gold ("redbook") discs are supposed to sound better than their silver counterparts. in some cases this is true, in others it is not so. i don't believe there is any correlation between "reliability" and the color of a cd's playing surface.
The gold disks are often remastered. This can make them sound better than, or at least different from the standard silver issues.
I read somewhere that JVC tried different disc types for their XRCD premium line and concluded that siver discs sounded a bit better than gold when both contain the same source material.
Gold disks are (usually) derived from original master tapes or, at least, have had extra attention during the mastering process. Also, as gold does not react with oxygen (oxidize), they will not fail (like aluminum) if their plastic shell acquires a crack or hole. This is stretching things as anything likely to crack a CD will also destroy the data pits (small hole more likely to occur).
I do not know of any direct comparison. If anyone does I would love to know of it and try it. As previously pointed out the gold disks are remastered. I have always assumed that the gold was somewhat of a gimick to attract attention, but the reason they sounded so good was the remastering process-not the gold. I did not know that JVC tried both gold and silver (aluminum) and found that the aluminum was sonically better--but judging by the sound quality of those disks I imagine they did try nearly everything to push the envelope--they are equally as expensive as many gold disks--and in many cases much better sound quality. Again, I'ld love to hear the same mastering on gold and aluminum manufactured CD's.
I have two gold discs that I also have on regular aluminum and vinyl. Vinyl sounds best, then the gold, aluminum last. The difference between the vinyl and the gold is quite noticable, whereas the difference between the gold and aluminum is noticable, but not substantial. In this case I would probably have to say that the increase in the cost of the gold over the aluminum was probably not worth it. Keep in mind this a small sample. There may be and probably are many cases where the difference between gold and aluminum is more substantial. Thanks, Doug
Good grief!!! After reading that post I sound like a reviewer. Offer some grand comparison, then nullify it all with a weasel final statement.
abstract7: perhaps i don't understand your statement about "direct comparisons" but i can tell you that, as far as i know, there've been very few, if any, gold cd's that weren't also available in "high ho silver" in one form or another. and, yes, most gold cd's are, in fact, purported remasters. even so, my post of 03/09, IMHO, remains valid.
doug28450: you needn't worry about sounding like your "typical" highend critic. you're nowhere close to the requisite equivocation. -kelly
My comment about direct comparisons I think is pretty important. Take two aluminum CD's, one that was released at the dawn of the CD age and then the remastered version. I have a couple of these. The remastered ones are so much superior to the regular ones--yet they are both silver. Also, compare JVC XRCD to the same CD mass produced. The JVC is still on aluminum--but again--far superior to the mass produced one. Therefore, a gold CD that is both gold and remastered (or mastered/engineered) differently from the aluminum version leaves one with the question of -- is it better because it's gold or is it better because it's remastered. I agree that nearly all gold discs sound much better than their aluminum counterparts, but I don't have any basis to make the claim that this is solely because of the gold content. The only way I could do this is to find a CD that has the same mastering on both the gold and aluminum versions--I don't know of any--but if anyone else does I would like to make the comparison. I hope that clarifies my previousl post.
Try Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" it was remastered and released in gold and aluminum at the same time.
Jadem6--thanks!! I love that album. I have about 3 copies of that piece, but I don't have it on CD at all. Which label released both the gold and aluminum at the same time? Was this the version when they corrected the speed on the second side of the LP?
abstract7: yes, i agree with your assessment that most remastered cd's are superior to those released "in the dawn" of the digital age. i, nonetheless, believe that some remasters are as bright and edgy as their predecessors. xrcd's are uniformly well done. i cannot say the same for mfsl or dcc disks, irrespective of their being silver or gold. i also think that many of the very early discs that were practically unplayable on early electronics sound much better on new equipment, particularly dacs that employ up or up and over sampling. (and, no, i don't wish to start another battle over these sampling/processing methods). -kelly
I think MFSL explains the gold thing in their product literature. If I remember correctly, they don't say that it sounds better than aluminum...I think they claim that gold is better for surface consistency and longevity.
And of course, there's the marketing angle. They were charging quite a bit for a CD.
Abstract7, you are correct in comparisons of "early" digital versus later versions of the same disc. This has been well documented, the early stuff was crap. Most of that stuff that had any respectable sales was remastered and sold again in many cases still on aluminum. In many cases I believe it was remasterd and not indicated on the label. As an example, when my wife and I married four years ago our CD collections merged. She had several early discs that I also had later versions of. The later versions while not always stating "remastered" do sound much better. My only explanation is that it was remastered. I also agree that the "audiophile" versions do sound better, but may not be worth the extra cost. I think this is probably like throwing darts. It's tough to pick the remastered discs that will sound much better. The other thing to keep in mind is throwing the cost factor in. I just don't feel that the few gold discs I have just have not been worth the extra money. In every case, other than the two test discs I mentioned above, I have not searched for the gold version. As far as digital goes, I simply buy what was currently available.
Thanks for all your helps. I asked this question because there are several albums that I like have both Gold and Silver. However, the Gold is double the price comparing to Silver disk. Well, I decided to buy the Silver disks.
I agree that remastering is the main source of any improvements. As long as the laser decodes both aluminum and gold disks correctly then there will be no difference in sound. Is gold more reliable then aluminum? Maybe a CD transport designer will weigh in with an opinion.
I believe Mobile's claim was that gold is more malleable, reulting in better pits which can be read more accurately, therefore requiring less correction aka distortion.
With regard to earlier and later version of the same album, if they were manufactured in the US, early US plants had a terrible process quality problem. The yield of acceptables was very low and it took a long time for some plants to even come on line. Perhaps a lot of the earlier discs, although deemed acceptable, still had "bad pits" and required a lot of correction.