Audible differences between different CD-R media used for audio?

This follows a discussion in this thread about “harsh-sounding” Verbatims.

Both Uart and myself were convinced that any significant audible difference between two medias burned with the same audio files on the same burner could only be psychological, unless a lot of C2 errors were present.

Metallo then stated that there were actual differences in tonality between different CD-Rs.

After some research on the Net, I found, to my surprise, that this was a rather wide-spread conviction among music enthousiasts and even sound engineers. :confused:

Still not convinced, I performed a test, burning 5 different CD-Rs with the same .wav files (from my own music and my own mixes, so I know these files pretty well, plus some other files including classical pieces and various modern songs …), and compared these discs using two identical CD players (ROTEL RCD-9658X) and a Sennheiser HD600 headphones set.

The medias used:

> 3 good to excellent quality ones
1. Ritek 97m15s17f (Maxell branded, printable, 52X rated)
2. Taiyo Yuden 97m24s01f (Unbranded, printable, 48X rated)
3. MCC 97m34s23f (Verbatim branded, 48X rated)
> and two low-quality ones
4. MPO 95m25s07f (HighSpace branded, 24X rated)
5. Plasmon 97m27s18f (Unbranded, 32X rated)

The Ritek and MCC discs were burnt on a NEC3540A DVD writer, the other discs were burnt in a Plextor 5224 CD writer. All medias were burnt at the maximum speed available.

I had a friend changing the discs for me and switching between the two players, without me knowing which discs were actually playing. The two compared discs were always synchronized so to hear the same parts simultaneously.

After +/- 30 minutes, me and my friend (who happens to be a musician too) switched, he started listening and I started playing the discs.

Then we exchanged our impressions.

We both came to the same conclusion: there were no audible tonal difference whatsoever between the different discs. :disagree:

So the other conclusion we both came to was that the whole story was just another of these numerous “audiophile” myths…

I’m interested in reading other experiences and opinions… :slight_smile:

“Myth” is correct. There are people with high-end systems who can identify high jitter on an audio disc, but this is the exception. People hear what they expect to hear, and this has always been true in audio. So this is just another extension of the same old thing with audiophiles.

There’s an old saying in the audio biz: “The most important part of an audio system is what’s in between the ears.”

Never came across this one, I LOVE it :bigsmile:

The problem is that when you try to make people understand this (“People hear what they expect to hear” - which is true in many other fields than audio actually!) they consider you think they’re stupid… even when you tell them you are yourself a victim of this human weakness…! :frowning:

Thanks for the input rdgrimes :cool:

Agreed 100% People hear what they want to hear, they “want” there to be an audible difference, so therefore they think they hear one. :iagree:

OK guys,

I am a bit tight with time this week, but maybe, Francksoy, if you send me on a private message, a postal address where I can send you a couple of tests, I will be glad to do so, at least, if you don’t hear this difference, I can say you are all deaf :bigsmile:

BTW, to me this is really so untrue that I was smiling when reading your posts, however, this is why life is beautiful, it would be so boring to be the same :wink:

So, stay tuned!


I and some friends did a blind test and we came to folowing conclusion:
Different writers with same brand of CD-Rs give different results. Different CD-Rs give different results
The test we did:
Test was done on a P4 2.4Ghz with 2gig Corsair Memory with Adaptec 2940 SCSI card and Seagate 80GB HDD running Windows 2000. The drives 948 and 921 are in a SUN MODEL NO 611 case and 900 was in original external case. Only 1 burner was attached to SCSI interface when burning. Discs used where 3 TY 80 min blanks from same batch for each drive (total 9 discs). Sample was Queen Greatest Hits CD and copy was done by ripping the disc to wave with EAC using Plextor ULTRAPLEX40TSi to 800MB RAMDISC (RAMDISC prepared with special widows software). Burnspeed was 1x for all drives. C1/C2 test were done on PX716 and no problems were detected. Discs where labeled with burner product number and a 1/2or3 (948-1 948-2 and 948-3 etc).
CD Players used where a Panasonic Portable CD player a SONY Standalone CD player and a Pioneer DVD Player all connected to a Sansui amplifier. Speakers used where JBL4310 from the 1970s.
Test was done with 4 other friends (total 5 people) of them 4 being blindfolded (me included) and the 5th person Changing the discs randomly.Listeners and person responsible for playback were never changed. Players where changed after playback of all 9 discs with 1 player. Listeners knew when Player was changed. Track used to test was first randomly choosen by the first CD players random function and afterwards same track was used for all tests.
After each playback of the disc the one responsible for playback wrote down wich disc has been played in a list and each listener also had his own list. First Disc played was written down as 1 and the following was written down as 1 or 2 and the 3rd and following discs as 1/2or3 in the list by the listener (each listener not knowing what the others write down). This was conducted with all discs on all players. After all tests and checking the list with the order of discs played we got a total 85% match (which I think is not bad). The most missmatches where between the 948 and 921.
Sound is realy difficult to tell but the point where I did sort the discs in to 1/2or 3 was the sound of the highhats of the drums (clearness).
Since players have influence on sound we used 1 list per player (So on list 1 CD-R1 is not the same as CD-R1 on list 2. This test was done about a year ago.

Last week I and my friends did some testing with different types of CD-R using TY (Cyanin), Mitsui (Phtalo) and MCC (AZO) and we found differences in sound. Also we found out when using TY that White Printable, Gold surface, Silver Surface, Ceramic White, Blue, Green and Red give different results. There is also a difference between TY with Gold or Silver reflection layer. We also went a step further and did press some of the discs we burned with a SONY 900E (PMCD) and found out that the pressed discs did all sound equally. Test equipment and method used was almost the same (some modifications where done because this time we where testing different media burnt on same Sony 900E burner) as the above test.

well done

great way to patronise 99.9% of the forum :clap:

I notice difference between CDR brands. However, it’s due to the players ability to playback different brands of CDR (due to reflectivity or quality) rather than the actual content.

I’ve always found that the cheap silver discs (short strategy) work best with standalone audio players.
Leave high quality (long strategy) discs for data backups :wink:

Interesting test results Franck. Personally I’ve never done a serious listening test with CD-R’s but I have seen enough reported musical differences that ultimately turned out to be purely psychological that I’m now very skeptical of anything with a double blind listening test.

I remember one time over at hydrogen audio forums there was a guy bosting that his mp3’s when encoded with an extra command line option sounded so much better than without this extra option. He sent some files for someone else to do a listening test but the tester was smart, before even bothering to listen he converted them both to wav and did a binary comarision, ha ha they were bit for bit identical! Later one of the lame developers confirmed that the option he had used was now obsolete and did precisely nothing, all files made with this option would playback bit wise identical, yet the guy was certain they sounded better. I could quote about a thousand other examples like this.

Mmmmh… sensitive subject! - as listening can’t ever be, by nature, objective, it’s not surprising.

Very interesting testing, thanks for the input.
I’d like to remind everyone here that I was clearly referencing to tonal differences (more bass and/or less mids and/or more treble etc…). Your test doesn’t seem to be in contradition with this.
More “definition” in the high end of the spectrum (>10khz) may be due, like debro mentions, to different reflectivity (and also jitter values). I’ve myself noticed slight (VERY slight) differences in high-end definition between my own discs. So slight! Nothing that could acually be heard on lower quality equipment. And when it’s so slight, I doubt my own ears (or as a blink to rgdrimes :wink: I doubt what’s between my ears ;)).

I’d very much like to see the scans and the differences in C1 errors average levels, as I’m starting to suspect something here. 1X speed writing…!!

Could it be that I get consistent audio results between different medias because I don’t follow the flawed “burning at lower speed is better” motto, and I always burn my discs at their rated speed or just 1 step slower?? Because Gee, this koba’s test concludes that there are audible differences even between discs from the same model/batch!! :doh: That is too much for me! Help! :eek: :eek: - I can’t help myself to perform, very soon, some 1X speed burns on 48X medias and listen for audible differences… :stuck_out_tongue:

Have you compared the different discs by pairs, playing in synchronization, on two identical CD players of the same model, switching bewteen the two players? If not, sorry but you can’t draw ANY conclusion with only two people listening, :disagree: because of the very nature of listening. That’s why I conducted my own test with this method. The ear forgets very quickly, and even 2 seconds of silence is enough to have the impression that the sound has changed even when playing the exact same sound source… add the communication/interaction bewteen people while listening, and you get anti-scientific, entirely irrelevant results.

Hi dear Mr. Brownstone :slight_smile:
Don’t get mad at Metallo, I don’t think he means being unfriendly, personally I don’t take any offence in his comments. :slight_smile: - I’ve almost called him delusional in the other thread, so I’m not gonna give him lessons anyway :bigsmile:

It seems you and I live on the same audio planet :bigsmile: - I also have dozens of similar stories, including one with a guitar player convinced that we had his track re-recorded by another player, when we just EQ’d the track while he was away… (“I don’t play that bright”!!)LOL :rolleyes:

1:About the 1x burning speed:
The 948S is a 4X CD-burner the 921 is a 2X burner and the 900E is 2X too.
Media used was all 8x media.So 1x burning on these type of discs and Writers should not be a problem. Since these are rather old burners (the 900E is from 1993) they do not have strategies for 32X or above discs.

With todays burners and discs I would not even try to do 1x. I would say when using 48X branded discs use 32x or maybe 16x. Most of todays CD-Rs dont even support 1x writing (TY Thats 48x CD-Rs do not support 1x). I normaly burn Audio CDs at half of the Drives max speed or half of the Discs rated speed (I choose the lower one ex: 12x burner 32x media I choose 8x or 6x for burning and with 40x burner and 32x media I burn at 16x). Burning at 1x is always the best is BS in my oppinion since todays drives and Discs are not tuned for that kind of low speed burning.

2: 2nd test done a week ago was done with 4 friends plus myself (totaly5). 3 discs per make were burned and checked.
Testing was done the same as test 1. 1 who plays discs and 4 being blindfolded and writing to a list.Talking was not allowed.

Hope this clarifies some things.

Thanks for the clarifications koba :slight_smile:

So in the second test you also got consistency between appreciations? I’d be curious to see the actual report, and listeners’ comments…

Could it simply be that my Rotels are too good players to reflect discs variations… Mmmmh… I’ll do some more research and get back next week, as I’m off for holidays tonight :cool:

Cheers to all :slight_smile:

Eh eh, :bigsmile: I found a study on the subject, conducted by professionals.
Quite edifying for anyone interested in the subject, and specially for those who are convinced that audible differences are “evident” to good ears… :slight_smile:

[B]The Numerically-Identical CD Mystery: A Study in Perception versus Measurement[/B] B[/B]
Source: Prism Sound

The study scratches some other commonly spread ideas, like jitter being the source of some audible differences. A must read!! I loved it.

I can not take that research seriously - I mean come on they used Mariah Carey as a test track!! Really though, I found that all my discs sounded a huge amount better when I got my Bose headphones, compared to my crappy Philips ones - Personally I have never been able to tell the difference between an original CD and a CD-R.

I love the terms: “expert listener” and “amature listener”. :rolleyes:

LOL :bigsmile:

Being able to hear the differences between different audio equipment is definitely something that improves with training, so there is no reason to roll your eyes at the terms amateur and expert listener.

Or maybe you think that knowledge about burning optical media is the only thing that improves with training? I didn’t think so! :wink:

Unfortunately the ability to fool oneself into hearing a difference, that in fact isn’t there, also “improves” with training.

That is why (double) blind testing is the only valid way to perform listening tests.

LMAO!!! :iagree: Another neverending debate… :rolleyes:

Really Philips headphones are not that good.
I got a excellent Philips discman however. Philips made 2 mistakes.
1 the controle thingie - It’s screweing the sound.
2 The headphone - Come on that thing was a joke.

Also on discmans antiskip and powersafe options (which cause compression) can have huge influences when it comes to sound differences.
With the right disc and some discmans you don’t need trained ears. The difference is to huge to not notice !!

Whoops, obviously I meant to say “that I’m now very skeptical of anything without a double blind listening test”, hopefully most people worked out that was what I meant.