Posts Tagged ‘HDCD’

Return to HDCD it only took me 10 years! (Part 2!)

Monday, July 20th, 2020

I’ve recently been reminded after installing my new “balls” or Cambridge Audio “Puds” on my DAC – see here – S700 Isomagic DAC “puds” – rubber balls!,  that these outboard DACs (digital to audio converters) have the HDCD chip manufactured by  , which Microsoft purchased all those years ago. This chip decodes the HDCD information. My Arcam Alpha 5 DAC does not have this technology but roll forward 10 years, and some vintage DACs do have this ability to decode HDCD. But it is unlikely that we will ever see this technology incorporated in modern-day DACs, because rumours are that Microsoft requires a payment of $400,000 for the license!!!

and after Googling about HDCD, I found this – 10 Years ago, I blogged and wrote about HDCD, as a reminder it’s here –Hidden information on some Music Compact Discs – HDCD

I had forgotten!

It has also been removed from Windows media player in Windows 10, so it looks like the only way to play HDCD content, is on a vintage DAC!

Why Microsoft purchased the technology, not to use it, and to price it out of the market, when digital audio content is now on the rise Hi-Res Walkmans, e.g. Sony NW-A50 Hi-Res Walkman® Portable Audio Player, USB DACS, FLAC and lossless audio are on the rise again.

When we ripped to MP3, we were trying to make the rip as small as possible, to conserver storage space on our hard drives, my first MP3 player had only 128MB storage cards, today storage is cheap, and we are now ripping to lossless formats, e.g. FLAC, DSD, DSF.

In this modern-day when recording studios record to digital media and not analogue tapes, not sure why HDCD encoding is not used more, other than the lack of equipment to play it!

You need to have a CD Player that can decode HDCD or an HDCD encoded digital file. The CD I’m playing is “Brothers In Arms [2005 – 20th Anniversary Edition]”

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Hidden information on some Music Compact Discs – HDCD

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

The next time your browsing through your compact disc music collection, assuming you still purchase or collect compact discs, have a look for the HDCD symbol on the back of the compact disc box, or on the sleeve notes.


HDCD – High Definition Compatible Digital, or HDCD is a patented encode-decode process, now owned by Microsoft since 2000, that improves the audio quality of standard Redbook audio CDs, while retaining backward compatibility with existing Compact disc players.  Not to be confused with SACD (Super Audio CD), it can only be dedoced on some compact disc players that have HDCD support.

HDCD encodes the equivalent of 20 bits worth of data in a 16-bit digital audio signal by using custom dithering, audio filters, and some reversible amplitude and gain encoding; Peak Extend, which is a reversible soft limiter and Low Level Range Extend, which is a reversible gain on low-level signals. There is thus a benefit at the expense of a very minor increase in noise.

But since 2000, Microsoft acquired the company and all of its intellectual property assets and included the technology in Microsoft Windows Media Player.

Windows Media Player 9, 10 or 11 running on Windows XP and Windows Media Player 11 running on Windows Vista or Windows 7 are all capable of decoding and playing HDCDs on personal computers with a 24-bit sound card installed.


Media Player 9 indicates the presence of an HDCD by enabling the logo in the control bar at the bottom of the application window.


This was changed in versions 10 and 11; if an HDCD is inserted into a compact disk player with WMP 10/11 running, the HDCD logo appears only if the HDCD feature is disabled. So again, the HDCD logo only appears if you’ve got it disabled.

To enable HDCD decode on Windows Vista and Windows 7 you need to enable it. Select Tools/Options/Devices/Speakers in Windows Media Player


Does it sound any different, well you have to test it and find out!?

I’ll blog in another post, how you can re-rip all your CDs including this new detailed information!

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