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HDCD. What? Why? Where? When? & How?

Big Chris

New member
Apr 3, 2008
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I've noticed a few of my CDs say they're encoded with a HDCD soundtrack. I just wondered what it actually is, what it does, who produced it, why it's not viewed as a must-have and most important of all, does it sound better than 'regular' CD?

Any info to enlighten me would be greatly received.
 

jaxwired

Well-known member
Feb 7, 2009
284
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18,895
Most CDs are not HDCD encoded. When they are, you must have a special CD player with build in decoding to gain benefit from them although they will play fine via a standard CDP, you just won't benefit from the extra data.

HDCD means that more data is encoded. Rather than a 16 bit signal, you get a 20 or 24 bit signal. This results in greater dynamic range and better filtering which can reduce aliasing or temporal smearing.

Not everyone thinks it sounds better...
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
IIRC, Rotel used to make HDCD compatible players and unless my memory's going, Marantz too. Can't think of any more offhand though.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
HDCD (High Definition Compatible Digital,) has been around for a while. It was an attempt to improve on the standard redbook CD, while remaining backwardly compatible. Unfortunately, not too many CD players supported it when it came out, and even less these days, so it's a format that may be on the verge of disappearing.

Microsoft bought the company that produced it in September 2000, but they don't seem to be doing a lot with it.
 

bretty

New member
Jul 20, 2007
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My Rotel plays HDCD. A little red light comes on the front of the player when an encoded disc is played. A lot of my discs, especially from Australia, are HDCD encoded but have no logo on the casework or disc. So, it's a nice surprise to see the little light come on.

There is an improvement over normal cd playback, in my opinion. Sound is clearer right across the board, with more expressive vocals and smoother treble. The soundstage is more open, too.ÿ

The technology definitely has (had? is it now defunct?) merit and it's a shame it hasn't been fully embraced by the industry.

Big Chris, being a man, like me, who likes his music on the heavy side, I have to tell you that Tool's 'Lateralus' is HDCD encoded, and it sounds absolutely f'ing amazing! The drums and cymbol work jump right out at you.ÿ
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I've got a Naim CD player and as with all Naim CD player they also do HDCD. Does anyone have other good recomendations of HDCD'S
 

bretty

New member
Jul 20, 2007
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A couple of goodies are:

20th anniversary remaster of Dire Straights 'Brothers in arms'

This is a corker: Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach 'Painted from memory'ÿ
 

aliEnRIK

New member
Aug 27, 2008
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I actually have a cd with movie songs on and some songs are recorded on HD and some not!

Personally I cant tell a difference when its on or off so it smells a bit of BS to me
 
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Anonymous

Guest
My NAD C541i CD Player does (or did - when it worked...) HDCD, as does my Marantz AV receiver, and I too have a small number of CDs so encoded, such as Paula Cole's "This Fire" - which I've always found to be one of the best sounding albums I have. I don't know if this is due to the HDCD encoding or the fact that it was just excellently engineered. I also have an HDCD KMFDM CD which has a lot of extra slam. I also have an Asian (not sure if it's Taiwanese or Japanese) remaster of Sarah McLachlan's "Touch" which was actually printed in Germany (??). It's LOUDER than the standard pressing, but I honestly can't tell if it actually sounds any better or not. It's the same with another Asian remastered CD I have. With a lot of those 'remastered' imports I think they just press them as HDCD's without doing any remastering or re-encoding at all. I'd like for someone to prove me right or wrong on this though...

Mike
 
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the record spot

Guest
HDCD was originally Microsoft's baby, or at least they bought the company that developed it (I think). Quite a few discs had it; Joni Mitchell's remasters, Grateful Dead, Dire Straits...never having had an HDCD player, I couldn't say what it was like, though I've seen the software turn up on some low-end DVD players which was a surprise.
 

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