What is your setup?
Many systems with digital front ends sound as good or better than high end analog these days, but there are many factors that contribute to the overall sound. Every little thing seems to matter.
As for CD treaments, Shine Ola is highly regarded as actually reducing read errors and enancing sound.
Having tried a few of these treatments it is safe to say they are definitely for real.
I also use the Marigo Lab 3-D Signature CD mat routinely, although a cheaper way is to use Herbie's Grungebuster CD mat(s), to give you confidence in the ability of a tweak to instantly upgrade the listening experience.
Newer versions of liquid CD treatments are released even before one can use up container contents of an earlier version. One of the classic liquids in this category is the new and improved Auric Illuminator, and there is no question that it enhances the CD experience. You can initially try one "well reviewed" product, but don't expect unanimity from our diverse Audiogon membership on which is the only one to try first.
I know that there will be many differing opinions on this, but I have used Auric Illuminator since it first came out and have had good luck with it. It has not damaged the CD's and it seemed to open up the sound and improve the dynamics.
The Auric Illuminator makes a big difference IMO. I actually had the opportunity to compare the RealityCheck copy CD vs. the Auric Illuminator CD and found the Auric to be much better, more open and natural with better detail. I've recommended it to others and the response has been nothing but positive. Going into it, many of us felt it was going to be "you know what" but were surprised with the outcome.
Heard good things about Shine-Ola:
I have to agree with Lkdog, Shine Ola has worked wonders for me, and it is alcohol and oil free, so it will not etch discs as Armor All did to me (It etched over 500 discs of mine, making most of them unplayable).
A group of us had a friend do some actual testing of various cleaners and "treatments", as discussed here, http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?ddgtl&1096407732&read&keyw&zzshine=ola
I've done the following:
Listened sequentially to the same CD as follows:
1) With no treatment, for the "baseline"
2) Then, after Shinola-->no discernible difference
3) Then same disc, after Auric Illuminator 2 AND the black marker on the edges and center as directed-->Subtle but definite improvement
HOWEVER, somebody claims to have a friend who tested Auric Illuminator on a "BLER" detector machine, or something like that, and that it INCREASED BLER, whereas the Shinola didn't (and I think he said Shinola decreased BLER).
So that's contradictory to the above "test" I ran. MAYBE, the black marker treatment in the Auric Illuminator kit helps, but the clear gooey stuff to coat the CD hurts, but who knows? I never tested with JUST the black marker treatment, so as far as I'm concerned......
it's still all a BLER to me.
Thanks for the responses. My system is Musical Fidelity 3.2 cd player, MF 3.2 integrated, Paradigm studio 100's, VPI Jr. with grado cartridge, and Nordost Red Dawn ic's ,Blu Heaven biwire.
Nice setup. Couple thoughts FWIW.
I have an MF A300 integrated which I liked very much.
I had it modded and much of the electronic glare was removed and the noise floor was reduced dramatically.
The reason I state this is that the front end is certainly critical (I had that modded too), but so are the other electronics downstream.
I am a big believer in modding front ends and pre/power for better performance.
Redbook can be great, but like a good LP system (such as you have) it takes some work.
I have used Auric Illuminator and found that if not applied properly it leaves a cloudy film on the CD. I switched to Shine Ola and not only does it not leave any residue, it is easy to use, and I have noticed some sound enhancements.
Another vote for Shine Ola. I have a new complete Auric Illuminator kit if anyone wants to save a little money.
May be a bit out! but a Bedini quadri clarifier will do exactly what you need: no more glare and edge sound.
I've used the old blue liquid Auric Illuminator with excellent results going back about 4 years. Just curious...the references to clouding were with the old stuff or the new, clear liquid? The Auric protocol of blackening the inside and outside ring of the CD also was very helpful. Before A/I, I tried Optrix and a half dozen other products with mediocre results.
Nickb - I am using the new clear liquid that I experienced the clouding with.
As always there is no consensus on this. My ranking is: 1) RealityCheck Cleardisk and Clearbit; 2) AudioTop Digital; 3) Ultra Vivid from Walker. I have tried quite a few more, but they are not as good. Cleaners definitely make a big difference.
Tbg, What do you use as a safe and simple method to remove a previous treatment when getting a CD ready to receive newer application? So far, I have just applied any newer product to previously untreated surfaces.
I found the RealityCheckCD Cleardisc and Clearbit combination to be superior to Shine Ola.
Listener, the Cleardisc and AudioTop both seem quite capable of removing previous treatments. The Vivid leaves something on the disc, wax I believe. It to is removed by both Cleardisc and AudioTop.
Splaskin, I have not tried Shine-Ola but am not surprised that you find the Cleardisc and Clearbit better.
I have used many of these all with mixed results however if my vote goes to one it is to Lloyd Walker's new "Ultra Vivid". It will light up your system. Worth a try and Lloyd has a 30 day money back guaranty. You can't beat that.http://www.walkeraudio.com
Not a liquid treatment, but you could try the Mapleshade iconoclast zapper gun. I find that increases low-level detail.
Another trick I've found on Cds with harsh treble is to use a computer to copy the disc to a black Cd (I use memorex). They seem to work as an equilizer of sorts. This seems to help at the CD transport read process. For me it's as if the treble is "slowed down" so that now, finally, with some CDs the treble timing is in sync with the bass. I know, it's hard to fathom in a digital, bit-perfect world. I'm an MIS professional, but I've come to grips that some of this voodoo does indeed work.
Aroc, see the RealityCheck thread here or on Audioasylum.
My experience with their cleaners, ClearDisc and ClearBit are why I recommend them.
Reality Check and the associated products are unproven to most audiophiles. A few proponents and endorsements are just that. Perhaps even wishful listening. I'd be careful.
The same could be said for just about any piece of audio gear. The only way to tell if something is worthwhile is to listen with your own ears. Personally, I've heard improvements from liquid CD treatments and I also purchased the Reality Check (to hear for myself) and feel the Reality Check duplicated CDs have bettered any CDs treated with liquid treatments.
Ggil, I am Stanhifi's red cape. Every time he sees anything I think is good, like a dumb beast he has to charge.
Actually Norm I am the visionary "beast" exposing the smoke and mirrors of the red cape waving that is so pervasive in these threads. You know the type I'm sure.
Stan, a visionary? You'd better slow down, my good man. I'm afraid that by the time self-pleasuring becomes an olympic event, you'll have no vision left at all.
Boa, have you checked your palms for hair lately?
Ole' not olay Norm.
Of course I have, Stan. Got a nice weave goin' on one, a bouffant on the other. Now show us your handy beehive. No doubt, you've been keeping the smile going on your cellmate's face.
Boa, I hope everything works out in the end for you if you get my drift.
Coming in loud and clear, Stanley. :-)
Where can one fine the reality check products
This just in:
Great article by the good doc in positive feedback. Read the article carefully, these results are ONLY in ONE system, using ONE disc, not enough mix IMO to make it as valid as it could have been. Yes it would take a lot more work and some have done this and posted here and on AA, do a search. Haven't tried the new resolution cleaner BUT the #8500 fluid has been the best so far. Better than any of the others I've tried, and I have tried them all..... I still use a Nespa after I've cleaned a disc with even bigger improvements.