A forum member suggested I try Memorex Music CD-R's after I mentioned that my Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD player would not play CD-R's. I tried the Memorex blanks and they didn't work either. However, it was a worthwhile exercise because I discovered that the music CD-R sounded much better than the original CD when I put it in my CD players! The improvement in sound quality was evident even in my relatively low resolution vehicular sound systems.
I had avoided buying Music CD-R's because they cost more than “data” CD-R’s and because CD copies made with data CD-R's sounded indistinguishable from the original CD. Furthermore, I knew that Music CD-R's were designed specifically for use in consumer grade music CD recording machines and I had no interest in acquiring one.
Most of the information I have found on other audio forums indicate that Music CD-R's are a waste of money because they do not produce superior sonic results to data CD-R's. I did find one person on Audio Asylum who reported that commercial CD’s copied to music CD-R blanks sounded better than the original CD. Another Audio Asylum member reported that he could use TDK brand music CD-R’s in his DVP-S9000ES if they were burned on a CD recorder rather than a computer drive.
I made copies of eight different CD's and the copies all sounded better than the original CD's in the following ways:
1. Much more bass definition and detail.
2. More depth in the recording.
3. More three dimensional soundstage.
4. More clarity throughout.
5. More high frequency detail (I do not mean more brightness).
The music CD-R's were burned on my PC using Roxio CD Creator 6 software at 8X speed.
For reference, the sonic improvements with the music CD-R's are similar to the improvements realized after:
1. Changing from SL2000 tweeters to RD0194 tweeters.
2. Modifying a CD player with a lower jitter master clock.
3. Going from CD to SACD.
4. The difference in sound quality between a regular LP pressing and a 180 gm or 200 gm audiophile LP pressing.
It goes against intuition that a copy of something could sound much better than the original, but it all made sense once I did a little research.
I went to Memorex’s website to look for information on how their music CD-R’s were made and how they were different from data CD-R’s. The only difference the website mentioned was the inclusion of special coding (Serial Copy Code) on the music CD-R that enables the recording of music on consumer CD recorders.
I sent an email to Memorex’s technical support department asking about the difference between their regular CD-R discs and music CD-R discs. They responded a few hours later with this reply:
“The playback quality in a CD depends on the dye used on the recording layer. It also makes the difference between data and music CDs. Our music CD-R discs use a special Pthalocyanine dye for better audio quality.”
Apparently, the better dye formulation results in better microscopic pit formation in the dye layer, which results in less read errors, which results in better sound quality.
I also stumbled across this bit of info on the Memorex website:
“Question: CD-R: My DVD player won’t play CD-Rs but it plays music recorded on a CD-RWs! How can that be?
Answer: Early versions of DVD players were limited to playing only DVDs, but often the circuits designed for the low reflectivity of DVDs were compatible with the low reflectivity of CD-RWs. CD-Rs have a much higher reflectivity than CD-RWs, which most likely explains why your DVD player can play CD-RWs but not CD-Rs.
Most newer models of DVD players follow a “multi-read” standard so that they can play all types of DVDs as well as CDs, CD-Rs, and CD-RWs.”
Interesting. I just happened to have a pack of Memorex CD-RW’s. I burned a copy of the Memorex music CD-R to CD-RW and it played in my DVP-S9000ES’s with no problems. The CD-RW also played in my home and vehicular CD players, with the exception of my 19 year old Yamaha CDX-1110U. The CD-RW made from the music CD-R did not have the better sound quality of the CD-R, but did sound identical to the original commercial CD. Burning a copy of the music CD-R to another Memorex music CD-R produced an identical copy with the same superior sound quality.
The CD-RW was burned on my PC using Roxio CD Creator 6 software at 4X speed.
Music CD-RW’s exist, but are not widely available due to lack of demand. Memorex discontinued manufacturing music CD-RW’s due to poor sales. None of the four local stores I called stocked music CD-RW’s of any brand. TDK brand music CD-RW’s can be ordered from the TDK website and at a lower price than I found at other online retailers. I am still waiting on them to arrive so that I can compare their sound quality to the Memorex data CD-RW’s. I’ll report back after I do the music CD-RW/ data CD-RW comparison.