HDCD Transport to non HDCD dac

Hello All,

I have a question. If you have a CD transport that decodes HDCD going to a dac that is not HDCD will you still get the sound benefits of the HDCD? Please let me know.
No. If you are using the digital out the quality will be the same as redbook.
No, but I wouldn't base a purchase decision on it. Its nice to have, but its not that popular and doesn't make that big of a difference. (At least for me.)

It does make quite a bit of difference, I have a cdp that you can switch it in and out on the fly, that subs it for the very highly regarded DF1704 chip.
If I put one of Professor Keith Johnsons "Reference Recordings" on, which are nearly all HDCD, you can hear the difference straight away, as in depth and the ambience of the venue it was recorded in.

Here is a list of HDCD that are marked, there are nearly just as many that are not marked HDCD, you only know when the HDCD light comes on your cdp or dac.


Cheers George
I too like HDCD. To the OP, try a Berkeley DAC with your transport, does the HDCD justice.

Do transports decode HDCD? I think you can feed any transport into a HDCD DAC.

One thing I did find, a transport that dithers its output cannot be decoded by a HDCD DAC. One of my transports (Wadia) always defaults to dithered output and when playing HDCDs my DAC would not recognize HDCD unless I eliminated dither. Took a while to figure out.

Here is a "little" comparison done on the same dac between the PMD-100 (HDCD) the PMD-200 (HDCD) and the very highly regarded DF-1704(non HDCD)

Results Listening Comparison Of Digital Audio Filters

"It's worth noting that the differences between filters became more obvious after hearing the PMD-200. Its very high sound quality helped educate our ears to the new range of resolution possible. It also helped to have listened to the PMD-100 in this equipment configuration over more than a year. This gave a solid basis for comparison, and made the differences far more apparent. While the DF1704s sound was noticeably different from the PMD-100 when first compared more than a year ago, the differences are more pronounced and obvious with a more familiarized and better educated ear.
Comparing the PMD-100 to DF1704, the 1704 was harder, grainier and generally sounded like it had less resolution. Applause at the end of Hotel California on the Eagles' reunion album was harsh and unpleasant on the 1704 and much smoother and "rounder," yet clearer and much more distinct on the PMD-100. On Hotel California and Wasted Time, kick drum, piano, voice and string sound was much more convincing, natural and pleasant on the PMD-100. Applause leading into Tequilla Sunrise was much softer and more natural on the PMD-100 than DF1704. Vocal and instrument sounds were much more natural, "round," and pleasant sounding. The PMD-100 portrayed more detail, decay and space around the gong and tympani on Copland's Fanfare than the DF1704. The 1704 sounded more artificial and "hifi", grainier, veiled and less clear. The PMD-100 again sounded more natural. The horn recording on the Copland disc has a few audible flaws (probably digital recorder or microphone artifacts) but was generally better on the PMD-100 than the DF1704. Margo Timmons voice, bass, and percussion sounds on Trinity Sessions were more realistic and detailed using the PMD-100. Trinity Sessions' reverberation, a strong point of the recording, was also more natural on the PMD-100 than on DF1704.

Comparing the PMD-100 to PMD-200 I was struck that the PMD-200 is vastly better than the PMD-100. To put it bluntly the PMD-200 blows away the PMD-100 in terms of resolution, detail, harmonics, reverberation, soundstage clarity, openness and image localization and snap. The 200 makes the 100 sound fuzzy and grainy in comparison. The PMD-100 is comparatively vastly superior to the DF1704, so the PMD-200's strides towards great sound are that much more impressive. On Fanfare, the PMD-200 presents tympani membrane sounds with vastly more clarity, and the gong's metallic sounds, harmonic changes during decay, and vibrato modulations are also much clearer. It's as if you can hear what's really going on within the metal and drum membrane. String and piano sound is also much clearer using the PMD-200. In a visual metaphor, the PMD-100 seems like an realistic painting versus the PMD-200's photograph. Hall reverberation is more clearly recreated with the PMD-200, resulting in a more spacious, open and natural sounding room. On Timmons' voice and Trinity Sessions instruments in general the PMD-200 brings forth much more spatial and harmonic information. Decay of rim taps is much cleaner. Room sound is more obvious and clean. The general sound is more natural and realistic.

The difference between these versions of Pacific Microsonics filters is of a different kind than the difference between the PMD-100 and DF1704. Given that the earlier PMD-100 and DF1704 filters are from a closer generations while the PMD-200 is based on a fairly powerful 100 MIPS Motorola DSP, this performance gap seems reasonable. (The DF1704 is actually a later design than the PMD-100, so it should have had the advantage of newer technology.) The DF1704 is also based on completely different design principles. PMD-100 and PMD-200 do some of the same things well, mostly in naturalness of sound, and come from some of the same designers.

Switching back to a comparison of the older filters, a few audio writers have expressed a preference for the DF1704 over the PMD-100. I would describe the DF1704 as harder and more "hi-fi" than the PMD-100, which to my ears sounds far more natural. The brain is marvelously adaptive; it's what makes humans survive and thrive. Is it possible that these listeners have become accustomed to the harder "digital" sound that the DF1704 produces and have come to associate it, perhaps subconsciously, with "quality"? While that may be an open question, I prefer the naturalness and apparently cleaner resolution of harmonics of the PMD-100."

Cheers George
Who makes a CD "transport" with a Pacific Microsonics HDCD decoding chip (a chip owned by Microsoft, from what I understand) in it? I've never heard of such a "transport".. Who makes such a "transport"!? I want to know!

Now, If you have a CD "player" that decodes HDCD, and you want to ue it as a "transport", then make sure your "outboard DAC" has the HDCD decoding capability in it, if you want to hear your HDCD encoded CD's.

Your outboard "DAC" needs to have the HDCD chip in it, before it can decode and produce the sound of HDCD encoded CD's.
I recall the McCormack SST-1 transport would not send the HDCD signal to an HDCD capable DAC. I suspect there were others.

Any cd "transport" will send HDCD encoded digital out of it's digital output/s, and any cd "player" if it has digital output will also output HDCD.

The DAC is the section that has the HDCD chip processing in it.

Cheers George
Thanks for all the help. I'm sorry about the word "transport" what I have is a Rotel RCD-990 that I am using as a transport going to a Parasound Dac-1100 both have HDCD but I was thinking of upgrading the dac with the IC CS8414 and DF1704. But if I do this I will lose the dac's HDCD in the dac. That is why I wanted to know about this.
Looks like George has answered my question. Thanks George for the comparison.

There are two Parasound 1100 dacs one does HDCD.

PARASOUND D/AC-1000 2 x PCM63P-J – SM5813AP – CS8412-CP It's a DAC

PARASOUND D/AC-1100 HD 2 x PCM63P-J – PMD100 – CS8412-CP It's a DAC

Cheers George
George, the McCormack transport would not. I owned it.

That's weird as even very old dvd or cd rom drives transports in computers send it, as you'll see HDCD come up in the bottom left corner of Widows Media Player that it's a HDCD disc being played.
They must have done something pretty weird with the McCormack to needlessly filter it out.

PS: As Kalman Rubinson of Stereophile states here it must have been defective. Or maybe it could have been a bad digital link cable from it to the dac, maybe not being 75ohm

Here is the full thread.

Cheers George
As I mentioned my DAC would not recognize an HDCD
signal from my Wadia transport if it was dithered.

When dither was removed the DAC saw HDCD just fine.

Every time the transport was shut down and powered
back up it defaulted to dither which was kind of a pain.

Could the McCormack transport be doing some form of processing to the digital output?

You can correct me if I'm wrong, but dither is supplied and done at the dac not at the transport.

Cheers George