What is Redbook?

It's been a few years since I visited Audiogon. It certainly has grown. I'm back because of my curiosity about the new formats. I am using an Arcam 250 transport with Audio Alchemy DDE v3.0 and DTI Pro. I listen to and prefer vinyl but I seem to be missing some information on digital. Would some one take a minute and fill me in on this Redbook? Thanks Ron
Redbook is just a common name for CD's recorded using
16bit/44kHz sampling. It refers to the red book
from Philips and Sony detailing the specs for CDs
back in the 1980s.
(It is also know as the Scarlet book, in some circles)
This is the method used since Day 1 for producing CDs.
Other methods and samplings may be used for recording,
including some analog methods, but ultimately they're
put on a Redbook CD at 16bits/44kHz for comptability
with yours and mine and everybody else's CD player.

HDCD is a 20bit/44kHz sampling which can be put on
a Redbook CD because Redbook actually provides for 20 bits,
but typically ignores the extra 4 bits, or uses them
for error-correction, not acutal sound data.
You'll need a
special D/A converter to actually use the extra 4 bits
in HDCD, but your CD transport/lens/digital-out will
still get the 20bits to your external DAC.
Of course, some CD players can decode HDCD on their
internal DACs.

SACD is a 1bit/2.82GHz sampling and is totally
incompatible with existing CD players.

Then there are the DVD formats for sound which are
also incompatible with CD players and SACD players.

You might also see upsamplers with 96kHz/24 bits
and other numbers, but IMHO you can't make a silk
purse out of a sow's ear. For real sound improvemnt
you need better data, like HDCD, SACD, DVD.

Or go to vinyl...for really high "sampling"
in spite of the surface noise and pops

Wow, I've rambled on.. Hope it was useful.

This is the second thread recently where I've seen someone say HDCD has 20-bit resolution. This is nonsense. HDCD may be able to cram an extra fraction of a bit's worth of information onto a disk, but that's about the limit (and even that may be stretching it).
TJ...EXCELLENT explanations. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Ron...One of the MOST common questions my customers ask me is why I keep saying Redbook when referring to CDs (I can usually tell they are about to ask me when I see the blank stare on their face) ;-) So don't feel bad, many folks that have been involved in this hobby a LONG time don't know what Redbook means or where the term came from. Also, you will find that digital has come a LONG way in the few years you have been away. In fact, there are some CD players available now that would make you believe you were listening to analog (in a blind listening test even). Of course, I am excluding the pops and other noises that would give away the analog rig ;-)

Welcome back!

Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
Bomarc...Where did you read, see, hear that info? Based on every HDCD article I have ever read, HDCD is indeed a 20-bit binary word length recording. Please correct me if I am wrong (I would appreciate a source so I could check it out myself).

Thanks and Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
Thank you, one and all. That was easy.

I am also looking for a pr. of inexpensive speakers for my son and have spent untold hours brousing the speaker forums.
What a wealth of knowledge to be found here, not only in the positive statements but in the dissenting comments also.
I do not understand all the technical points but it's not difficult to get the gist of most threads. I usually learn something.

One other question...would something like a Sony SCD C555ES blow my old Arcam,AudioAlchemy out of the water?

Thanks to Audiogon also, an excellent gathering spot for all the audio wackos.(self inclusive) Ron
No, but if it's truly in water you're in trouble!
Try to focus on the major improvement that speakers matched to your room will make before you start CDP wars. Have fun.
Mike: 20-bit is how Microsoft (like Pacific Microsonics, which developed it) hypes it, and credulous audio writers who know nothing about a product except what a manufacturer tells them parrot the line.

HDCD is just a 16-bit system which uses the 16th bit a little differently. The rough idea is that occasionally it uses only 15 bits for the music so that it can use the 16th for decoding instructions. (There's more going on than this, including better digital filters, but this is the aspect that's relevant to bit resolution.) Microsoft would like you to believe that this decoding gives you the funtional equivalent of 20 bits of resolution. It's probably no better or worse on that score than other approaches to noise shaping.

If HDCD were truly a 20-bit system two things would be true:

1) HDCDs would not play at all on non-HDCD decks.

2) The S/N ration of HDCD decks would be above 100 dB. Ever seen a test report that found this?