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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011

    Rethinking how to rip HDCD

    Even though I only have 2 HDCDs, recent purchase of dbPowerAmp had me re-thinking as to how I should rip my HDCDs. This link might also have changed my mind:
    The HDCD Enigma

    Most of us don't have DACs that can decode HDCDs. Without re-iterating the above link, playback of HDCD files via standard DACs is essentially playing back a dynamically compressed file. It is also possible that there isn't enough low-level information from the HDCD files where the additional low-level information outweighs the harm from the dynamic compression.

    Most of our DACs can playback 24-bit files. And most of our computers can dither 24-bit files to 16-bit on the fly. Assuming that reduced dynamic compression outweighs the benefit of low-level information, even at 16-bit playback, I wonder if it is better to always rip HDCDs to 24-bit files (with +6dB amplification for proper levels).

    I did a test through my Benchmark DAC1. The 24-bit rips not surprisingly sounds better than the straight 16-bit CD rip. But the big surprise to me was that the 16-bit dithered playback of the 24-bit rip sounds better than the straight 16-bit rip. Presumably, the benefits of the reduced dynamic compression outweighs the benefit of low-level information. The HDCDs I own are Copland Fanfare for the Common Man from RRx and Dave Brubeck Quartet's Time Out.

    I was wondering if other CA users have thought about this or played around with this. Also, I know Chris Connaker mainly plays his standard HDCD rips via the Berkeley Alpha DAC which has HDCD decoding. I wonder if he's played around with 24-bit HDCD rips on his other DACs and his opinion on this.

  2. #2
    retired, ... but active ;-) Synfreak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    The problem is:

    Only a fraction of HDCD encoded discs actually use the peak limiting and low level shift functions which - when decoded - give a higher dynamic range.

    (I'm using Foobar200 with the HDCD plugin which enabkes me to monitor the HDCD decoding functions in realtime)

    But I also decode HDCDs to 24Bit - no matter if they use these feature(s) or not. I don't care for the 6dB lower output of the decoded material (without peak limiting feature), as I tend to use my volume control anyway ;-)
    Foobar2000+Win10/64 / Esoteric SA-60 --> Mytek Stereo 192-DSD DAC --> ME Geithain RL922K / Sennheiser HD 800 / Sony MA900 / AKG K1000 / AKG K500 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II