Philips DCC

Back in 1996, I bought a Philips DCC600 to mix onto. It was cheaper and better sounding than Sony Minidisc at the time. It was one of those typical technology battles, with the lesser quality but more convenient format winning. A bit like the 8 track cartridge. These used wider tape than a cassette so sounded far better. The proof is that they were still used in radio broadcasting up to ten years ago, long after the format had died in the domestic market.

Then I moved over to recording in the computer. I transferred some stuff from DCC in 16 bit. Along the way, I acquired a free Philips DCC730. A few months ago I transferred some of my old tapes (you can hear these old tracks on the music page). Turns out that the DCC730 puts out 18 bits via S/Pdif, so I set the DAW to record 24 bit. I use the TobyBear Bit Viewer plugin to measure that. In a direct comparison, these transfers have much more depth than the previous 16 bit ones. Comparing the two, the 16 bit transfers from DCC600 show all the hallmarks of quantising distortion.

This is interesting because DCC uses PASC, basically mpeg layer 1 audio compression. So the converter outputs an 18 bit digital word, even though most of the stuff was recorded via the 16 bit converter on the DCC600 (with its DC offset), or the 18 bit converter on the DCC730. Those extra bits seem to mitigate the ADPCM compression, somewhat.

With careful attention to harmonics and imaging in the mastering, the DCC recordings can sound really good.

Hopefully, this info will be useful to anyone out there with this old technology. Interestingly, the technology developed for DCC is now used in hard drives, and beer filtering systems! 🙂

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