Minggu, 10 April 2011

CD Jewel Case, CD "perfect sound forever" vs good old Vinyl

I guess when it come to audio format I'm one of the lucky ones. During my childhood I have listen to old but very good sounding tube radios and mono's black vinyl in 78 and 45 rpm. Later on my dad bought a Lenco turntable and bunch of  33rpm black discs, Paul Mauriat, Frank Sinatra, Demis Rousos, Nana Mouskouri that I still remembered, oh yes and Koes Plus  :).

Then comes the bulky Philips Compact Cassete and the final compact cassete. Yea, one of my cousin prefer Teac tapes reel while I played with cassetes and vinyl. . My kids and many younger generations knows only MP3's, Ipods and for sure never heard of Walkman and Discman either.

It is now about 30 years after CD introduction. There were Laser Disc, Beta, VHS, S-VHS, DVD's in between. SACD, blueray, MP3, AAC, Flac, and bunch of other 'transferable' digital formats. Me? I prefer to hit my brake soon. It's CD, Vinyl and one of those 'bit to bit perfect'  digital format out there.

When the silver disc first came out I remembered one of the marketing hypes - "perfect sound forever", after 30 years let us see what happened to my old -early CD collection and of course similar aged vinyl ones.

But allow me to whine for a while :), the jewel case of CD's. For me it is irritating. The hinge breaks off very easy, it happened just after every time you buy new one. This is a bad design case for me and sure for others and after very long time no one cares. They even selling empty cases :). What is going on?


Hinge of the case is the most heavily loaded section. Although the case is made of though polycarbonate (and later, cheaper polystyrene) there is one problem here, stress concentration. Because of the geometry around the hinge the stress there is much higher than in other area. The location is at the root of the hinge. There is a sharp corner and to make things even worse, people add ridges there, further weakening already flimsy thing.
The stress there is at least 3 times higher so no polycarbonate and polystyrene is tough enough. First cracks will develop and then.....

Actually it can be prevented by adding a stress relieving geometry, such as adding a round in the corner. Mysteriously this never happened, maybe it's good to have many broken jewel cases for the producer

Luckily in recent times there are several better CD packaging in the market, but I think this new packaging is what I called 'cost driven' designed. Just because world oil price is hiking- so virgin plastic pellets are more expensive, particularly the transparent ones that the music producer need to show off the cover. Here are some of them. I loved the paper ones. Never breaks , have a nice booklet that do not need to take out and put back again :) and makes little noise when it falling down...

So there is my whining and now what happen with the perfect sound forever ? I have here one of the GRP CD, Chick Corea Electric Band (1986). I did nothing wrong except playing it occasionally and most of the years just sitting in the box. Some years back I started to saw holes through the disk, and the holes are getting bigger and more holes appears...so much for a perfect sound forever.

Another CD, Chick Corea ' Light Years' (1987) album stays fine, just as fine as the vinyl one below. I guess it depend how lucky you are with your CD's. I have many more CD's damaged by it self than vinyl damaged by my worn needle. I do have some scratched and warped vinyl. But the vinyl do not change it condition during all that years!. At most finger prints gets moulded and fungi  growing in it and after washing the disk it plays perfect as it gets. I do have some pristine old CD as well after storing it more that 20 years.

So, does CD gives perfect sound forever? No, I don't think so, Vinyl is? no it's not either but it's closer ;)). Thanks for reading

in the pipeline :
my 'new' TDA1541A NOS DAC, single, parallel, reviewed together with on board DAC and 8x NOS TDA1543 DAC