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7-2] Does the media matter?


This article is from the CD-Recordable FAQ, by Andy McFadden (fadden@fadden.com) with numerous contributions by others.

7-2] Does the media matter?


Yes. There are four factors to consider:

(1) Does it work with your recorder?
(2) Which CD readers can use it?
(3) How long does it last before it starts to decay?
(4) What's the typical BLER (BLock Error Rate) for the media?

Some audio CD players (like the ones you'd find in a car stereo) have
worked successfully with one brand of media but not another. There's
no "best" kind, other than what works the best for you.

Some people have found brand X CD-R units work well with media type Y,
while other people with the same unit have had different results.
Recording a disc at 4x may make it unreadable on some drives, even though
a disc recorded at 2x on the same drive works fine.

To top it all off, someone observed that discs burned with one brand of
CD-R weren't readable in cheap CD-ROM drives, even though the same kind
of media burned in a different device worked fine. The performance of
any piece of media is always a combination of the disc, the drive that
recorded it, and the drive that reads it.

A number of specific discoveries have been posted to Usenet, but none of
them are conclusive. Many people have reported that Kenwood CD players
don't deal with CD-Rs very well, while Alpine units play nearly
everything. However, things change as product lines evolve over time.

Some users have found that the *quality* of audio recordings can vary
depending on the media. Whatever the case, if you find that CD-Rs don't
sound as good as the originals, it's worthwhile to try a different kind of
media or a different player. See section (4-18) for other ideas.

If you want to see what media test results look like, take a look at

One final comment: while there are clearly defined standards for CD-R
media, there are no such standards for CD and CD-ROM drives -- other than
that they be able to read CDs. It is possible for media to be within
allowed tolerances, but be unreadable by a CD-ROM drive that can handle
pressed discs without trouble. All you can do in this sort of situation is
find a better-quality CD or CD-ROM drive, or switch to a brand of media
whose characteristics are on the other side of the tolerance zone.


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