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High Quality CD Formats


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I'm not sure if this has been discussed in detail somewhere else on the forum, but I'm curious about all of these Japanese high quality CD formats I've seen all over E-Bay. It seems there are a few different formats claiming to have superior sound quality over the average CD and what's also interesting is the huge number of titles geting re-released on these formats, particularly SHM.

 

I haven't had the pleasure of actually hearing any for myself, but I'm wondering, are these high quality formats any good? Is the sound quality really that much better than a standard CD?? And do you think any of these formats will make enough of an impact on the market so that the regular CD format comes under threat? I've read several articles which state that this is all just a big format war involving Sony and others, and has more to do with copy protection than it does about improved sound quality. Any thoughts?

 

I saw one description of a Blue-Spec copy of Boston - Don't Look Back which stated "Listening to this is a phenomenal experience, as if you are in the studio with the musicians!"

 

Here's a few descriptions taken from the cdjapan.co.jp website:

 

SHM

 

The high quality SHM-CD (Super High Material CD) format features enhanced audio quality through the use of a special polycarbonate plastic. Using a process developed by JVC and Universal Music Japan discovered through the joint companies' research into LCD display manufacturing, SHM-CDs feature improved transparency on the data side of the disc, allowing for more accurate reading of CD data by the CD player laser head. SHM-CD format CDs are fully compatible with standard CD players. - From cdjapan.co.jp

 

Blu-Spec

 

Blu-spec CD format boasts a new approach to the faithful reproduction of music by utilizing the leading edge blue laser diode technologies optimized for the manufacturing of Blu-ray. During the manufacturing of CD, laser beam is pinpointed to encode data on the microscopic tracks molded on the polycarbonate plastic constituting the surface of the disc. Compared to the conventional laser beam used for the manufacturing of standard CD, the blue laser beam used for the manufacturing of Blu-spec CD has a shorter wavelength, allowing more accurate encoding of the data. The use of the laser also eliminates the need to use cooling fans that cause vibrations. Furthermore, polycarbonate plastic optimized for Blu-ray is used to ensure accurate reading of the data. Amazingly and importantly, Blu-spec CD format is fully compatible with standard CD players. - From cdjapan.co.jp

 

HQCD

 

HQCD (HiQualityCD) format achieves high quality audio through the use of a polycarbonate plastic with improved transparency derived from LCD display manufacturing technologies enabling more accurate reading of the CD data. In addition, a special alloy is used as the material of the reflective layer instead of the standard aluminum. HQCD format CDs are fully compatible with standard CD players. - From cdjapan.co.jp

 

SACD

 

SACDs present higher audio fidelity through the use of a propietary format which offers a maximum bitrate up to 64 times higher than that of standard CDs. Though SACD releases can only be played in special SACD players, discs that are labeled "SACD Hybrid" include an additional CD layer of audio that can be played back on standard CD players (though quality is limited to CD quality through standard CD player playback). SACD releases can contain either or both stereo and 5.1 channel mixes. - From cdjapan.co.jp

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what I don't understand is where a lot of the formats above rely on accuracy of reading the disc. Correct me if I'm wrong but i thought that with a digital signal you either got the sigal or you didn't..... there was no inbetween. If the singal can be read then it is reproducred in full, but if it is interrrupted then there is no signal..... ie the switch is either 'on' or 'off'.

 

I thought any improvement would have to come from the information stored on the disc (or signal), not the actual transmission of the signal itself.... such as an increased range.

 

or maybe I'm just totally wrong.

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what I don't understand is where a lot of the formats above rely on accuracy of reading the disc. Correct me if I'm wrong but i thought that with a digital signal you either got the sigal or you didn't..... there was no inbetween. If the singal can be read then it is reproducred in full, but if it is interrrupted then there is no signal..... ie the switch is either 'on' or 'off'.

 

I thought any improvement would have to come from the information stored on the disc (or signal), not the actual transmission of the signal itself.... such as an increased range.

 

or maybe I'm just totally wrong.

 

Yeah I see what your saying. I think the Blue-Spec and SACD formats actually have improvements to the way the data is encoded whereas the SHM and HQCD formats only claim to have better technology for reading the data. I'm certainly no guru when it comes to this sorta stuff but that's how I understand it.

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