Mark Levinson No.36 D/A converter $3995 Review

August 29, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“As to HDCD, the performance of the No.36 remained top-class. Pop an HDCD into the transport, and the letters “HDCD” light up the No.36’s LED display screen. But color me undecided when it comes to HDCD vs standard CD. To date, there’s simply not enough material available in both formats (make that almost none) to make a really intelligent comparison. Sure, the HDCD recordings I’ve heard have been uniformly terrific in sound. But they’ve been excellent with and without decoding. Comparisons between their undecoded or decoded playback are not only invalid—because the coding results in subtle changes to the sound of an undecoded disc over that which might be expected from a conventionally mastered one—but also nearly impossible to make. You can’t shut off the HDCD processing in any HDCD decoder I know of, and comparing the modes using two processors—one HDCD, the other not—requires that the processors be otherwise identical: an impossible condition to meet.”

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