The awful truth about CDs, do they have the same shelve life as LP's ?

The answer is properly not. Recent studies have shown that the chemicals used in their manufacture of CDs have reduced their life expectancy to ten years, not all but many, as per Paul Mcgowans email. The suggestion was given that if you have suspect CD's they should be re-copied. But my question is how do you identify these? I can tell you that I have a great deal of LPs and I can play anyone of these with great success and some are 40 years old. This no doubt would give some audiophiles another good reason to hold onto their belief that LPs are the way to go.
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I have a number of cds that are 30 years old and I haven’t had one go bad yet. You really don’t need to spread this urban legend that goes around every couple of years to justify your preference for vinyl.

Just for your information, lps can be ruined if not handled properly or played on a poorly set up turntable.

tomcy6, I'm not spreading any legend but this was a statement from Paul Mcgowan,and it is quite possible that he knows more than you..
Now wait a minute. CD's were billed as "Perfect Sound Forever" back around 1982. I know they aren't "perfect", especially the old ones from the early '80's. Are you telling me that are also not FOREVER? That would double suck.........

I own thousands of CDs, especially, 1980's editions and none have shown any signs of aging. Perfect sound forever indeed.
"Among the manufacturers that have done testing, there is consensus that, under recommended storage conditions, CD-R, DVD-R, and DVD+R discs should have a life expectancy of 100 to 200 years or more; CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM discs should have a life expectancy of 25 years or more".

Certainly a much greater shelf life than FAKE News. Thorough research is the way to go.
gocubs999, thorough research is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm starting to feel better already about my CDs. Who in the hell brought up this subject matter anyway/
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randy11, this is the first time you offered an intelligent answer, congradulations on that. Basically you are calling Paul Mcgowan dumb because this is his statement.
Basically you are calling Paul Mcgowan dumb because this is his statement.
I’d maybe say yes without reading it, I have hundreds of original early 80’s releases not one has decayed, all as prefect now as they were then.

This is sounds like just another vinyl junkies scare tactic, they happen with regular monotony.

Cheers George
Agreed.  Have been hearing this drivel every 5 years or so for the last 25 years.  I must have over 5000 CDs and have never have one go bad. 'Basta' already as the godfather might say.  
Yes, phd, Paul McGowan could use a learning tutorial.

Good catch -gocubs999
The story about CD's going 'bad' goes from the old radio days.  When the radio stations moved from vinyl to CD, they do't use the jewel boxes, so they were writing tags with sharpies.  The acid from the ink is what caused the damage to the CDs.  
While my response does not directly address the question posed by this thread title, and despite the fact this thread belongs in the digital (or analog) area as opposed to amplifiers and many on this thread - including myself - have already weighed in on this subject, I’d like to provide the link to the thread where I do state CDs are subject to problems, one of which is "pinholes".

Succinctly, I do not believe CD longevity is as great as it is typically purported to be. The material(s) itself wears out and often renders portions of the disk inaudible as the reflective layer "evaporates" and the laser is unable to read the data. Virtually no storage and/or handling modification can prevent this.

Be sure to always store all Cs are stored vertically for best sound.  Ditto LPs, DVDs, what  have  you. 


I have had a few go bad (out of thousands). was curious if the initial statement meant that current CD's are being made much differently than the older ones...
The main difference between LP and CD longevity to me, is that damaged or worn LP cannot be repaired, while less than perfect CD can be recovered/renewed by ripping software and recorded onto CD-R.
Longevity of CD-R depends on the photosensitive dye used. Taiyo Yuden CD-Rs have 100 years warranty. It is also possible to make backup of CDs on HD. Backup for LPs is not possible.
Having ripped ~2,000 CD's using dBpoweramp with its Accurip comparison tool, I have had very few that were not bit-perfect matches to everyone else's out there.  That seems like pretty good preservation.  When one does run afoul, it almost always shows some mistreatment damage to the surface (I have purchased a lot of used CD's from a wide variety of sources).

I'd say the news is way over-hyped, possibly even misleading with an agenda?  
Have had over one thousand CDs through my collection and currently 700-800. I've run across one CD that didn't want to play but I ripped it to my drive and burned another copy and the CDR plays fine. It was from Monty Python's - The Final Ripoff. The other was the Subdudes - Lucky. I've heard several different copies and they both had pinholes in different places. Just get a skip here or there but they play fine.

All that being said, this talk of a shelf life seems very overblown. All my other CDs play just fine and none of my friends have reported CD failures. If you don't use them for coasters you should reasonably expect them to last well beyond your life. I have plenty of CDs from the beginning and they play fine. I don't believe the hype, seems some have an axe to grind or an agenda to put forth. Don't waste your time worrying about this topic, is should be dead; the topic not your precious CDs. Now, go buy some more CDs.
I have bought CD's since the beginning of the format and have about 3,000 of the things.  A handful (4 or 5) have, indeed, deteriorated to the point they are unplayable.  Interestingly, all save one are Hyperion products. All of the bad ones exhibited bronzing on the label side (the once silver color turned to a copper or bronze hue).  

The most recent casualty came to my attention about a week ago: Hyperion CDA 66423 (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by Gothic Voices).  This is a 1990 recording that I bought new about the time of its release.  Last Sunday I picked it off the shelf for the first time in many years.  My old but reliable Eastern Electric MiniMax CD player could not load it, nor could I load it on my MacBook Pro.  

Perfect sound forever?  Not quite in this case.
Have you tried to rip them?  Perhaps it is possible to recover them.
Sometimes the issue is the sun shinning on particular place on CD rack.  

I think my ears will go first. What's between them is starting show some degree of.....crud I forgot what I was gonna say.
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Nobody mentioned "laser rot" which is where the hype started I think. Laser discs(video) that preceded CDs had issues due to poor manufacturing. Impurities in between the layers caused deterioration that rendered the discs unplayable. The big culprits were the "LaserVision" brand as I recall. I still have a few of them. Joe

I have had plenty of "homemade" CD's go bad over time.  The player won't even recognize them.  But with commercial CD's, not a problem.
I have well over 1,000 commercially produced CDs ,  many of them from the early to mid 1980s.  I have not encountered any issue with CD deterioration.

On very rare occasions I have had tracking problems with a NEW CD, which I believe result from manufacturing flaws.  But this is a very different issue.

CD is dead...according to much of the mainstream audio press. Could it be that most music buyers have filled their collections with every CD title that appeals to them? Now the music industry wants us all to support download music and music servers and abandon the CD as a medium. Is that in our best interest, or theirs? Abandon one medium in favor of another- why does that sound so familiar? For the answer, just take a look at how stores like Best Buy and Barnes and Noble have reduced their CD space and ramped up their vinyl selection. It’s marketing,!

Here is what McGowan wrote:

"CDs had one thing right, they were going to last forever. Now, studies show that may not always be the case.

"At issue is the fact that optical media uses a combination of different chemicals and manufacturing processes. That means that while the data storage and basic manufacturing of a disc are standardized, the particulars of how it was fabricated aren’t. Particular makes and particular batches are subject to different aging characteristics. And with some of these failures occurring in less than ten years, we’re finding out just how susceptible discs are outside of lab test conditions.

"In short, these flaws appear to be fairly widespread.


And part of the problem is there’s no way to know which process your disc might have. My advice? Start ripping the CDs that really matter to you.

"Once ripped to a hard drive and backed up, your library should be safe. Playback can happen through any number of devices."

tomcy6 again: It is clear that McGowan is talking about cd-rs, although he doesn’t say that and he should have made that clear so that people like phd wouldn’t be confused. Dyes are only used in cd-rs.

I disagree with him that these flaws are widespread. I have many, many cd-rs recorded over many years from many different brands and batches of cd-rs, and only a few cd-rs have had any problem. The most common problem is bronzing. If you have a cd-r that starts turning brown, copy it to another cd-r or rip it to a hard drive.

I have been doing my own cd-r test. I bought some cheap generic cd-rs, recorded on them and have left them in my truck where temperatures range from well over 100 degrees to below freezing. That was over 15 years ago and they all still play just fine.

The key to cd-r longevity is to keep them out of daylight, especially direct sunlight. A cardboard box will do just fine. With a little care, cd-rs will outlive you with no problem.

"Now the music industry wants us all to support download music and music servers and abandon the CD as a medium. Is that in our best interest, or theirs?"

1. Nobody's putting a gun to your head and making you switch formats.

2. Instead of buying download replacements for your CD's, you can just rip the ones you have.

It’s in PS Audio’s interest not to have quality CD mechanisms in their products, as they are the only whole expensive mechanical parts they have to purchase and integrated into a cd player. If they didn’t have to do this manufacturing cost go down and profits go up. It’s all about the $$$$$$$$$$$$.

Cheers George.

" It’s in PS Audio’s interest not to have quality CD mechanisms in their products, as they are the only whole expensive mechanical parts they have to purchase and integrated into a cd player. If they didn’t have to do this manufacturing cost go down and profits go up. It’s all about the $$$$$$$$$$$$."

I take it you never ran a business. Is it possible PS Audio's customers buy their products because they use good parts, not cheap ones? Otherwise, they can just go to Best Buy. As for the extra cost, If its more costly to make a CD player over just a DAC, it will be reflected in their prices, same as any other company.

I have ripped more than 4500 CDs to my NAS.  The ripper provides data, such as errors encountered in the ripping process.  Not one of the CDs had an error.  Some of the CDs date from back at the beginning of CD production. 

I believe that the concern raised about CDs came from the experience with laser discs, something that predates the CD.  Laser disc were subject to deterioration when air managed to get between layers of its sandwich construction causing the metalized reflective layer to oxidize.  I have seen this "laser rot" on laser discs.  But, CDs are made differently and are not as prone to problems with oxidation. 

As to the extremely long run, who knows?  Will the polycarbonate plastic in CDs begin to cloud or become fragile?  I don't have to worry because my CDs are ripped and then put on shelves as backup or for their cover art, booklet information, etc. 

I think this was already touched on, but the durability issue applies mainly to CD-Rs.  These use a heat-reactive ink layer which allows a laser to burn the digital signal onto the disc.  This ink can fail over time.  I have a few CD-Rs I burned in 2001 that skipped enough to warrent a re-burning of them in the last year or two.

However, commercial CDs have the digital signal stamped into an aluminum layer that is sealed in plastic.  Unless that plastic seal is compromised, it should last many decades, if not indefinitely.  Deep scratches and high heat can warp or compromise the plastic layers, or prevent the laser from reading them properly, and are the most common reason commerically stamped CDs fail.  So, as common sense would dictate, proper care and storage of your CDs is a must.

If you have a server with all of your CDs on it, and backups for that server, you should be fine for the rest of your life.  When I have a CD-R go bad, I burn a fresh CD-R from my hard drive. (I use CDs in the car, and I get to every CD once in about three years, so I can flag any failing CD-Rs for replacment.)  Currently, I am paying about 22 cents apiece for Taiyo-Yuden CD-Rs.

This was an issue back in the late 1980s/early1990s and dealt primarily with discs manufactured for Hyperion.  This was attributed to discs manufactured by a specific CD pressing company, and dealt with a lacquer coating that eventually allowed air to reach the aluminum 'data' layer and cause oxidation.  Most of the labels that used this particular manufacturer were classical in nature (e.g., Deutche Gramaphone, Archiv).

Of my 2,000 cds, I have had only 2 discs become unplayable: both were HYperion label and both showed discoloration suggesting oxidation of the aluminum layer.  None of my other discs, including ones dating back to the mid-1980s, all still play with no problem.

I have thousands of CDs (unfortunately, no joke) going back to the 1980s (I bought the first Meridian modded Phillips top loading CDP) and have had only a handful go "bad" - if that.
I too read the PS Audio email talking about CD longevity issues...  Having a vested interest (like most of us) this is my experience and research.

30+ years ago, while in college I used the new miracle of word processing technology to write my papers, Word Perfect was the greatest then.  First saving my files to the standard 3 1/2" floppies (5" had just gone out of favor about 10 years earlier), then moving to ZIP drive, then to MO drive, then to CD rewrites, then to HD, then to servers - why so many???  Because as the years and decades clicked off, I found that each medium would fail, every last one, not a single one was 100% safe as archival.  The US Library of Congress has found the exact same thing.  Now having said that, there are several factors that contribute to archival failure - manufacturing, materials, radiation, heat, moisture, storage, handling, and so on...  Again, my research has only verified what the Library of Congress has researched, many universities has researched, and my own eyes of personal experience through the decades...  

So to cut to the chase - CD's and vinyl are definitely the best, hands down by a long shot, archival medium existing today as long as (here is the key) the initial manufacturing and materials were sound and they are handled and stored safely and protected from heat, UV, and moisture.  Both mediums, as such, should last for 100+ years.  Again the key is proper handling, storage, and protection...  Both mediums are fragile, vinyl a bit more than CD.

The argument in Paul's article was to copy/burn all your music to digital (not to mention Paul's great new products related to digital...hint hint).  Again, to cut to the chase; if you want luxurious convenience to scroll through and enjoy your music collection from the comfort of your armchair then by all means move your collections to digital BUT, be warned!!!!  Digital storage is significantly worst than old fashion parchment for archival storage!!!!  Google and the other data enterprises replace all their hard drives every 3 to 5 years for a reason and they use enterprise/industrial quality units too not cheapo retail drives.  Hard drives fail fast (in comparison) and the new solid state drives are no better and some worse than the spinning platter.  Data centers/cloud computing keeps data because that data is constantly recopied somewhere else...  but does this continuous recopying of files possibly introduce errors, of course.  I have several photo files that have been recopied numerous times and I have noticed pixel errors and even complete file corruptions.  

Again, I read Paul's article and again I had hopes of the future well up inside me but again after revisiting my sources I still do not see digital even close to gaining my trust of protecting my music or anything else for that matter.  
Is it possible PS Audio’s customers buy their products because they use good parts, not cheap ones?

Read carefully again sfall, I didn’t say they buy cheap parts.
I said they’d save a considerable percentage on manufacturing costs by not have to purchase a quality cd transport at all from suppliers.

Just build a dac/streamers with no CD mechs. . Which equals many more dollars profit, as they would cost 1/3 less to manufacture and retail for around the same. So it's in PS Audio best interest to see the demise of DC 

BTW I do run a business, look at my avatar.
Cheers George
A fave Little Feat "boxed set" of 4 CDs from maybe 15 years ago has started to decompose (no puns please). Bummer.
Hard drives fail fast (in comparison) and the new solid state drives are no better and some worse than the spinning platter.

Backup drives, that are not in use (unpowered), almost never fail. I keep two backups (drives are cheap), in addition to main music drive, just in case of something bad happening during updates (second backup in different location in case of fire, theft, etc). The chance of failure of two unpowered drives in storage is pretty much zero. As for the SSD - the main problem is limited number of writes to each sector - completely unimportant in this application. Again - unpowered drives don’t likely fail.

"Now the music industry wants us all to support download music and music servers and abandon the CD as a medium. Is that in our best interest, or theirs?"   (My quote)

1. Nobody’s putting a gun to your head and making you switch formats. (sfall's response)

Who said anything about someone putting a gun to my head??


I own that Little Feat set as well. How are your discs decomposing?
I will check mine today.  Happy Listening!
Some blotchiness (if that's a word) under the shiny parts…it's the Hotcakes collection.