For the price, a used Cary 306/200 is pretty hard to beat especially if you're already running a tube pre or tube amp. alot of folks think it still beats the new 303/300.
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I second the Cary rec, the 306/200 looks like a steal at used prices. Also if your system is Accuphase it goes without saying that Accuphase makes some pretty amazing players. I don't know if they support hdcd, but I have to say I don't really get why you have to have it? There are so many great players that are ruled out for an enhancement that present in maybe 5% of all dics? Anyway good luck and as always happy listening!
The only CDP and DACs I know of that don't just use the "standard" HDCD decoding chip are the the Levinsons, which use a proprietary chip made just for them. The 390S is I believe their latest stand alone player.
Otherwise, the proprietary software in the newer Wadia CDPs and DACs reputedly do a better job than the Pacific Microsonics licensed chip (except there's no HDCD indicator when you play one.)
I love the HDCD reproduction even through my older (1000) Wadia DAC, and can now tell when an unmarked (on the album) HDCD disc is playing.
And with Keith Johnson having just ressurected Reference Recordings (www.referencerecordings.com), the new discs he's producing (@ $16.50 apiece!) are a real buy!
I have an EAD Signature processor and am very familiar with the warm intimate textured sound of your EAD with HDCD, but I bought a Theta Compli Universal player which is really amazing in the same ways as your EAD is but is definitely better. The Accuphase cd player is another good recommendation but might be too much of a good thing (a little syrupy). If you like the EAD sound you won't care for the ultra detailed thin Levinson sound.. the Wadia is more delicate and detailed (I've owned Wadia also and like but some of the newer stuff is better on the market)
There are older players that meet the HDCD requirements. Most newer ones don't. Several very good ones come to mind: Arcam FMJ23 or 23T and the CAL labs player of about 6 years ago with the power boss (Mk.II version)both used the PM100 chip which was very good.
Don't dismiss older technology too fast. Some of the older players are less hyped sounding and smoother with better transports. New technology may be TOO good for a flawed format.
Bigtee, from what I hear of HDCDs on an Exemplar 5910, I hardly believe it is a "flawed format." Since my first experience with the Lindemann 680D, I have been amazed at the benefits of HDCD.
It is too bad that MicroSoft bought this technology and has decided to abandon it in their quest to keep up with Apple.
Tbg, could you explain this a little more?
"It is too bad that MicroSoft bought this technology and has decided to abandon it in their quest to keep up with Apple."
Did MS buy it just to kill it? (I thought they were going to incorporate it into Media Player or something.)
I'm not into SACD, but I really like XRCD, and find HDCD as good in most cases (for a lot less money.)
Nsgarch, I doubt if they bought it to kill it as for a long time their webpage listed all HDCDs that were in print. I think, however, as they are now so far behind Apple and Itoons,etc. that they are hoping that having their music include HDCD when available that they can catch up. I suspect this is unlikely to succeed and that they will just abandon HDCD in the future. I do suspect that many artists will continue to record in this format, but I wonder how long players that decode it will be available.
THG, I was not refering to HDCD as flawed. I thought it was worth while although it will fool you because its levels are louder when processing. Something louder always sounds better. I was refering to CD's in general and it is a flawed format.
I use a $10,000 Wadia 861se and CD IS flawed. HDCD wasn't a bad idea. However, I don't know many new players that offer decoding and they're not many discs out there. It was no match for SACD though.