View Full Version : HDCD encodin and playback...

2005-06-25, 21:43
Q. Does FLAC encode the full 20bits of an HDCD recording? If so, can the SB2 DAC decode and playback the original HDCD signal? If not (due to not having an HDCD encoder), will the SB2 pass the HDCD signal through to an external HDCD decoding enabled DAC?


Mike Hanson
2005-06-26, 05:43
The decoding must be done by an HDCD chip from Microsoft, which I don't think the Soundblaster includes. For more info, see www.hdcd.com.

-=> Mike Hanson <=-

2005-06-27, 15:48
So... I did a bit of research and thought I'd post the results here for anyone else curious about whether or not a FLAC file maintains the encoded HDCD signal of its source.

In short, it does. The HDCD "code" is transmitted in "inaudible" portions of the standard 16bit redbook stream. EAC + FLAC should capture everything. However, the only way of decoding and playing back the additional "dynamic gain" information is through a Microsoft licensed 20 bit DAC addon chip.

Re: the SB2. As long as the signal passing out of digital outs has not been resampled, an HDCD-enabled external DAC =should= be able to playback the encoded 20bit signal.


John Stimson
2005-06-28, 11:23
All correct. I will add that the decoding can also be done in software. Windows Media Player, for example, can decode HDCD according to what I have read (I don't have a 24 bit sound card, so I haven't pursued it further).

Whether Microsoft will grant a license to another company to perform the decoding in software (for instance, by the SB2's CPU), is a different question. It would certainly be cool.

2005-06-29, 02:57
You can play back HDCD files ripped to FLAC, providing you have an external DAC unit that is HDCD compatible. I use a Music Fidelity XDAC which works a treat with the handfull of HDCD that I own. The other alternative is software decoding using a sound card and Microsoft software. If you check on the Web you'll find plenty of external DAC units that support HDCD.



2006-10-25, 20:55
Hi, newbie that's into the hd market and just caught this thread from search. I was wondering why ms media player won't id an hdcd like it use to. I have wmp 10. A previous version had a red light that came on when I put in a hdcd cd. I have no way of knowing if it picks it up at all...not in file properties or nothing.

Anyway that's not why I jumped in this thread. I just wanted to let you know I've been downloading hdcd encoded retail flac files for awhile now. I burn them to cd's and play them back on my hdcd external player. The little hdcd light comes on and plays them fine.

I've even ripped retail hdcd discs with Nero and Plextools to test, in both wave and flac formats, and all is good. I furthur tested the flac files I made and converted them to wave with same success.