Vinyl/tape wear degradation vs. digital

Disc Rot: What Happens When Discs Die

I had heard that optical discs eventually break down, but not to the extent revealed in the article.

Well THAT sucks. Makes my decision to switch to buying lossless titles online via the iTunes Store (or whatever Apple is calling it this week) seem a whole lot better... just have to be sure the drives that contain the iTunes Library files are regularly backed up. For the Apple Mac/OSX crowd, Time Machine is your friend. Besides, the iTunes Store keeps track of your purchases so you can re-download them if your drive or backup crashes.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Disc Rot: What Happens When Discs Die

I had heard that optical discs eventually break down, but not to the extent revealed in the article.

Well THAT sucks. Makes my decision to switch to buying lossless titles online via the iTunes Store (or whatever Apple is calling it this week) seem a whole lot better... just have to be sure the drives that contain the iTunes Library files are regularly backed up. For the Apple Mac/OSX crowd, Time Machine is your friend. Besides, the iTunes Store keeps track of your purchases so you can re-download them if your drive or backup crashes.
Interesting article but with a Daily Mail type headline that 'most discs will self destruct between eight and ten years'! I have several titles over thirty years old that play beautifully. I've always been careful with storage and handling. Luck of the draw perhaps. If I buy a new disc tomorrow I doubt I'll worry about it in another thirty years.;)
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
Disc Rot: What Happens When Discs Die

I had heard that optical discs eventually break down, but not to the extent revealed in the article.

Well THAT sucks. Makes my decision to switch to buying lossless titles online via the iTunes Store (or whatever Apple is calling it this week) seem a whole lot better... just have to be sure the drives that contain the iTunes Library files are regularly backed up. For the Apple Mac/OSX crowd, Time Machine is your friend. Besides, the iTunes Store keeps track of your purchases so you can re-download them if your drive or backup crashes.
I would give my physical copies of my CDs a better bet on longevity than any private company maintaining records of my purchases into perpetuity. Neither my iPad 2 Original series ,or Itouch 4? can run with any recent Applestore software, as they are deemed to ancient to run current model iOS. All it needs is a single bad glitch in Apple Universe,and the world just disintegrates in bankruptcy....even if you are the largest company.
My strategy is to keep transferring the FLACed versions between computers of different generations ,while the original CDs sit in plastic isolation
 
I doubt Apple will implode in my lifetime, and I agree that keeping local copies of purchased files is part of the strategy. I have my iTunes library on an external drive, which has No Permissions so it can easily be moved to a new computer.

The graphs, though not really explaining what we're seeing there, apparently points to discs being significantly degraded despite appearing normal and actually still playable. Aluminum is VERY chemically active, so it doesn't take much contamination or air leakage to start the oxidization or other corrosion.

Does anyone keep their archived discs in sealed bins, with desiccant to scavenge any stray moisture? Might be a good idea if maximum longevity is the goal, assuming a desiccant chemically inert to aluminum is used.
 

Gregsta

Active Member
I digitally mixed for about 5 years using wav files, that I had downloaded from juno downloads. I think I collected about 500 singlse in the end from junodownloads . I then moved back over to vinyl after having over a 20 year break from it, The first thing I noticed when mixing with vinyl how much better the sound quality was on vinyl than digital stuff.

When I say digital I mean stuff you download not cd. The other down side to stuff you download digitally it has no re sell value were vinyl does.

Tape I think personally is the worse sound quality out of everything. Tape does wear out over time and a lot of the stuff I listern to you would not be able to re buy.

I have had had vinyl ware out on me but that is not a issue for me, as all can be replaced second hand from discogs.

I have just bought myself a cd player because for the last 3 years I have been using a tape deck I did have my cd rom on my computer to listern to my cds using a £150 set of headphones to listern to it on.

I have just bought myself marantz cd6006 to listern to my cds on and if it sound anything like the cd6004 it will sound amazing.
 
I doubt Apple will implode in my lifetime, and I agree that keeping local copies of purchased files is part of the strategy. I have my iTunes library on an external drive, which has No Permissions so it can easily be moved to a new computer.

The graphs, though not really explaining what we're seeing there, apparently points to discs being significantly degraded despite appearing normal and actually still playable. Aluminum is VERY chemically active, so it doesn't take much contamination or air leakage to start the oxidization or other corrosion.

Does anyone keep their archived discs in sealed bins, with desiccant to scavenge any stray moisture? Might be a good idea if maximum longevity is the goal, assuming a desiccant chemically inert to aluminum is used.

The best way to keep the purchased files is on optical disk, so you may as well buy the CD in the first place!

Optical disc is still the best archival medium there is for our digital data, much more reliable then magnetic and SSD drives and forget cloud storage...
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Disc Rot: What Happens When Discs Die

I had heard that optical discs eventually break down, but not to the extent revealed in the article.
It's a pity that so many articles are more about making a lot of noise rather than presenting the facts of the matter. Disc rot is almost entirely the provenance of CDs manufactured at Philips & Du Pont Optical UK Limited during 1989-1990, and was the result of "using a lacquer that was unable to withstand the long-term corrosive effects of the sulphur normally found in paper used for CD booklets and inserts." That is, it arises from substandard manufacturing, it is not a design deficiency, and is limited to a small number of manufacturers. The second largest offender (much smaller than PDO UK) was OPTI.ME.S. in Italy.

One label that was severely affected was Hyperion. Their "we will replace any such disc" policy can be found at Bronzing CD's - Hyperion Records. Pearl and ASV were the next two largest victims (counts are by number of different recordings, not numbers of CDs).
 
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larkone

Member
CDs will die when manufacturers no longer make the players. It will be beyond the capability of small manufacturers to make the necessary electronic and opto-mechanical components with large enough economies of scale to make it worth producing them, unlike record decks which are a relatively simple engineering problem to produce. Bluray players will go the same way, driven out by online streaming.

Digital archiving is now at a level that storage on optical media is in the decline.
 
It's a pity that so many articles are more about making a lot of noise rather than presenting the facts of the matter. Disc rot is almost entirely the provenance of CDs manufactured at Philips & Du Pont Optical UK Limited during 1989-1990, and was the result of "using a lacquer that was unable to withstand the long-term corrosive effects of the sulphur normally found in paper used for CD booklets and inserts." That is, it arises from substandard manufacturing, it is not a design deficiency, and is limited to a small number of manufacturers. The second largest offender (much smaller than PDO UK) was OPTI.ME.S. in Italy.

One label that was severely affected was Hyperion. Their "we will replace any such disc" policy can be found at Bronzing CD's - Hyperion Records. Pearl and ASV were the next two largest victims (counts are by number of different recordings, not numbers of CDs).

While the majority of historical "disc rot" flaws came from the sources mentioned, long-running mass production too often entails incremental corner-cutting which tends to distribute the flaws at a relatively low percent. The question then becomes how to quantify a low-incidence, but still problematic degradation spread more evenly over the total production of optical disks. Put another way, say 1% of all optical discs are made with imperfections which under certain storage/operating conditions leads to premature disc rot... one or two manufacturers/production facilities will not be identifiable sources, as the 1% is spread across all labels and product lines. Since there are literally billions of optical discs in the consumers' hands, and more are produced each day, that's still a lot of discs that will fail sooner than the industry originally projected.
Infographic: The Rise and Fall of the Compact Disc
And that is just USA CD sales...

As for optical drives/discs being the "best" archival self-created storage... I leave it to others to assess as I have no dog in that fight.
Stability Comparison of Recordable Optical Discs—A Study of Error Rates in Harsh Conditions

If the entire AV/music industry adopted the free replacement of otherwise undamaged discs exhibiting rot, then you have an industry that recognizes, acknowledges and takes responsibility for the issue. That low-play-count, properly stored discs, not from the known sources quoted are still being destroyed by disc rot shows it is not an issue easily detected in the manufacturing QA systems. I'd bet there is nearly zero actual testing done in production, the assumption being that if the processes were "out of control" (a QA technical term for production where the faults routinely approach or exceed tolerances) there would be only flawed discs which wouldn't play at all when new. In theory, a production system "in control" can't produce flawed output... In theory... But the graphs above show the degradation of visually intact discs doesn't always result in complete failure, but a potentially significant reduction in quality of the bitstream produced. Music reproduction is all about signal/sound quality.

I doubt many hifi enthusiasts (let alone the general public) routinely, carefully inspect their discs for disc rot or even for manufacturing flaws which may lead to it. They notice it when the flaw/discolouration is blatantly obvious, or when the disc won't play properly. And if that disc was in the "1%" that a particular music label produced in a particular run, too bad for the consumer.

Optical discs were/are marketed to the public as being extremely durable and accurately/reliably produced. Maybe a case of over-promising and under-delivering, except it may take years or decades before the discs show the result of manufacturing/materials flaws. And since at least some discs which were gingerly handled and immaculately stored and still exhibited disc rot, I'd say the manufacturers are not exonerated. There is still enough complaints that there is a basic problem in the production stream, even if it is low %, seemingly random and intermittent.

I don't routinely use my stack of little handled, reasonably stored CDs, but it would be annoying if I needed to use one (some?) and found play problems. I guess I'd just spend $10 and buy a copy off the iTunes Store.
 

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