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Audio CD-R Project

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Audio CD-R Project

Postby Tonearm on Sun Mar 23, 2003 3:35 pm

I've been refining a plan to start a collection of music CD-Rs and I think I'm about done. I'd really like to hear anyone's opinion about any portion of it. My goal is a collection that sounds as good or better than original CDs, is labeled, cataloged, backed up, and will last.

Process:

1. Take the CD to be dubbed and repair any scratches with the CD Playright Trio Plus kit.

2. Coat the CD's outer edge with CD Stoplight.

3. Coat a blank Taiyo Yuden 80 min. CD-R's edge with CD Stoplight.

4. Dub the CD to the CD-R via the Marantz CDR-500 Professional at 1X.

5. Apply the CD Playright Quick Shield spray to the CD-R.

6. Label the CD-R using Surething software and a Surething full-coverage matte CD label.

7. Repeat this entire process using the CD-R as the master and another blank CD-R to dub to.

8. Remove the CD Stoplight coating from the original CD.

9. Catalog the new CD-R with Music Collector software.

10. Store the first CD-R in a "Backup" Case Logic CD case and the second CD-R in a "Use" Case Logic CD case.

I will end up with two perfect copies of the CD, each labeled, coated with CD Spotlight, sprayed with Quick Shield, cataloged, and properly stored. Since I'll have two copies of eah disc, I can store the backups under optimal conditions and not worry too much about the exposure, potential for theft, etc. of the CD-Rs I take places with me and use.

What do you guys think? Any audiophiles in here?
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Postby cfitz on Sun Mar 23, 2003 4:05 pm

I'm not an audiophile, so take my comments accordingly.

First of all, I've never been convinced of the efficacy of products like CD Stoplight and Playright Quick Shield. In my opinion these are expensive placebos without sound technical basis to support their claims. But, I know a lot of people swear by them, and I assume you have done your research and decided they are right for you, so I won't try to talk you out of them other than to suggest that you at least test them with your own ears to decide if they really do anything for you. However, I will mention a few other things you might want to consider.

First, be careful with repairing scratches that you don't make things worse. To guard against this possibility, I would make one copy of the scratched disc before attempting repair, allowing the drive's ECC to correct the errors caused by the scratch. That way if something goes wrong during the scratch repair you have at least one copy already on hand.

Second, why are you making the second copy from the first copy rather than the original master? Audio CDs have less error correcting capability than data CDs, so there is some small chance of introducing generational errors. It’s not something I would worry about, but as an audiophile I would think you might be more concerned about this possibility.

Third, why erase the CD Stoplight from the original when you are done with the copy? If it truly does help, why not just leave it on?

Fourth, I don't like labels. They could peel, unbalance the disc or, in the worst case, the adhesive could eat through the protective lacquer on the top of the disc and ruin the disc. I don't think this disaster scenario is likely anymore since label makers have recognized the problem, but early on there were labels sold with adhesives that were not compatible with the lacquer on the top of the CDs. I prefer to label my CD-Rs by hand with the markers specifically designed for this purpose.

Fifth, I would suggest putting some of the recorded discs into a computer drive and testing them for error levels to see how good a job the Marantz is doing at burning the CD-Rs.

Finally, since you will be recording in a stand-alone audio player, make sure to buy audio CD-R blanks. I know, this is obvious, but just in case it slipped your mind...

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Postby Tonearm on Sun Mar 23, 2003 4:24 pm

Cool, thanks for the reply Cfitz.

CD Spotlight sure seems like it could be a joke, but I've ordered a tube and we'll see. It got a lot of great reviews at audioreview.com and I've read a lot of good things about it in Stereo Review. Quick Shield is just supposed to protect it from scratches. People have coated half of the CD with this stuff, slid the disc across the floor, and noticed substantially less scratches on the treated portion.

The possibility of generational errors was one reason I posted this thread. I wanted to see what people thought about that. This Marantz is supposed to make a perfect digital copy so I'm hoping that won't be a problem. I'd really like to be able to make my "use" copies from the "backup" CD-R so I don't have to worry about ruining or losing a CD-R and not being able to re-burn and replace it with one that is as good.

I would remove the CD Stoplight from the original CD if I were borrowing the CD from someone who didn't want their disc painted up.

I think testing the burned CD-Rs for errors on a computer is a great idea.

The Marantz I mention is actually a Professional model which means it can burn either Audio or regular CD-Rs.
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Postby dodecahedron on Sun Mar 23, 2003 4:50 pm

concerning labels:
i agree with cfit'z comments.
i understand, however, that it is convenient to have a label on the CD you're using.
suggestion: place a label only on the second, usable/discardable copy CD. the first, archival CD, don't use a label.
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Postby cfitz on Sun Mar 23, 2003 4:51 pm

It sounds like you have given this a lot of thought and have already weighed many of the concerns I mentioned and have good responses to them.

As for the generational errors, I really don't think they are likely since you are burning on good media with good equipment. You would only get them if there were uncorrectable C2 errors on the first copy, and in my experience with TY media on my drives that is very unlikely. I don't even see hardly any C1 errors. I just mentioned it for the sake of completeness.

I guess that's all I have to say. You've got things pretty well covered. Hopefully some real audiophiles will chime in with opinions from that camp.

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Postby dodecahedron on Sun Mar 23, 2003 4:52 pm

burning at 1x does not necessarily mean better Audio quality.
and doesn't necessarily mean better burning quality, as has been discussed and demonstrated in there forums.

i suggest you do some tests: burn at various burning speeds and test the CDs for burning quality and Audio quality.

also, test various brands for same.
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Postby cfitz on Sun Mar 23, 2003 5:01 pm

dodecahedron wrote:burning at 1x does not necessarily mean better Audio quality.
and doesn't necessarily mean better burning quality, as has been discussed and demonstrated in there forums.

i suggest you do some tests: burn at various burning speeds and test the CDs for burning quality and Audio quality.

Yes, that is true in general. But I think that is due more to the tuning of computer drives to high-speed burning, and not such a concern with a professional audio component burner that is designed to burn at lower speeds (the CDR500 only burns at 1x and 2x). Anyway, that is my gut reaction. But dodecahedron is certainly right that you should try the 2x duplicating speed as well just to see if it makes a difference. If it dosen't, then maybe you can cut your duplicating time in half.

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Postby Tonearm on Sun Mar 23, 2003 7:15 pm

Ok, I'm getting great responses from you guys. This is awesome.

Dodecahedron - I've read over and over that burning at lower speeds results in less jittery CDs than higher speeds. You think labels could result in unbalancing or damaging the CD-R or both?

Part of the cataloging I plan on doing with the Music Collector software will be recording the record label, catalog number, and all of the information on the interior portion of the CD (inside the label). I'm thinking that would be pressing information. That way I'll know exactly where the CD came from as I've read the possiblity that some pressings could be better than others. On that note...

I've read a lot about the CD Club debate. Some people say some of the CDs from CD Clubs don't sound as good as non-CD Club CDs. People have done extensive tests of the two types of CDs and the verdict is that the audio information on the two is identical, but people insist that they don't sound the same. Here's one article on the subject from Stereophile:

http://www.stereophile.com/showarchives.cgi?55

The conclusion attributes the difference in sound quality to a jittery vs. non-jittery pressing of the CD. Wouldn't I be able to take a jittery CD (CD-Club CD) and burn it at 1X using good equipment that yields non-jittery CD-Rs and have a CD that sounds like the non-CD-Club CD?
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Postby cfitz on Sun Mar 23, 2003 8:35 pm

I really shouldn't be getting into this since I haven't done much research on jitter in CDs (being more of a data person). But if you reclock the data you actually can reduce jitter. And since all drives that I know of copy the data into a buffer and then clock it out to the actual CD-R, I would say that you might be able to reduce the jitter, assuming you have a good quality writer and that the jitter isn't so bad on the reader as to lead to uncorrectable errors.

As for CD club CDs, it wouldn't surprise me if there is the occasional instance of the club CD being mastered from a different mix than the original retail release. Even if that isn't the case and the digital 1's and 0's are the same, I can easily believe that the quality of the pressing itself is not as good on the club CDs and that such CDs may have worse jitter along with more C1 and even C2 errors. Uncorrectable C2 errors that have to be masked could certainly lead to an audible difference. Whether jitter and correctable C1/C2 errors translate to an audible difference, I leave to your ears. I'm pretty sure my leaden ears couldn't tell the difference. :wink:

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Postby wynlyndd on Mon Mar 24, 2003 5:41 pm

cfitz wrote: I prefer to label my CD-Rs by hand with the markers specifically designed for this purpose.


Hello all. New to this web site and trying to find FAQ's and such to avoid dumb questions but I noticed this thread right away and since I am planning something similar to ToneArm I am really interested in this thread.

What markers would that be, cfitz? Right now I just use a fine point Sharpie but as I start to research best burn speeds, media, and storage to preserve my favorite CDs, I figure i better remember things like labeling them.
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Postby Tonearm on Mon Mar 24, 2003 5:54 pm

I really don't think labeling CD-Rs is a bad thing. However, I'm totally open to changing my mind about this if someone can convince me.

The Surething software allows you to automatically fill out a CD label just by popping the CD into your CD-ROM. It downloads all artist, album, and track information from the Internet (freedb.org), and populates your CD label template (totally customizable) with the info. Very cool.

I don't think the label would unbalance the CD as the applicator that is used with it is designed to center it perfectly. Also, I really don't think the label would eat through the CD. It seems like label manufacturers would have figured that out by now and fixed the problem.

Like I said, I'm not trying to just blindly insist that I'm right. Does anyone disagree with what I've said?
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Postby cfitz on Mon Mar 24, 2003 6:18 pm

wynlyndd wrote:What markers would that be, cfitz?

These types of things:

http://www.bestbuy.com/Detail.asp?m=488 ... e=11206285
http://www.bestbuy.com/Detail.asp?m=1&c ... e=11172020
http://www.compusa.com/products/product ... pfp=SEARCH
http://www.compusa.com/products/product ... pfp=SEARCH

I'm using the Imation branded ones right now, for no particular reason other than that they were in stock at my local retailer.

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Postby cfitz on Mon Mar 24, 2003 6:29 pm

Tonearm wrote:I really don't think labeling CD-Rs is a bad thing.

I think it is less of a problem in your case since you are burning audio CDs which will only be spinning at 1x while playing in your home stereo anyway. At such speeds disc imbalance is less of an issue. And, as I mentioned, I think the corrosive adhesive issue has probably been solved by now. I mentioned it for sake of completeness so that you knew such problems did occur at one time at least.

In your case I would be more concerned about the labels starting to peel. The worst case would be that they start to peel in some areas, but still stick firmly in others so that you can't remove them to replace them without pulling off the top layers of the disc and destroying it. Also, you have talked about applying liquids to your discs to clean and protect them. If your labels are paper based, then they could absorb stray liquid and bubble up, ruining the label and forcing you to confront the label removal issue. If you do use labels be sure to get high-quality ones that aren't paper based (if such labels are made) and that are easily removable without damaging the disc if you need to. And use printing inks that are resistant to the cleaning fluids you plan to use on your discs.

You might also want to look into the ink-jet and thermal ink printing systems designed to print directly on to printable CD-R blanks. I've never investigated them since they seemed like too much money for my purposes, but maybe you would like them.

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Postby Tonearm on Mon Mar 24, 2003 7:00 pm

Printing directly to the CD is a great idea I hadn't considered for some reason. I'm going to check this out....
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Postby cfitz on Mon Mar 24, 2003 7:03 pm

Let me know what you find out. And don't be scared off by my "too much money" comment. You have to consider the context, which for me means "in comparison to a $2 pack of CD markers."

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Postby cfitz on Mon Mar 24, 2003 7:08 pm

Here is one place to get you started:

http://www.microboards.com/current/reso ... beling.htm
http://www.microboards.com/current/prod ... ters.shtml

I am sure there are many more.

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Postby Tonearm on Mon Mar 24, 2003 7:17 pm

Well there seems to be plenty available over $1000, but Epson and TDK each have an affordable CD printer available. The TDK is a small thermal-printing device for "under 100 pounds" (doesn't seem to be available in the US yet). It can only print on a portion of the CD though. The Epson is a full ink jet printer with a CD attachment. Epson lists it as $350 so it can probably be found for considerably less.

For my purposes, the problem with any of these solutions is going to be incompatibility with the SureThing labeling software. That software and a couple others (Neato, etc.) are able to pull CD information from an online database and apply it to printable templates so you don't have to do that manually each time you want to print a label. I'm sure that wouldn't work with a CD printer but I'll double-check the labeling software. I'll also check the Epson software that comes with the printer to see if it might have any functionality like that.

I'd much rather have a thermal CD printer than an ink jet one though....
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Postby cfitz on Mon Mar 24, 2003 7:30 pm

Tonearm wrote:For my purposes, the problem with any of these solutions is going to be incompatibility with the SureThing labeling software. That software and a couple others (Neato, etc.) are able to pull CD information from an online database and apply it to printable templates so you don't have to do that manually each time you want to print a label. I'm sure that wouldn't work with a CD printer but I'll double-check the labeling software.

It might not work with software that comes bundled with a particular brand of label and is only designed to work with that label, but I would bet that the more general purpose label making software can be made to work. For example, the free Cover Designer software that ships with Nero supports CDDB downloads and user definable templates. And it also allows you to define your own paper stock, setting the overal size of the "paper" as well as the position and dimensions of the label on that "paper". No doubt some trial and error would be necessary, but it looks doable.

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Postby Tonearm on Mon Mar 24, 2003 7:46 pm

It turns out SureThing labeling software works with all kinds of different CD printers. The affordable ones are all around $350, and they're inkjets. The Epson isn't listed so I'm going to email them and see if they're planning on adding support. I'm also going to download the Epson software and see if it has any kind of CDDB functionality built in.
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