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joelha

Glass cd's

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The Munich Hi-End Show is over and there was one demonstration that I can’t quit thinking about.

 

In the Nagra room, a wonderful sounding room by the way, one of the demonstrations was conducted by a company which sells UHQ cd’s.

 

UHQ stands for Ultimate High Quality.

 

They compared their UHQ discs to standard cd’s, which was interesting.

 

But what was almost jaw-dropping was when they demo’ed their “glass” cd’s.

 

Yes, the cd was made out of glass and apparently manufactured in Japan. I’m guessing some of you have read about these.

 

When this cd was played, the quality of the sound increased in a big way vs. the cd and UHQ disc.

 

There was more clarity and a larger sound stage than I’ve ever heard from any cd.

 

How is it possible that what is (presumably) a bit-perfect copy of a standard polycarbonate cd could sound that much better than that standard cd?

 

Do I know that the glass cd wasn’t mastered or mixed differently? No, I don’t.

 

But what I heard sounded like it transcended mixing or manipulation of the recorded tracks.

 

I own and have listened to some of the best cd’s, sacd’s, blu-spec cd’s, DVD-A’s etc. and I’ve never heard anything like this before.

 

Aside from questioning my sanity, you’re probably wondering what these discs cost.

 

Strap yourself in to your listening chair.

 

Between 1,600 and 2,600 euros.

 

Andy Lam, who sells these discs in Hong Kong, told me he had already sold 50 of the 2,600 euro disc that I had heard.

 

I’m not drawing any conclusions about why the glass disc sounds as good as it does.

 

I’ll leave that to the far more technically knowledgeable.

 

I just want to report my experience and say I was far from alone in my impressions.

 

Please, no double-blind, how-do-I-know-for-a-fact-that-what-I-heard-is-what-I-heard questions.

 

This thread is for people who have had similar experiences or want to comment on the experience I had.

 

This hobby continues to surprise and humble me.

 

Joel

 

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Well, I have a few "special" CDs that sound very good. But they are remasters, and it may just be that they make use of a better sounding master than  the "original".
Let's just say, for whatever reason, these CDs sound better than what you've heard on a previous release of the same album (and maybe it is just different mastering and not b/c of the glass): are they really worth 160 times or 300 times the price of other CDs?
There's gotta be an extremely steep diminishing returns curve here on price vs. SQ. 


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also 2 SBT and an SB Boom. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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3 hours ago, firedog said:

Well, I have a few "special" CDs that sound very good. But they are remasters, and it may just be that they make use of a better sounding master than  the "original".
Let's just say, for whatever reason, these CDs sound better than what you've heard on a previous release of the same album (and maybe it is just different mastering and not b/c of the glass): are they really worth 160 times or 300 times the price of other CDs?
There's gotta be an extremely steep diminishing returns curve here on price vs. SQ. 

firedog,

 

I certainly didn't buy any of these discs, but I would love to better understand why I was hearing what I did.

 

Who knows? Maybe the technique can be applied in a different way for far less money.

 

Joel

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I had a similar experience when I shot up with this:

 

 

Confirmation Bias in a bottle.jpg


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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Thanks AudioDoctor.

 

I had read that article some time ago.

 

It seems that Robert Harley heard the glass cd as I did.

 

And it's the "mystery" he refers to at the of the article that I wish I could understand better.

 

Joel

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I get you don't want any blind test talk etc.  

 

Did you listen with matched levels?  Sighted or blind this is essential.  No matched levels, your experience didn't mean anything. 

 

What you describe could be the result of being primed to hear something special, and having the level boosted by 2 db.  Enough to definitely make it sound truly better and in those conditions you might not notice it.  And/or the two versions may be mastered differently.  

 

There is no good explanation otherwise for two discs sounding that different if the only difference is glass vs polycarbonate. 

 

And at this kind of price premium, yeah hold onto your wallet until you can find out what is going on.  50 discs at those prices is 113,000 euro.  Nothing else makes the slightest bit of sense unless you believe in pure magic. Do they also sell rhinoceros horn powder to enhance fertility and increase hearing acuity?  


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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I can't say for a fact whether the levels were matched.


I can only say that what I heard sounded much more profound than an increase in volume.

 

If my experience doesn't mean anything to you, that's fine.

 

After decades in this hobby, my method, sighted listening, has served my enjoyment of this hobby very well.

 

Joel

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3 minutes ago, esldude said:

And at this kind of price premium, yeah hold onto your wallet until you can find out what is going on.  50 discs at those prices is 113,000 euro.

The price of just one or two of those discs is surely enough to buy a DAC that's impervious to any differences, even if you believe a cheap CD player to be susceptible.

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Just now, mansr said:

The price of just one or two of those discs is surely enough to buy a DAC that's impervious to any differences, even if you believe a cheap CD player to be susceptible.

Where do you find DACs impervious to magic?  :)


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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About 20 years ago I was duplicating CDs with EAC and experimenting with several brands of CD-R.

 

There were notorious differences between them, and the brand that I liked the most was expensive and hard to get, besides the duplication process was very slow to indicate EAC was maximized at 2X.

 

I also used CD-R burners that would be standarized by EAC. Plextor Premuim was my favorite and still is, when I rip CDs, that was $ 140 at that time.

 

Of course my affirmations will be criticized by the traditional objectivist members. I do not know if these gentlemen have already been affected by the frequencies emitted by the 5G telephones and their repeater network 🤔 😂

 

Roch

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25 minutes ago, elcorso said:

Of course my affirmations will be criticized by the traditional objectivist members.

 

Why?  Did the ripped disks sound different?  It's well known that certain burners and media produced less (uncorrected) errors.  In the case of the burners, it could come down to the firmware.  I had a Lite-on drive that had an HP badge (and HP firmware). I couldn't use that drive to rip CDs due to the errors.  Yet that particular Lite-on model was sought after.  Someone produced custom firmware for the drive and I managed to get it on my HP branded drive.  After that the drive was wonderful at ripping CDs.

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1 hour ago, esldude said:

I'm not picking on you.  But what you describe is so unlikely, that far more likely is different mastering or volume.  Far, far, far, more likely. What do you imagine could be going on for something so profound?

 

If you say, sighted listening has served my enjoyment, and that is all you care about fine.  But you did ask this question:

How is it possible that what is (presumably) a bit-perfect copy of a standard polycarbonate cd could sound that much better than that standard cd?

 

The basic answer is it can't.  So before anyone runs off into some extreme unlikely investigation you'd want to at least confirm both were bit perfect.  If not, then was one mastered differently?  A profound increase in sound quality requires the electrical signal reaching the speakers to be profoundly different.  What are the mechanisms for that with the difference in source being glass vs poly discs?  There likely are none.  So likely something else was going on. 

 

Was the difference so large, you'd pay what the discs cost?

 

I can't say for a fact what the recording was or was not.

 

And I'm not asking for an extreme investigation.

 

But the sound was likely the best I've ever heard from a cd by quite a margin.

 

It didn't seem that volume or mastering would have created such a sound.

 

And that's the reason I posted. I don't know why a disc would sound as this one did.

 

No, for that kind of money, I wouldn't buy the disc.

 

Joel

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Glass CDs have been around for quite a while. I had the privilege of visiting Winston Ma of First Impressions Music back in the early 2000s at his home and was treated to hours of listening sessions on his exceptional audio system. He was an early promoter of the glass CDs and had a few of his recordings done as these "glass masters". He likened them to direct to disc LPs and had documentation of the lower error rate for each disc compared to even the UHQCDs. While its been a very long time, I still remember the exquisite sound of these discs. Yeah, they sounded quite a bit better. At the time I believe he was selling them for around $150 each.

CJH

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Mastering


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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My recollections are from more than 15 yrs ago and are a bit sketchy. I wish Winston Ma (FIM) were available to answer these questions but sadly passed away in 2016. No mastering trickery was applied. It was simply a higher quality process of producing a CD disc. Pit errors are a result of the CD manufacturing process with a typical disc having perhaps 100-150 errors per disc. The JVC UHQCD process is a refinement of the CD manufacturing process and I believe the errors these discs averaged is around 25. The FIM glass discs averaged 4-5. Each disc included a multipage booklet explaining the process. Most of these discs were sold in the highend Asian market, but surely someone out there has one of these discs and can provide more accurate and comprehensive information. Since Reference Recordings did some of the FIM recordings, I would speculate that Tam Henderson or Keith Johnson has one or more of these discs.

CJH

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2 minutes ago, CJH said:

Pit errors are a result of the CD manufacturing process with a typical disc having perhaps 100-150 errors per disc. The JVC UHQCD process is a refinement of the CD manufacturing process and I believe the errors these discs averaged is around 25. The FIM glass discs averaged 4-5.

Those errors are corrected along with those caused by specks of dust or minor scratches. The correction can handle hundreds of errors per second. The difference you cite is inconsequential.

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5 hours ago, mansr said:

Lower than zero?

Probably less than zero.  It is so good it improves upon the sound on the disc making it even better, more lifelike, with a bigger soundstage and more analog like than reality.  What else could you call it other than ultra fidelity.  Output is better than input by magic. 


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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1 hour ago, mansr said:

Those errors are corrected along with those caused by specks of dust or minor scratches. The correction can handle hundreds of errors per second. The difference you cite is inconsequential.

So this explains how these errors occur and yet I get bit perfect rips.  Reed Solomon and other methods really work.  


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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