Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The fragility of CDs

If anything is going to push me over to the computer audio side in my living room it's the increasing problems I am having with CDs. We know the 'perfect sound forever' claim was never valid but most of us interpreted that as referring to the 'perfect' part, we kind of thought CD was robust but I am beginning to wonder. It's bad enough that 1 out of ever 3 or 4 cds I purchase from Amazon comes with the case split or damaged before I even open it, or that I have to use a knife to get access to the disk with all those sticky layers of 'protection' on the case, now I find CDs seemingly give up the ghost of playing without any cause. Last night my relatively new SACD of the Incredible West Montgomery album (new because I never realized Amazon carried the SACD version (they keep this hidden mostly unless you specify it in format search) so I purchased the album again having lucked on to that), refused to play. In fact, the TOC would not read in my Marantz. I took it out, gave it a quick examination and saw nothing unusual so I wiped it down, tried again and again before popping it into my older Denon 2900, relegated to DVD duties with my TV and always a machine guaranteed to read anything. Sure enough , the blue 'SACD' light came on and the player read it. But still no luck with my main rig. Hum....time for some stronger cleaning. I tried the toothpaste trick -- no luck. So, feeling brave I tried serious buffing before making a copy on my computer for luck. A quick search on the Web turns up all sorts of tricks for cleaning and repairing CDs (including, I kid you not, bananas, coca-cola, erasers, Brasso, and Barkeepers' Friend). Now as I am seriously determined to understand how any of these work I started a regime of trying them. I can tell you that I ended up with no luck and one still largely unreadable SACD. I have no idea what heppened to it but I never manhandled it or let it fall but now I hsve only the Apple Lossless version to listen to so I did what any self-respecting audiophile of a jazz leaning would do, I bought another copy. But I've not given up. There are some serious tools out there for people who want to repair cds and I am going to explore this one further to learn if I cannot resucitate this original. Stay tuned. But let me just say, I never had this problem with my LPs.

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