Getting the Best When Ripping CD's?

WaWaZat -- Tue, 07/08/2008 - 00:16

Are there any recommendations for treatment or cleaning, de-scratching, etc, CD's when ripping one's entire collection for archival/media server purposes? Before I rip my hundreds of CD's, I'd like to be sure I'm getting the best possible transfer. I've always heard that if a disc isn't heavily soiled, the best way to clean it is by fogging it up w/your breath & wiping with a cotton cloth. What's the hi-fi world's consensus on this??? And what about any discs that may be a little dirtier or have scratches? What about these spinning disc cleaner/scratch removing contraptions that are widely sold?

Robert Harley -- Tue, 07/08/2008 - 13:48

If a disc hasn't been abused (obvious surface scratches) you shouldn't need to clean it. The CD's error-correction system is remarkably effective; burst errors of up to 4000 consecutive bits can be completely corrected. This replaces the missing or corrupted data with exactly the same bits that were in the original datastream. This isn't error concealment or interpolation, but complete bit-for-bit correction. A disc has to be in bad shape to result in uncorrectable errors.

In the new issue of TAS (183), I review the UltraBit Platinum CD treatment fluid and found it produced a surprising improvement in sound quality. I haven't tried using UltraBit Platinum when ripping a CD to a server to see if it makes a difference, but it sure does when playing a disc. The maker of UltraBit Platinum claims that the fluid does indeed produce an audible improvement when ripping the CD.

WaWaZat -- Tue, 07/08/2008 - 14:35

robert_harley6 wrote:If a disc hasn't been abused (obvious surface scratches) you shouldn't need to clean it. The CD's error-correction system is remarkably effective; burst errors of up to 4000 consecutive bits can be completely corrected. This replaces the missing or corrupted data with exactly the same bits that were in the original datastream. This isn't error concealment or interpolation, but complete bit-for-bit correction. A disc has to be in bad shape to result in uncorrectable errors.

In the new issue of TAS (183), I review the UltraBit Platinum CD treatment fluid and found it produced a surprising improvement in sound quality. I haven't tried using UltraBit Platinum when ripping a CD to a server to see if it makes a difference, but it sure does when playing a disc. The maker of UltraBit Platinum claims that the fluid does indeed produce an audible improvement when ripping the CD.I'm so glad you responded Robert! I did read your article about the CD treatment...my next question would have been, "have you tried it for ripping". Any chance on a review for this situation soon?!

I found that article interesting...I am in the CD manufacturing biz.

What about discs that have seen a bit of abuse? Does anyone have any experience w/the CD cleaning machines avail at Best Buy, etc? ...or does anyone know what works best?

Robert Harley -- Tue, 07/08/2008 - 19:55

To repair scratched discs, use a mild polishing compound designed for automobile paint. Be sure to rub from the inside edge to the outside edge (or vice versa) and not radially.

curbfeeler -- Thu, 03/11/2010 - 11:37

Inside to outside is radially. You must have meant tangentially. Novus makes excellent plastic polish in several strengths, which I've found useful when the disc is badly marred.

WaWaZat -- Tue, 07/08/2008 - 23:54

robert_harley6 wrote:To repair scratched discs, use a mild polishing compound designed for automobile paint. Be sure to rub from the inside edge to the outside edge (or vice versa) and not radially.I have a Radio Shack CD Polish & Scratch Remover compound that I have to use on most the Netflix DVD's I receive...using the technique you've described. This DOES work. I ask about the little crank machines because they would be so much more convenient than the hand method. Do you have any experience/knowledge/opinions with these things?

WaWaZat -- Fri, 07/11/2008 - 11:31

robert_harley6 wrote:If a disc hasn't been abused (obvious surface scratches) you shouldn't need to clean it. The CD's error-correction system is remarkably effective; burst errors of up to 4000 consecutive bits can be completely corrected. This replaces the missing or corrupted data with exactly the same bits that were in the original datastream. This isn't error concealment or interpolation, but complete bit-for-bit correction. A disc has to be in bad shape to result in uncorrectable errors.Trying to get my head around exactly how this error correction works...what does it do if the original stream contains errors, ie a scratch in the disc?

dougy -- Sat, 08/02/2008 - 03:17

WaWaZat wrote:robert_harley6 wrote:To repair scratched discs, use a mild polishing compound designed for automobile paint. Be sure to rub from the inside edge to the outside edge (or vice versa) and not radially.I have a Radio Shack CD Polish & Scratch Remover compound that I have to use on most the Netflix DVD's I receive...using the technique you've described. This DOES work. I ask about the little crank machines because they would be so much more convenient than the hand method. Do you have any experience/knowledge/opinions with these things?

I have a Scotch (3M) disc cleaner that seems to work well. You spray the disc with their cleaning fluid (isopropyl alcohol and water), and then place it in the "little crank machine" and give'er about twenty turns. It has done a good job so far and has not scratched any discs.

Robert Harley -- Sat, 08/02/2008 - 13:58

Error correction works by including redundant data in the bitstream, as well as interleaving, a technique that chops up the data, rearranges the blocks on the disc, and then puts the blocks back in the correct order. Interleaving converts long burst errors (which are difficult to correct) into several shorter errors, which can be corrected by figuring out what's missing based on on the redundant data. Error correction is extremely complex in practice.

CD's error correction system can completely correct up to 4000 consecutive missing bits.

DanRubin -- Tue, 09/09/2008 - 15:26

To continue this thread -- once you have successfully ripped a CD, how do you subsequently burn one to best effect. RH has stated that copies can sound better than originals. What hardware and software is required to achieve such a result?

Robert Harley -- Fri, 09/12/2008 - 09:42

You can use the CD-burning function in a music server (I've used the Qsonix) or the CD burner in a PC.

DanRubin -- Fri, 09/12/2008 - 10:02

So there are no magic bullets? I wondered if you need to use a pro burner or a special software package to get the great results. As I said, my burns via iTunes don't seem to me to rise to the level of "better than the original."

Lear -- Sun, 01/31/2010 - 20:04

Is Max (freeware) for the Mac significantly better than the error correcting software in iTunes? I'm sure this depends on the condition of the disc, but is there a technical difference?
 
Max also offers an option called CD Paranoia. You have to like the name, but is this better still (which I presume is why they offer it -- or it could be paranoia)?

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