- I am constantly amazed at the lack of CD tweaking in the
high-end community. No one would dare play a record without the
appropriate mat, clamp, cleaning the stylus, cleaning the record,
setting the azimuth, overhang, tracking force and vertical tracking
angle. Yet these same audiophiles take a new CD, stick it in
a player and play it, as if that is all there is to do to get
whats on the disc. Every once in a while you read in a
magazine that some reviewer greens the edges of the CD or maybe
uses the Bidini Clarifier. Thats about it!!!!! Its
no wonder that lots of audiophiles think CDs cant produce
nowhere near record quality sound. The fact of the matter is
that a properly tweaked CD playback system can produce
very fantastic sound. CD tweaking is very overlooked because
the digital information is thought by many to be very simple
to decode. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Everything
you do to a CD will change the sound, no matter how low of electrical
jitter there is down stream. All the things I am suggesting you
do are clearly audible on even low end systems (boom boxes).
If you dont hear a difference, maybe you dont want
to. The laser is an incredibly powerful light. Any splashing
or messing with its beam and you have audible problems. The DVD
players that I have played with are far more sensitive. Probably
because of the stronger laser beam and the smaller pits. The
things I suggest you try are as follows:
- 1. Lightly sand the outer and inner edge of the CD with
sand paper (240 grit works fine) to remove the shine. This roughing
of the edges stops a great deal of the laser reflections. This
results in a more musical, natural and detailed playback.
- 2. Green or blacken the edges you just sanded and also
green or blacken the top and bottom of the CD around
the center hole where it is clear. Make sure you color into
any centering grooves or hills. Because the laser is red everyone
has assumed that you have to use a green marker to absorb the
light. Black absorbs all colors and works very effectively. You
want to use a marker that is opaque, doesnt come off on
your fingers and also does not peel off. Surprisingly cheap and
effective is your basic black Sanford Sharpie marker. With this
marker you need to go over each area several times to make it
opaque. Doing this will give you even better sound.
- 3. Make 6 black or green lines on top of the CD a little
less than one quarter inch wide. These lines run from the center
of the CD to the edge (you are dividing the CD into six pieces
of pie). You can still read the label with these lines. I got
this idea from the Marigo Crossbow mat with its three wider
lines. The spinning black lines really make a difference. You
might experiment with other amounts of lines (3-8). Let me know
what you think. More lines might work better or worse with the
faster spinning DVDs.
- 4. Apply the latest optical treatment to the playing
side and the top of the CD. For years I used Finyl, then
for 2 years I used Optrix then Auric Illuminator and now I really
like Vivid by Walker Audio. If you want to treat a hybrid SACD
then you must first use Mapleshade Mikrosmooth to remove a coating
on the SACD that interacts badly with enhancers.
- 5. Remove static on the CD/SACD/DVD by using the Mapleshade
Iconoclast. Works similarly to the Zerostat (generally used on
records/LPs) but way more powerful. Puts out both positive and
negative Ions to completely de-static the CD. According so some,
works better than demagnetizing the CD with either the Bidini
Clarifier or a bulk eraser. The Iconoclast can be used on your
cables for better sound as well.
- We do numbers one through five on every CD/SACD/DAD/DVD-A
we listen to.
- 6. Damp the top of the CD with either of the press on
damping goodies from Combak or Compact Dynamics (the Optrix Co.).
- 7. Try one of the latest mats. I personally never liked
the Audioprism one but they have a new improved version. The
only mat that I have tried and liked is the Marigo Crossbow mat.
However, it made CDs and DVDs sound worse on the EVS modified
Pioneer and Sony DVD players. Experiment as always.
- 8. Try the Peter Belt foils. We have not yet heard this
ourselves but have heard about the Belt Phenomenon for years.
Check out what Greg Weaver of Soundstage has to say about the
Belt foils (April
99 and July 99 columns).
- 9. Try freezing your CDs. See Soundstages Greg Weavers
info in his Dec
- 10. Some people have said that copying a CD onto a "black"
CDR sounds better.
- 11. Make copies on the best Yamaha ripper. Suppose to
give burn larger pits that make them less sensitive to jitter.
With first burning to hard disc and then burning the CDR with
the Yamaha ripper people have said it gives improved sound.
- So what do you get when you do most of the above inexpensive
tweaks? Way more musical, natural and detailed sound, thats
- A very quickly done example below.
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