Japanese TDK "Theory" Audio CD-R Discs. What The.....?



Has anyone ever used these before? I’m thinking about picking a couple up. Why only a couple, you ask? Well, read below…

Found them here: TDK Theory CD-R Disc

They cost $15 U.S. Dollars…FOR 1 DISC! Ridiculous. I would assume the price is so high, because they have to be imported. I’m not sure how much “better” these will be comapred to Mitsui and Taiyo Yuden discs though.

Unfortunately, the official site is in Japanese: TDK Theory Homepage :frowning:

If anyone can translate what dye is used and what not, that would be great. Click on the 2 links below:

TDK Theory Info

TDK Theory More Info


Well they are obviously intended for Hi-Fi recorders since the “For Audio” text, so that accounts for some of the extra price (cd recordables for Hi-Fi’s have to have a special ‘tag’; normal CD-Rs won’t work).

Perhaps they also feature TDK’s special hard coating protection, like the range of DVD-Rs they sell?

However, even so they still seem incredibly expensive. Wonder what else makes them ‘different’?


Here’s what it says in the 1st link: “Special amorphous resin in disk baseplate with highly durable polycarbonate coating allows high accuracy in recording and strong durability against scratches.”

If that’s what you meant by: “TDK’s special hard coating protection”, then I think that’s it.

The last 2 links give some specs, but they don’t have an English translated version. Doh. :sad:

You said they’re meant for Hi-Fi recorders. Do you mean the stand alone units? Or, do you think these will work with my Plextor Premium cd-rw drive as well?

I remember buying Audio cd-r’s way back when and I never had a problem using my cd-rw drive to burn the discs.


Yes, I did bought 5 Theory CD-R’s. I use it to copy special for me) music, only 5 because they are so expensive, but a friend told me that the regular price in Japan is about US$5
The extra price cames from AudioCubes, the only reseller in the USA.
Theory is the same that TDK CD Audio Pro Musical Reference, not for sale in the US. Theory is the marketing name in Japan.
The quality of the recorded sound, via EAC and a very good CD-recorder like Plextor, is so good, that it doubles MAM-A CD-R’s!


I saw a Plextools C1/C2 test with these Theory discs and it didn’t look that great, especially compared to standard TY CD-Rs.


That definitely doesn’t sound like it is worth $15 a disc. :a
Do you remember who performed / where you saw those tests?




But of course. I imagine that if you paid not $15 but $75 per CD-R you would hear 10X the improvement.

If that’s not enough, I’d like to sell you some very special green markers you could apply to the outer edges of the disc. They will soften the harsh stray laser reflections off the disc that would otherwise interfere with playback, and provide that extra boost to the sound quality that your special music deserves.


These Theory discs use POLYLEFINS while normal CD-Rs use Polycarbonate.
POLYLEFINS has better optical characteristics than Polycarbonate and much lower birefringence which should give you a better sound quality (but sound has more to do with likings). But production cost is higher. These disc use the same cyanin the old TDK discs used. Problem with this disc is that it has problems with some burners. Old Pro-Use Sony writers and some Plextor drives are bad in writing them (seems to be because of the optical charasteristcs of the materials used). I myself only use TDK 12x or older Made in Japan by TDK or Theory for Audio because it gives me the best sound (well at least for my ear). Btw Theory is one of the last MIJ discs not produced by TY. If you think that Media has no impact on sound quality because a 100% error free disc where the land and pits are 100% the same as the original has to sound the same or if you are not a great Audio-freak i would not buy those.


Forgive a noob question - but what the heck difference does it make?

If, as an experiment, you rip/store your source file(s) to a hard disk (to eliminate reading variations), burn to a 10 cent disk and a 10 dollar disk, and then verify them against the source.

Whichever cd you play back, you get the same stream of 1’s and 0’s. Even should there be an occasional error, checksums and other ecc will correct it back to the correct value.

So if you get the same binary data back from both - how can one have “better” sound quality?


Its more of an analog problem than digital.

  1. Jitter: if there is jitter on the disc the servo of the player needs more power. This results in noise which reduces quality.
  2. 0s and 1s are land and pits. The land and pits could be right but the readability of each disc is different (think of handwriting: the text written can be without mistake but not every handwriting is easy to read). If the pits and lands are not nice the player needs more power resulting in noise = lower quality.
  3. Errors on the disc also needs more power during playback also leading to more noise.
  4. Reflection from disc. If this is to low the player has problems reading the disc. This means more power is needed to read the disc which also leads to noise.
  5. Weight of a disc: A disc which is heavy (due to protective layer or some special coating) the motor needs more power to rotate leading to noise.

The problem with players is that the lines for electricity and the ones for the data and analog audio are very near to each other. These lines have noise on them and interfere with each other (like the coil effect). So the more power is needed by the Laser or servo or any other part to read the disc the interference gets bigger. The noise from the electric lines interferes with the data. This interference has a bad influence on the quality of the sound you are hearing and the higher the interference the lower the quality of playback gets. The only thing to do against this would be to leave as much space between these lines and shield them. But this would lead to very big and expensive players.
Hope this answers your question.


Let’s state it clearly: disc materials have no perceptible influence on sound quality. Even if a player runs into some C2 errors, it will interpolate from the adjacent samples and the listener won’t hear a thing.
Unless a double blind ABX listening test proves otherwise, this “theory” belongs in the realm of quasi-scientific snake oil. Any difference you might think you hear can be attributed intirely to placebo effect.


Well I have done the blind test with various Blanks and I came to the conclusion that different blanks and also different burners give different results.
It is the higher interference (noise from the electric circuit jumping over to the audio circuit) in the player occuring when more power is needed to read a disc. Digitally seen there is no difference in the data being played back at all because the 0s and 1s are exactly the same as with the original (assuming a disc with no cracks or C2 or other errors).
About material: it has an influence because the transparency of each material is different. A disc with higher transparency is easier to read by a player thus needing less power to read than when reading a disc with less transparency.

The difference which you are hearing when using different blanks is because of noise (which is influenced by how easy a disc can be read) inside the player.

A other example for noise in circuits or wiring are with LAN cables. If LAN cabels where not shielded the loss would be very big and highspeed connection would be impossible. Or AM radio and ISDN interference with ADSL lines. Same with speaker cables which when shielded or unshielded give you different Sound-Quality.


This could run and run…

Interference issues are a player quality issue, not a media one, but they are a possibility.

I’ve normally stood on the “bits are bits” side, that a CD is either good enough to read with no errors beyond C1/C2 capabilities, or is suffering some degree of error concealment.

Where bitstream “1 bit” A-D is used, it could suffer more from any slight timing variations.


Very interesting. You should post your methodology along with the results to HydrogenAudio’s Listening Tests forum.


Forget It;

Under EAC IT IS the BEST recording media!!!
By a very long distance to MAM-A (the second one…)


elcorso> I would not say things like “Under EAC IT IS the BEST recording media!!!By a very long distance to MAM-A (the second one…)”
Because regarding “Sound/Music” there is no best. There is only a best for you.
I could name 10 discs I have which are better than the Theory and you could maybe name ten others which you think are better than the ten I name.