Thank you for your very kind words :o :flower:
> I'm a little confused about the term "stampers" - I am aware of stampers used to, er, stamp the MID code onto a disc, but what exactly does a "stamper" do?
You're going to get me in trouble here Chad. I've already shared more than the manufacturers would care to see. There is good reason they avoid letting this become common knowledge(at least for them). I thought it safe to give it a passing mention in a "bargain" thread to try to help you get a better grasp of what you're dealing with. Here is a quote from a professional media testing/manufacturing company:
With molded discs that have not been handled, the most common cause of defects is a defective master or stamper. This is true because any defect on the stamper will be faithfully reproduced on every disc. This applies to recordable discs too, as a stamper is used to mold the pre-groove into the blank disc. A small defect on the stamper used to make recordable media will create a spot where proper recording cannot take place. Stamper defects can be so small or subtle that they are not visible to the naked eye, so you canâ€™t always tell by looking at the disc.
The grooves created by that stamper contain more and more defects as it wears out. This is literally the biggest factor in the variation you see in burn quality with a single MID.
>I never really got the whole A / B / Grade notion; I always thought that the MID code was exactly the same regardless of what grade it was? The only reason why I can think supermarket line CDs and DVDs, despite having the same MID code as branded ones like TDK and Memorex, is how the ones supermarkets pick up is offcuts which CMC, Ritek etc couldn't sell so they discount their batches in order to flog off as soon as possible, rather like what TuffDisc did by getting botched discs and relabeling them and selling them under their own brand.
Hopefully you are beginning to understand? Discs of the same MID are actually good/mediocre/bad based on what point in the stamper run they are from. Other points in the manufacturing process can certainly experience a temporary breakdown inducing defective discs, a bad batch of chemical can leave a production run with poor bonding, but the quality variation caused by the stamper is constant and unavoidable. TDK and other brands are very much aware of this and can specify what grade they wish to receive. Of course the factory prices their discs based on their grade. Some manufacturers replace/refurbish that stamper before it starts producing defective coaster-prone media. Others push it too far in pursuit of more profit or the result of inadequate quality control checks.
>Surely the notion of grading for discs is just hyperbole?
No. Very real.
>The way I see it dean is near enough every MID code is capable of producing good results, and the good results produced by CMC, Ritek, MBI, and even the higher lines like Verbatim and TY reinforce this. The only boycott I can think of why for the former disc producers is the low quality / landfill quality batches people just by accident have got.
Its no accident. Lower grade discs are bought very intentionally by resellers to make more profit.
>Buying offcut brands don't help this either. Intenso and Maxell got the cream of the crop for CMC, whilst Bulkpaq and supermarket brands probably got the leg ends. Please do correct me anyone if I'm wrong
You're looking as I am for the realities behind the marketing fluff and nonsense. I've just been at it a little longer and knocked on a few more doors in my search . It can get a bit touchy for me as I try to respect friends and information given to me in confidence and balance that against wishing to help others make good decisions with more information :(.
PS- You did NOT hear any of this from me. Seriously.