CD audio distortion

Ive searched all round the web, and all over this forum and I cant find a solution to this problem. It seems quite common to me, and seems to be a bit of an un-answered mystery of the CD world.

The problem is CD distortion. I ordered a CD recently, and to start off with I was playing it in my DVD player. At about track 4 it starts to crackle slightly. By about track 6 its really bad. By track 8 it barely works, and at track 10 it wont even read the CD anymore.

Sounds like a bad CD.

I put it in my kitchen CD player and it works, perfect!

I put it back in my DVD player and the distortions back.

This really interested me so I tested it in everything I could find. Here is where it worked and where it didnt.
3 year old PC - No
Brand new DVD - No
Old CD player - No
Newish CD player - Yes
Old CD walkman - Yes
Newish CD walkman - Yes

I bothered to put in age as there seems to be some kind of correlation between old and new. Apart from the DVD player, only a few weeks old wont play it. Also the old walkman will play it. Another interesting fact is that it works on all the flip lid CD players, but not slide tray CD players.

Obviously this wasnt on, so I requested a replacement. When the replacement arrived It seemed to be better at first, but then the distortion kicked in, this time at track 10. Again it slowly got worse.

This is the 3rd CD Ive experience this with recently. One from a small band, one from a friends CD-RW, and now this new one, which is in fact quite a reliable company, that friends have bought the same CD from and had no problem.

The question isnt really how do I fix this, as its obviously something wrong with the CD, but why does this happen at all? How can one CD play perfect in one player but really badly in another? Answer will be much appriciated!


I’ve experienced the same thing, but with numerous CD-Rs in my collection. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what was causing it, but I think I have the answer: my discs are slightly warped.

As the laser starts reading the outer part of the disc (where it’s less flat), the distortion gets worse. In your case, I’m not sure why it will work in some players but not others. My best guess would be that the lasers are aligned slightly different in the players that will read the disc.

The easiest way to see how severely a disc is warped is to simply lay it label side down on a flat surface. The center of my worst CD-Rs don’t even come close to touching the surface. I’ve also noticed that the warmer the disc is, the more it is warped. I’ve had some success in copying my warped CD-Rs to new discs by leaving them in the refrigerator for a couple minutes beforehand.

Although I’ve used several different brands of CD-Rs, the ones that have given me a great deal of trouble are Sony, Memorex, and Maxell. I’ve had much better luck with TDK.

If anyone has more information about warped CDs & CD-Rs, please share. Also, is there any evidence that adhesive labels (the ones that cover the entire disc) would cause the disc to warp?