no audio! Sony Blu-Ray player. The discs physically play, but no sound.

    The discs do work in other players.
  24. Sevoflurane

    Sevoflurane Forum Resident

    West Yorkshire
    Now that is weird. HDCDs should play in any CD player. Do normal CDs play?
    klockwerk likes this.
  25. rcsrich

    rcsrich Forum Resident

    I have the remaster of the first Cars album, which is HDCD. Without decoding, it sounds squashed and loud. With the peak extend decoded, the dynamics are close to the original CD. I don't understand why they didn't just release a non-compressed Redbook remaster.
    Carlox likes this.

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