Dire Straits HDCD

Last night, I was chilling out to some CDs as I was too lazy to put some vinyl on and noticed on the inside back cover of my Love Over Gold CD some CDs that I could add to my collection. Dire Straits “Dire Straits” and “Comunique”.

The next morning (today) found me shopping on Discogs, and I noticed an HDCD selection whilst viewing Dire Strait CDs online. Low and behold I had a HDCD that I was unaware of. I thought I would share it that the single and double version of the album titled "Private Investigations with the guitar on the front cover is in HDCD format. It is something for those who have NAIM CD players that can decode HDCD. In my case a CD5 XS.

Happy shopping.

Warm regards,

Mitch in Oz.


I don’t have any DS compilations but, according to Discogs, most releases of Private Investigations aren’t HDCD, so it seems you might be lucky to have one that is! The Sultans of Swing compilation from the late 90s had more HDCD versions, so that might be worth checking.

I didn’t initially realise that the CD layer of the SACD version of Brothers in Arms is actually HDCD, so that’s another, right there.

I’m slightly surprised the 1996 remasters of the whole DS catalogue weren’t all HDCD encoded, since Knopfler’s Golden Heart album was HDCD and released the same year. A lot of his other early solo albums were also HDCD, so he seems to have had an interest in it. I think there’s other evidence that MK was quite the audiophile - wanting to go digital for BiA, for example.



Dear Mark,

Thank you for helping me spend more of my money. I am looking forward to their arrival in my collection.

Warm regards,

Mitch in Oz.


quite a few solo discs (Cal etc) are, as is ‘the Princess Bride’ soundtrack (worth it for ‘storybook love’).

In Australia, we got the Private Investigations double disc as HDCD is my understanding (these releases can be market dependant- it took me years to find the Madonna GHV2 as HDCD/, Aqua ‘Aquariam’ no such luck yet…)

Andrew Bird was another artist that went heavy on HDCD (and isn’t country like a huge amount of the HDCDs were…)

Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) toyed with HDCD; ‘Into the Void’ (EP) using it, and having the HDCD light on the playback hardware flick on and off to the beat of the song… (the flag to turn on/off the light is seperate to the flag that turns the decoding on/off), and that carried over to the album tracks. (the fragile ‘double disc’)

City of Angels (soundtrack) is one of the better HDCDs for listenability of the album (music worth owning),… but Chris Isaac did ‘Baja Sessions’, and beyond some oddities like Live ‘Secret Samahdi’ and Tool ‘Lateralus’; my favourtie HDCD would probably be Supertramps “Some Things Never Change”.

Arthouse Cafe (2?) has a version of Zorba the Greek worth the disc purchase too…

I have many piles of HDCDs and consider them the best source material in my house… (don’t have a nice turntable active, and my bluray transport isn’t up to my CD player /‘WAVE rips’ via a quality Digital Audio Player setups).

Oh yes, rip HDCDs as WAVE (not FLAC/ALAC etc) and the HDCD flags will still be in place…
(my collection is mostly FLAC, except around fifty discs ripped as WAVs to maintain HDCD capability).

For any unaware- HDCD was a 20bit sound format on a 16bit media that, if only for the extra effort given at the mastering stage, generally proved ‘very good quality’ audio.

Supertramp really show off the format, (as does Nine Inch Nails) due to the complexity of the tracks/number of musicians…

again; City of Angels is probably the best soundtrack HDCD and a great eclectic mix of wonderful tracks and artists, and certainly a ‘must buy’.


Very informative. Thanks :+1:

I don’t think that a Normal Naim can play HDCD. My Blu-ray DVD player can apparently.

Naim did once make a player

IIRC, ‘Normal Naim,’ players CDX and CDS2 (and onwards) could play HDCDs i.e. all models, not just overseas models (I don’t think ‘overseas variants’ existed).

Easy to tell, as an indicator would come up on the unit display.


Audiophile I’m not sure but I’m aware that when Mark built his own Grove studio he sought out as much analogue recording equipment as he could. Having bought all the Dire Straits albums and much of his solo work the recordings are without exception excellent including those CDs that are HDCD encoded.

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As far as I’m aware DbPoweramp can rip the HDCD to FLAC the result is a larger file size than CD so I assume it’s retaining the extra info.

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It creates a decoded 20bit file and puts it in a 24bit container. You just need to turn the volume up a bit - and remember to turn it down again before the next CD :hear_no_evil:

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According to Neil Dorfsman, it was loss of high end on the piano track of Private Investigations that led him & Knopfler to want to go digital. From the excellent Sound on Sound article about the recording of BiA:

“Dire Straits were early adopters of digital recording, thanks to Mark Knopfler’s constant striving for better sound quality. “Thanks to Mark, that album [Brothers In Arms] was among the first to be recorded on a Sony 24-track digital tape machine,” explains Neil Dorfsman. "One of the things that I totally respected about him was his interest in technology as a means of improving his music. He was always willing to spend on high-quality equipment, and I actually remember the night he made the decision to try digital.

“We were working on Love Over Gold at the Power Station, and we spent a really long time getting the piano sound for a song called ‘Private Investigations’. We were so impressed with the result that we played it back several times for people to hear, but every time we played it back the sound lost something. I can recall the expression on Mark’s face: dismay and a look of ‘We’ve got to do something about this. The sound is going to wear out.’ It was at that point the lightbulb went on in his head and in my head that we had to work in another way, and digital seemed to be the answer.”


I’ve ripped a few HDCDs in the past and thought it was a worthwhile exercise and the files were definitely better than a standard 16 bit rip.

It was a while ago so this is a bit foggy but I’m pretty sure there was a setting to to use so the volume was correct/normal rather than quiet. Something to do with which end of the file the 4 unused bits are placed I think…

Yes, you can tick a box to add +6dB however depending on the mastering there may not be +6dB of headroom so it’s best to play safe and give the volume an extra nudge instead.

I agree it’s worthwhile though.


That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know “Private Investigations” was available in HDCD. I’ll definitely check it out, especially since my NAIM CD player can decode HDCD too. Happy listening!

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