CDR Fidelity?

A recent thread about CD's that people use to evaluate changes in their system was interesting because some people are burning their own compilation of songs on CDR to test out new equipment. This would avoid bringing a stack of CD's to the dealers or wherever but...

My question is this: Is the quality of CDR's equal to that of your standard redbook disc? Shouldn't there be some loss of fidelity when copying CD's? I have always thought that my CDRs sounded worse than the store bought original. CDR's always seemed to be more compressed without as good dynamics and detail. This is of course even worse when the CDR is a converted MP3 disc.

What have you A'goners found?

I use a PC running Win XP, sound card is Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy. I use Clone CD to copy discs and Windows Media Player for MP3 ripping. CD burner is a standard Sony 8/4/32 CDRW.
I have found the same thing as well. There are apparently a variety of methods to handle copying of discs and, with experimentation, one could probably discover a way to maximize the fidelity of CD-R recordings. Whatever audiophile tendencies I may be prone to, I did believe that a direct digital copy of a disc should be very close, if not nearly identical. Well, I was very surprised at how notable the difference was. Without shifting into metaphorical lingo, I'll simply say that they sound very "wrong" (if you know what I mean). This was actually a little depressing, as my initial excitement at using a CD burner to make snazzy compilations, etc. was immediately deflated. I am simply using a run-of-the-mill motherboard with Roxio software and a TEAC disc drive. Just to confirm what was readily apparent to me, I did do some A/B testing for a buddy of mine who I had made approximately six or seven of these CD copies for. I switched between copy and original for approximately 10 tracks, with one or two tracks from each disc. They discerned the copy from the original with 100% accuracy, and did so almost immediately (within 10 seconds of listening). This is not an audiophile sort of guy and they were pretty surprised at the significant difference in quality. This is not to say that they are unlistenable or even 'bad' sounding, but given what I now know, it's hard to get too fired up about using the computerized CD copying resource. I would actually be curious to hear some knowledgable technical discussion outlining what happens between point A and B that will create these differences and how they can be minimized (ie. what's the 'best' way to make CD copies on the computer). I did recently make a test copy at a local dealer's shop of a CD with a Marantz stereo component CD player/recorder and this fared MUCH better. Enough so, that I'm considering purchasing one.
Theoretically, digital signal should not have changed with copy process, but it has never been the case. I have noticed a significant loss of image and depth with my CD-R copies comparing to the originals, no matter how I vaired my copy process (burning speed, copier, blank media).

Different brands of CD-R produce different kind of sound. For example, I have found in general the gold CD-Rs have clear and crisp details in treble while the bass is thinned out. Sound from silver dye CD-Rs seems to be closer to the original played on my system.

I have compared 10+ brands and coating of CD-Rs and cannot pick an obvious winner. So far Kodak silver takes the lead.

Anyone has other findings?
My copies sound basically as good as the original, in some ways they are better, and in some ways the original is better. I consider it a toss up. I am not using a computer to burn the CDs however. I am using a professional model Tascam CD burner and a high quality digital cable as well as a very good transport as the source. The burning is done in real time (not high speed) It seems like everyone who doesn't like the quality of CDRs is burning them using Computer software and a CDR drive.
Listen to Ejlif. My Tascam also makes super copies, from CDs, vinyl, and tape. There is a clear (positive) difference between them and the ones my wife (the family computer maven) makes on her Mac. I don't know why.
I will provide my experiences.

CD-R's made on a PC stink, no matter what sound card or PC.

I experimented with stand alone consumer stereo cd player/recorders and found the Pioneer PDR-W839 to do the best job using either Maxell or Mitsui bland music CD-Rs. The near eaqual sound came from recording at real time speed vs 2X's or faster on the Pioneer or on other cd recorders. An email to Dan Wright revealed that a mod was doable it I choose to use this recorder as my main player. I also noticed that some sounded equal to the original, some better and some a little weaker. Check it out for yourself.
Which Tascam models are considered good for retaining the original cd quality?
It's very easy to prove to yourself that the copy you made is identical. If you believe that a copy sounds worse than the original and you haven't proven that you're making bit-perfect copies, you owe it to yourself to do so. Then, if you still believe the copies sound worse, at least you know you're comparing apples to apples. It is, however, very easy to believe you're making a "perfect" copy when in fact you're not, in which case I would expect the sound to be significantly worse. I personally find the experience of listening to original vs. copy to be identical, but others believe otherwise. Not trying to convince you one way or the other, just suggesting that if you want to use CDRs but believe you're getting sub-par copies, you might want to investigate the method before abandoning them. -Kirk
My Tascam is a CD-RW700. It plays any kind of CDR, makes digital-to-digital dupes and has proven totally reliable. I had a Pioneer 555 before, and there's no comparison. It sells (last time I looked) for $450 from Oade Bros. I recommend it highly. Cheers, Dave
If you're burning on a computer use the program "Exact Audio Copy". I tried this program and got better results than with the standard Nero or Roxio, but the copies were still worse than the originals. I have to agree that burning on a computer system makes for bad copies for use in hi-rez systems. If you have a hi-rez system, spend the $$$ on a high end recorder like the Burmeister. Apparently the best burners create copies that are superior to the originals. Apparently when the disk is being copied the data is reclocked and the jitter is removed from the disk. There are other forums on Audiogon about this phenomenon.
According to some people the copies sound better because jitter is reduced when copying. I personally do not know how this is possible but in general, my copies sound as good as the originals unless I copy an HDCD disc. The disc will copy but it will not copy the HDCD encoding and the CDs sound thin and in some cases distorted.
Like most things, your tools and your approach will make all the difference. First, always use an application designed to create bit for bit copies (EAC is a good suggestion). Second, invest in a high-quality (pro) burner. Without getting mired in the details, Plextor makes the highest quality, most reliable PC based burners out there. Standalone burners by HHB and Tascam are worth the investment as well. If you're not going to do any digital editing, the standalone units are pretty goof-proof.

I've been doing digital transfer for many years now (mostly DAT > CD) and once you get your groove down (no pun intended) it works like it's supposed to. BTW, HDCD disks should cause you no additional problems - they should copy and sound exactly like the originals.

Good luck!

Hi,I have no logical explanation,but,in some cases,CDR copies that I make with a JISCO jitter decorrelator,actually sound better than the originals.
Quite a few people to whom I have played originals and copies have preferred the copies over the originals.
I agree with Ejlif and Dopogue. And use a Marantz CDR500 Professional recorder (dubbing). I either cannot tell the copies from originals, or sometimes even think that the CDRs are better, ie smoother. But in a blind test, I'm sure I couldn't tell them apart. I've owned 4-5 CD recorders, and found that the Pioneer units (W739 and W37 Elite) also make excellent copies.

Also, I've had no problem copying HDCD discs, ie HDCD shows up on my ML 360S DAC when playing the copy, just like it does when playing the original, and the HDCD copies sound just as good. The default recording speed of the Marantz is 2X and I've used it a lot with excellent results, ie I can't tell CDs made at 1X from those made at 2X-- but I don't consider 2X to be "high speed".

A year or two ago, M. Fremer of Stereophile compared CDRs made by 3 consumer grade CD Recorders to originals and could not reliably tell the difference between the originals and the copies, and he was impressed with them. But for copying LPs to CD, the most expensive CD Recorder (a $1000-$1500. Denon I think), was clearly superior to the cheaper recorders, ie the Denon had a much better AD converter. Cheers. Craig
Thanks all. Sounds like my PC is the culprit. I am not surprised.