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.

Hi Mprime, If you are considering the purchase of an Audiodesk CD cutter, do keep in mind that the Audiodesk would be simply a single step in the process. Again, if you review my original thread you will notice that I mention that the results I achieve are CUMULATIVE.

I think Sean would probably back me up on this. To just bevel the edge of the CD alone, you may not be happy with the results. Especially if you try to justify the cost of the cutter alone. The changes that you obtain by just cutting the edge are subtle, but noticable. Although, use it in conjunction with the other mods we have discussed, and the results become much more significant.

If you have a large enough collection of CDs, and you are also willing to test the results of the other mods we discussed, it may be worth the cost.

And I really don't know what you intend on buying regarding a turntable, but I think you may find that $600.00 is just scratching the surface in terms of cost. I have over 5 times that invested in my analog rig and by far, it is not state of the art, but it does a great job.

I will extend this offer to you also, if you would like, send me a CD so I may cut it for you. I would be more than willing to do so. If you desire, I will do a complete process for you. Hopefully, it would at least provide you a benchmark to use as a basis for comparison.
To expound upon what Buscis2 stated about the Audio Desk Systeme "cd cutter", i find that it tends to:

1) Produce a more liquid presentation. Much of the harshness and glare are removed, the sound is more "organic" and the presentation is more cohesive.

2) Detail is increased to the point of being able to understand lyrics that were previously buried in the mix. It does so without sounding etched, not in the least. In fact, it reduces "unnatural artifacts" and that is why it sounds more "liquid". One can really sense a difference in the clarity ( rise and fall ) of cymbals.

3) It sounds as if you are listening to a musical presentation, not just a bunch of notes thrown together. The flow of the music is increased yet you can still pick out all of the individual notes / instruments with ease.

4) Notes / instruments seem to come from a blacker background with increased separation and air between them.

5) I guess that some would say that it lends a more analogue quality to the digital presentation. One can be drawn further into the music with greater ease and you are less aware that you are listening to "hi-fi recording".

Having said that, i don't like to use the "cutter" on some discs. The "more liquid" presentation does not work well with "hard" music i.e. rock, metal, etc... in many cases. That is, unless the disc has poor tonal balance ( bright and edgy ) and induces fatigue when listening to it in "stock" form or the recording is very dark, muddy and murky sounding i.e. clustered, congested and hard to pick things out.

In my experience, the cutter works best on most other types of music other than hard rock, etc.. This is especially true of acoustic works. This is not to say that it is not as beneficial to Classical, Jazz, Blues, etc... but the added liquidity can really bring a small set of performers playing non-amplified instruments into your living room.

As i mentioned and Buscis2 also offers, we can cut discs for you to compare. I would HIGHLY recommend doing this prior to purchasing a machine. Some people / systems seem to be more sensitive to "disc cutting". As such, there is no sense in making such an investment unless you can tell a difference AND that difference is beneficial to your enjoyment of the music you like to listen to.

Having said all of that, i know that there are other "high profile" regulars here that have and use the Audio Desk Systeme and think very highly of it. I purchased mine a few years ago and, while it is not cheap for the task that it performs, find it to be a useful tool when it comes to naking digital reproduction more enjoyable and natural sounding. I must add that i do NOT marker the edges as they suggest in the instructions for the above mentioned reasons.

As a side note, i did pick up a cyan coloured marker and am going to give that a go on one of my "damaged test discs". I'm going to give the disc a thorough cleaning, play it in stock form and then treat the edges with the cyan marker. I'll report back with results as to whether readability is increased, reduced or remains the same as soon as i can. Sean
Sean,I am looking forward to your findings. I also stopped at a local art store and purchased a Cyan colored marker. I have yet to try it.

But, one interesting note. I compared the color of the Cyan marker in relation to the Cd "Greenline" presently offered by LAT International. The color is almost identical. I think that the Cyan color is very slightly more "Blue", but marginally so.

I have never used any of the other "greening" products offered by other manufacturers, so I can't discern the color deviations between the LAT product and the other manufacturers offerings.

Also, I transcribed an excerpt from the LAT catalog regarding their explanation of how their product works. That excerpt discusses their product working in conjunction with a 790 NM laser.

Am I correct? Isn't a standard CD laser operating at 680 NM? If this was actually the case, wouldn't the corresponding color used for absorbtion change accordingly due to the different wavelength?
DVD player lasers are 655 nm (red) while almost all CD player lasers are 780 nm (infrared)...it might get a little complicated to analyze the color situation, as the color(s) of the ink of CD label enters into the picture as well...
Thank you for the clarification Geoff. And your response brings up another issue, As I have stated, I demag my CDs also as part of my process. I have noticed comments regarding CDs not having any type of magnetization properties. As you mentioned, the paint being used on CDs is part of the problem with becoming magnetized.

In many cases the paint used on CDs does contain metals in order to obtain the specific colors. That, in conjunction with the actual CD "wafer" not always being PURE aluminum, but containing trace elements, does contribute to the disc actually becoming magnetized.

The amount of magnetization would have a correlation to the amount and the color of paint used on that particular CD. Make sense?

Hopefully, this will provide additional explanations;