playing "top-damaged" CDs ?

Hi All,

I recently had over a hundred CDs water-damaged in the recent Vermont floods. A few were savable after air-drying, and others are just plastic and paper glued into small art objects. However, many CDs have some amount of cover or booklet attached to the face of the CD.The question is can CDs with small strips of paper fiber attached to the top surface be played? What amount of "stuff" might affect the playing/rotation of the disc. The paper is firmly attached and will not come flying off, (nor will I try tp peel anything).

The equipment is an AudioLab 6000 CDT transport with read-ahead buffer.

Any input appreciated.

BTW - over 1300 CDs were above water and survived intact - what I lost was all my Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna, Loop Guru, and lots of reggae.

[Related query- will a radio station or library label on a CD affect playing?]





As long as the amount of paper is negligible, it will still play.

Why not try to soak the cds in question in warm water to see if you can then get it all off?

What I'd be most concerned about (with that particular CD transport) is that it is slot loading. The loading mechanism may very well peel off some residual paper on the top of the CD as it sucks it into the unit. That might lead to issues in the future with little bits of dust and such getting into the unit and more importantly, cobbing up the loading mechanism.

I have told a story here a few times, but back in the days when cars had CD players I had carried a few into the garage and one fell out of the jewel case unbeknownst and lay in my garage floor under a pile of winter slush.  A few months later the slush melted and there it was, with months of debri having been pounded into it by car tires.  I cleaned it off by soaking in the sink with lukewarm water and Dial soap.  I then air dried it and sprayed one of the commercial CD cleaning sprays, and to my surprise it played perfectly and I have been listening to it without issue ever since.

CDs spin at several hundred RPM.  paper stuck to them would cause some vibration which can never be a good thing.  

The paper is not glued, it is just water based bonded.

I would soak in water overnight in a broad plastic or pyrex dish.  the paper should float right off.  rinse in distilled water.



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Haven’t tried this on a CD, but spraying an ammonia free window cleaner and letting it soak in a bit might get it off as well. Maybe try it ,or the aforementioned water and soap soaking on one CD. Trying is the only way to find out. I wouldn’t put them as is in a slot loader.

Warm soapy water should work. Just like soaking a label off of a glass jar.

@richalan - I think you have dated yourself with Hot Tuna. LOL  When I was young we always rented a home on the NJ Shore with my buddies. I brought down a little stereo system and we met some nice young ladies and invited them over that night.  We had all this music (except for Hot Tuna).  My buddy told them, hey what do you want to hear, we have everything.  One of the girls said, got any Hot Tuna!  It is still a running joke all these years later!

I would advise the same, put in water and see what happens.

Happy Listening & Let Us Know what worked.

Once you get this sorted out I would think the next thing to do would be to take all of those CDs and rip them to a network storage device. Then take the files and copy them onto another external hard drive that you can keep somewhere else. Maybe even get a terabyte of cloud storage and the back them up there as well. I have lost CDs in the past in similar manner and now go way overboard with backup and redundancy. 

@bigkidz a girl requesting to listen to Hot Tuna is a keeper.

@richalan If you are ok with FLAC files, I have a ton of Dead shows ripped to FLAC.  I also have a fair amount of live Hot Tuna shows in FLAC file format.  If you are interested send me a private message to discuss getting you a link

Some CD players are fussier than others.  I cannot tell you why.  Doesn't seem to have anything to do with price or supposed quality, or cleanliness.  Mystery.

Worst I ever had was a Rega Apollo.  It would reject about a third of the discs fed to it that would play fine on other players.  I couldn’t get a dealer to take if off my hands after a few of them demoed it.  I finally donated it to a charity shop


A nickel says that 99.9% of them will play just fine. I also have the 6000cdt and it’s great, but I’d still try to get off as much of the paper as you can!

All the best.

@mahler123 , @boxcarman , some players are definitely fussier than others!

@richalan , greetings from the other side of the river. Northern, NH here. Sorry for your luck over there. I do have experience with stuck-on booklets. Just soak them for a while, write the booklet off and enjoy.