Whats the diff.in terms of sound between hdcd and sacd,which is the best for cd player to have?how good in 2 channel sterio?
The difference is that one is an enhancement to an existing format while the other is an entirely different format that is not compatible with the other. HDCD is a process that is added to Redbook(regular CD's) developed by Pacific Microsonics. It is a playback only decode system, which means that it's benefits are applied during the playback of standard Redbook CD's and is only compatible with that format. SACD is an entirely different format that is not HDCD compatible. SACD uses a much higher sampling and bit rate digital encoding system known as DSD or Direct Stream Digital. A disc that has a DSD layer will require a playback device that is compatible with that format. The good news is that most SACDs also include a standard Redbook layer that can be played back on conventional CD players. Thopse discs DSD layer however can not be played back on a conventional CD player. Hopefully this clears things up
I realized that I really didn't answer your question. While the majority of people agree that HDCD is an improvement over non HDCD CD's it is not the equivalent, sound quality wise,to SACD's which use a much higher sampling and bit rate than conventional CD's and therefore offers higher fidelity. Well that's the way it's supposed to be anyway. For now some of the very best Redbook players can offer performance that is virtually indistinguishable from even the best SACD players. This is a result of disc player manufacturers having not yet perfecting playback hardware for SACD. Considering that it is for all intents and purposes a dead format that maturation for SACD hardware is unlikely to ever occur. Normally and with some exceptions even lower cost SACD players will be able to produce better sound with DSD encoded material than all but the very best Redbook CD only players, playing back CD's.
One additional point. Even though SACD is fading, there are many more recordings available now and still being released than there were on HDCD.

I have several HDCDs, they play on my system that usually includes a DAC produced before HDCD was introduced, do they add anything in this case or just play as standard discs? The format came up during my sabbatical from audio and I have never been clear on exactly how it operates.
I can't comment on SACD, but I do own a Rotel CD player with HDCD capability and several HDCD encoded CD's. Let me be blunt, whenever I seriously look for CD's to purchase, HDCD encoding is the closer for me. If you like vinyl, you'll love HDCD discs.
If your DAC or CDP doesn't have HDCD built in, it cannot decode the HDCD portion of the disc. It would play as a standard redbook CD.

There's a very good explanation of HDCD technology on Wikipedia if you're interested.
I just finished listening to "Life On A String" by Laurie Anderson. One of the best sounding cds in my collection. Probably listened to this cd 25 times but for some reason tonight is the first time I noticed the HDCD light on my cdp.
On well recorded cds it can do wonders.
As for SACDs, I only have a few and the only thing that plays them in my house is the Oppo, DV-980H. The Oppo's audio output section doesn't really compete with my cdp so it is a dedicated dvd player.
"It is a playback only decode system, which means that it's benefits are applied during the playback of standard Redbook CD's and is only compatible with that format."

This is wrong. It has to be recorded HDCD to be played HDCD so it is NOT "a playback only". In HDCD coding the least significant bit is switching dynamic range of the rest. It is known as "in band signaling". Playback on standard player is a little suspicious (if nothing else is done) since the least significant bit becomes garbage (noise). I believe that the sole purpose of introducing schemes like that is to make it very difficult to copy (HDCD) or impossible to copy (SACD).
I have to make some strong dissenting view to what RCrerar mentioned.

1."good news is that most SACDs also include a standard Redbook layer that can be played back on conventional CD players. "This is not good news at all!!!Most single layer SACD sound significantly superior to the hybrid disc.

2."For now some of the very best Redbook players can offer performance that is virtually indistinguishable from even the best SACD players." This is utter nonsense!!!The very best CD player are Eons behind the top of the line SACD player.YES they are close if you compare both on redbook playback;but redbook versus DSD?no way!!!Just quickly compare Meridian highly rated 808.2 versus the SACD of dcs PUCCINI .No match,really......

3.To hear what SACD is all about you need:
A}To hear the SACD in dsd mode.There are many companies that 'cheat' and has their SACD layer in PCM ...these are craps.You can start with some STOCKFISH records stuff;very well engineered dsds......

B]You need to use wide bandwith amplifiers;that way the real advantage of dsd SACD are easily heard:wide headroom ,more details ,coherence,more bodies to instruments......

c]Once,heard it is very hard to go back to CD.Of course you do have good CDP like the dcs that makes the listening to CD less painful.
Fafafion, I personally prefer the pain of the dcs CD playback as opposed to the pain and suffering of losing my retirement account. You forgot to mention all the full range speakers needed for true SACD playback as well as the cost involved.
According to my understanding, playing a HDCD disc through a non HDCD CDP/DAC would add a small amount of noise. Whether this noise is discernible I do not know.

true to my Audiophile pedigree I indeed forgot to mention the cost;}BUT ,I assume we are discussing sound fidelity here,,,,,
Adding to the posts above I read a while back the HD CD format was encoded at 20 bit word lengths rather than the norm red Book CD words of 16. The sampling rates were identical. 44,100 Hz.

I have a few and when ripping to my hard drive so far the HD CD have a wee bit of fuzz to their playback thereafter.

Normal playback using whatever CDP doesn’t seem to produce that ‘fuzzyness’. It’s slight but noticeable. I suspect the differences in word lengths of the recorded vs encoded files speaks to those errors.

On a previous HD CD capable CDP/DVD player, the audio from the HD CD is quite analog like. Remarkably smooth and full sounding. Almost velvety. The disc I play and recall most often is the Ride with Bob HD CD by Asleep At the Wheel… the other’s escape me now.

Microsoft as I understand it bought the codec outright and now own it’s rights completely.

With increased word lengths and sampling rates, eg., SACd 32 & 105 in the Direct stream Digital domain, a substantial element of resolution has to be gained. Hyping either the word lengths or sampling rates usually account for steps up in overall resolution of the orig recording.

Fidelity on the other hand seems to be more a result of recording practices, production techniques, processing etc. one can have very resolute and not terribly high fidelity products in the final analysis. One can’t always count on high res recordings’ to have great fidelity.

Consequently, with higher rate and word lengths, one SHOULD have the potential to produce very good to excellent recordings that offer exceptional fidelity, over those of lower word lengths and sampling rates. BUT… the playback system and surely the source unit will play key roles in determining which recorded format sounds best… Red Book,, SACD, DVD, HD CD, or even DVDA, and as well, the disc type and mastering process itself.
Kal, are you sure of that?

I think you last paragraph is quite inaccurate.Irrespective of the recording technique employed;dsd IS the best technique for digital playback available today especially in single layer.Again ,we are NOT talking psudo SACD here.

The critical part of HDCD,is having both software and hardware TOGETHER i.e the engineers using HDCD processing while making the CD and the payer having HDCD chips to read;this is the first instance I am hearing HDCD sounds better than redbook AFTER being ripped.Hmmm....
Multichannel playback is also possible with many SACDs. While not a requirement I have found many mixes are better sounding in multichannel. While I do not have a multichannel system I have compared the mixes on other high end systems.
i must preface this with the disclaimer that i know little of the processes related to sacd or hdcd. i do understand the encoding and playback in basic.

i no longer use cds for playback, only ripped files to my hd streamed with a logitech transporter and then to a berkeley alpha dac. the alpha dac was designed and built by the same guys who created the hdcd code (and sold it to msft)so it is integrated well into this dac. whenever a signal is received encoded with hdcd, the hdcd light goes on showing this decoding action (also verifying a perfect rip). i have several records that have this and there is a very noticeable improvement in stage, detail, dynamic and overall realism. i was surprised at how the ripping process maintains the code and it works seamlessly.

neil young uses this on most records, joni mitchell quite a bit, laurie anderson as mentioned above, paul simon on you're the one, emmylou harris wrecking ball, willie nelson teatro and many more. one thing that stands out to me on this list is the fact that these are all very very good recordings and pieces i often like to show off with!

i do not know how to rip sacds but i think there is a way. i have some and used to play them and they have a very different sound than hdcd. these are super detailed and dynamic and often multichannel. like comparing hi rez downloads to redbook cd.

interesting thread...
kieth johnson from spectral and rr recordings was also part of the group that developed hdcd. i meant to write that in my last post but forgot as usual...
Am I sure of what? That there are few HDCD discs and that there are none being issued these days? Yup. There never were many but I do not have a count. In my own collection, they probably number a few dozen. OTOH, I have thousands of SACDs and I am acquiring more each week. In fact, I have disposed of many more SACDs than I have ever had of HDCDs.

As far as I care, HDCD has become irrelevant, unfortunately.

Blindjim - HDCD is not encoded in 20 bit words. The word length is 16-bit. The claim is that it is "equivalent" to 20 bit performance.

Part of better sound quality of HDCD is the fact that only (or mostly) very well recorded CDs (or remastered) are issued as HDCD.



Try rereading my last paragraph.

if your RB source is top notch and your SACD player only converts DSD to PCM output, it's entirely possible the RB could sound better than the SACD.. as the SACD aspect is not the optimum DSD throughput. BTW not all SACD are purely DSD masters front to back, as I understand it and so some of my own SACDs indicate.

I also have some SACD discs which simply do not sound any better than the orig RB CD to me…. Just as some CDs don’t sound very good either. Hence my mention of the ‘process’ being as important as are those higher res numbers to achieve HIGH FIDELITY in the recording, and the note on the system’s needs to fully realize the benefit of such software!

An extreme ex would be playing back an HD, or SACD disc via a boom box vs a home audio system, given both can play those formats.

BTW… regardless the range of the speakers, be they full or limited, the advantages of more resolute discs will reveal themselves within that band width the loud speakers can reproduce. So a full range speaker isn’t a necessity to see the benefits of a well recorded high res disc… it’s merely more advantageous to have such reproducers on hand.


My bad... the article I read was a while back. I must have confused the statements. Could have sworn it was 20 though. Must be more as you say here though as I can’t find any note of the word or sampling rate changes with HD CD, only an encoding decoding process that is added to the hardware/software for enhancement of that format over standard RB Cds.

I did see where several chip makers have added the decoding in some of their chips, eg., Burr Brown 1732. MS Media Player from version 9 up also have this tech included into them for HD CD playback. One note said MP would at times show the HD logo when playing a HD CD.

The term High Definition gets thrown about a lot too and doesn’t always hold purely to the technology PMI developed originally.
Blindjim - I've never heard SACD but according to reviews I read it is way better than anything else being equivalent to 20bit/96kHz. The problem is that the format is dead.
(DSD as I understand is 4 bit wide SACD).

- only 5000 available titles
- expensive SACDc and players.
- impossible to copy (cannot have backup)
- cannot be stored or used in a server
(it can, but loses SACD sound advantage).
- companies are moving away from CDs altogether
(LINN stopped recording/manufacturing CDs)

I mentioned on the other thread that Century Fox was preparing DVD sales (also multilayer format) in China at about 10 juan eaquivalent to $1.25 They admitted only very small profit at this price (now we know what region code is for - to protect their profits).

Can somebody explain to me why SACD costs $30 while production + royalties is in order of a dollar. IMHO format was introduced to battle CD copying (cannot be copied - has pit modulation) and not for the sound reason (we don't represent any buying power). Later after great reviews they got greedy, selling SACDs at $30 and shot themselves in a foot.

New standard is very difficult to establish. DVD-Audio wasn't successful as well as CODE - 24bit/96kHz format (DVD)started by some artists such as John Mellencamp. It is easier to start new standard when cost of media is low - at least initially and not 2x higher.

Stereophile also said that SACD is dead in editorial column few months ago. They said that most of new Blu-Ray players don't even support SACD. I know that some support it but not sure what percentage.

HDCD was introduced for the same reason (copying protection) and is also dead.
Kijanski wrote: "Stereophile also said that SACD is dead in editorial column few months ago. They said that most of new Blu-Ray players don't even support SACD. I know that some support it but not sure what percentage. "

And you believe them? :-) All the BR players I've fooled with lately have SACD and Sony, remarkably, just announced a few new ones.

Kr4 - I was under the impression that Sony abandoned SACD. I could not find current Sony Blu-Ray wit SACD. I checked BDP-S360. BDP-N460, BDP-S5000ES and they don't have it. What Sony model has SACD?
Who pays 30.00 for an SACD disc?
Current audio player: XA5400ES
New BR players: BDP-S470 and BDP-S570
Also HTIBs: BDV-E770W and BDV-E570



To paraphrase:

Why do SACDs sell for $30 and royalties are $1?

If that's true or even slanted towards truth more than less, it's a simple answer... Avarice. Plain and simple greed.

The only format I've not actually heard played back on a decent outfit is DVDA. As with any other silver disc, in which ever format, some are great and some are not. Those which are in fact, become as apparent as day or night.... those which aren't, well, won’t.

.....and why I said just that in my previous comments. Formats with far greater numbers alone in their composition of bits, lands and grooves, are not the lock on great listening. It simply has the potential to be great.

Remember the initial slew of CDs? Here you go folks, the best thing since the automobile is now available! It's all digital! No errors! Compact! And soon hereafter, the prices will go sharply down by way of affordability! So simply re-buy all your favs in this new near indistructable format and reap the benefits of the new digital age of audio at its best!.


Little there was or is the truth and simple CDs were double the cost of LPs at the onset. The cost only went down by proxy via a class action suit and those results too were not well published... but I did get a check for $20! spread that over a thousand CDs and prices did go down! Now new releases are going back up again.

Chalk it up to “Bomonomics”!

Who pays $30 for SACDs?

Anyone who buys them online from Mobile Fidelity, Telarc,etc. Even some std CD in better (?) recording processes like Gold, or XR CD run close to that amount... again, online, at many outlets.

I'll journey into high res world on the heels of my personal confuser, and rip them initially at loftier rates or just buy downloads already done for me at those rates or greater... if they are what I want to begin with.... individually or as the complete work.

This attitude in and of itself may account some for the upwardly spiraling prices for ready rolled CDs these days, beats me. But today’s no different than any other. It’s faster now and the worlds smaller, but the same devices which drove the recording market and industry years ago still have their hands on the wheels. Only the cosmetics have changed.

Done well, the 24/96 (DVD) or 32/105 (SACD) do sound way good though.. but largely depends on the source and disc itself.... as with any other playback system, analog or digital. Listening side by side, RB to SACD, with both disc and source up to par, the choice will be obvious for the SACD version.

Now there's BR. The potetial for better is improved upon yet again... BUT what about SS discs? things the size of a dime could be coming along pretty soon.

I'm hoping for Marbles instead but solid state sticks of chewing gum might soon litter containers in the book shelf area where CD cases and albums once stood. No motors, and no lasers, with bit perfect playback! at that point ONLY the playback system will bare the burden of how great the fidelity actually will be.... just don't count on lower prices for it though. That just isn't in the cards I've been reading.
Blindjim - Yes I remember initial slew of CDs. Bright unpleasant sound was, according to rumors, cause by frequency correction included for LP pressing. The fact is that a lot of music got digitized with A/D jitter that cannot be removed.

I agree with you that quality "largely depend on the source" and that is one more reason for SACD being dead. I have many great sounding redbook CDs and a lot of bad ones. Bad mix sounds perhaps even worse on SACD than on CD (better resolution).

According to RIAA I'm not allowed to make copy of my own CD as a backup. They are rich getting cut from CD-Rs sold in proportion to record sales in spite of the fact that SACD cannot be copied (but also counted). I remember innocent times of my youth when copying to tape was legal since tape makers paid royalties per foot of tape to common fund for artists.

I'm afraid that in future we might be reduced to MP3 downloads.
Apparently you are not buying them the same place as me.

Well, it looks like price went down a lot. The most common price I found for SACD was $18.98 but when I tried to find Keith Jarrett (made a lot of recordings) in SACD the only thing on Amazon was $34: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dpopular&field-keywords=sacd+keith+jarrett&x=0&y=0

Next I tried Ahmad Jamal - (one of the greatest) and found no SACD. I tried Bob Marley - two titles available thru Amazon - one is $15 the other is $106 so it is practically one.

Total Blues SACD recordings: 108
Total Country recordings: 79

For redbook CDs - Blues = 50,000 Country = 67,000

Finding recording I like, other than popular music is very difficult and when it is finally issued sound quality might be not worthy of SACD (plus no option of backup). It is not worth hassle.

Thanks for those links to save on SACD. Thanks a lot.

K's right though... SACD is a classical lover's sanctuary. DVDA though seems to have tried to gain the younger more pop oriented audience.

the numbers I saw on the Wickopedia site for HD was similar to the numbers for SACD. Around 5000 titles. of which how many were dupes for the SACD format wasn't mentioned.

The immediate future given the Apple business model is excelling and quite succesful now, will definitely be in downloading music over that of buying the orig hard copies. personally, I've no problems with that what so ever.... so long as those files remain cost effective. $2.50 per is stretching it for me. Given the usual 2 or 3 best tracks on any album and the balance seems more filler than fun, any higher tarriff there will simply point me towards the CD instead.

The downside to the HR files is the compilation of them into a playlist that makes snese. I prefer sessions at times vs random cuts being cast about, and then there's the levels to contend with too. I never attunuate volume levels of files for consistency. I just run higher to lower in the so & so playlist. that works best for me.

I guess it all comes down to just what one can or will be able to live with... and I'm quite OK with Red Book generally speaking. A little A/B'ing of HR files to lossless ones will tell me that tale in a better light.
Amazon is not the last word in availability for SACD but they have a lot. The prices are always high for items out of print. I also hardly ever buy from amazon directly. I buy from the resellers that are selling through amazon. I also buy some of mine from yourmusic.com for 6.99. Although their supply is dwindling they have all of the Elton Johns and the Carpenters Greatest Hits is 6.99 as opposed to amazon who has it for 35.00. They also have classical. There's also deepdiscount.com and cduniverse.com.
So most SACDs can be purchased at the same or close to the price of a regular CD. And the CD layer can be copied, ripped put into itunes etc at the same quality as a regular CD. Then you still have the high resolution SACD to play back when you want better quality and or surround. The only problem I see is the lack of titles available.
Good analysis Rwwear.



The lack of titles & artists is for me the whole thing. of course it is nice to find a plumb in all of it.

Same thing goes for the Mo Fi remastered CDs, and XR. I really gotta love it before I'd drop $30 on an album. Maybe the next itteration of Waiting For Columbus, on XR, or SACD.... or some Johnny Nocturne in likewise formats.

www.half.com is another online joint I've been using for years now, a sub of ebay, and all indy sellers.

Buying 'digipak' is another path for savings, if the case type is of little concern. Same disc, lesser packing, and less costly.
If you already own a HDCD enabled CDP or DAC it's worth seeking out HDCD discs. IMO they bring a little something to the party and usually cost little or nothing more than non HDCD versions of the same CD.
I'll journey into high res world on the heels of my personal confuser
Blindjim's "personal confuser" gotta love that typo he hee!
There are still some HDCDs being issued. Most are not marked in any way, so it is always a happy surprise when the little HDCD light comes on. One from last year that I just discovered today is Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women.
My experince with hybrid cd's is that the cd layer, while definitely not as good as the sacd layer, is still usually the best version of cd for that particular recording available. What is the downside to having two layers ? If you like sacd, listen to the sacd layer. The cd layer just gives you another option. Win, win.
SACD is a must,

HDCD is optional.
Checkout Joel Fan's West of the Son & World Keys, also Mike Garson's Jazz Hat. All three HDCD on Reference Recordings label. Of course if pop/rock music is your thing - never mind.
That should read "West of the Sun"
Who pays 30.00 for an SACD disc?

Lot's of baby boomers with less than ideal hearing.
I believe that who buys what is not an issue on this thread. The bottom line is as far as audio quality goes:


SACD sound great no question about it. I usually purchase used ones on the web rangin from 7 to 19 U$.
Spaninc - I agree that sound quality is the first priority but there are three things that always held me back from buying SACD player:

- Very limited selection and possibility of format becoming obsolete.

- SACD cannot be used from server or computer.

- It is not possible to make backup copy (pit width modulation).

In addition, great recordings will benefit from SACD but most of them are not even good enough for CD quality. The same goes for Blu-Ray. Most of DVDs I watch don't even make 480p quality. How do I know? - because from time to time there is an exceptional one. I mentioned DVD as analogy because it is easier to see the difference in quality (less subjective) than audio.
So what Kijanki. You can copy the CD layer to your computer and play back the SACD layer on your SACD player, in surround if you wish in lots of cases. Cds will become obsolete too some day soon.
Rwwear - If CD will become obsolete I will still have my server and related hardware for downloads.
When SACD becomes obsolete my SACD player is only good for CD. CD, as you said, will be obsolete - therefore good for nothing.

I don't mind spending a little more now for SACD but selection is so limited and lack of server, that I got used to, is so inconvenient.
Everything becomes obsolete including your server.
"Everything becomes obsolete including your server" - sad but true.
Not weighing in on the "vs." factor but I do have HDCD's and have always found them to have a exceptional sound (must be in the recording engineering too). So much so, I too look out for them. On my simple system they alway have a noticeably high quality sound. All the factors we all look for in a recording I seem to find in HDCD's. I hope the technology becomes more standard in recordings. I really can't stand a favorite artist, great song writing and a poor recording. May MS do the right thing and make it free to all (how likely is that?).
Seems to me, and I could be wrong, that MS bought HDCD and pretty much forgot about it. Makes me wonder why they bothered to buy the HDCD technology.