HDCD decoding request

I have just purchased your Bartok and am really enjoying it. The amount of options for filters and upsampling is a little overwhelming at first, but a lot of fun after you get the hang of it. One option I would love to see is the ability to decode HDCD CD’s. I have hundreds of these discs (as I’m sure others do too) and I always feel like I’m missing out when I listen to them.
Placing the decoding in the DAC would be easiest for the consumer, as I wouldn’t need to buy a new transport, but it might be more practical to put the decoding in the transport.
Curious as to how many others would be interested in this as well.
Thank you.

I ripped all my CDs and dbpoweramp etc rip HDCD CDs as 44/24.

Can you still buy new HDCD discs?

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Absolutely you can still buy new HDCD CDs. And I have also used dbpoweramp, but with the number of CDs I have, I just don’t see that as a viable option.

If you are located in USA, you can check https://musicshifter.com/.

Well, I don’t have hundreds, and would actually be surprised if many do. But I could very well be wrong. I found ripping mine the best solution, but that’s because I’m network/server-oriented anyway and have ripped thousands of discs, and get no pleasure from spinning them. I know many do.

If you rip HDCDs bit perfect to 16bit/44.1KHz, the rips contain the HDCD encoding intact. You can actually use ffmpeg to decode into 24bit/44.1KHz files by running:

% ffmpeg -i input16.flac -af hdcd output24.flac

The resulting flie is standard PCM.

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Even though the HDCD Patents have expired (Microsoft), I seriously doubt it’s worth dCS’ R&D efforts to implement a dead format.

If you have that many HDCD discs and you don’t want to go down the ripping path, then I think your best option is to hunt for a CD/DVD Player that has HDCD decoding and is able to output the decoded PCM on SPDIF, like the older Oppo models, eg. the BDP-103 which can also be used to rip SACDs. There are plenty on ebay.

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Aren’t we all? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Sure. Obviously I meant that it is is fully decodable by a standard PCM algorithm, no special bit massaging required unlike HDCD or MQA.

I know. My comment was just a passing joke. [I’m a big “life is digital” guy.]

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I really appreciate everyone’s comments and suggestions. I will try some of these in the interim. Still hoping that DCS can include this decoding in either transport or dac someday.

Hopefully we’d get DSD256 support first. :grin:


I would say this is unlikely, I presume it is a hardware “limitation”.

If you meant HDCD, perhaps.

If you meant DSD256, they’ve hinted the hardware is capable but it would require substantial software development effort.

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I meant DSD256… The hardware runs at that speed, so in principle it might be doable, but in practice as you say it seems would require a lot of rearchitecting which IMHO is not worth it.

As for HDCD, it could in principle be implemented in the network card, I think, since for example MQA unfolding is. However, given the relatively small amount of HDCDs, the issue with having them encoded bit-perfect, and the marginal improvement from decoding, I think the dCS team would be better off spending that time elsewhere.

You CAN decode ripped CDs that include HDCD encoding offline after the fact (assuming they were ripped bit-perfect). All you need is the ffmpeg library. What decoding does it transform a 16bit/44.1KHz file into a 24bit/44.1KHz file - only 20 bits of that are real information, the remaining 4 bits are padded.

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Hi Miguel,

If HDCD decoding were to be implemented at some point then it wouldn’t be sensible to have it in the network interface as you’d want it to be applicable to playing HDCD encoded CDs too and the S/PDIF path doesn’t go through the network card.


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You could say the same about MQA unfolding. If I play an MQA CD from a transport over SPDIF, or if I connect Roon over USB to a dCS DAC, I don’t get MQA unfolding.