At the risk of annoying you (but I am trying to help), I would point out that HDCD is just one of the important technology choices that contribute to the sound quality of a CD player. Remember that marketing is core to all business endeavours and creating a new techno "buzz" is what sustains this particular industry - and HDCD is not much more than another hype alongside a 24/96 DAC, or an upsampling DAC. While each may or may not bring benefits, it does not mean that any old HDCD CD player will outperform all non-HDCD CD players. For what it is worth, to my ears HDCD provides perceived benefits in soundstaging but at the expense of robbing the music of pace and rhythm. My musical values are more aligned with the latter than the former. For an inexpensive CD player, it depends on your budget. Many of the Marantz CD players have the benefit of fitting into budget systems very well (warm and romantic but dynamically constrained). For more money the CAL Icon second hand is very nice (tends to over-inflate the soundstage at a small loss of pace and rhythm). A second-hand Arcam or Rega will give you a very tidy, but smaller, sound with excellent pace and rhythm.
10 responses Add your response