All about producing and mastering audio for disc, the web and beyond

Monday, August 8, 2011

CDR Quality - Or Lack Thereof

While we're on the subject of good sound (how's THAT for a non-sequitur?!) there's something that's slowly creeping into the world of music production, namely poor quality CDR's.

While I don't want to get into a long discussion of the CRC (error correction) that's built into the playback of a CDR, you should know that the CD format was built to tolerate errors. In some cases it will fix errors on playback perfectly. In other cases, if it can't reconstruct the data, it will 'approximate' the data. The implication is, when you play a CD you don't know if you are hearing exactly what was recorded to it. The difference is usually very subtle, and arguably fine for most consumers, but not so fine for those of us that work hard to craft recordings.

This problem is not so prevalent with replicated (pressed) CD's, but moreso with duplicated (burned) CD-R's....and it's getting worse. At my studio we routinely check every disc that's intended as a master, and in the last 6 months we have noticed a significant decline in the quality of the burns to disc. We can still get a workable master, but sometimes we run into a batch of discs that are unusable. We wouldn't know it if we didn't test, and that makes me wonder how many discs people make that are malfunctioning in ways they might find unacceptable....if they knew.

THe answer is probably a move away from redbook audio to full resolution data transfer from local servers for consumers and studios alike....but for now we check our discs carefully, and make ddpi masters when we can.

1 comment:

  1. Just found this blog, searching to see if anyone else has noticed the radically poor quality in CD-R blanks in 2014.
    Of each cake of 50 CD-Rs the fail rate is increased to as much as 70%, and, with one brand (TDK) 100%.
    Only some Maxell discs I purchased last year have 100% success.
    The lousy discs all appear much more than usually transparent.
    And, a warning note to the suppliers: I ALWAYS take the entire batch back for a refund.