High Definition Compatible Digital (HDCD) (1995 – )

High Definition Compatible Digital (usually known as HDCD) is a Compact Disc based music format that uses a proprietary encoding system to provide increased dynamic range over standard Compact Discs by encoding 20-bits worth of data in the 16-bit digital audio signal.

It was originally developed by Pacific Microsonics, and the first HDCD releases were in 1995. The technology was subsequently purchased by Microsoft in 2000, and although the official HDCD website was taken down in 2005, there continue to be small numbers of HDCD releases.

HDCD discs can be played in standard Compact Disc players (although there are some claims of distortion), but to take advantage of the claimed improvements in quality requires a HDCD-compatible player, or later versions of Windows Media Player on PCs.

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