Corrupted CD & HDCD Recordings?

This isn't exactly the right forum to ask this but, again it may be the perfect place. I recently bought Lyle Lovett's most recent release, "Anthology..." CURB/MCA The package was clearly marked with the DISC and HDCD trademarks. Beautiful songs sounded like they were coming from behind a brick wall. I knew something was wrong right away but got a clue when the HDCD indicator didn't light on my player.

I contacted Pacific Microsonics (developers of HDCD) and they said that due to some "tweaking" done to the recording after the mastering and before the pressing it had corrupted the HDCD encoding. Further explanations from PMD stated that it could be changes in level, balance, etc. prior to the "pressing" of the disc that caused the damage.

Being the skeptic I questioned them whether it could be that the corruption was due to copyright protection code being added after the master was cut. (I found it implausible that some sound engineer was allowed to twiddle with the dials after the master has been completed and ruin the HDCD encoding that is integral to the mastering) I also offered that PMD should require the record label to explain, correct the problem and pull the merchandise or re-label it as non-HDCD. PMD is looking into the situation for me. The PMD representative that wrote me was very quick to respond to my inquiry and stated that "I contacted MCA and I am waiting for a reply as we want our HDCD customer to be able to rely on the HDCD logo as a symbol of our technology being used."
PMD stated they had already removed the Lovett title from it's website listing of registered HDCD recordings. The recording was released in Oct. of 2001.

Sony and Phillips are now in a fight with the record labels about the copyright protection encoding and are threatening to pull the DISC logo from their packaging. Sony/Phillips claims that the encoding causes a loss of fidelity and thereby nullifies its Red Book compliance. I don't own a CD burner right now and can't test my theory about Lovett's record but am wondering if anyone knows about this particular CD or another story similar to this one. I'd also invite anyone who has recording that are copyright protected to complain to the label if they notice a comparative degradation to non protected recordings. What's the point of upgrading your audio gear if the source material is going downhill?
Wow, hard to believe one of his recordings sounds bad. His Joshua Judges Ruth disc is probably one of the best sounding discs of all time. Let us know if you hear anything back.
Very interesting post. I have a "Jewel" album, Joy: A Holiday Collection, from Atlantic Records, 83250-2, that has the same problem. Another cd that is marked HDCD but doesn't decode is from Epic. "the best of madonna", cda355, SONY MUSIC. But this disk came out of China via Ebay and was sopposed to be xrcd2. (I bought it just to see) I'm sure that there are copyright issues with this disk. I have been told by some people that download a lot of music, that the HDCD encoding passes through to the burned disk, and does function on playback. This is do to the 16th bit containing the encoding.
The note below was first sent to Pacific Microsonics and then forwarded to me in response to my problem with the Lyle Lovett CD. Frankly, it's a pretty good excuse but does uncover some quality control issues with the record company. The technical gal at PM jumped right on this for me. Pacific Microsonics is first rate and I highly recommend players with their technology and HDCD recordings. As a side note I've recently discovered that one of my CDs has the HDCD encoding but it isn't mentioned on the package....go figure.

Thank you for notifying me about the HDCD logos and trademarks that appear on the Lyle Lovett package released by MCA Nashville 10-23-01. We use three local mastering facilities who use HDCD equipment for almost all of our releases. The Lyle Lovett project, however, was mastered by a facility in L.A. that did not use the equipment. I was on maternity leave during this time and did not instruct my replacement to question this detail. She simply copied a Word document of a previously issued package that was mastered using HDCD which is why the logos and trademarks appear on the Lyle Lovett package. I apologize for the error. Our marketing dept. has been asked to notify our creative dept. when another print run is ordered so the HDCD information can be removed from the package.

Thanks for your understanding.