What's better HDCD or SACD?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Tim_, Nov 27, 2006.

  1. Tim_

    Tim_ Stunt Coordinator

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    What's better HDCD or SACD?

    I been looking into it and HDCD is by Microsoft and SACD is by Sony. SACD from the connection side looks just like DVD_Audio and HDCD uses just the R/L connector as regular CD. So, I'm assuming that if I run a Stereo system then HDCD will be what I need then.

    Am I right? What's the major differencts in sound quality beside one is surround?
     
  2. Dan Driscoll

    Dan Driscoll Supporting Actor

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    SACD was originally stereo and TTBOMK, all SACD discs have a 2 channel track. Multi-channel capability was added later, but many SACDs were only released in stereo. SACD discs require an SACD player to access the high resolution tracks.

    HDCD is an encoding method originally developed by Pacific Microtronics (later bought out by Microsoft). HDCDs will play on a standard CD player and will sound exactly like the same CD without HDCD encoding. An HDCD capable player is required to decode the actual HDCD encoding and playback the improved resolution purportedly offered by HDCD. There were never very many HDCD encoded releases and not many new disks are being released.

    On paper, SACD (and DVD-A) blow away HDCD and in my experience, the same is true in real life. I've heard only a few HDCD disks that really did sound better than the same CD w/o HDCD encoding. OTOH, most of the SACDs and DVD-As I have definitely sound better than the standard CD version of the same album.

    But even that isn't true in all cases. The actual mastering, mixing and authoring of the disc (SACD, DVD-A, HDCD or redbook CD) is as critical as the format it is encoded in. Some albums sound better on CD than on stereo SACD or DVD-A, but the problem is with the the people who worked on the release, not the format itself.
     
  3. Tim_

    Tim_ Stunt Coordinator

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    I guess the new question for me is that would SACD sound significately better in 2 channel stereo mode then red book CD?
     
  4. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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    all things being equal (recording, mixing, mastering etc), the SACD would sound better simply because there is more information in the data stream. Also assuming your system has the resolution to benefit from SACD (I mean on a high end rig, redbook CD could sound better than SACD on a entry level rig)
     
  5. Dan Driscoll

    Dan Driscoll Supporting Actor

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    All else being equal and IME, yes, stereo SACD does sound significantly better than most redbook CDs. However, there are some cases where the production quality of the redbook CD was so good that the stereo SACD version is not a major improvement. These are usually CDs that were re-mastered recently, using better equipment. The re-mastered CDs of the early Elton John albums are a good example. The stereo SACD versions of Elton John, Madman Across The Water, Honkey Chateau, etc. are better than the redbook re-masters, but not by much.
     

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