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For a long time, I thought the "noisy" playback of burned CD-Rs relative to commercially-released CDs was a "mechanical" anomaly in the copied media discs themselves, and just a fact of life.
But now I realize that "noisy" playback from burned CD-Rs is actually from the laser itself trying harder to read and track the signal, not the physical discs themselves.
I first noticed this after I burned a CD-R that played back "exceptionally noisy", and the player would then stop, and then show "ERROR" on the display, and the playback stopping altogether. I was trying to get a combination of burn software and CD/DVD-ROM drive that would make copies reliable enough to play consistently on an old CD player that wasn't quite as stable as the ones I normally use. The notion that if it plays in that player, it will play in all my players.
I've had a history of making CD-R discs (copies or compilations) that weren't overly reliable, relative to standard commercial CDs. I tried several different drives (Benq DW1650, Sony Optiarc, and various Plextors) with varying success. I also tried different burn software. The Sound Forge Pro 11 worked relatively well, but still, not reliable like a commercial CD.
As I dug into my old stash of DVD-ROM drives, I tried an old LG GGC-H20L Blu-Ray drive, which I originally mothballed because my old Windows operating systems didn't see the drive writing at speeds any slower than 24x. But didn't seem to be an issue on Windows 10. I also juggled some burn software. (The Sound Forge Trial lasted 14 days instead of the advertised 30.) It was a crapshoot.... I tried an old CD burn program called "Burrrn".... Which I previously rejected with different drives, Windows OS, and media. When I slapped the burned CD-R in the player, I noticed something strikingly different after accidentally leaving the amp off. The noise coming from the playback, using the same CD-R discs I have been using, was almost silent, at a level of roughly that from most commercial CDs. Yet I saw the display indicating it was playing. Unlike the discs I burned previously, the playback was relatively stable. I also noticed that the sound quality was more "transparent" than what I've been used to. (This could be "placebo effect".)
This is a work in progress, but for those who like making CD copies or compilation CDs, you may want to experiment with different drives and burn software. And do the "laser noise" test. (Some players may play everything with almost no noise. This will only work if you notice CD-R playback generating more noise from the player itself. If your CD-Rs play "silent" in your player, you might already have a good combination.) It may be an underlying indicator in regard to the quality and reliability of your burned CDs.
This is NOT a recommendation of the LG GGC-H20L Blu-Ray drive or "Burrrn" burn software. (It might not be a good combination for your PC. I never was impressed with "Burrrn" prior to using it here.) You might find a different combination for your particular PC that also works well.
The high-pitched mechanical noise from the CD player while the CD is playing...... In some cases, it provides an audible cue regarding how fast the disc is spinning. (A CD spins fastest at the beginning, slowest at the end.)
Some better-made transports and players play quiet enough where the mechanical laser noise is almost inaudible.
The CD-R generated with Windows Media Player 12 is still the only one that plays reliably in the "finicky" player..... And consistently so. In spite of the 24x burn speed. (I only looked at others because it wouldn't let me burn slower.)
I tried some other "mastering" programs, but none yielded a comparable result.
I don't know what makes one burning software burn discs better than another..... (The worst apps burned discs that wouldn't play at all.) I think it's one half black art, the other half dumb luck.
I'll try the Teac duplicator if I have problems with Windows Media Player burned discs in the future. But WMP 12 is what I'll be using, at least in the short term.
Fair chance all those crappy CDR's have worn (damaged?) the pore CDP
Fair chance there will be a New cdp in your near future
I tripped over the CDR 'problem' 10/12 years ago.
Both on Music AND Video..
Solved it neatly by ..Never again burning another CDR.
Cheap easy and 100% effective.
Quite possible..... I think the "aging media" angle posted elsewhere seems to be a valid one too.
As I stated in my "Update II" post, I did come up with a CD-R copy that works in the finicky player, and plays stable like a commercial CD. The weird part is that of all CD burn software I tried, some of them being reputable "mastering" programs, what worked was the one from Windows Media Player. (I only tried it because I had a friend burn compliation CDs with it on his computer, and his discs played relatively stable on my "finicky" machine.)
What possible value is a CD-R in the year 2017????
If you are using CD-Rs clearly you are not a CD format purest.
Technical issues aside, yeah most CD-Rs sound like crap compared to the original CDs. There is opportunity for loss at every point in the process.
1. How good was the rip of the original CD? Speed, extraction quality, encoding quality, file integrity, etc.
2. Writer, media, speed, and yes even software do matter. The quality of each can vary widely for produce anything from something very close to the original to absolute harsh digital sounding rubbish.
3. How good is the error correction of your CD player? CD-Rs contain many times more errors than pressed CDs. No matter how good the DAC in the CD player is and no matter how good the burn, media, burner, rip, etc was, you will hear absolute harsh digital garbage if the error correction is not really good.
Ending about a decade ago I burned hundreds of CD-Rs and tried dozens of combinations of all of the above. My results ranged from "not bad" to "absolute harsh digital rubbish".
Starting about a decade ago I discovered that skipping the CD-R and finding increasingly better and better ways to get the sound directly from my computer to my amplifier meant that I only had to worry about the rip quality of the original CD, which as it turned out, was the easiest part to get right. Producing and playing back a CD-R that doesn't sound like absolute digital rubbish turned out to be the hardest part to get right and pointless to even try.
"Technical issues aside, yeah most CD-Rs sound like crap compared to the original CDs. There is opportunity for loss at every point in the process."
Some burner software apps produce CD-Rs that have somewhat of a "leaden" sonic character during playback (HF textures don't seem to be resolved- maybe a jitter issue), but the better apps produce copies which I'd have a hard time distinguishing from the original. (I'd fail an ABX test if I were to try one.)
I settled on the Verbatim/Mitsubishi "AZO" and "SuperAZO" discs as the best for audio. These are the ones with the (originally) very deep blue, but as the layers have become thinner (as the rated speeds got higher to 52x) these are more Baby Blue compared to the more ubiquitous pthalocyanine organic dye (the ones that look very pale cyan/goldish). They also have a longer life expectancy. I would say that if you are having issues, it could be because the organic dye layer has "aged" beyond its useful life. These days, who knows how long the discs have been stored since manufacture when you buy them as "new"?
The pthalocyanine discs became the most common because the early AZO discs had issues with achieving comparable high write speeds which everyone was demanding in order to save time. However, they also have the poorest longevity (even when unused).
That said, I always write at the minimum speed possible for the drive in use and have never had any problems with either type skipping in CD Players or error correction issues unless the laser in the target player/ CD Rom drive was already getting weak or the disc was damaged or had aged in storage - I used to buy them in bulk and I had some "cheapie" brands where after 5 years storage, the discs became unusable. AZO discs have a better life expectancy. However, even my original Philips CD471 had no problems with any CD-Rs. It wouldn't touch CD-RW of course, but surprisingly my Sony XA-30ES would until the laser started fading.
The software I used (going right back to 2000 when CD blanks were still expensive) was mainly Feurio and then Nero. The CD Mastering software bundled with SoundForge Pro also has never given me problems. My drives originally were one of the first HP writers, then a Pioneer DVD writer, a BenQ 1640, LG and Samsung BD writers. The software actually should make any difference to the actual burn quality - that is all taken care of in the drive firmware.
"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats
"The software actually should (not?) make any difference to the actual burn quality - that is all taken care of in the drive firmware."
Different burn software yielded demonstrably different "laser noise" levels during playback..... With the same drive and media batch..... Sound Forge Pro 11 (demo), oddly, turned out to be one of the poorer performers in this regard.
I haven't tried the AZO discs.... Maybe that's next.
The sad fact is most any eBay or Alibaba CD-R will be fake knockoffs of real brands of CD-R.
The ONLY place I would buy blank CD-R is Best Buy, since they are more likely to not be bootleg trash.
And even then only the blue/green dye brands.
So IMO most of the problems with burning or reading CD-R is the damn CD-R quality (or lack of it) and not the player.
"The ONLY place I would buy blank CD-R is Best Buy, since they are more likely to not be bootleg trash.
And even then only the blue/green dye brands."
I've never had good results with blue or green dyed discs..... Even Taiyo Yuden discs have yielded spotty results for me. (There used to be scans published or posted on the quality of the burn from various media. Taiyo Yuden generally came out on top. Problem is that it never correlated to actual playback performance in a CD player.)
The discs I settled on were the Primera TuffCoat Extreme discs..... The best results so far. Plain white tops, silver on the data write side.
The only CD player in use now is on my 2001 Honda, but I found that manually selecting the lowest possible burn speed in the software improved quality and eliminated read errors.
That is until they get scratched from the changer and admittedly rough handling. :)
For several years I have used a dedicated CD duplicator (Teac CDW-D11); no software, no external drives--as simple as you can get. Using Memorex black CD-R, I have never had any failures of any kind. The copy is always at least as good as the original--and many times slightly better.
I always had great results with my HHb CDR-850, a standalone unit that burned CDRs in real time. While making digital copies of DATs and CDs at 1x speed was certainly more time consuming than burning CD-Rs via a computer + external or external drive at 4x, 8x, 16x or whatever, the HHb was far more reliable than all the my computer-based setups I experimented with. In fact, I still have a bunch of CD-Rs I burned 15 years ago (yikes!) via the HHb and they play fine.
"The copy is always at least as good as the original--and many times slightly better."
I also found this to be the case - particularly if the original disc had (correctable) errors. Same effect as ripping to a hard drive. The duplication process can effectively reduce the read-induced jitter errors and you have created a "cleaner" version of the data (by virtue of the error correction) which can be easier for a subsequent player to read. Those Black CD-Rs were also considered very good for audio IIRC. I settled on the Verbatim/Mitsubishi AZO discs.
"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats
Can't say that I had similar success with dedicated duplicators..... The copies usually sounded noticably worse. The problem is these things cannot be tweaked. Can't try a different drive or different software.
The Teac is not a bargain basement copier. It has two very substantial CD drives, which are mechanically isolated, and a very heavy duty power supply. No need for any software-- read the CD, send the data to memory and copy to the deignated drive. Can't get simpler than that.
What's the model number for this Teac duplicator? If I can get one cheap enough used, I might try one.
These are all 11-13 years old. Back in the days before there were vastly superior options that involve NOT burning CD-Rs. Just saying.
I was trying to make the point that copies don't sound worse than the originals. In terms of today's "vastly superior" options, not everyone agrees. If the conccept is valid, being 11 years old doesn't alter its validity.
Redbook played back on a multi-bit, NOS, filterless DAC sounds better than the equivalent hi-rez download to these ears.
"The only CD player in use now is on my 2001 Honda, but I found that manually selecting the lowest possible burn speed in the software improved quality and eliminated read errors."
I used to believe this to be the case..... I later realized that 4x and 16x burns are indistinguishable. To where I would fail an ABX test if I were to try one. The difference in playback problems was also close to nil.
years ago. Higher speed rips wouldn't play consistently.
Can't say how my current Blu-Ray burner would work.
I'm tempted to try a Plextor Premium drive.... It's a CD-only (no DVDs) drive that some claim makes better CD-R copies than any DVD-capable drive..... The catch is they're very expensive......
The CD-R copy produced with "Burrrn" and the LG GGC-H20L was more reliable than other CD-R copies I tried, but still not to the level of commercial CDs in my finicky player..... Now if I can get the Sound Forge Pro 11 back working after it prematurely "expired". (Tech support is looking at this.)
I finally got a CD-R copy that played all the way through in "shuffle" mode on my finicky player.....
Now this might sound like sacrilege, but the successful disc was burned with Microsoft's Windows Media Player 12 burn software, of all things...... This happened to be a shot in the dark, after failing to get a good disc with the reputable Sound Forge Pro 11 trial.
The "slow" speed setting seemed to burn at 16x, which was what I used with other software. The finished disc was the "quietest" playing in the player, just edging out the one which I used "Burrrn"....
Once again, I now think the absence of "laser noise" during playback is an indicator of how reliable a CD-R recording will play.
All of those people who have gone to so much trouble to make copies of their commercial disks since they "sounded better" ... I remember reading people making copies of copies swearing they were getting better sound with each generation.
Luckily I am too cheap to do that.
But it does bring up the subject of digital noise which one does have to learn to listen for.
Could it be people perceived a "better" sound quality but were oblivious to the added noise? I guess these two parameters can be assessed separately? Especially if you are ignoring one of them.
So why are you making copies?
"So why are you making copies?"
Mainly for compilation CDs. I also have a few old CDs that don't play well.
People also ask me why I still play CDs. It's still the best-sounding digital audio medium, to my ears, that I've encountered.
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