Compact Disc

How to enjoy this format

Compact Discs are technically a vintage format that was introduced in 1982. This format is almost four decades old and is still relevant, in part due to the growth of high resolution CD formats introduced by JVC, Toshiba, and Sony. These companies are pushing the limits of mastering and production to create CDs that will make you love your cd player again.

I can tell you first hand that SHM-CD, XRCD and XRCD24 sound so good in my vintage system that I would classify them on a different level from any standard CD. Since most vintage hifi systems have a standard Red Book CD player, this page is focused only on special formats that are compatible with all CD players. Each format is unique in the mastering and production process. If you think your cd player can sound better and have never tried a special format cd, you owe it to yourself to try one. I personally love the Audio Wave Music releases from the Blue Note Jazz Collection using XRCD24 with K2 technology. High Fidelity Magazine has a great article covering some of these new technologies.

I don’t have info for Hybrid SACD’s since the PCM layer for redbook players is 16 bit, I don’t see a good reason to buy over the other five technologies that play on all CD players. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the SACD format. Just realize that it is a proprietary format that will limit your buying options. Plus, SACD was developed in 1999 by Sony and Philips as the successor to the cd format, and can’t really be considered “vintage” yet.

High resolution discs that play on all cd players

JVC’s extended resolution compact disc is compatible with all CD players. XRCD is a mastering and manufacturing process, based on K2 technology, that attempts to extract the highest possible sound quality from the CD format. Most XRCDs are re-issues from original analog tapes using JVC’s custom 24-bit analog-to-digital converter.

XRCD2 and XRCD24 are improved versions of the original XRCD process. XRCD2 is the first to record to a magneto-optical disk via the digital K2 regenerator, while XRCD24 upgrades the original music signal’s bit depth signal from 20 to 24 bits.

Read more about XRCD

Super High Material CD is an improved version of the Compact Disc that uses higher quality, more transparent polycarbonate material that was developed for use in LCDs. Universal Music Japan and JVC, who developed thre SHM-CD, say that the new material also allows the pits to be formed more precisely, and the signal characteristics are improved as a result.

What that translates to our listening experience, according to Universal and JVC, is a clearer, more open sound, better resolution that leads to more details, and lower distortion.

The SHM-CD offers a clearer, more open sound with better resolution. Voices and instruments sound more three-dimensional and richer in texture. The results may differ depending on one’s audio system.

Learn more about SHM-CD

High Quality CD is a new formulation by Toshiba EMI as their answer to JVC/Universal’s SHM-CD. By using a specially formulated amalgam that offers better reflectivity than aluminum, the combined effects are more precise and faithful reproduction of the glass master. Toshiba EMI claims that these improvements lead to higher perceived sound pressure levels, a better frequency balance, higher resolution and wider and deeper soundstage.

Learn more about HQCD

Ultimate High Quality CD is the definitive edition of HQCD developed by Memory-Tech Corp. in Japan. The difference between HQCD and UHQCD is the material used and manufacturing process. HQCDs use a polycarbonate and the UHQCD uses a photopolymer, a light-activated resin that offers excellen pit transcribability.

Learn more about UHQCD

Following the SHM-CD by JVC/Universal and HQCD by Toshiba EMI, Sony has joined the competition for the next generation, higher quality CD formulation with its Blu-spec CD. Sony applies new technologies and materials developed for Blu-ray Discs to improve the sound of the Red Book CD.

In 2012, Sony introduced Blu-spec CD2 that reduce reading errors and jitter. Sony claims the amount of jitter is 50% lower than the regular CD.

Learn more about Blue-spec CD

Where to buy

Acoustic Sounds

Acoustic Sounds, Inc. is a business specializing in the sale of audiophile vinyl LPs, SACDs, DVD-Audios, high-quality CDs and high-end stereo equipment. It is located in Salina, Kansas, United States. This is the home of Analogue Productions, Analogue Productions Originals, Quality Record Pressings and Blue Heaven Studios.

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Amoeba Music

Since 1990, Amoeba Music has welcomed independent music lovers of all kinds to their unique, vibrant stores in Berkeley, San Francisco and Hollywood. They stock every kind of music and movies — from top 40 to the best in underground rock and hip-hop, soul, electronica, new and classic jazz, world music, roots music and experimental music. They also have the biggest, most diverse and affordable selection of DVDs and vinyl LPs found anywhere. They are a trading post for new and used discs, our stock changes daily. One way they show appreciation is free shipping to US addresses!

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Eastwind Import

Eastwind Import is an online shop based in California, USA, that specializes in jazz and classical CDs imported from Japan and Europe. If you are a serious jazz/classical music fan, you may already know that there are excellent independent labels around the world. They offer new recordings and rare reissues of great international artists with superb production values. If you are an audiophile, Eastwind Import is a great resource for great-sounding jazz and classical discs!

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Elusive Disc

Elusive Disc is the exclusive distributor of the JVC XRCD product line for North America. The eXtended Resolution Compact Disc is a mastering and manufacture process originally patented by JVC. Elusive Disc offers 100’s of titles to choose from and many more on the way. Browse XRCD, XRCD2 & XRCD24 titles from JVC, Audio Wave Music, Hi-Q Records, Opus 3, Three Blind Mice and many other labels.

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Music Millennium

Music Millennium opened in 1969, and is the oldest record store in existence in the Pacific Northwest. They stock the ever-evolving gamut of formats including LP, 45, reel-to-reel, 8-track, cassette, DAT, compact disc, mini-disc, DCC and CD-ROM. They have hosted an array of in-store performances and autograph appearances over the years, including the likes of Richard Thompson, Matthew Sweet, Soundgarden, Sheryl Crow, Randy Newman, Everclear, Jewel, Little Feat, Susannah Hoffs and Cheap Trick to name a few. If you are ever in Portland, you must visit. 

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