Wash, Cut, Polish & Demagnetize

As I sat and read through the most recent threads on the "Agon" forum, I noticed a thread regarding "Glossary of Audio Myths". I noticed several comments regarding "greening" and demagnetizing CDs.

Without delving too deeply into the effects of laser light diffraction, deflection, dispersion and reflecting light from adjacent tracks creating "jitter", and to avoid reduntantly examining the fact that the aluminum "wafer" in a CD is not always just aluminum, but in many cases aluminum "alloy", I would like to attempt to dispel a few of these "myths".

Many CD manufacturing facilities use a coating of mold release agents on the manufacturing machinery and on the plastic substrate material in the actual CD to facilitate ease of handling throughout the manufacturing process. Somewhat similar to spraying a cooking pan with "PAM" to reduce sticking. The residual amounts remaining on the CD upon completion of manufacturing should be removed as it will cause minor deflection and loss of focus of the laser beam. Specialty chemicals are available specifically for this purpose. I wash the CDs thoroughly using Dawn dishwashing liquid and very warm water. I cannot confirm that this process is as effective as using the specialty chemicals, but it leaves the CD surface extremely clean and seemingly free from any "oily" feel.

I then cut the edge of the CD using an Audiodesk CD cutter. This process reduces the amount of laser scatter from exiting through the outer edge of the CD and flooding the inside of the CD transport with reflected laser light. By cutting a bevel on the edge of the CD, you actually reduce the edge surface area by which the diffracted laser light can disperse. Some may feel that this a bit excessive, but we must keep in mind that the results of these treatments are cumulative.

The next process involves applying CD "Green" to the beveled edge. The properties of the color value of the Green used in the majority of these coatings tend to absorb any stray laser light. I still, to this day, have not been able to figure out why Green is the color of choice although, I have been told that it is simply the values of each of these colors (Red laser light and Green) that work together in unison to "neutralize" the light. The initial washing of the CD also helps to enhance the adhesion of the green coatings.

Upon allowing the CD green to dry, I then apply CD diamond using 100% cotton balls, and polish using again, cotton balls. CD diamond is an optical enhancer similar to Optrix,
Vivid, etc. and also contains a anti-static component. Most of these "optical enhancers" work by simply filling in microscopic pores in the CD surface permitting a more direct transmission of the laser beam through the plastic substrate material to the actual CD surface.

The last step involves demagnetizing the CD using a Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer. CDs, contrary to what most people believe can and will become magnetized. The results are a less black background, a general "haze" and loss of detail. If Cds were made using pure aluminum with NO trace elements, this step might not be required.

The results of all this? Pretty damn amazing. Again, recognizing that the results of all of these steps are cumulative, when all is said and done, the improvement is quite significant. Although these steps may sound somewhat time consuming, each CD actually only takes about three minutes to complete.

I hope I have provided some insight as to "dispelling" some of these myths. I can, and will, stand by this process as time and time again these enhancements have made CDs a lot more listenable. And, I have dropped the jaws of many non-believers after they have heard the actual results.

Any comments regarding this process are welcome. Happy listening.

Ahhh, I love you guys like brothers and this some great stuff, but, bottom line, are we in agreement that "Green" would be the color to use to ABSORB stray 790 NM laser light?

If not, I promise, I will hang my head in shame for having put up with all of these good sounding CDs for so long.
First of all, speaking from a purely technical point of view, you did nothing to dispel any myths about digital. You simply gave us your list of what you think works and why you think it works. I just wanted to clarify that the contents of your post are based purely on personal beliefs / your personal experiences and would not "dispel" or "prove" anything to anyone that came to this forum looking for "accurate techical information". The fact that i have very similar beliefs / methods of use should confirm that i did not mean this as an "attack" from a "naysayer".

As your processes go, i clean every disc that i purchase with warm water and Palmolive dish soap. I got into this habit with used discs and it has carried over to new discs. I have had this procedure make the difference between playing and not playing, simply due to removing dirt / smudged finger prints, food particles on used discs. As such, i don't bother looking at them when i bring them home, i just clean them all. This also de-stat's them at the same time if you plan on playing them right away.

I also have and use an Audio Desk Systeme "disc cutter". Should any of you want to compare the effects of this device and have a few duplicate discs, you are welcome to send me a disc or two and i'll cut them and send them back. You are responsible for shipping costs both ways though. The same thing goes for cable burning, so you can kill two birds with one stone if you send both at the same time.

As far as markering CD's goes, i do not do this nor will i ever. I have conducted a few tests doing this and the results were in favor of NOT "greening" or "blacking" discs. Read errors were increased, error correction was increased, discs that were partially readable were no longer readable at all, etc... The results that i obtained were also duplicated by Rodney Gold, moderator of the Digital Asylum over at AA. He performed digital analysis of markered and un-markered discs via links between his all digital Meridian based system and his computer. In every test, markering came back with negative effects on the performance of the system. Since increased error correction can and does alter bit count and over-all performance, the sonics of such a "tweak" will always be subtractive ( losing information ) rather than additive. As a side note, "trimming the edges" ala the Audio Desk Systeme increased read times and reduced error correction according to Rodney's tests.

As far as CD treatments such as Auric, Optrix, etc... i only use them if a disc sounds "bad" to begin with or is damaged. These treatments do increase readability, reduce error correction, etc... They also alter the sonics of the disc. As mentioned, if you have a "brash" sounding disc with a lot of sibilance ala early digital transfers, it can work wonders. Otherwise, my experience is that the leading edge of transients are softened, the music looses some of the drive or "prat", and everything sounds more "mellow". This may be good if you want to go to sleep or have a less than musical digital installation, but i find it a detraction and use it only as needed.

As far as the use of a Bedini or Furutech, etc.. type device, i do think that they work, but the results are subtle. If i've just got done washing the disc, i don't bother using any of these. Otherwise, i do use these and the end result is a quieter and cleaner background with reduced "grit" and increased liquidity.

As a side note, i had posted a link to someone that had done analysis of several different "tweaks" for CD's and all of the "CD mats" reduced the performance of the machine in terms of reduced readability, increased error correction, etc...

I've seen other reports where readability / error correction tests were performed using those "cd rings" that attach to the outer edge of discs. All of these reduced readability, increased error correction and threw the disc out of balance, increasing wear on the motors.

As such, i would suggest performing your own "digital tweaks" and judge for yourself what works and what doesn't. Just make sure that you use a disc that you are familiar with, but aren't too worried about trashing if something goes "wrong".

For the record, Auric Illuminator was able to "reverse" the effects of markering in one test that i did. While the disc had "hops, skips & jumps" in in prior to markering, adding the marker made the disc completely unreadable. Once i applied Auric Illuminator, the disc played like it was brand new with NO problems whatsoever. As a side effect though, the sonics were altered but having a disc that plays with a "softer" presentation is better than having a disc that won't play at all. Sean

Sean, go off the thread, I will email you my address, send me a disc that you have 2 copies of, and allow me to do this process for you. I will even pay the shipping back to you priority mail.

My only request is that you approach this with an open mind, no pre-conceived notions, and you post your honest impressions back on this thread. I will even replace the disc with a new one if you feel the sound has been degraded. Fair enough?

Batter up!
There was a good shootout in Audio Musings #14, 2001. They had 7 identical CD-R discs burnt with one classical track and one jazz track. Disc 1: beveled and outer edge blackened with the Audio Desk marker, disc 2: treated with Auric Illuminator and outer edge blackened with that marker, disc 3: beveled and with CD Stoplight applied on the outer edge, disc 4: beveled with no blackening, disc 5: CD Clarity only, disc 6: Digital Juice only, disc 7: control.

They had a panel of 6 listeners and first listened to the control, and then discs 1 through 6.

Three listeners preferred disc 1 with disc 2 as second choice, two preferred disc 2 with disc 1 as second choice, while one listener had no preference.

"The consensus was that it became very difficult to discern subtle differences bewteen one disc and another after only a very short time, and that this was something that should be remembered un any situation where sonic comparisons are being made".

Herman, Hi again, the reflected laser light doesn't have a chance to come out of the plastic medium and be red light again (in air) - it's too late; it has already been absorbed by the color you have (hopefully) painted around the edge of the CD. In other words, the light you are worried about absorbing is the light reflected off the surface of the metal layer that is directed to the edge of the CD. Until light in the plastic hits the absorber paint on CD edge it is not red, but another color - orange or yellow(?).