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To be precise...

>> My Ayre C-5xeMP plays HDCDs <<

Yes, but it does not decode them. The Ayre DX-5 Blu-ray player does decode HDCDs via the MediaTek system chip (that also performs the video decoding). Now the patents have expired so the Ayre QX-5 DAC includes HDCD decoding as well.

To the OP here are two things to consider:

1) In my opinion the vast majority of the sonic improvement due to HDCD was actually the fact that Keith Johnson designed an audiophile-quality piece of equipment, and very little to do with the compansion scheme used by only *some* "HDCD" discs.

Just because a disc lights up the "HDCD" light does *not* mean that it requires any decoding. For more information on this, please refer to the link below.

2) While I am not aware of any DACs with both HDMI inputs and HDCD decoding, there are some HDMI-to-S/PDIF decoders available for very reasonable prices. Monoprice has a small box that will do exactly what you want for under $50:


Then you can use any DAC with HDCD decoding. If you go this route, I strongly recommend using a Toslink connection to your DAC as this will provide galvanic isolation between your audio and video systems, thereby improving the performance of both (and avoiding any possibility of creating ground loops).

Hope this helps.

As always posts here reflect solely my personal opinion, and not necessarily those of my employer or bartender.

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