Home Digital Drive

Upsamplers, DACs, jitter, shakes and analogue withdrawals, this is it.

RE: Thanks for the Clarity on HDCD - Charles post is a must read

>> Most of my HDCD CD's are Grateful Dead, and they do sound very good on both non-HDCD decoding machines and HDCD decoding machines. However, they sound better, to men on my CD players (NAD & Marantz) with HDCD decoding. Should that be the case given what Charles said? <<

I'm pretty sure that the Dead were early adopters of HDCD. I don't know how many CDs they released before HDCD came along. I'm pretty sure that current releases still use the PM A/D converter (which will light up the HDCD light) but it's probably been around 10 years since a Dead disc was released that actually could benefit from decoding. So the answer to your question is a big fat "maybe".

It seems there are at least two variables that one would need to have knowledge of to give a definitive answer:

1) Do all of your CDs sound better on the NAD and Marantz players, or just those that light up the "HDCD" light?

2) The fact that the HDCD light turns on simply means that the excellent sounding Pacific Microsonics A/D converter designed by Keith Johnson was used to master the recording. It does not necessarily mean that there is anything to decode. *In general*, the older the disc the more likely it would be to require decoding. Discs released from 1997 through roughly 2003 *usually* had some features engaged, as there were quite a few high-end-only CD players that could decode them. Once the decoding chips were discontinued, most people using the PM A/D converters stopped using the HDCD encoding features, and by 2007 I don't think anybody was using the HDCD encoding features - but those recordings still light up the light on an HDCD-equipped CD player or DAC.

There are two way that I know of to know with *certainty* if either of the HDCD processes were engaged on a particular disc. The free method is to download Foobar and the HDCD decoding module, then cut-and-paste the script I posted on the Head-Fi forum (linked elsewhere in this thread), and then monitor the Status Bar in the Foobar program while playing each disc.

Easier but *much* more expensive is to use the Ayre QX-5 Twenty DAC. When it detects the "sub-code" signifying a recording was made with the PM A/D converter, an LED will illuminate. If any of the HDCD features were used that can be decoded (Peak Expand and/or Low-Level Extension), the unit will decode those properly and the letter "d" will show in the sample-rate display (eg, "d44" instead of just "44") to indicate "decoding" is occurring.

As always, strictly my personal opinion and not necessarily that of my employer or dog-walker.


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