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  1. #1

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    Default Better Sound With Music CD-R's

    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.
    Last edited by DarqueKnight; 03-23-2007 at 06:15 PM.
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  2. #2

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    Curiously, I've noticed this especially with bad recordings. They seem to sound better after being copied to a CD-R. Early rock, 60's music, stuff that sounds pretty hideous because of sub-par equipment back then.

    I made a number of "classic" rock CDR's awhile back, and that is when I noticed the difference. They really do sound better, and it's not subtle. Screechy treble is smoothed, there's a little more mid-bass foundation on tinny recordings, etc.

    The skeptical want proof? Try this yourself: Take the "Best of the Guess Who" and rip it to a CDR. Now play the 2 back--tell me which one sounds better....
    Last edited by steveinaz; 03-23-2007 at 06:29 PM.

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  3. #3

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    Interesting, but......... If Digital 0's and 1's can anyone explain why a CD-RE sounds better then a CD of the same 0's and 1's?

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  4. #4

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    I'm extremely skeptical. If this info was coming from anyone but you DK I'd say it's hog wash. In my experience it's all about the rip and the subsequent burn, but more about the proper extraction of info. I'm sure those that use Mobile Fidelity Gold discs swear by those too. Personally I've never noticed a difference but to be fair my experience has been pretty unscientific ;) .

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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by disneyjoe7
    Interesting, but......... If Digital 0's and 1's can anyone explain why a CD-RE sounds better then a CD of the same 0's and 1's?
    I attempted a brief explanation here:

    Quote Originally Posted by DarqueKnight
    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.
    and here:

    Quote Originally Posted by DarqueKnight
    “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.”
    Take the same LP stamper and print two LP blanks: one blank is a thin low grade vinyl and the other blank is a thick heavy vinyl with a smoother, more uniform surface that is highly resistant to warping. Even though both records are stamped with the same information in their grooves, which do you think will/should/might sound better?

    Note also that I said that I did not hear an improvement over the commercial CD with a burned "data" type CD-R. I only heard the improvement with the music type CD-R. Also, I said I heard no difference between the commercial CD and a burned "data" type CD-RW. Hence, my decision to order a pack of music type CD-RW's in order to make a comparison.
    Last edited by DarqueKnight; 03-23-2007 at 07:58 PM.
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  6. #6

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    As far as burned copies vs originals.....

    Mass market CD's - ie, anything on the shelves at Best Buy, etc are stamped when produced.

    As it was explained to me, the stamping is literally from a die, the die doesn't always make sharp edges in the stamp, especially over time as thousands of cd's are pressed. The digital data is there, but when you COPY and actually burn a cd with YOUR laser - you add those sharp edges BACK into the data. The guy went on and on, about error checking and correction, and how the digital data is retrieved and processed, etc etc... the jist was that the data was there on both, but much easier to read from a burned copy of a press, than the original press itself, in most cases.

    Truth or not, I have no idea - I've burned a couple copies with obvious results, others with no discerable difference.

    Sorry for the slight derail.....

    I've never heard the comments on the dye before, that's interesting.

    Cheers,
    Russ
    Last edited by RuSsMaN; 03-23-2007 at 09:54 PM.
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  7. #7

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    Ok, then this error checking, correction, jitter and other digital signal problems goes back to what I said about HDMI cables. Cheap cables can cause errors, something you care to believe or not.

    Sorry to derail ever more.

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  8. #8

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    I have found similar results using my HK CDR-26 recorder. When I copy, I use 1X speed. Takes a while, but I believe I get good results. I use the Maxell Audio Pro CD-r. Another note on the Music CDr is that a small portion of the cost is paid back to the music performers whereas the data CDr is duty free.
    >
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  9. #9

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    DK,
    Now you've got me very interested in doing some of my own tests with Music CDR. Thanks for passing on the info.

  10. #10

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    IMO, it seems to work best with poor sounding CD's. Good sounding CD's usually don't benefit.

    The explanation the Russman stated is the information that I have heard before, and it makes logical sense.

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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuSsMaN
    As far as burned copies vs originals.....

    Mass market CD's - ie, anything on the shelves at Best Buy, etc are stamped when produced.

    As it was explained to me, the stamping is literally from a die, the die doesn't always make sharp edges in the stamp, especially over time as thousands of cd's are pressed. The digital data is there, but when you COPY and actually burn a cd with YOUR laser - you add those sharp edges BACK into the data. The guy went on and on, about error checking and correction, and how the digital data is retrieved and processed, etc etc... the jist was that the data was there on both, but much easier to read from a burned copy of a press, than the original press itself, in most cases.

    Truth or not, I have no idea - I've burned a couple copies with obvious results, others with no discerable difference.

    Sorry for the slight derail.....

    I've never heard the comments on the dye before, that's interesting.

    Cheers,
    Russ
    +1 Russ, thats is exactly what I have read and been told, I have had originals that actually would not play on my jukebox, when I made a burned copy the burned copy would play and had been overall sonics.

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  12. #12

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    Default TDK Music CD-RW's

    The TDK music CD-RW's arrived today. I made a copy of one of my Memorex music CD-R's to a TDK music CD-RW. I could not discern any difference between the two. I could tell a defference between the TDK music CD-RW and the Memorex data CD-RW. The better sound quality of the TDK music CD-RW was easily apparent in both of the systems I auditioned them in:

    System 1: Pass Labs X1 preamp/Parasound JC-1 power amps/Cary Audio CD 306 SACD player/modified Polk Audio SDA SRS 1.2TL speakers.

    System 2: Sony TA-E9000ES preamp-processor/Adcom GFA-5500 power amp/Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD player/modified Polk Audio SDA CRS+ speakers.

    Going forward, I will be using music type CD-R and CD-RW discs. Such good sound.
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  13. #13

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    Interesting stuff, thanks for the update. I've never tried "music" specified CD-R's before, I'll have to check that out.

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    There is a few things you should all know before you go out and start buying music CD-Rs.

    First of all, technically, the only difference between data CD-R and music CD-R is a little data flag that tells the stand alone recorders that its a music disk. Stand alones won't work without that data flag. A computer burner doesn't care whether its there or not.

    That said, there are however major differences between CD-Rs, the manufacturers, the dyes they use, and the reflective surface. All of which could affect the quality of the recording and hence the sound of the playback.

    Ok, 1st of all, Memorex does NOT make their own discs. They rebadge them from major manuafacturers like Mitsubishi Chemicals, Mitsui, Taiyo Yuden, Riteck, Kodak, or other manufacturers.

    2nd: Although the Phthalocyanine dye mentioned by DarqueKnight is considered the best dye out there (for long term stability anyway), Memorex (or whoever is making their discs) is definetly not the only one to use it. It is common in most of the "archival" discs. That technology was patented by Mitsui chemicals and is found on many of their discs. Azo dye which is considered 2nd best and is found on many of the Verbatim products. The most common and cheapest dye is the cyanine dye that is found in most of your average cheap CD-Rs. Since the discs you call commercial discs are probably the cheapest, cyanine dyed disks, and are probably the poorest quality media available. Naturally they sound inferior.

    You can get a 100 pack of Verbatim discs that use the same dye for $37

    http://www.proactionmedia.com/proddetail.asp?prod=M1952

    I'd bet money that those disks sound as good or better than the Memorex.

    Overall, I believe that you would get as good a sound out of any quality CD-R and that it doesn't have to be "music cd-r". The problem is that you usually don't know what you are getting when you look at a package in Best Buy or other comercial stores. Obviously, certain online stores do specify the dye, etc, so that may be the best route for most of you.
    Otherwise, I recommend doing the research to find out who makes a given brand, what dye they use, etc. For any given brand, you can usually search the cd burning forums and find out who makes them, what dye, etc. There is also a program called CD Identifier that will read the manufacturer info off of the blank CD-R. Unfortunately this is not something you can do in store, but if your store has a liberal return policy, take them home, try one, if its not what you are looking for, take it back.

    Something else to consider: One brand of media may work best in one burner, but may be terrible in the next. I'm talking about different model burners. CDRinfo is loaded with info on this subject. They run hardware tests and generate media specific and speed specific error rates with many of the most common burners using the most common media.

    I've been burning CDs at home, on many different burners, with many different types of media, and I've always had the best luck with Verbatim discs. Next in line are discs made by Taiyo Yuden. There are better discs, but most of them are the "archival" type discs that tend to be much more expensive (often due to gold or silver in the reflective surface), but may be worth trying if you are looking for the very best performance. Mitsui Gold (or MAM-A) is one that is commonly mentioned as being among the best.
    Last edited by billbillw; 03-29-2007 at 01:34 PM.

  15. #15

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    Music CD-R's and Data CD-R's are exactly the same, except music CD-R's contain a "flag" that is required with many stand alone CD burners used on stereo's, to comply with copy protection laws. Music CD-R's cost more, because a small percentage of the price goes to the recording industry/artists.

    You can download a simple program to identify the manufacturer of your CD-R's, and what dye is used. I currently have TDK, Maxell, and Memorex CD-R's on hand, both music and Data CD-R's. According to the program, they are ALL made by CMC magnetics, using the same dye..

    Here is the program:
    http://www.cdmediaworld.com/cgi-bin/...f=cdrid163!zip

  16. #16

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    This is an interesting article on burning your own discs. I have not tried using the software mentioned so I can not comment on the results.

    I have only used Nero which came with the stand alone burner purchased last December. I will need to revisit this in the near future.

    Has anyone any experience Finalizing CDs. I would be interested in your comments.
    Last edited by jm1; 03-29-2007 at 01:28 PM. Reason: Added Finalize CD question

  17. #17

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    Ok, I was looking for this earlier, but didn't find it until now.
    This is a great site for figuring this stuff out:
    http://www.cdmediaworld.com/hardware/cdrom/cd_dye.shtml

  18. #18

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    I've been using Taiyo Yuden unbranded for several years with excellent results.

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