If you have any of them you can go to any fish-store and buy a PH test set for under 10 bucks.
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Try Walker's Vivid on your CD's it is a vast improvement over the Auric Illuminator. A friend and I did a blind comparison using several types of music on 3 identical computer burned CD's. One plain(no treatment), one with Auric Illuminator, and one with Walker's Vivid. Both of us easily preferred the Vivid in a blind listening test.
The Auric was better than no treatment, but the Vivid clearly outshined the Auric.
All injection/blow molded products require the use of a release agent (usually a silicone based oil) to prevent the product from sticking to the mold or press. This release agent remains on our discs at purchase and can be removed with any of the popular disc cleaners or with very mild soapy water. There still remains all the surface imperfections of the mass production/stamping processs. Some of these treatments can improve the surface by filling in and polishing the 'pitting' to a closer to perfect level. This, in theory, would help reduce laser diffraction and lessen error rate and correction. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!!
Gordus is correct about the mold release agents used in production of our silvery discs, however, we want to keep the pit area as free of debris and as perfect as we can, (not filled in with wax), if we want the lowest BLER, (BLock Error Rate).
If the pit is filled with wax, it is harder to read and the ECC (Error Correction Circuit) has to decipher what info actually is there. In a case such as this, the BLER is increased and to the point where it is noticeable with average hearing acuity.
The better audiophile labels have BLER reject levels, where if the disc has too high of a BLER, it is destroyed and thrown in the dumpster. FIM and Mobile Fidelity immediately come to mind. As an example, many commercial discs have a BLER around 150, FIM and the old Mo-Fi reject discs above 50.
Filling the pit area will increase the BLER, which will certainly change the sound, but not neccessarily to the better. Think of ECC as you would negative feedback. You can get stability, but it greatly affects resolution.
Also, IME, we don't want to use any product that will leave a film which promote lazer wander, this includes dishwashing soap, as it will increase the BLER.
And, don't use any product containing petroleum distillates, as mentioned by Elizabeth above. It was the petroleum distillates in the Armor All that etched my CD's and ruined them. I think because they are such similar materials, just as certain inner record sleeves will etch your records. Ever see that one?
Be careful folks ...
I have a friend who works for a major software firm that is in charge of transporting sensitive and trademark data to other divisions throughout the World. Some of the data is BLER sensitive, in other words, he must supply them the data with extremely low BLER.
Thankfully, he is an audiophile of sorts, and agreed to test the various CD treatments that I had around, along with those that a few of our friends had also. In all the products tested, those that did not contain oil and wax and did not leave a film, lowered the BLER "significantly".
He went on to explain that to obtain optimal disc readability, you want the disc as clean as possible, without any film what so ever. That "filling in the pits" with wax and/or oil would lower the readability of the disc and would make the Error Correction Circuit (ECC) work harder in attempt to properly read the data.
We've all heard discs that are scratched, that sound horrible when the player is trying to play the song. The sound is squashed, distorted and not what you'd call high resolution. Some disc damage goes beyond the ability of the ECC and are unreadable, (As were my Armor All treated CD's after a number of years). In cases like this, the BLER is sky high. This said, it makes sense that you'd wouldn't want to use anything that would increase the BLER and make the ECC work harder. As said before, he told me to think of ECC as a variable negative feedback system, which increased with an increased BLER. Films and waxes that cause light scatter will raise the BLER. (Not good)
To answer your question, Shventus, my friend sent back all of the cleaners and treatments to us but one. He kept the Shine Ola.
Jes45, Were Vivid or Audiotop in the group of products that you sent off to your friend for analysis ?
I had found Walker's Vivid to be the best of what I had tried until today when I tried using a new product in the market called Audiotop. A friend and I did some blind tests today and the Audiotop surpassed the Vivid's performance.
I have not tried Shine Ola, but will get some and do some comparisons.
Thanks for your detailed comments. Very interesting.
Albert, Have you compared Vivid and Shine Ola and have you tried the Audiotop product ?
I believe that Tom tested Audiotop also, but I'm not 100%certain. I know that if he did, he didn't get it from me, nor anyone from my group. (He had 3 friends give him products). If it is important to you, I can ask.
If I'm not mistaken, we tested everything available, even a few that aren't available anymore, like Jena Labs.
My purpose of my post wasn't to brag on one particular product. To me, it was important to share the info that our friend with all of the test equipment found. He has chosen to stay nameless because he conducted these tests at work, using their equipment and on company time. One positive is that he has found a cleaner that helps him send a low BLER data disc that will not have long term detriment. Maybe he should put in for a raise?
The bottom line is that if Audiotop is free of petroleum distillates, doesn't contain a wax or a substance that will leave a film and doesn't leave scratches, it is likely safe. Shine Ola comes from a reputable company that has been around for while, Record Research Lab. It also comes with a 3M micro fiber cloth that does not scratch the disc surface at all, unlike other supplied cloths.
Yioryos, I've been getting mine at Red Trumpet. I got my last bottle at half price. They have a special, buy $30 worth of records or CD's and you can buy RRL products at a discount. (www.redtrumpet.com or give them a call.)
I hope this helped ...
Albert, Have you compared Vivid and Shine Ola and have you tried the Audiotop product ? Rgds, Larry
Yes Larry I have three or four different ones here including Vivid and RR. Both of these manufacturers are friends of mine so I hate having to make a direct comparison. Shine Ola is my favorite.
I believe Vivid is wax, but don't know for certain. Have not tried Audiotop.
I just wanted to pass along my experiences. I purhased a bottle of SHINE OLA (great name) and have found that the surface of my CDs, SACDs, and DVDs seem very clear. They also have improved the audio and video quality dramatically. I have not tried everything out there, but of the ones I have tried, this has given me the best results.
Back to the ph question. :-)
Granting that the Armorall problems have nothing to do with ph, that still leaves the question whether or not a substance with a non-neutral ph would harm CDs over time (lets say 20 years for the sake of argument). Does anyone know?
Cello: Did you test the original version of Auric Illuminator or the new & improved version that recently came out?
Thank you for your very informative explanation, and your friend's work in evaluating & reviewing all of the CD treatment products. Very nice!
I have both Shine-Ola & Vivid, but will continue using the Shine-Ola. (Anyone want to buy some Vivid - Ha!). Thanks.
Thanks for your coroborative evaluation.
How was your trip? Have you recovered from jet lag?
Shventus, I recovered from jet lag just in time to pack and leave for the Denver Audio Fest. It begins on Friday and I fly out a day early to prep and rest before the insanity.
New images of my Euro shoot in Milan and London should be posted here at Audiogon within the next week or so.
Jes45, Lloyd got enough of my money when I bought my Walker turntable and black gate motor controller. He can stand to loose a sale on one bottle of Vivid :^).
I'll add to the Shine Ola praise--I found it made a positive difference for my discs as well. And it is a great name. Now I need to find a treatment that not only removes dust but also repels it from the disc (my Forsell goes crazy when dust gets on the disc). I've actually taken to using my Zerostat gun on discs for this purpose. So far the discs haven't disintegrated (yet).
I like the Shine Ola CD product also after trying many brands over the years, as said before no residue left behind, produces very glossy clean surface. Although 3M cloth is very good (retails for $4-5) I prefer to use large 100% cotton balls found in cosmetic dept....these produce even less scratch and more finely polished CD surface IMO. I also still like to blacken outer edge of CD with marker.
If you want to really test CD treatments before applying to precious CDs, apply to black CDR and inspect under halogen desk lamp. Like black paint on car this will really expose any ultra fine surface scratching or film residue left by product.....silver CD surface tends to hide this but it is still there. Be sure and check next day, some products will later produce haze/film even after you thought you completely buffed out day before.
I have not tried Shine Ola, but AudioTop is so superior to other cd treatments that I find it hard to believe it would not be better than Shine Ola. Nevertheless, trimming with the AudioDeck is needed to bring out the full performance of cds, HDCDs, sacd, and dvdas.
I still use Viva towels to wipe off the AudioTop.
I would like to add my praise for Shine Ola as well.
I only have experience with one other product which I purchased about a year ago. ReVeel, sold by Russ Andrews (www.russandrews.com) is also advertised to 'Remove the Mould Release Agent (MRA) left on the surface of the disc from the manufacturing process'.
Just tonight I conducted an experiment.
1. Played a set of two well recorded untreated CDs (Best Audiophile Voices II - Premium Records, Cassandra Wilson - Glamoured).
2. Applied ReVeel treatment to the CDs.
ReVeel comes on an impregnated napkin in a foil pouch. You lightly scrub the disc from center to edge then rinse under warm running water. Then pat dry with a paper towel.
3. Again listened to the CDs.
4. Applied Shine Ola treatment to the CDs using the supplied 3M cloth.
5. Again listened to the CDs.
I found little difference in CD sound quality after applying ReVeel.
However after applying Shine Ola, I found a significant improvement similar to others:
- improved clarity
- better PRAT (pace, rythym, and timing)
- perceived increase in volume (maybe 1-1.5 dB)
Actually disappointed with the ReVeel since it is also advertised to remove the MRA.
Now a couple of questions for others with experience with Shine Ola:
- is application of Shine Ola just a one-shot treatment or is periodic re-application of benefit. If yes, at what frequency?
- two sprays seems to deposit plenty of solution on the CD. Is there any additional benefit/reason for applying the 3-5 sprays recommended in the instructions.
- is Shine Ola improvement transport-dependent? Are some machines/lasers better at reading the digital bits without errors? I am using a modded Toshiba 3950 DVD player feeding a Bel Canto DAC 2.0.
- what is the best way to clean the 3M cloth?
- I also get my CDs cryo-treated. Does Shine Ola need to be re-applied after cryo treatment?
Thanks in advance for any feedback.
I haven't noticed one bit of difference, nor did my friend who conducted the software tests, between 2 sprays or 5 sprays of Shine Ola. I don't know why they recommend so many sprays, it is not needed.
Regarding re-application, I never do unless the disc becomes dirty again. Remember, Shine Ola is just a cleaner and does not leave a film that will wear off (or raise BLER). Once cleaned and the mold release agents are removed, it is fine.
I haven't noticed any difference with Shine Ola that would make me believe that it is transport dependant, it works great on everything our group has thrown at it, from a $30 DVD player for the kids to a EMM Labs and various modified SACD players. Some transports will read better, but that defines the ability of the transport, not Shine Ola or any other cleaner.
I've cleaned my 3M cloths with Woolite by hand, (first cleaning my hands with anti-bacterial soap), and a final rinse of the 3M cloth with Record Research Labs Super Vinyl Wash, just because it is the cleanest water that I know of, and therefore contains less contaminates. I then let the 3M cloth air dry using a thumb tack, a string and a safety pin. My Wife is mad about the holes in the ceiling, so I'll have to figure something else out soon, but it works.
Regarding the cyro treatment, I'd re-clean the discs, just because their handling is unknown throughout the entire cryo process. I'd rather be certain that they are clean and sounding as good as they can.
I hope this helps ...
According to my understanding Shine Ola is only a cleaner and not a "treatment". That is, it claims nothing more than effective cleaning of residues. Other "treatments" claim to go beyond this function and perhaps they do, I don't know. But if a "treatment" does more than clean the CD doesn't this imply some kind of chemical interaction? If this is true how can we be sure it's benign?