Record Research Shine-Ola CD Treatment

Category: Digital

I admit that I am not a huge fan of CD's, preferring the vinyl format, overwhelmingly. My analog front end ('Not Spacedeck/OL Illustrious/Shelter 501) outclasses my digital front end (Sony SACD-777ES), so maybe that is why. I go through a rather anal process of washing my vinyl and have always used Record Research products because they are the very best, from my experience. For the most part, I have only "dusted" my CD's from the center out with a soft cloth or maybe used a little water if they looked dirty.

I was given a bottle of Record Research Shine-Ola CD treatment to try by a generous A'gonner. I was most skeptical that it would do much, but gave it a whirl because the RR vinyl fluids are just so damn good. The stuff is in a small pump spray bottle and the instructions are to give the CD 2-3 "puffs" and then wipe clean with the provided, very soft made by 3M. I tried it first on a Tori Amos CD that was not very old because I was willing to chuck the CD if things went bad. I was shocked when brown spots formed on the white cloth, the CD was obviously much dirtier than it appeared.

I gave a listen and felt that I could clearly hear a difference - apparent tighter bass, a more "inside" level of detail. Satisfied that it was safe, I tried it on a CD I knew WELL, Steely Dan "Citizen" (Disc 3). The difference was really amazing and I would not have believed the difference I heard if someone had just told me. As such, many will probably not believe me, either.

As I said, I know this CD inside and out and it is already an EXCELLENT CD from a sonics standpoint. After applying the Shine-Ola, the whole soundstage sounded more dynamic, but subtly. More dramatic was not so much an extended upper range but, rather, more detail and more definition (without being analytical). Midrange seemed to have gained just a bit more air (the female background vocals “they saw your face” in “Black Cow” just floated in the air). Improvements on the low end are tough to describe, but I’d say more “lively”, like it integrated a bit better with the overall sound. To be frank, the songs on the CD sounded closer to how I hear them on my vinyl pressings, for what that is worth.

I tried the Shine-Ola on several more CD’s and a couple of SACD’s with similar results. In my mind, it is a very good product and worth trying. If it were me, I’d give it a different name, but it ain’t!