Nearly all of the tweaks mentioned are designed to improve the real-time extraction of the CD data by the transport, most of which provide little or no buffering and simply read the bits once and send them along to the DAC. Modern ripping programs do have any runtime requirements and generally implement, to one degree or another, multiple read systems that attempt to ensure to some statistical certainty that the bits read from the disk are absolutely correct. Because of this, it's *very* likely that the ripped image from your hard drive will sound better than any of the real-time transports (modulo the quality of the DAC and any jitter introduced during transmission) since they should represent a more accurate image of the disk.
My best guess would be that because of the advantages of the ripping process, it isn't likely that the tweaks you mentioned will have any impact on the ripped files. You can try this for yourself and see, but it would be surprising if any differences did show up. The advantage of ripping is that you need not rely on your ears to determine if any of the tweaks change things - you can simply compare the resultant output files and see if the data is different. If the WAV output files are identical, then nothing has been gained (or lost).
For my money, Exact Audio Copy and Plextor Plextools are the best programs for ripping on Windows PCs. For Linux, CD Paranoia is reputed to be excellent. On Mac, I'm not entirely sure :).
I agree w/ Kjg when he says "...it isn't likely that the tweaks you mentioned will have any impact on the ripped files" but for a different reason (not "My best guess would be that because of the advantages of the ripping process...").
I had a discussion with Guido Tent (of the Tent XO Superclock module fame) & also read some articles. The consensus seems to be that even a cheap CDP transport (like the $35 Magnavox DVD player at Walmart) reads CD data with virtually zero errors. The manuf seem to get this part nearly 100% correct. So, when you are ripping CDs, it's merely data extraction & it is nearly always correct. If you use free-ware Exact Audio Copy (like Kjg suggested), it has an in-built routine to check the ripped data vs. what's on the disk to ensure what was ripped is an exact copy.
The tweaks that you mentioned are (very) important when it comes to playback using a 1-box or 2-box CD playback system. Anti-static treatment, green pen on the edges, using a blade cutter to smoothen the outer edge, black fill around the center hole, using Herbie's mat, using black CD-Rs are tweaks that are designed to reduce the laser reflection off the CD during read thereby making the laser drive mechanizm work less hard so that there are fewer voltage & current spikes drawn by the drive from the power supply unit. This, in turn, has the effect of inducing less jitter on the clock ref, which is generated in the CD drive in cheap units. This, in turn, xlates to more predictable data fed into the DAC, which is extremely sensitive to power supply fluctuations & this yields reproduced music w/ less digital glare. A very simplistic overall view, which quickly highlights some of the central issues of why these tweaks work (when they do).
I use Walker Vivid on all of my CDs before I rip them. I haven't ever done a comparison of the same track ripped with and without, so I can't say anything about that. I have had the treated discs rip perfectly when the untreated one hadn't, so now I just treat everything before it goes into the drive. I tried a CD mat once, and my CD-ROM made such horrible noises I decided never to do that again.
Bombaywalla, I'll disagree on one point. Virtually everyone has had CDs that are unreadable or skip in even high end transports. Throw those in a CD ROM drive and start up EAC in secure mode and you will get a good copy. It may take 24 hours and substantially shorten the life of your drive if you don't check the "rest after 1/2 hour" button, but you will get a glitch free copy. Leads me to believe that while mfrs would like you to believe read errors are not a factor, they are...
I notice differences on the CD's when I A/B after different treatments.
I was most surprised by the difference between CD's after I did a test in freezing discs. First I would place some blank CD-R's in my freezer for 48-72 hours (it was suggested that doing this would be the equivalent of about 80% of what cryo does). Then I would take the original CD and record to a blank unfrozen disc. Next I would record the original unfrozen disc to a formerly frozen CD-R. Lastly I would put the original CD in the freezer for 48-72 hours and after removing them I'd would record to a frozen disc.
After all that I could tell the difference in quality between all the CD-R's, frozen & unfrozen, even on a car CD player. Go figure. Now I always place new CD-R's and DVD-R's in the freezer for a few days before recording on them.
"Virtually everyone has had CDs that are unreadable or skip in even high end transports."
yes, I can believe this. However, I do not believe that this is an error during data read (which is what I wrote in my post. An error during data read implies that the transport recognized the CD/CD-R/CD-RW, etc & is able to read the recorded data). What you are pointing out is a disk recognition error. Indeed, it is true that certain consumer CD transports will not read certain CD-Rs & CD-RWs while a computer (CD-ROM) drive will routinely read such disks.
What I implied in my original post was: once the transport recognizes the disk & commences reading the recorded data, the errors during read are virtually zero for even el-cheapo transports.
Hope that this clarifies.
Actually, I was talking about CDs bought off the shelf. I've got several CDs that won't play in my DV50s, my Theta David, or my Sony. But, I was able to use EAC to create WAV files that play beautifully--actually, I was able to burn replacement CDs that play beautifully as well.
Again, I think transports are prone to read errors that can be overcome using CD extraction.
"Actually, I was talking about CDs bought off the shelf. I've got several CDs that won't play in my DV50s, my Theta David, or my Sony."
Now, this is interesting! I've never had this happen to me w/ CD originals bought off the shelf! And, my CD players are very much older than your DV50 - my Harmon/Kardon CDP is 11 yrs old & my Wadia 861 is circa 1998. They both read every single original CD & CD-R that I've thrown at it. I have 1 CD-RW that the Wadia will not read but I expected that. I haven't tried this CD-RW in the H/K but I sort-of expect similar results as the Wadia.
You have *never* bought a bad CD? Wow. I think, in a collection of about 1600 or so, there are probably 3 with at least one back track. Still, that is only what, like 0.2%? Not too bad...
yes, Edesilva, so far all my CDs play. I can't say what'll happen in the future. maybe being a vinyl guy helps?
Yo guys, you've gone "off subject" on this post.
Thanks for the comments though that were relevant.
Just a follow-up. The better I can improve/tweak the source CD, the better it sounds when I copy it on my PC. That's whether I'm burning it again into a CD-R, or compressing it to an MP3 file. I always make high-bit MP3 files, 256-bit or higher, so I can't tell you about low-quality MP3's. By the way, whenever I make a compressed file, I ALWAYS copy it to the hard drive first using Exact Audio Copy.