Having a Ripping time with HDCD.

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Fretless
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Having a Ripping time with HDCD.

Unread post by Fretless »

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Call me old-fashioned but I just cannot get into the idea of using streaming music services for my sonic delights. It's a combination of things, like - as a 13-year-old schoolboy I purchased the LP 'Nursery Cryme' and from that moment on became a committed Record Collector. Shifting to CD's in the mid-80's didn't alter that, I need something physical, evidence that I have the 'right' to listen to the music.

Streaming on subscription just doesn't have that 'feel'. Even paid downloads from Bandcamp have a weird, incorporeal sense to them.

Gripe 2 is as a manic Audiophile, I like to be in control of every stage of the sonic chain. From Disc to speakers. As I currently copy all CD's to a network storage disk for my in-house ethernet players, that means that I want the best ripping and encoding that I can do. Luckily the current shift of public attention to the likes of Spotify has meant that CD-collecting has become relatively inexpensive and places like Dodax, Ebay and Discogs Marketplace mean you can get hold of just about everything you want for a reasonable price.

(By the way - anyone got a copy of the Original Mirrors 'Heartbeat' CD for sale out there?)

Right then, CD arrives in the post and then is immediately ripped into my PC using EAC (Exact Audio Copy - guaranteed bit-for-bit transfer of all audio data). Many audio-freaks have noticed that a ripped music file actually sounds better than the CD it came from when compared with the output from a standard CD player, this is because Accurate-Rip programs like EAC will go back and check that the data has been fully and completely copied, whereas CD players have to get as much of the data as they can in a single pass over the disc and then rely on internal error-correction to smooth out any gaps in the music.

Once ripped, then I copy the file over to the NAS and can enjoy pristine music from anywhere in the house (or the car if I put it on the portable Fiio player there). No problemo!

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Sometimes, just out of curiosity, I check the files still on the PC's hard-drive before erasing them. Foobar2000 has an extra utility that scans for HDCD-encoded albums. HDCD was a system introduced by Microsoft in the late 90's to squeeze more information into the data on a CD, effectively giving the 16-bits of music information an extra 4 bits of dynamic enhancement. 20-bits in total. Special players could see and decode this extra information and allow the listener music with a greater dynamic range and clarity. It was popular for a while but dropped out of use in the 2000's.

A lot of discs were released using this encoding, usually displaying the 'HDCD' logo to show it - but often not. They could be played normally on ordinary CD players, just without the extra detail. Several reissue series like the early 2000's Mike Oldfield and King Crimson collections were to me aurally unsatisfying, slightly veiled sound with little or no excitement - but I didn't then have an HDCD player or know how to decode the discs otherwise.

If Foobar shows up that a track is HDCD then I use DbPowerAmp conversion to unfold the 16-bit WAV file to 24-bit WAV format. DBPA has the ability to read HDCD encoding and add in the extra enhancements. Yes, I do use uncompressed WAV files - I prefer the sound of them to FLAC and accept the lack of tagging info.

Put the decoded file on the NAS and away we go. The music has more clarity and freshness. Blacker noise-floor. More bass extension and punch. Just more refinement and vitality overall.

Last week I ran into 3 discs that were HDCD without being marked as such: Nils Petter Molvaer 'er', Silje Nergaard 'Nightwatch' (someone in Norway apparently still used HDCD recording technology) and Kansas 'Device Voice Drum'.

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Don't you just love music? :music-rockon:
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Re: Having a Ripping time with HDCD.

Unread post by Hannes-Gregor »

So what is HDCD on a LP? This is the back side of the cover of Neil Young - 'Mirror Ball' (1995):

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Re: Having a Ripping time with HDCD.

Unread post by Fretless »

Good question. :think:

Maybe just a dumb copy of the CD artwork.

Neil is/was a big fan of HDCD and many of his releases since the 90's use it.
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Re: Having a Ripping time with HDCD.

Unread post by Hannes-Gregor »

Fretless wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:36 pm
Good question. :think:

Maybe just a dumb copy of the CD artwork.

Neil is/was a big fan of HDCD and many of his releases since the 90's use it.
I hope you're right and they didn't take the CD recording and pressed it on vinyl.

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Re: Having a Ripping time with HDCD.

Unread post by Lurcher300b »

HDCD was a system introduced by Microsoft in the late 90's
Just to be precise. it was created by Pacific Microsonics in 1995, and then purchased by MS in 2000 which just about killed it.
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Re: Having a Ripping time with HDCD.

Unread post by slinger »

Hannes-Gregor wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:55 am
Fretless wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:36 pm
Good question. :think:

Maybe just a dumb copy of the CD artwork.

Neil is/was a big fan of HDCD and many of his releases since the 90's use it.
I hope you're right and they didn't take the CD recording and pressed it on vinyl.
So, how does it actually sound to you?
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Re: Having a Ripping time with HDCD.

Unread post by Hannes-Gregor »

Very good! I like that LP very much so in the end it doesn't matter if they did.
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Re: Having a Ripping time with HDCD.

Unread post by CN211276 »

Fretless wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:11 am
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Call me old-fashioned but I just cannot get into the idea of using streaming music services for my sonic delights. It's a combination of things, like - as a 13-year-old schoolboy I purchased the LP 'Nursery Cryme' and from that moment on became a committed Record Collector. Shifting to CD's in the mid-80's didn't alter that, I need something physical, evidence that I have the 'right' to listen to the music.

Streaming on subscription just doesn't have that 'feel'.
I also switched from buying vinyl to CDs in the mid 80s as I did not think vinyl would make it into the 21st Century. :lol: But CDs did not have the same sort of "magic" for me. Album covers and inner sleeves had a lot more appeal than what was contained in a plastic CD case. As my CD collection expanded over thirty years storage became an issue. I therefore totally embraced high resolution streaming. All my CDs were ripped (took a very long time) and nearly all sold, keeping some for the car.

I have found that most, but not all, high res streams sound better than my ripped CDs. I believe this has more to do with remastering than higher Bit and sample rates, though both play a part. A big bonus is that in many cases the streamed albums contain some very good additioal tracks.
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Re: Having a Ripping time with HDCD.

Unread post by Hannes-Gregor »

Mostly I listen to LPs. Big advantage is that a Phono 2 is involved. Second source is CD and the only thing I stream is Radio Paradise for background listening while working.
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