Rain-X as CD Enhancement Treatment

I have used the Auric Illuminator treatment on my CD collection for several years now. I am a believer in the AI, and repeated A/B tests of identical treated/untreated CDs bore out significant improvements after treatment with AI.

I ran out of the fluid and my marker dried out, so I was searching for mew treatments on the market before buying another AI kit or choosing something new. That's when I ran across this article by Greg Weaver at Soundstage, where he talks about having used Rain-X and a green marker(Staedtler Lumocolor 357, price about $3.00) as a treatment on his CDs to great effect.


Being the complete geek that I am, I had to try it for my self. I found the marker at Office Depot, and picked up a little bottle of Rain-X for $2.99. I treated a couple of CDs that I have ended up with duplicate copies of (Grant Green's Green Street, Frank Sinatra Sextet Live In Paris)and tested the Rain-X/marker treated vs. untreated disks.

Well, low and behold, the treated disks sounded notably improved; the music was clearer and louder, especially the midrange, the soundstage was larger with better definition and separation of instruments and the bass was tighter and deeper.

I can't say that the Rain-X treatment was or was not better sounding than the AI, but at the least very it is close, for a fraction of the price.

Has anyone else ever tried the Rain-X treatment?
Good idea. I use Scratch-X to polish my CD DVD's.
Any material (IMO) that removes the 'stiction' from a sliding media interface will lead to an improvement.
Many Cd DVD surfaces are not slippery. Once they are.. the disc plays better (IMO).
(and I wonder if the 'no-results' for some testers are because they start with a disc that is already slippery as is... about half are, rest are not, from the manufacturer.)
Does anything touch the CD surface while in play? I would guess that any improvement would be purely an optical phenomenon.

My concern would be for long-term effects. Has anyone determined whether the stuff will either react with the CD surface or turn hazy over time?

I have heard comparisons between various treated and non-treated discs and a lot of treatment methods do work. I was particularly impressed with the machine that cuts a bevel on the edge of the CD. That seems to improve all CDs a bunch of us tried on the treatment. I did not buy a machine because I was concerned, again, with long-term effects (will this allow air in to the metal layer and cause oxidation akin to "laser rot" of the Laserdisks).
A question you may want to investigate is what could possibly be wrong with the way the transport was reading a clean unscratched CD in the first place?

Remember CD's are digital not analog - there should be no "surface noise" with a CD in good condition.
The head of the laser is only microns from the surface of the disc. (a hair is many, many times thicker.. even the tiniest particle of ash or soot is several times bigger than the gap)
The laminar flow of air around and between the head and the surface is important too. A smooth disc will allow a smoother airflow.
If you do not believe in this, I can make up better nonsense. However, a LOT of folks have experienced the difference between a treated disc, and a non-treated disc. So something real may be happening. (besides suggestion)
I wondered about the airflow issue that you mentioned. But, it could also be an optical issue. Certainly other treatments tout the improvement in the optical characteristics of the surface of the CD.

One more thing, RainX leaves haze and streaks (on windshields) unless very vigorously buffed. I would be very carefull about the buffing process. I would only use tissue paper made for cleaning glasses (facial tissue has fibers that will scratch plastic, hence, the need for quite expensive tissues for glasses). Camera lens tissue is also a possibility, but that stuff is WAY expensive and too small, thin and delicate to use easily.
I am still using ( sparingly ) Armoral.....
I don't wish to appear negative-and I have not tried Rain-X except om my windows where I was an early adopter and still love it-however; Rain-X is specifically designed for use on glass. It is worth enquiring the manufacturers opinion on its suitability for plastic.
So something real may be happening. (besides suggestion)

If something is happening and you are getting improvements this way then it suggests an issue somewhere. Perhaps jitter is getting into the DAC of the CDP and this is partly created by minute changes of the laser (smooth versus not so smooth). Ed Meitner claimed that cryogenic treatment of CD's helped - however, IMHO, this all sounds like a band-aid solution. To my way of thinking, a transport should not be so finnicky as to require all this extra special CD treatment simply to play a digital CD properly - a CDP player should be more robustly designed than that.
Shadorne, There is nothing wrong with his transport. From my experience treatment of discs works on ALL cdp's. I have confirmed it on these players:
Ah! Njoe Tjoeb
Cambridge Audio

Not one of these players had an issue. It's the MEDIA which improves, making the players more efficient.

You can say, "A Bit is a bit, is a bit...." Until the end of the world, but this is WAY too easily heard an improvement (treatment, not necessarily Rain-X) to experience to be held up by objections. Anyone can do this and find out for themselves. I would suggest that anyone who cannot hear the improvement has either profound hearing issues or really, really crappy equipment (or both). This is NOT a comment directed at you, Shadorne! It's an arugment in general. :)

When a fuel additive is put in the gasoline of a car's tank and the performance improves slightly, one does not say, "There was a problem with the engine". Similarly, treatment of the disc resulting in improvement of sound is NOT a sign of a "problem" with the transport/cdp.

Excellent point, Elizabeth! An already "slippery" disc will seem like a "failure" when treated.

Read my comments on the Jena Labs Disc treatment goop:


Note that I was treating discs on my own long before reviewing this disc treatment system.
Shadorne, There is nothing wrong with his transport. From my experience treatment of discs works on ALL cdp's.

Then I'd suggest PC audio + external DAC or CDP player + external DAC (re-clocking DAC preferably) => this way you completely separate the transport laser "smoothness" issues from the D to A conversion. Just common sense really - rather than treat every disc which seems impractical. (how do you even know when enough treatment has been made?)
Actually Rain-X was developed for use on jet windshields which are not glass but a thick plastic right?

Shadorne, Consider changing the entire set up because a low budget treatment improves sound? Sheesh. You should be an audio salesman. ;)

It works the same with transports using external DACS. I have tested it as well with Benchmark DAC1 and Monarchy M-24 pre/DAC. You're still looking for a problem where there isn't one. I haven't tried it with PC's transports, but I wouldn't be surprised if it improved them audibly as well.

Enough treatment has been made when the disc is shiny. You know, sort of how you can tell when enough car wax has been applied to get a car shiny.

I tested whether re-treatment after a year or two was effective. It was not. The effect was permanent improvement from one treatment.

Man, just DO the test; just get some goop and use it! Don't tell me you won't spend five bucks to find out for yourself? I think you would be VERY surprised at the result. I, for one, would rather spend five bucks and a few hours of my time rather than sell off and purchase a new source. :)
Shadorne, Consider changing the entire set up because a low budget treatment improves sound?

Absolutely! I find it totally unacceptable that digital equipment should perform so badly. Analog has major problems in this area (must be clean and even then you get surface noise) but digital should not be a problem. This is shoddy design - something awful is going on if you get such an improvement.

It works the same with transports using external DACS. I have tested it as well with Benchmark DAC1 and Monarchy M-24 pre/DAC.

Are you saying that a proper re-clocking DAC like the DAC1 can tell if a bit was read by the laser from a treated disc or an ordinary disc? I find this beyond credibility - not unless the disc was damaged or really dirty and some interpolation* was going on in order to generate the bit stream by "guessing". If the CD is in good condition but a CDP is making extensive interpolation (without help from a special green marker CD treatment) then it is a fault of the equipment, IMHO.

I, for one, would rather spend five bucks and a few hours of my time rather than sell off and purchase a new source.

This may be acceptable for you - but if the sound changes audibly with special treatment (other than simply a clean unscratched disc) then basically it proves the equipment is faulty or at the very least sub-par. No audiophile should accept that, IMHO. Say a CD improves 10% after treatment - how in the world do you know that the poor performance of the transport/laser is not still affecting the sound quality by a further 10%? I would not be satisifed with this situation and I would want to get to the bottom of it.

*interpolation - this is very bad as this means missing bits that cannot be reconstructed without a "guess" (these occur about 1 uncorrectable bit in 1,000,000,000 under normal conditions) If you ever heard a CD with "CD Rot" then this is an example of massive interpolation going on - so much data is bad that you are hearing interpolation or "guessing" nearly all the time.

I guess it boils down to philosopy or expectation of what digital equipment should be capable of - to me digital should be a lot more robust than you seem willing to accept.
Shadorne, Say! You have a DAC1 - try it! :)
The problems with rain-x on plastics can be seen on motorcycling sites since the windshields are not glass.
The comments I've read indicate effects which would ultimately be degrading to our CDs. Google in Rain-x and explore. Happy listening. Pete
This was quite the rage about five years ago. Rain-X is cheap, but I found other products are better, notably Walker's Ultra-Vivid.
Shadorne, surely you're not going to let a lousy buck or two for some soft car polish or Rain-X, or whatever, stop you from such a discovery?

Take your oldest, worst, disc my friend, and try it. :)
I have tried many different tweaks for cd playback, but have not tried rain-x. I have some in the shed and will give it go . These are my finds . Stoplight helps mostly on poor quality cdp,s. Green pen similar to Stoplight but not as effective. Finyle surface treatment has the same effect on good and poor player,s(not always an improvement depending on the disc)sometimes over softening of attack or transients. The best I found is a zerostat used for LP,s . Use it the same as you would for an album on both sides of the cd. Don,t discount until you try it. I read research paper on this back a while,that stated when a cd/dvd is manufactured it will have a static charge on the suface that has negative impact on the reading of the lazer.
Shadorne, surely you're not going to let a lousy buck or two for some soft car polish or Rain-X, or whatever, stop you from such a discovery?

True the money would not stop me. However, you would be amazed at the effects of years of scientific conditioning and brainwashing. I simply can't bring myself to perform what my preconditioning tells me would be a senseless task. It may seem strange but I will not waste one minute on car wax or green markers but I have spent many hours reading most of the orginal papers by Sony and Philips on the CD format and CIRC coding and countless technical documents from AES. People are wired differently.See this. The two camps often have trouble understanding eachothers behaviour. Each spends hours doing things that the other would think is pointless. Depending on where one sits in Myers Briggs one could have completely opposite opinion about the value of double blind testing.
"My personality will not allow me to try it... "

I don't consider that a valid excuse, but you are being honest.
Touche...I don't consider anecdotal reports of CD sound improvement as a valid excuse to go treating my CD's with car wax or green markers, but you are being persistent ;-)
I am not only being persistent, but CONsistent. I am not willing to allow unsubstantiatied reports of efficacy of said treatements to be accepted unless I have done the test myself.

The efficacy of the treatment lies in the ability to hear clearly, easily a difference in sound. I found that to be the case with disc treatments such as polishes.

You are acting consistently with your belief that there will be no effect. However your belief is wrong. You could determine through simple testing whether your belief, though you think it well founded, is correct. :)

I think a fear lies behind the unwillingness to test it out. You consistently suggest to others that if there is a change to the sound through said treatments there is a "problem" with their gear. Are you willing to face that possibility with your own gear?

Of course, I insist there is no problem at all with the gear. :)

Webster's definition of scientific method: "principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses."

The problem in the digital domain is jitter, a widely accepted phenomenon. Your hypothesis (AFAIK based purely on theoretical reading) seems to be that that reclocking DACs, jitter jails, etc., reduce jitter introduced through optics & transport to irrevelevancy. Further data acquisition (testing of pens, surface treatments, transport mods, etc.) may test your hypothesis-- perhaps disproved by the evidence of your ears.

Admission: I use and enjoy CD Stop light.

Dgarretson, excellent post. What's not often discussed in debates (friendly, as this one is, or not) is negative bias. Often arguments are used in an effort to discount treatments/tweaks without addressing the fact that some approach listening to tests of said treatments with an attitude/mindset which minimizes or marginalizes what they are hearing.

Of course, it's impossible to approach such tests completely unbiased, but the playing field should be level. :)

I always find it rewarding when I can show someone with a negative bias the efficacy of such treatments. It is impressive when someone disposed to discount their worth hears and is convinced of their efficacy.

Sometime I'll have to try the green marker thing. My ego is not such that I fear being made fun of. I just don't care to do truly stupid things (i.e. overdrink, have illicit sex, etc.)
Douglas, while I think it's prudent to keep a balance between theoretical and empirical discussion, IMO the matter of jitter is a case in point that argues for an empirical approach involving an open mind and careful listening tests. As discussed in a recent Absolute Sound or Stereophile retrospective, at an early stage in RBCD, based on theoretical speculation, the International Society of Audio Engineers were luddites in their determination not to accept that jitter merited further consideration as a problem. But manufacturers persisted, and to this day we see continuing heroic efforts like Esoteric rubidium clock and Audiocom Ultraclock demonstrating that the ear can discern jitter down to a half billionth part. A leading recording engineer claims he can hear variations of a few picoseconds. So with respect to the problem of jitter, a little knowledge may be a dangerous thing if untested through listening.
You consistently suggest to others that if there is a change to the sound through said treatments there is a "problem" with their gear

Absolutely correct. You got it. When you have to resort to green markers and fancy cables to get the right sound then the equipment is NOT doing its job properly. A CD player is not reading a CD properly. Or a speaker and amplifier are poorly matched. Or a Pre and power amp have problems (ground loops etc.)

Jitter is a problem which is well documented and undeniable. However it is an EQUIPMENT problem. Standard Redbook CD does not call for "green markers" in the standards. If a redbook player does not read a redbook CD properly then it is the fault of the EQUIPMENT => Get a better player.

I think a fear lies behind the unwillingness to test it out.

Not really. I well know that my equipment is far from perfect but that does not worry me. It is good enough for my tin ears. If there is any fear it is that I would be starting down a slippery path that eventually leads to magic pebbles or special acoustic tuned cups and directional cryogenic cables. My wife is an engineer too and she would definitely think I was completely wacko - if anything that would make me fearful or at least extremely embarassed to take such steps.
Far from an imaginative leap into brilliant pebbles & the like, the theory with the colored edge treatment is that it filters out refracted light that may otherwise be reintroduced into the optics. It's also conceivable that a shiny smooth surface provided by Rainex could minimize refraction. But whatever the science, it's generally accepted that jitter problems can be introduced through the optics. The Sony service documentation for my CDP includes a laser allignment procedure to use with a scope that is performed specifically to minimize jitter. I have personally found that improvements to DC power into the motor/servo mechanism of my SCD-1 make an audible improvement in the sound of the transport. And this is a CDP that in the original Stereophile review exhibited very low jitter in stock fitment. So the basic quality of the transport is not at issue.

"My wife...would definitely think I was completely wacko."

My wife feels this way about me, particularly in all things relating to audio. Unfortunately the problem is not that the slippery slope tends down toward pebbles, but rather upward toward $10K components. For her a $5 bottle of Rainex would be a welcome relief.
the Staedtler Lumucolor 357 is discontinued.

The Sharpie enhancer 007 may work as well
My wife realized the incurable nature of my audiophilia years ago. She was greatly relieved when I determined to build my own room; it meant she would be free from the incessant tinkering with the system.

You should try the polishing treatment, and I'll try the marker/edge treatment. We can compare notes here. That'll drive Shadorne crazy! ;)

For starters, I have heard that one is to use a green marker. Did you stick with green. How about blue? Black? I suspect yellow highlighter would not work as well? Any particular brand of marker you prefer? ;)

When dealing with $10k components and high end speakers, I would assert that one had better hear such influcences as a power cable change, disc treatment, etc. or else the designation "audiophile component" is questionable. If these higher end pieces can do no better than Target mini systems at revealing nuances or treatments, then there's no point in buying them. Then you may as well head to the local electronic store's going-bankrupt sale. Far be it from problematic; if the serious audio gear can parse the bits and do it better with a treated CD, then that's a doggone highly calibrated device! Now, if the sound was worse after disc treatment, then I'd say the laser assembly either had extremely fine tuned parameters in which to operate, or it was not so well built.

But the argument of making improved performance via altered media an issue in terms of quality of the player/DAC? I don't see the logic in that, especially when it can be done with the DAC1. When a badly scratched disc is inserted into a player and it doesn't work properly, we don't say the player is defective or has a problem. However, when an "enhanced" disc is inserted and the player peforms better, we say it has a problem? Go figure. :)

Thankfully, the fine rigs I have used all revealed these things, and consistently so. I have not run into an audiophile cdp which could not be improved upon through disc treatment. The higher end the rig, the more such influences are heard.
I agree that the best components most clearly reveal the effect of tweaks. The clearer the window, the more visible the remaining smudge. I think this phenomenon is what accounts for the hyperbole of magazine reviewers, who when describing near-SOTA equipment appear to be making a big deals about splitting hairs. My view is that the hobby is all about closing the small gap between 9/10s and 10/10s, which separates a great system from realism. You never get there, but according to Zeno's paradox, through small steps you can close the gap by halves, and feel at each step like you've made a 50% improvement.

The question for anybody with budget constraints becomes what is the most cost-effective step at the margin. We all have different ways of looking at this. As a maker of DIY cables, I've always found that a dollar committed to improving electronics is preferable to that dollar spent on ANY commercial cable. Unfortunately, I have come to this conclusion after accumulating a drawer full of Synergistics, Audioquest, Tara, Goertz, & MIT cables. Yet there are those who on general principles will not spend one Yankee dollar to test the value proposition of a Sharpie.

I'll check out the Rainex. As my CD Stop Light is gone, I need to find another pen to revisit this experiment. The green Sharpie may be good. Geoff Kait likes a purple pen-- and in spite of pebbles & teleportation he's not always wrong.
When dealing with $10k components and high end speakers, I would assert that one had better hear such influcences as a power cable change, disc treatment, etc. or else the designation "audiophile component" is questionable.

The anecdotal evidence for this seems irrefutable. To top it off, with break-in lasting sometimes 1000 hours or more - not atypical in an audiophile designated component - it seems quite plausible that most designated "audiophile components" will never sound the same twice, ever. I am happy with my "target" quality gear - it works for my tin ears. Thankfully, I get the same old crappy response every time.
Guys, I haven't been following this thread, but I must say it is the most civil discussion on this I have ever read.

I should say that I have spent a career testing methods and statistics as well as doing the best science I could given the difficulties of studying humans. I am a political science professor. Mine is very much a young and developing science and recently many political scientists have embraced the deductive ideas so prevalent in economics. For me to assume human rationality is a bridge too far. Rather I pursue an inductive science based on observations and trying to explain why there are differences. Such a science develops with many studies.

This predisposes me in audio to want to hear components, speakers, wires, etc. And to try to understand why one sounds better. My interest in music is to want the best sound I can get, but I also want to understand why one sounds better. Nevertheless, if something sounds better I will try to afford it.

I had undergraduate education in engineering as well as in the sciences. In my opinion engineering is about applying the findings of science to practical use. Its principles do not define what science is. In application to the question of cleaning cds, the engineer might well stick with the fundamental precepts. Some tweaks violate some of these precepts, but not necessarily natures laws or science. Also, of course, some tweaks may be scams, but violating precepts does necessarily means they are scams. Observations might well lead to better precepts.

I would give an example of quartz disks. I have tried many different quartz products or tweaks. In some places they have a very great benefit. In others no effect, and yet in others may ruin the sound. I hate to have to use these empirically, namely to always have to use trial and error. For someone to tell me that they could have no impact is grossly unscientific to me as it fails to account for the variability of the findings. Do I wish someone could "predict" where there would be benefits would be great.

Long ago, I tried Rain-X. I still have the bottle in my listening room. I did find some benefit, but very little. I found that use on my windshields did allow some avoidance of using my windshield wipers as water sheeted of more. Why this would have an effect on cds, I cannot understand. I can see how eyeglass cleaners would have more effect. Optrix in my opinion has a much greater effect than Rain-X. I do not use either now.

Shadorne, while I fully agree that equipment breakin takes a long time, I don't understand why you would say a piece of equipment never sounds the same twice. I also don't understand why you would say "target" quality gear always sounds the same. There are explanations for why gear breaks in and apart from drivers, most often this is several months or less. If you turn equipment off, it may take some time to get back to where it was, but once there it will change little.
Going into this experiment I will admit to being biased in favor of Rain-X. Some years ago Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes attempted to debunk this fine product as an example of consumer hucksterism. He scoffed at it, noting with some pride the superiority of the good ole fashioned American-made windshield wiper. He then made a half-hearted palsied attempt to rub Rain-X into an automobile windshield before watching it fail to work. Now I have used this product successfully for many years, and know that for it to work as designed, one must carefully follow directions and apply generously, and reapply again after drying. Generally speaking, one may take any manufacturer's claim to apply its product twice as an exploitative attempt to increase user consumption, but in the case of Rain-X, this is not a valid criticism. Rain-X works and sheds rain better than the best windshield wipers at speeds above 30 mph. Shadorne, please give Rain-X a chance, remembering always to follow the directions.

I don't understand why you would say a piece of equipment never sounds the same twice.I also don't understand why you would say "target" quality gear always sounds the same


It was just a simple game of logic. If a designated "audiophile component" is expected to make any small changes clearly audible then it stands to reason that it is very unlikely to ever sound the same twice. (Small changes would be a power cord - heat - break-in - the shine on the CD surface - you know all the examples I have been given).

Given that the power quality from the utility company is varying all the time depending on what is or is not in use along your street then given any audio device inherently as sensitive as described above it just stands to reason it will rarely, if ever, sound the same. "Target" gear being less sensitive will surely behave in the opposite way - it may not sound good but it won't be as sensitive to minute details and is much more likley to always sound the same.
The problems that polishes and green markers address has nothing to do with "jitter". LASERs can and will mistrack/misread, if skewed by scratches(microscopic or otherwise)on the disc's surface, or if picking up stray/reflected LASER light. Treated the inner and outer edges of the disc with GREEN marker has the effect of cancelling the reflections, as GREEN has the proper wavelength to absorb the LASER's red wavelength. I've tried green markers on some discs and did notice a slight tightening in the bass when played, but not enough to warrant continuation of the process with my other discs. Using UltraBit Platinum on my discs is another story altogether. Everything becomes more "focused" with regard to separation between voices(intrumental or vocal) on whatever is played. The video store I frequent has a great deal of trouble with sloppy people handling their rentals. The discs typically have a lot of scratches/abrasions, and the store uses an abrasive liquid and polishing machine on them(more damage). Over half the time, neither of my DVD players will read the DVDs without going mosaic, stopping or skipping to the next chapter at some point during play. When I treat such discs with the UBP, they play without a hitch, and the picture is noticably sharper as well. Neither of my DVD players are cheap, or have anything wrong with them. My CD player is a Balanced Audio Technology VK-D5 and needs nothing with regard to performance enhancement. Using a good polish to fill and eliminate anything on your software(CD or DVD) that might affect your LASER's focus will definately enhance it's performance, and the resultant playback sound/picture. Then again- Your ability to appreciate the improvements would depend on your systems resolution, and/or your aural/visual acuity. No doubt the possibility one's convictions being found wrong stops a lot of people from ever trying some things. Yet they never hesitate to voice their unfounded opinions. Freedom of Speech IS precious though.
BTW: The Rain-X concept is(filling and polishing micro-scratches) to make glass too slick for water to adhere, and has worked wonderfully for me. I had my wipers go out on a Camaro, in a thunderstorm, some years back. Found an auto parts store, bought and applied the stuff. Never did bother to get the wipers fixed as long as I owned the car. If you live in a snow-belt state: Ice removal from the treated glass is simply a matter of hitting it once with your scraper, and the ice pops off in one sheet(no scraping). I've not tried it on any of my CDs, but don't doubt it would aid a LASER's ability to focus through a disc's surface .
Shadorne, You believe in a process that's slow and neigh unto imperceptible which changes components over 1,000 hours, but you do not believe that disc treatment can immediately influence the sound of media (or how a player audibly processes it).

You are skating on thinner intellectual ice than I am.

I can demonstrate my process/change in about two minutes and ten seconds (about two minutes to process the disc, and about ten seconds of listening to experience/verify the change). How would you demonstrate yours?

I'm not accepting your anecdotal evidence. However you can move from my anecdotal evidence to certainty in about two minutes. :)
Here is thorough early treatise from Stereophile on the subject of these tweaks. Includes technical discussion of related optical and electrical factors.


Relevant extracts from the non-technical sections of the article:

"The intensity of my interest in the subject was heightened by a product called "CD Stoplight," marketed by AudioPrism. CD Stoplight is a green paint applied to the outside edge of a CD (not the disc surface, but the 1.2mm disc thickness) that reportedly improves sound quality. I could not in my wildest imagination see how green paint on the disc edge could change, for better or worse, a CD's sound. However, trusting my ears as the definitive test, I compared treated to untreated discs and was flabbergasted. Soundstage depth increased, mids and highs were smoother with less grain, and the presentation became more musically involving."

"The makers of CD Stoplight claim to have measured a difference in the recovered analog output signal with a treated disc. They played a pure tone from a test disc and measured the spectral content on either side of the tone. Reportedly, a CD Stoplight-treated disc produces lower-amplitude sidebands around the pure frequency. Just as this was going to press, AudioPrism faxed me graphs made on a Hewlett-Packard spectrum analyzer that support their findings. Without knowing all the measurement details, the graphs do appear to show a slightly lower noise floor after the addition of CD Stoplight."

"From my measurements, it is apparent that none of these CD tweaks have any effect on a player's error-correction ability or on the amount of jitter in the HF signal. However, it is beyond doubt that they increase the musicality of CDs. Just as in analog audio, there are things going on in digital audio that have not been identified, but influence sonic characteristics. There is a real need to explore these questions through empirical measurement and by listening. I am convinced that undiscovered optical phenomena in CD playback affect sound quality. Only by combining critical listening with the scientific method can these mysteries be solved.

"All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance.""
You believe in a process that's slow and neigh unto imperceptible which changes components over 1,000 hours,

Actually I don't - at least not for my crap target gear.

My example was just taking the attributes commonly ascribed to a designated "audiophile component" by yourself and others and making a logical conclusion.

Now you say burn-in is imperceptible - well if it is imperceptible then how come so many people claim to hear it?

I see no point to going any further as this is becoming ridiculous - it is becoming just an argument for arguments sake. I don't want to continue to contribute to this. i'll finish by saying that this statement by stereophile just about sums things up

From my measurements, it is apparent that none of these CD tweaks have any effect on a player's error-correction ability or on the amount of jitter in the HF signal. However, it is beyond doubt that they increase the musicality of CDs. Just as in analog audio, there are things going on in digital audio that have not been identified, but influence sonic characteristics.

There are indeed things going on inside the head of the listener and this has been documented tens of thousands of times: a very well understood scientific phenomenon called "The Placebo Effect". Humans are not machines. We are not instruments of precision. Our perceptive senses are significantly modified by our expectations.

The only question is "Why do some people refuse to accept the obvious conclusion?" I explained in several posts above with a reference to Jung and Myers Briggs...a lot has to do with personality as to whether a particular individual is willing to accept that his/her own perceptions are easily modified by his/her expectations.
Shadorne, the belief in the Placebo effect to explain clear observation is unscientific. Selectivity bias works both ways as if you don't want to hear a benefit you will not. If people hear a difference and the precepts of engineering cannot explain such differences, it demands better science.

I find it incredible that your embrace the statement in Stereophile and ignore the statement, "...there are things going on in digital audio that have not been identified, but influence sonic characteristics." Engineering schools, not withstanding, we don't know all natural phenomena.

I don't understand your decision to embrace "target" components, that is your decision, BUT is NOT justified on scientific bases.
the belief in the Placebo effect to explain clear observation is unscientific.


That is a good one! What we "clearly observe" is the truth. Our perceptions are reality. A lot of homeopathic medicine manufacturers would be delighted with this version of the world. They also cannot prove their products work in medical trials but people swear by them. I must remember to put on my copper bracelet with magnets.

But lets not drift into philosophy - above I already pointed out some useful psychology to help explain how people sense/perceive/think/judge the world differently.

"Target" components is the synonym given by some audiophiles to the kind of system I have chosen. Gear that is not resolving enough to change in response to the mere beating of a butterfly's wings from across a field. It just plays music reliably - what is on the source is pretty much what comes out of the speakers. Of course it sounds awful but I am happy with it. I simply would not want a system that played music unreliably (changes sound audibly with the change of power cord or any other minor detail). Surely this is not so hard to understand ?
In the Stereophile article, it's interesting how much credible scientific measurement & analysis the authors poured into examining a clearly observable phenomenon that in the end eluded the current limitations of science. CD Stop Light got to the heart that magazine's philosophy of separating equipment reviews (and usually associated equipment reviewers) into two camps, who separately measure specifications and conduct listening tests. Sometimes listening perceptions deviate from expectations based upon measured specs. But to dismiss the ear as an instrument is maladroit. Certainly not all reviewers are unbiased, but since the reviewer in the article claimed to bring scepticism into his review, his positive opinion formed after listening should be taken seriously. Moreover, when everyone in a large enough statistical sample forms a positive opinion through listening, except for one poster who refuses to join the experiment, then one must seriously consider that positive and negative biases eventually cancel out-- unless like David Hume you entertain the probability of mass hallucination in any public forum.

Moveover, the opinion that positive bias prevails among Audiophiles to the point that any change is perceived as an improvement, is easily controverted by the high incidence of equipment churn and audiophile nervosa.
The ear is arguably the best measurement device when what you are measuring is sound...say the output of a loudspeaker. However, when evaluating what goes on in the digital domain review of digital data streams (or files) is arguably perfect. A bit-for-bit comparison of two files is relatively easy to do if you have the right facilities, and will tell you for sure if the tweak caused any change. If there was a bit changed here or there (IMHO unlikely) you could review the nature of the changes and decide if any audible result could be expected.
Shadorne, You mock, "What we "clearly observe" is the truth. Our perceptions are reality." How do you think we came up with the laws of engineering?

Eldartford, again, I don't understand your logic. If the ear is the best measurement device and it hears a difference between two digital copies that are identical, are not the copies different?

IMHO, if many hear a difference, good science needs to marshal itself to account for observations of differences where science has said there should be none. Critics are also victim to selective bias when they expect no differences and hear none.
Shadorne, yes it might be possible that your gear is not up to the task. I hadn't considered that (as I was making a general point in my previous post comparing $10k to around $100 systems, not alluding to any deficiencies in your system), but it's a potentially valid point you bring up. ;)

However, having conducted similar tests even on the aforementioned mini-systems from the likes of Target, I think yours probably would display the same ability to reveal the distinction between an untreated and treated disc. :)

Re: Burn in, so you support your position because X number of others say it's so, as you said, "if it is imperceptible then how come so many people claim to hear it?"

Hmmmm... I would say that is precisely MY argument as regards CD treatment! An argument from experience, and what we would call anecdotal evidence, not a measurement. So, if pressed on the matter you turn to the received wisdom versus testing when it comes to break in? But I am not allowed to as you have written off CD treatments. Interesting, considering I'm calling on you to conduct my test, not just accept it because I say so. I see more than a bit of inconsistency there.

Sorry, but there's no Touche coming your way; I have found in this particular discussion your logic insipid, your rationale more emotional than factual. (For instance, turning the quote from Stereophile to support your position.) The community can make up its mind whether you defended your position well. However, the fact stands that I have virtually begged (pun!) you to falsify what I claim, and due to whatever impediment resides in your mind you refuse to do so. :)

There is only one way for a log jam like this to be broken, and that's by you accepting my challenge. Barring that, I finalize, "So be it."

Blessings to you, Shadorne. Though we disagree firmly here, I think you are an intelligent man and an interesting individual to banter with. I enjoy your posts; I got a kick out of your comment on the Toyota Camry thread! :)
Easy test to see if Rain-X works: apply it per its instructions to a scratched CD that normally skips (apply it and polish radially). Then play. Because Rain-X is essentially a chemical polish, filling in microscopic divots in the plastic (or windshield glass)--or, in this case, scratches in the CD's surface--the laser will now (unless it was scratched pretty badly) read the disc without error. Though the audible difference to an unscratched CD would obviously be less (as it played OK in the first place), it does seem reasonable to think there would be an audible difference: the laser's job of reading through the clear plastic surface of the disc to the aluminum pits has been made optically easier in any case.

Though I don't hear a big difference, I do use Rain-X on some CDs and to repair scratched discs and have done so for 10 or so years without any detrimental effect. You don't need to apply it before every listen, anyhow, any more than you need to apply it to your windshield before every drive.
Hmmmm... I would say that is precisely MY argument as regards CD treatment!

Yes indeed, I adopted your description regarding the incredibly sensitive nature of a highly resolving system that would be (in your words) a "designated audiophile component". I accepted it as "fact" just to see what likely conclusions could be expected about the performance of said system.

Where we differ is on the kind of performance which is highly desirable to you but not so desirable to me.

Perhaps this is reflected in the way our carefuly-selected, respective systems perform.

Perhaps this accounts for the strong disagreement about the efficacy of high end cables, interconnects, burn-in and the degree to which many tweaks impact the sound.

I imagine you are rightfully proud because your system responds differently to a power cord or car wax treatment on the CD. That is indeed amazing - kudos to you for obtaining such a highly resolving system! Peace.

Tbg...If you "hear a difference between two digital copies that are identical" (to quote you) then your sense of hearing involves more than sonic vibration of the air. All I said it that for information in the digital domain, (before the D/A, amplification, and loudspeaker) an exact and completely non-subjective comparison can be made.

I guess you are right...you don't understand logic.
Hey Craig- Did you have any idea that posting your very successful experiments and results would bring these semi-deaf, nay-saying, untesting but highly opinionated termites out of the woodwork? =8^)
semi-deaf, nay-saying, untesting but highly opinionated termites out of the woodwork

Good one!

Craig has actually stumbled on a free clinic!!!