Listening to HDCD CD, Must I use CD Player with HDCD Function?

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by liemjerry, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. cpt_paranoia

    cpt_paranoia Super Member

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  2. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier Subscriber

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    I noticed when I ripped my CDs that some were actually HDCD, but not indicated as such on the packaging. dBpoweramp will automatically detect and rip those to 24-bit/44.1kHz for me. But the point is, there may be discs in all of our collections that are not indicated anywhere on the packaging as being HDCD. While I don't like the format at all, it is still interesting to see the HDCD indicator illuminate on the player when an unmarked HDCD disc is played. :)
     
  3. dosmalo

    dosmalo T-Totaled Subscriber

    I have at least four that give no indication of being HDCD encoded but trigger the decoder in my DAC. One is a Best of Willie Nelsen. Top shelf sound too.
     
  4. Wolverine

    Wolverine AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I found this to be a useful site for finding several HDCD titles among other CD's I owned which were not labeled in anyway as being HDCD.

    http://www.goodwinshighend.com/music/hdcd/hdcd_recordings.htm

    I have to go back and check but I think I currently have about 2 dozen HDCD titles and several of them like two from Beck are unmarked as HDCD.
     
  5. hjames

    hjames ... winter is HERE - time for Cake! Staff Member Moderator Subscriber

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    Huge amount of Grateful Dead on Rhino is HDCD ...
    and Joni's trio of For the Roses, Court and Spark, and Hejira are all particularly sweet.
    (HDCD logo on the back).
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
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  6. soundboy

    soundboy Super Member

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    New HDCD.....on the CD compatible layer of a hybrid SACD

    [​IMG]
     

     

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  7. cpt_paranoia

    cpt_paranoia Super Member

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    MusicBee with the HDCD plugin recognises that the ripped 16-bit FLAC tracks are HDCD encoded, including range expansion, and runs the DSP plug-in to expand them. It pops up a message saying the HDCD decoder is enabled, and the track plays quieter...

    It will also do the HDCD decode when ripping, if the HDCD decode is enabled in the ripping dialogue. I haven't tried this.
     
  8. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

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    This makes me wonder if there is a difference between decoding while ripping or on playback. If there is a difference, which sounds better?
     
  9. cpt_paranoia

    cpt_paranoia Super Member

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    Well, I've just used MusicBee's CD ripper for the first time (I usually use Exact Audio Copy). Wasn't happy on my little all-in-one PC's slimilne, slow CD/DVD drive (although EAC got perfect AccurateRip matches on the same machine), but when I moved to my desktop, it cracked through the rip at high speed, pushing 30x rip after the initial startup. Verification perfect on all tracks, but all AccurateRip checks failed (AR matches the RedBook 16-bit CRCs, so the 24-bit expanded samples CRCs are 'wrong'). Quite impressed with MB's ripper, after the initial troubles on the all-in-one.

    MediaInfo shows the MB rips are indeed 24-bit, even though the FLAC files are only marginally larger than EAC's 16-bit files; FLAC doing a good job of removing the unnecessary data. Total album size 221MB vs 213MB, which would correspond to 16.6bits per sample as a simple scaling.

    Unfortunately, I'm not the man to do subjective comparisons, as I have neither golden ears, nor a golden system... I can hear the diffeence betwen LAME V0 MP3 and FLAC, but I think I'd struggle beyond that.

    Assuming both ripper and playback are using the same plugin, I see no good reason why decoding at playback time should sound any different to decoding at rip time.
     
  10. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

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    The next CD I rip will be via Music Bee and I'll try both ways for myself if the CD is HDCD.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  11. Wolverine

    Wolverine AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Out hitting the thrifts and increased my Country Music and HDCD titles;

    Alabama - Dancin on the Boulevard
    Alan Jackson - Everything I Love
    Marty Robbins - 16 Biggest Hits
     

     

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  12. dewdude

    dewdude I fix stuff.

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    HDCD is a funny creature. I'm sure we all know that it's basically audio dithered down to 15-bits using the LSB of the PCM stream to feed data to the decoder. It's very optimized dithering and somewhat resembles a compansion process.

    There are three main features an HDCD can use; peak extension, low level expansion, and a transient filter. Peak extension is just what it sounds like..it can "recover" some peaks that have been softly limited. low-level expansion is kind of an adjustable gain for low-level signals...presumably to increase the apparent dynamic range by just adjusting amplitude...and the transient filter should be obvious. An HDCD can use any combination of all three...or none at all! On a random sampling of HDCD's I have listed...they're all pretty much just using peak expansion.

    Use of HDCD equipment without any features seemed to be somewhat popular for a while since they were higher quality ADCs than what was usually available at the time. In this case...the disc will register as an HDCD disc since the control signal is still in the stream....the decoder just won't do anything except maybe apply a -6db attenuation to the entire signal.

    Software decoding became possible....I don't know...10 years ago, maybe a little longer. The initial decoder however was limited in that I think transient filter was forced on and LLE wasn't implemented properly. I use a Foobar2000 HDCD component that tells me if it's HDCD and what features/settings are used; I never fully read up but it sounds like they got the full decoder implemented...or something that works rather well.

    There shouldn't be a difference. When ripping you still have to rip that 16-bit data before the decoder can generate a padded 24-bit stream. The only difference is when you're doing the decoding and whether you store the original or a decoded version.

    I have this. Foobar doesn't like it because apparently it's only throwing the appropriate HDCD data for the first few seconds of each song. Foobar halves the output when PE is enabled...so when it dropped it became an issue. I'd be interested to know if a normal HDCD player "locks" to this, if it exhibits this same behavior, or if there's some crazy issue with my copy. Since I read a warning about WMP sometimes not being able to detect the HDCD data "within the first few seconds and not enabling it."

    Just a couple of Alabama HDCD titles do this. "For The Record" is actually a whole mishmash of tracks with some HDCD data and older tracks that have none...which tells me they literally compiled it from existing digital masters. The only other HDCD titles I can think of that I have that don't are Joni Mitchell's Hejira, John Prine - In Spite Of Ourselves, and that Chris Gaines CD Garth Brooks put out. Alabama is the first I've seen partial HDCD data before my decoder shuts off. Alabama's Twentieth Century on the other hand...has HDCD data throughout the entire disc and is constantly flipping the transient filter on and off.
     
  13. Wolverine

    Wolverine AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks for the info Dewdude! Hope all is well with you and you can make it to the next AK Get Together at Jim's or Rick's.

    I have not played the Alabama disc yet but I will see how the Adcom reads it.

    Speaking of formats like HDCD that never took off I hooked up my Denon Mini- Disc player. I'm curious how a HDCD title would record on a mini-disc.
     
  14. dewdude

    dewdude I fix stuff.

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    I have a 2011 Hyundai Elantra now...so soon as Spring gets here I can haul myself up for a gathering.

    The fun thing about MiniDisc is Sony actually used 20 bit AD/DA converters in most of them. So on one hand they are...in a way...perfect for HDCD. But ATRAC is a lossy format...so the actual bit depth advantage is lost.

    There is something to be said for the mildly expanded sound being recorded.
     
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  15. StimpyWan

    StimpyWan AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    HDCD requires the master to be encoded with HDCD Analog Digital Converters. This step required Pacific Macrosonics HDCD encoders. Then the resultant CD has to be played back with HDCD decoding, whether hardware or software. Plus, during mastering, the CD master has to have the HDCD Flag turned on, in the CD Table Of Contents. That's what tells the back end equipment that the CD has HDCD encoding.

    It's a very similar process to Pre-Emphasis. Without the proper Flags being turned on in the TOC, nothing will work. I've seen a lot of CD masters with incorrect Flags. It happened quite often. And at the same time, I often found masters that triggered phase-positive results. Flagged set as on, and the master wasn't HDCD encoded or have Pre-Emphasis. I wonder if that's why some paperwork didn't identify the disc as having HDCD encoding?
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019 at 2:18 PM
  16. Wolverine

    Wolverine AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Well I did get around to playing the Alabama title and the HDCD indicator stayed on throughout.
     

     

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