Audio CD Woes



So I decided to go through some old music CDs. I keep them all in their original jewel cases for storage.

So I tossed in an ol RadioHead cd in my PC and noticed it skipping a lot… and that surprized me… so I looked at it… no huge scratches; so I wiped the cd clean just to make sure and tried it again… same skipping and further listening revealed some tracks wouldn’t even play… that’s when I knew…

I took the CD out and placed it in front of a light bulb and noticed little tiny holes or rather gaps in the platter itself and actually through the upper layer where the label is.

There were… like… 30 or 40 of them as if the laser did it, but the pattern of these “holes” weren’t the same. Some were clean “spots”, others were short lines, and then there were some that looked like blotches.

I had always kept my CDs in great shape. So I looked at an old Garbage CD and it TOO had the same “holes”…

So is what I’m seeing decaying CDs or a faulty drive?


I would suspect bad CD media. The reflective layer on CD-R is at the top of the disc. If this layer is damaged, then the disc may not function properly.

The reflective layer of DVD is sandwitched between two layers of plastic.


Nonono these are Audio CDs purchased from retail outlets. Some of my earliest disks are from 96… I understand the life expectancy recordable disks, but I never thought stamped compact disks would decay like this…


Well, unfortunately it happens!

I have been buying Audio CDs since 1984, and I have found two CDs out of approx. 600 that have decayed in the manner you describe, to such a degree that I cannot make a bit-perfect copy due to reading problems. :sad:


There was a known case of “disk rot” (bronzing) - some PDO pressings, I believe

This sounds like a more generalized defect - damage to the top layer can reach the silvering, or open it to corrosion. The top is a lot more vulnerable than the bottom, which is a pretty solid sheet of plastic, from which scratches can be polished out (do not attempt to treat the top at all!).