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Friday, March 6, 2009


Take a look at what I've been dealing with since approximately 1995:
 
Errol Garner's Verve Jazz Masters 7 was always kept in a fresh and cool place. Steve Miller Band's Wide River as well. But take a look at what's happening to the CD's:
Detail of Steve Miller Band's Wide River CD.
In this detail of the Wide River CD, We see a mild-to-severe case of CD-ROT, a disease that's been affecting Compact Discs manufactured in the "early days". In my collection, some of the CDs manufactured by Polygram in the United States had this disease. My Stan Getz's Verve Jazz Masters 8 CD was in such a bad shape I had to throw it away, and I had to buy another copy of In The Court Of The Crimson King by King Crimson after the first song started to skip awfully. All these CDs were purchased by me in Lima, Perú, between 1993 and 1995.
The Wide River CD
CD-Rot, the worst that can happen to the digital medium, because of lousy compact disc manufacturing. The aluminum layer that reflects the light of the player’s laser is separated from the CD label by a thin layer of lacquer. If the manufacturer applied the lacquer improperly, air can penetrate to oxidize the aluminum, eating it up much like iron rusts in air.

The problem being that when the discs were cut the aluminum layer was too close to the edge of the disc and not sealed properly from the environment, thus exposing it to oxidation. The indexing information of a CD is on the inside the disc, i.e. nearest the center, and that the discs are read from the center out. This explains why in discs that succumb to CD-Rot, the last tracks on the discs are first affected, i.e. because they are on the outside edge of the disc and hence the first to be subjected to oxidation.
On playing the disc, there will be an inordinate amount of “static-like” background noise. The level of noise that can be heard rises and falls with the volume of the music on the disc. The louder the actual music, the more apparent the background noise will be. This symptom is not apparent at the outset, but eventually creeps in and gets worse and worse over time. This also seems to show up earliest on tracks towards the end of a disc rather than at the beginning.

If you hold a CD against any light and notice small holes on the surface, that's CD-Rot too. The CD, however, will play OK if the hole isn't too big (like say, a small ant). This also depends on the quality of the player.

So is the best thing you can do to make a copy of your CD? Most likely, since these CDs are non copy-protected and it would save you some money and/or hassle trying to get them refunded. Don't blame the recording industry's lack of vision but lack of lacquer. Create a WAV copy of the CD and keep it in a cool and dry Hard Drive in case CD-ROT appears.

For an in-depth guideline of what we can do after suing Polygram's ass, please visit the following websites, where this information was taken from:

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