SACD vs. HDCD

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Randal, Dec 17, 2001.

  1. Randal

    Randal Extra

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    Speaking strictly music here, which sounds the best and which one is most likely to have the most offerings in the future? Is it possible that they will both die off soon? I'm wondering because I'm about to buy a new CD player.

    Ok, I'm editing this to also throw DVD-A into the mix.

    Which one looks as though it's gonna be the ultimate winner out of the three formats?

    Maybe at this point, it would be best to relax with my regular CD player for a while and watch to see what unfolds?
     
  2. JeremySt

    JeremySt Screenwriter

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    SACD and HDCD are so drastically different that your question is no all that relevant.

    HDCD= an encoding method (made by Pacific Microsinics, if I remember correctly) that is used to encode STANDARD Compact discs, supposedly to increase soud quality. CD players costing as little as $99 can come equipped with the HDCD chip and play back those discs in "HDCD". At he end of the day, this amounts to nothing. Players not equipped with HDCD are not going to be any worse than those with. Discs with HDCD encoding are not going to play back any better than those without. It's just a method of encoding that has made a name for itself in the recording industry.

    -

    SACD= an entirely new compact disc format developed by Sony, which does not utilize the standard multi bit word lengths of regular CDs. Its a new format, just like DVD was a new format.
     
  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Randal, I tend to agree with Jeremy. I have an HDCD-compatible player (Denon DCM-370) and many HDCD discs. HDCD isn't anything to be concerned about. The key to good sound is simply having a good CD player, not necessarily one with HDCD decoding. HDCD discs can sound great on non-HDCD players. I don't buy HDCD discs just because of the logo, however, I do like seeing the logo on remastered CDs that interest me because the HDCD encoding process is usually accompanied by high-quality remastering. Hence, HDCD discs usually sound very good on my quality non-HDCD players.
    A good thing about HDCD if you want to try it out with a compatible player is that you probably have some HDCD discs already. Since HDCD discs play just fine on conventional CD players, you may have bought some of them without knowing it. Not all HDCD discs even have the HDCD logo on the packaging. Go to www.hdcd.com for a list of compatible discs.
    From my other posts, I think you know where I stand with SACD. HDCD discs are basically CDs. SACD is a whole different ballgame.
    As for DVD-Audio, I have a player (Technics DVD-A10) and about 15 discs. It's a nice format. Certainly better than CD. Overall, I think SACD is better, however, my SACD players are better components than my DVD-Audio player (i.e., comparing them as CD players), so that coupled with the fact that there is little software common to both formats makes comparisons difficult. Still, DVD-Audio is an highly enjoyable format for me, and some high-quality rock/pop titles have come out in recent months. Take a look at the DVD-Audio and SACD software catalogs to see if either format offers enough interesting titles for you.
     
  4. Rick_Brown

    Rick_Brown Second Unit

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    It is very important to note that if your CD/DVD player has HDCD capability and your receiver does not, then you MUST play through the analogue L/R outputs from the CD/DVD player. If you playback through digital, i.e, coaxial/optical, then the HDCD decoding will not happen.
     
  5. PeteD

    PeteD Stunt Coordinator

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    These aren't necessarily facts, it's just the facts as I understand them..
    Is it apropriate to relate to it in terms of bitwise resolution? CD's being at 16bit, HDCD seems to be a backwards compatible 20bit (so the marketing says), so what is SACD? And is DVD audio using some kind of MPEG compression as regular DVD video? So we're now calling what essentially is an MP3, audiophile?
    And another point is that since alot of music is mixed down to 16bit DAT, any added resolution above this in a home audio format is kinda moot.
    Let the picking apart begin [​IMG]
    Once again, these aren't necessarily facts, it's just the facts as I understand them..
    Be gentle [​IMG]
     
  6. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Pete, SACD uses an entirely different digital encoding scheme than CD and DVD-Audio. The CD and DVD-Audio formats use Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) to encode digital information. The CD is a 16-bit/44.1-kHz format, while the specifications for DVD-Audio are variable. When utilized to the fullest, DVD-Audio is encoded in 24-bit/96-kHz PCM for surround-sound tracks and 24-bit/192-kHz PCM for stereo. Therefore, DVD-Audio is not a compressed audio format like minidisc, MP3, Dolby Digital, or DTS. The video content on DVD-Audio discs probably uses MPEG compression as with DVD-Video discs, but the audio is not compressed. DVD-Audio offers higher resolution than standard CDs (and HDCD discs).

    Sony and Philips state that SACD is a 1-bit/2.8224-MHz format that uses Direct Stream Digital (DSD) technology rather than PCM. In practice, SACD is actually an 8-bit format, but Sony and Philips have simplified explanations of how SACD is implemented by saying it is a 1-bit format. I am not up on all the details. A college professor in Canada (Prof. Stanley Lipschitz, as I recall) hammered Sony and Philips and the SACD format by saying that 1-bit encoding was insufficient, as distortion in the audible frequency range results (as I recall, that was his argument). He stated that DVD-Audio is superior as a result. It later came out from Sony that in practice, SACD is an 8-bit format, as Sony acknowledged that 1-bit encoding would not be suitable.

    You said:

     
  7. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    "Therefore, DVD-Audio is not a compressed audio format like minidisc, MP3, Dolby Digital, or DTS."

    Not quite right. If there isn't enough space on the DVD-Audio disc the Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP) algorithm is used to compress the data on the PCM track(s). Whether or not MLP is a true bit-for-bit lossless scheme is open to debate.

    Also, there is one mark against DVD-Audio in the fact that many studios add audible water-marking to the PCM track. This has been shown to degrade the quality somewhat.

    I have also heard (I may not be entirely correct) that the master version of Direct Stream Digital (used for SACD) is 8 bit, but it's down-rezed to a consumer 1 bit version for the discs. DSD consumer DAC's have been labeled as 1 bit by quite a few manufacturers.

    Dan
     
  8. PeteD

    PeteD Stunt Coordinator

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    ---

    When and why is a 16-bit DAT used in the recording/mastering process?

    ---

    Artist goes in and records all his tracks onto either an analog system such as magnetic tape or digitally to a computer. The analog tape needs to be mix down to 2 channel audio to be sent to a CD production house. That production house would recieve from the studio a 2 channel (16bit usually) DAT of the mixdown. I've seen it done personally.

    A digital recording would depend on the production house, they might accept a DLT, but i'm not sure what the data format or the bit resolution would be. It would depend on the recording process.

    P.
     
  9. PeteD

    PeteD Stunt Coordinator

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    After checking into further, it's apprantly been a long time since I was in a studio.. Now they just burn it to CD instead of DAT.
    Oops [​IMG]
     
  10. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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  11. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Ric, thanks for clarifying the confusion that arose here. I know you have read up on technical papers concerning DSD technology. I have not. I do, however, remember reading on the web about 8-bit DSD technology being used in the studio and, of course, DSD has been implemented for the consumer market as a 1-bit technology. I sort of goofed there.
    Finally, no one should make a mistake regarding MLP. MLP is absolutely not a lossy compression scheme. There is a reason it is called Meridian Lossless Packing. [​IMG] DVD-Audio is an uncompressed format in the sense that no information is lost, which cannot be said for Dolby Digital, DTS, minidisc, or MP3. The fact that MLP is used is simply a storage issue and does not compromise the sound quality.
     
  12. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Others have replied to Dan H. on the "debatable" losslessness of MLP, I'll just say this:
    Input data to the MLP encoder core = Output data from the MLP decoder core in EVERY case.
    There is one item that everyone missed earlier. The other reason to use MLP is that the DVD spec calls for a maximum usable data rate of approximately 9.6mb/sec. If you do the bit arithmetic 24bit/96K cannot fit into that limitation, so some degree of compression is required to fit into that window. MLP is required for 24bit/96K 6 channel playback, and advisable for 24bit/192K playback (to improve playtime yield).
    MLP compression is variable, and at times, adequate compression is not possible, so buffering occurs. In this case, data is sent "ahead" when compression allows for the extra storage and utilizes it during shortfalls.
    Stacey had an excellent synopsis of MLP in the DVD-Audio Technology Article at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity. You will also see me listed as a co-author.
     
  13. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    I find it amazing how much hatred and vitriolic language is cast about with respect to PCM by the DSD camp and am amused that the process is front-ended by an 8-bit PCM encoder output as Delta-Sigma modulation.

    I further am amazed at the fact that "SuperAudio CD" delivers less signal and more noise above 10kHz than Redbook CD or DVD-Audio did/does.

    Regards,
     
  14. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    John,
    What you're saying isn't necessarily true. I don't want to get into a long winded technical discussion ( we already did that in THIS thread, but suffice to say that Pro-DSD does not exactly use an "8-bit PCM encoder output as Delta-Sigma modulation."
    Also, there are graphs that point either way with regards to where the signal/noise starts and ends.
    I can show you graphs where an SACD performs identically if not better with reagards to S/N up to 20kHz. There are also graphs that show SACD start to rise in S/N around 15kHz.
    A lot depends on the recording...a lot.
    What I find amusing is that given all of these supposed "flaws" in SACD, why the hell it sounds so incredible? The DVD-Audio fanboys never seem to have an answer for that one. [​IMG]
     
  15. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Ric,
    Look at the measured S/N of the delivered players, which is where theory meets the real world.
    If JA saw the numbers he saw out of an SACD player on a CD or DVD-A player he'd say "Abyssmal".
    Actually, after discussing this with Ed Meitner, I stick by my synopsis of the input being 8-bit Delta-Sigma Encoded PCM. But what does Ed know?
    Then again, Ed's statements are running through the JK filter [​IMG]
    Regards,
     

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