HDCD Surprise! and a Question

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by Mellotronix, Sep 2, 2017.

  1. Mellotronix

    Mellotronix Active Member

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    I bought a new Yamaha universal disc player a month ago. Yesterday I loaded Lateralus by Tool and noticed that the player flashed "HDCD." I was not aware that the player was capable of playing HDCD's or that Lateralus was mastered in this format. I scoured the Yamaha manual and found only one mention of HDCD in a chart on the last page. So, of course, I found a list of HDCD releases and collected the ones that I own. Now I'm wondering which output to use. I have an HDMI cable going to the TV and returning to my Yamaha integrated stereo amp using the optical cable. I also have the coaxial cable and the line outputs going directly to the amp. Unfortunately, the integrated amp does not have an HDMI input, but it does have a high quality DA converter capable of doing PCM at 32bit/352kHZ and DSD at very high bit rates. So, can I reproduce the HDCD discs using the coax or optical cable? Or should I use the balanced line outs and let the player decode the disc? Or am I SOL since there are no HDMI inputs? Any insights would be welcome here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2017
  2. mikeybc

    mikeybc Listener

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    I think the D/A converter within player itself decodes the HDCD data. Bypass the internal D/A converter using digital outputs and you'll lose HDCD decoding. That how I see it.
     
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  3. nedseg

    nedseg AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have a Sony CD player that does HDCD...and seems to only work via it's optical ouputs to my bench receiver, which is what is recommended in the manual. I assume the CD player is doing the decoding. THe Oppo 103 will decode to HDMI, though.
     
  4. dewdude

    dewdude I fix stuff.

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    It's entirely possible that a modern player can "decode" HDCD and output it using a higher bit depth. There is PC software that can do this to some degree. But typically only a players analog outputs would provide HDCD output.
     
  5. Mellotronix

    Mellotronix Active Member

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    Thanks for your replies! I'm leaning toward the theory that the player probably has to do the decoding and then send the analog signal downstream to the amp via line outputs. The player has XLR outs which would probably be the way to go. I'm currently using the RCA outputs which, like the XLR's, are balanced line level outputs.
     
  6. dewdude

    dewdude I fix stuff.

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    Typically RCA outputs are an unbalanced signal.

    The only advantage to a balanced signal is a much decreased chance of any kind of interference messing with your analog signal. I've never used balanced signals in the line-level arena...only when dealing with microphones.
     
  7. Mellotronix

    Mellotronix Active Member

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    Yes, my mistake. RCA outputs are unbalanced--I just misread the labels on the back of the unit. Obviously, the XLR outs are balanced.
     
  8. Ds2000

    Ds2000 All About every cool stereo component. Subscriber

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    It only engages in the machine containing the Pacific Microsonics PMD-100 or 200 chipset (or similar HDCD decoding chipset) in it. So if the CD player has the chip, it will only work out of the analog outputs, UNLESS your outboard DAC also has the chipset, this from what I've read (way back when). The HDCD data will be sent via the dig out, but again only DAC units with the PMD-100 or 200 (or similar HDCD decoding chipset) will decode it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
  9. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

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    HDCD capability used to be available in Windows Media Player.
     
  10. dosmalo

    dosmalo T-Totaled Subscriber

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    Also, I have run across a few CDs that were HDCD without any indication in the lit that they were.
    Popped them in and the indicator light lights up.
    Sounded good too.
     
  11. for_p1

    for_p1 Addicted Member

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    You will need to use analog output. On all digital outputs it will likely send unprocessed 44.1/16 stream. I didn't see any transport that processes HDCP for digital output. It could be a limitation of license for that technology.
     
  12. gvl

    gvl Active Member

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    There were external DACs back in the days that could decode HDCD format, e.g. Adcom GDA-700. The actual digital format is said to be fully compatible with standard CDs but the DAC needs to have special processing built-in in order to benefit from HDCD mastering.
     
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  13. Mellotronix

    Mellotronix Active Member

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    Thanks. Yes, all CD players should be capable of reading HDCD's in 16 bit format, but the Yamaha that I purchased is supposed to decode HDCD's. My understanding is that you get the benefit of 20 bit encoding which is like adding 24db of dynamic range or something to that effect. Again, whether or not I'm going to be able to hear the difference is up for debate, but Tom Petty's Playback Box Set sounds superb, and I mean superb. One of the first HDCD sets available in 1995.
     
  14. KrisM

    KrisM Addicted Member

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    That's a solid set. In both SQ and MQ. Great notes, too.
    One of the best rock boxsets ever, IMO.
     
  15. dewdude

    dewdude I fix stuff.

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    So a lot of CDs were mastered with HDCD hardware but without any of the features enabled. All HDCD decoding does there is apply a 6dB cut to the amplitude. (Could be 3, havent read the spec.)

    The least significant bit of the PCM stream is used for HDCD signaling...so the effective bitrate is about 15 bits for the audio.

    It does some things to the audio...but its not actually 20 bit. They attempt to increase the range using things like peak expansion. Its kind of similar to a compansion system.

    Microsoft for the most part "discontinued" the technology almost 10 years ago.

    There are several software packages that provide HDCD decoding in software. Windows Media Player still decodes it; but there is an open-source library or two that do it.

    Someone mentioned HDCP; that has nothing to do with HDCD.
     
  16. KrisM

    KrisM Addicted Member

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    Timely thread.
    I just got back from the library, and popped in a borrowed copy of John Hammond's Wicked Grin, and the HDCD light popped on. No mention of it in the notes, as far as I can tell.
     
  17. gvl

    gvl Active Member

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    Quick google search tells me false positives aren't unheard of. Apparently a CD can be flagged as an HDCD but the expanded descriptor which tells the decoder which features to use is empty, so it is effectively just a pass-through. There are likely software utilities out there that allow to inspect detailed HDCD codes on a disk.

    EDIT: that's what dewdude said above...
     
  18. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

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    Foobar and Music Bee offer an HDCD plug-in.
     
  19. red 111

    red 111 Active Member

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    might be off topic a bit,but I've always wondered why my Adcom GDA 700 with HDCD chip will display an HDCD light with every cd player I've inserted except my Marantz cc4000 OSE ???? any answers?
     
  20. hjames

    hjames Nabbed ... Subscriber

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    I have an older AudioAlchemy DAC that will decode HDCD signals.
    I can take the Coaxial "composite" out from my Oppo DV981-HD and feed it into the DAC and get the decoded HDCD info out the L & R analog outputs.
    The audio is better than just running the Oppo L & R analog outs into my preamp
    (e.g, better than letting the Oppo decode the HDCD disc directly - it has that capability).

    I have Joni Mitchel and Dead CDs (and others) that are known HDCD recordings WITH the features enabled.
     

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