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Your Old CD Collection Is Dying

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the you-mean-you-don't-store-your-discs-in-nitrogen? dept.

Data Storage 329

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Adrienne LaFrance reports at the Atlantic that if you've tried listening to any of the old CDs lately from your carefully assembled collection from the 1980's or 1990's you may have noticed that many of them won't play. 'While most of the studio-manufactured albums I bought still play, there's really no telling how much longer they will. My once-treasured CD collection — so carefully assembled over the course of about a decade beginning in 1994 — isn't just aging; it's dying. And so is yours.'

Fenella France, chief of preservation research and testing at the Library of Congress is trying to figure out how CDs age so that we can better understand how to save them. But it's a tricky business, in large part because manufacturers have changed their processes over the years and even CDs made by the same company in the same year and wrapped in identical packaging might have totally different lifespans. 'We're trying to predict, in terms of collections, which of the types of CDs are the discs most at risk,' says France. 'The problem is, different manufacturers have different formulations so it's quite complex in trying to figure out what exactly is happening because they've changed the formulation along the way and it's proprietary information.' There are all kinds of forces that accelerate CD aging in real time. Eventually, many discs show signs of edge rot, which happens as oxygen seeps through a disc's layers. Some CDs begin a deterioration process called bronzing, which is corrosion that worsens with exposure to various pollutants. The lasers in devices used to burn or even play a CD can also affect its longevity. 'The ubiquity of a once dominant media is again receding. Like most of the technology we leave behind, CDs are are being forgotten slowly,' concludes LaFrance. 'We stop using old formats little by little. They stop working. We stop replacing them. And, before long, they're gone.'"
You can donate CDs to be tested for aging characteristics by emailing the Center for the Library's Analytical Science Samples. I haven't had much trouble ripping discs that were pressed in the 80s (and acquired from used CD stores with who knows how many previous owners), but I'm starting to get nervous about not having flac rips of most of my discs.

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Grammar (3, Informative)

alta (1263) | about 6 months ago | (#46999419)

Please proof read proof read!

"you may have noticed that many of them won't play won't play."

Re:Grammar (5, Funny)

decipher_saint (72686) | about 6 months ago | (#46999437)

That's the CD skipping

Re:Grammar (4, Funny)

ameen.ross (2498000) | about 6 months ago | (#46999475)

All of my old CDs will play will play, albeit with some skipping.

Re:Grammar (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about 6 months ago | (#46999583)

Oxidation will eventually render them useless. Rust never sleeps.

Re:Grammar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999637)

It might oxidize, but I didn't think aluminum "Rusted".

Re:Grammar (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 6 months ago | (#46999699)

Ever seen an older Airstream? Think that's dust?

Metals oxidize, if all a bit differently. Rust and oxidation are essentially synonymous terms

Re:Grammar (1)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | about 6 months ago | (#46999749)

I believe rust is traditionally only *iron* oxide, not that of other metals.

Re:Grammar (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999835)

Metals oxidize, if all a bit differently. Rust and oxidation are essentially synonymous terms

Sort of. Rust is iron oxide. Iron has the unusual property that given the presence of oxygen and water, a solid block of iron will eventually turn entirely to rust. Most metals do not do that, and only the surface will oxidize.

Re:Grammar (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46999717)

Oxidation will eventually render them useless. Rust never sleeps.

Aluminum doesn't rust. When exposed to oxygen, it forms a permanent single layer of a oxide, and then the oxidation stops. I have never had a single pressed CD fail, other than from physical damage. Most should still work a century from now if stored properly. CD-Rs are, of course, completely different technology, and will only last about a decade.

Re:Grammar (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 6 months ago | (#46999771)

I've had pressed CDs fail - a long while ago now - with a kind of mottled effect that the word "bronzing" could describe. I get the sense they were pressed on a cheap process.

New CDs are more prone to physical damage - the data layer is right under the label laquer. Older ones sandwiched the data layer between multiple layers of plastic and I think it's these ones I've had fail.

Re:Grammar (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999819)

It's really hard for aluminum to rust, whether it's sealed inside layers of plastic or not.

That said, I have some low-quality early 90's discs that were showing visible corrosion around the edges as much as 10 years ago. Upon close inspection, it looked like those discs were made with a process that melted just the edges of two otherwise-formed platters to seal the foil layer. That process didn't work well, and there are air gaps around it, allowing the foil to oxidize.

But all of the big-name label stuff seems to be doing just fine, much to the labels' annoyance, I'm sure. For reference, a good portion of my collection came from Columbia House. They had special packaging deals, and probably got their own pressings to go along with it. (I know this because of Pearl Jam. Their albums usually had paper packaging at retail. But if you got it from Columbia House, it was always just in a standard jewel case. I have jewel-case editions of Ten and Vs.)

I also have a metric crap-ton of old singles from the radio station my dad worked for. They only played country, so all of the rock, jazz, and whatever else singles and promo discs were available for the station employees to grab. They're all those "DO NOT DISTRIBUTE UNDER PENALTY OF DIRTY LOOKS FROM THE RECORD LABEL" discs that the courts decided could be traded around like any other tangible property a few years back. Some of those discs date back to the late 80's, and they're doing just fine.

Re:Grammar (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 6 months ago | (#46999725)

It's not that they skip- they start crackling and have a gravely kind of noise. Noticed this on my early 80's copy of 'Are You Experienced' almost 15 years ago.

Re:Grammar (1)

Mini-Geek (915324) | about 6 months ago | (#46999511)

Maybe they were just trying to show how the CDs might might sound if you try to play them? play them?

Re:Grammar (2)

war4peace (1628283) | about 6 months ago | (#46999551)

Try singing that phrase using "El Condor Pasa" as background.
"You may have noticed / that many of them // Won't plaaaaay // WoOon't plaaay..."

Re:Grammar (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46999563)

Please proof read proof read!

"you may have noticed that many of them won't play won't play."

Why? Normal people realize Slashdot is nothing more than a glorified forum where you can only reply to stickies. Grammar/Spelling Nazis should avoid this site... and especially my posts.

Re:Grammar (1)

rock56501 (1301287) | about 6 months ago | (#46999605)

No kidding.. I thought that's what the moderators were doing before they posted the articles...

Re:Grammar (2)

alta (1263) | about 6 months ago | (#46999715)

For those who don't understand my comment... They edited the OP. But didn't put the handy little "Edited: Fixed grammar" tag at the end...

Yet Vinyl still endures (2, Insightful)

Cito (1725214) | about 6 months ago | (#46999433)

Vinyl is still fairly superior for physical archiving

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (4, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#46999481)

sure if you don't actually listen to them.

just rip the friggin cd or burn a backup and tape it to the case, if you really think you can't find the song online afterwards... then it's not really gone and you have the item token to show off if you want.

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999567)

I think they make record players that use a laser to read the records, so no deterioration due to the needle.

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (3, Informative)

thunderbird32 (1138071) | about 6 months ago | (#46999609)

They do, but the laser record players are very expensive. Also, IIRC the record has to be very clean because any dirt is much more noticeable than it would be on a traditional turntable.

Other drawbacks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47000003)

There are also other drawbacks. Reviews I've read have said they sound "thinner", and there is speculation that while the laser will not deteriorate the vinyl in the same way as a needle there is still wear over time.

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 months ago | (#46999595)

When I learn of an older recording I might like, I tend to torrent a FLAC of it right away, and then go off in search of a physical copy because I like having the physical artifact. I would love to buy more vinyl, because there is so much artistic cover art out there that looks great at full size. However, labels are doing such limited pressings that by the time I discover a recording, the vinyl has all sold out.

For example, I've been trying to purchase Belle and Sebastian's discography, and I was able to get some albums in vinyl because they had been reissued by another label, but the vinyl of their 2005 The Life Pursuit [amazon.com] is only available used (so I cannot even support the artist by buying it) and for almost a hundred bucks. Fuck that. So, I have to settle for the CD.

There's definitely a niche market out there hungry for physical artifacts, whether young hipsters or an older nostalgic crowd, who would be willing to buy vinyl, but labels aren't letting us buy what we want.

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (4)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 6 months ago | (#46999807)

labels aren't letting us buy what we want.

No shit. For a lot of music, I'd love to buy MP3s of the studio masters made vor vinyl. I don't believe that vinyl is a superior medium compared to CD or MP3/FLAC, but in many cases there's a huge difference between the masters produced for vinyl and for digital media. And in a lot of cases, those "digitally remastered" recordings are crap even compared to the old digital masters, with a lot of "loudness war" added. Sadly it is hard to come by a digital file produced from a good master.

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 months ago | (#46999891)

I don't believe that vinyl is a superior medium compared to CD or MP3/FLAC, but in many cases there's a huge difference between the masters produced for vinyl and for digital media.

Yeah, I hear you. For R.E.M.'s Accelerate and Rush's Clockwork Angels albums a few years back, I bought the CDs to support the artists, but I put them on only to discover that the CDs were compressed to hell. The vinyl, however, had been mastered with the preference of more audiophile-y people in mind. So, I just went to a torrent community and downloaded a high-quality vinyl rip to FLAC, and now I play exclusively this.

It's sad that in order to get real dynamic range and avoid the loudness-wars sludge, one has to resort to this workaround. Even if these vinyl rip uploaders are using the highest-quality rig, some fidelity is inevitably lost in the process.

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999615)

Except the act of actually playing it *once* physically destroys the media. Vinyl is like driving a new car off the lot: the value drops by about 20% the first time you drive it. Then each additional time you drive it, the value drops by an additional amount. If you play vinyl about 15 times, you have lost more than 50% of the original material. The stylus ploughing through (relatively) soft plastic is like a steel plough going through (relatively) soft soil. At some point all you have is a smooth "shhhhhhhhhh" sound with very faint sounding something that used to be music. You do make a point though "Vinyl is still fairly superior for physical archiving" ....so long as you never play it.

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46999619)

Vinyl is still fairly superior for physical archiving

The problems they're having with CDs also exist with vinyl... it's just a lot worse. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of Vinyl myself because it's fun. My Steve Martin records are great at parties. But I'm under no audiophile allusions about their superiority. I had one very old classical record literally turn into a puddle of goo for reasons that still aren't entirely clear to me.

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (2)

jrumney (197329) | about 6 months ago | (#46999799)

I had one very old classical record literally turn into a puddle of goo for reasons that still aren't entirely clear to me.

You'd never heard of wax melting before?

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (1)

SirMasterboy (872152) | about 6 months ago | (#46999801)

Except for the part where it degrades slightly every time you play it.

Re:Yet Vinyl still endures (2)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 6 months ago | (#46999973)

Except for the part where it degrades slightly every time you play it.

Kids these days...

Back when pretty much everything was on vinyl, everybody already knew about that. Plus the albums were inconvenient because you had to be so careful with the sleeves, the turntable, keeping the needle fresh and clean, etc.

While me and many of my friends settled on was cassette tapes. The first play of the album was used to record the whole thing to a convenient little cassette tape that would play the same hundreds of times, and you could even take it with you to play in the car (or your "walkman"). If the tape got lost or damaged, you can always make another from the vinyl.

This worked so well for so long, I didn't even buy anything on CD until it started getting difficult to find vinyl any more...

That's why I back them up to the internet (5, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 6 months ago | (#46999439)

And with shared backups I don't even need to upload all of them - I just use the backups of others in case I need to restore!

Skipping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999441)

> you may have noticed that many of them won't play won't play

I see what you did there..

many of them won't play won't play. (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 6 months ago | (#46999445)

Apparently this post was transferred on a CD before being published.

Re:many of them won't play won't play. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46999701)

CD's came of age in the Max Headroom era. People talked like that like that.

Woo! (4, Interesting)

alexmogil (442209) | about 6 months ago | (#46999451)

As if this couldn't have worked out better for those pining for a DRM future.

Are we licensing music? Truly? Then if I show that I bought this album in 1985 am I licensed to download the song?

Oh.

Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (5, Insightful)

scorp1us (235526) | about 6 months ago | (#46999455)

10 years ago I ripped my collection to FLAC, set the read-only bit and never looked back.
Now when my MP3s get fucked*, I just resample from the FLAC version.

* Technical term. There was a ulitility called "unfuck" that would repair the MP3

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999515)

^^^ That. FLAC it, and forget it. The information can then be moved freely to other physical media as needed.

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999543)

10 years ago I ripped my collection to FLAC, set the read-only bit and never looked back.
Now when my MP3s get fucked*, I just resample from the FLAC version.

* Technical term. There was a ulitility called "unfuck" that would repair the MP3

Why would your MP3s get "fucked"? Just set the read-only bit on them. If they can still get fucked, then so can your read-only FLAC files.

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (2)

scorp1us (235526) | about 6 months ago | (#46999625)

1. only bit was on FLAC files. Some programs like to set the ID3 meta tags. Once you have read-only flac files, it's not so important to lock fown the mp3s.

2. Disc blocks go bad. I'd copy my FLAC files around every so often to make sure they don't get corrupted because of hard disk block rot.

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (2)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 6 months ago | (#46999875)

ZFS or similar can deal with bitrot issues.

Still looking for an OSS MAID setup for linux. Would love something that buffers writes to SSD and intelligently waits for a drive to spin up to write out. Bonus points for SSD caches for reading as well. Even more bonus points for using a pair or more of SSD's and only mirroring data waiting to hit disk.

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999679)

probably because of bit rot. a bit or so off in an mp3 file can render it unplayable or add audible artifacts. The same in a flac file won't generally be noticeable.

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (4, Interesting)

crow (16139) | about 6 months ago | (#46999653)

That doesn't quite do it. FLAC is great for the individual tracks, but there is also information about inter-track gaps. If you lose that, playing the album won't sound right if any of the tracks are supposed to flow into the next one. This isn't an issue for probably 90% of the CDs out there, but for the remaining ones, it's important to get them to play correctly.

I've noticed the same problem when ripping old vinyl albums and playing them on an MP3 player. When the tracks used to flow, there's now a gap, and it can be really annoying.

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (2)

Poeli (573204) | about 6 months ago | (#46999743)

Rip the entire cd to one flac file and a cue file?

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (5, Informative)

xorsyst (1279232) | about 6 months ago | (#46999761)

Rip to single-track flac with (embedded) cuesheet, and build individual-track mp3s from that however you like. That's what I do (well, I use wavpack and ogg, but the same applies)

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 6 months ago | (#47000013)

... and here I thought I'd just finished ripping my CD collection for the last time.

Thanks for the tip. :bittersweet:

FWIW, none of my CD's from the 80's had trouble ripping. 0/200 or so, but having them online and mounted via mp3fs makes syncing to the phone somewhat reasonable. Still trying to work out id3fs stacked on mp3fs or vice-versa for picking favs.

Encoder delay (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46999823)

Encoder delay isn't as rigidly defined for MP3 as it is for Vorbis. Because it's defined for Vorbis, decoders can correct for it. Unlike ripping to .mp3, ripping to .ogg should allow true gapless playback.

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | about 6 months ago | (#46999993)

I always save the cue file when I rip to FLAC, but not for that reason. Gapless playback isn't a problem on any of the players I've used with FLAC files. If anything, you may LOSE the inter-track gaps, if any were inserted.

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999687)

Except in a blind listening test, most people won't be able to tell the difference between FLAC and MP3.

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (4, Insightful)

entrigant (233266) | about 6 months ago | (#46999955)

That's not the point. MP3 represents a generational loss. If a new favored format appears on the scene you'd suffer a second generational loss performing the transcoding. For archival masters why would you not use lossless compression?

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (1)

torsmo (1301691) | about 6 months ago | (#46999999)

Well, I'm different from most people. In fact the ability able to tell apart flac from mp3 is my superpower, and I can do it while blind-folded, with stoppered ears, blocked-nose and with a plugged arsehole.

Re:Space is cheap, rip to FLAC (1)

bswarm (2540294) | about 6 months ago | (#46999723)

Yes, The first thing I do is backup to FLAC, and sometimes bit to bit copying of the entire CD to hard drive. Amazon offers free (crappy) MP3's of any CD you buy, but once you go FLAC you never go back.

Back them up (1)

stevez67 (2374822) | about 6 months ago | (#46999459)

Rip them to your HDD and store them in the cloud(s) as a backup.

Playing laser affects disk life? (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 6 months ago | (#46999463)

Give me a break here. Assuming the laser isn't powerful enough to melt the foil pits, the type of laser in my CD player is going to make no difference to the media life whatsoever. It might be that the mechanism that holds the disk in place may be better or worse, but a read laser? I'd be more concerned about oxygen getting between the sandwiched polycarbonate and attacking the foil or issues with the hub than I would about the read laser's quality or type.

Re:Playing laser affects disk life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999655)

Nimbus CDs from the late 80s are rotten. I've thrown several of their discs out, they simply rotted due to shitty materials the cheap bastards used. Seeing as some of them were hardly played and only impulse buys when CDs were a novelty, there's no way they can blame read optics.

Re:Playing laser affects disk life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999791)

This whole story is bogus. CD's are not "rotting" away. It seems like every couple of years people trot this out, but it's really not true. The average CD collection is something like 10 CD's, and from bad handling they will get scratched. The lasers on players will fade out and lose power over time, so the players need replacing. The anecdotal combination of these two things leads people to think that CD's "rot", when they don't rot. Polycarbonate does not deteriorate when not exposed to UV, and Aluminum does not deteriorate when kept away from excess moisture. It's like saying a coke can is "rotting".

All of mine are online (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 6 months ago | (#46999465)

I have a box of CDs somewhere. Anytime I want to listen to something I usually just download it off BitTorrent. Faster than ripping the CD and I can do it all on my phone.

It's fortunate... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999483)

It's fortunate that the recording industry has never made a fuss about people backing up their CD collections.
Oh, wait...

I went straight from casette to mp3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999489)

why would you keep music on a cd?

Torrents to the rescue (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about 6 months ago | (#46999493)

Under usual copyright terms you should be able to legally download the .flac version of any CD you own as a personal backup. Hell, just throw out the bloody CD, FFS!

Re:Torrents to the rescue (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 6 months ago | (#46999571)

copyright is still pretty much tied to physical copies. It is, of course, another example of law not keeping up with the technical reality. I've even heard it surmised (possibly here) that putting a computer program in memory for execution is technically a copyright violation. It will never be tried in court as it goes way beyond the idea of common sense (even in today's corporate controlled courts), but it could be true.

It's going to take a long time before we have copyright reform that makes sense when we have a system of law that is dedicated to keeping the corporate status quo.

Re:Torrents to the rescue (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 6 months ago | (#46999997)

1) In the US, downloading illegally is essentially non-punishable (it's the uploader that's in trouble).
2) in the US, copies required to run software (such as memory) are fair use.

Re:Torrents to the rescue (4, Informative)

Rakarra (112805) | about 6 months ago | (#47000049)

I've even heard it surmised (possibly here) that putting a computer program in memory for execution is technically a copyright violation. It will never be tried in court as it goes way beyond the idea of common sense (even in today's corporate controlled courts), but it could be true.

But it was tried in court (sortof) in the Federal case Mai v. Peak [wikipedia.org] . The court ruled that according to the rules of copyright, technically loading a program into RAM for execution does violate copyright, partially because RAM can be easily copyable (Anything that places a program in storage that is trivially copyable is a copyright violation).

The US Congress, Orrin Hatch in particular, thought this was silly, and amended the copyright code. Section 117 of the Copyright code [cornell.edu] currently reads:

"(a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy.— Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
(1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
(2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful."

#2 is your backup copy provision, #1 means you can run a program without infringing it, as long as you're just running it (and not decompiling it or something else of that nature).

Re:Torrents to the rescue (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 6 months ago | (#46999623)

any CD you own as a personal backup. Hell, just throw out the bloody CD, FFS!

But then you don't own it. Your rights evaporate, correct? Or...?

It's TRUE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999507)

Netcraft confirms it!

Nonsense (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 6 months ago | (#46999527)

I rip my CD with Exact Audio Copy to FLAC and/or use iTunes and rip to Apple Lossless.

These days Amazone has "InstantRip" so I can immediately download and listen as 256 kbps .mp3s are "good enough" for most music.

My mp3s died before my cds did! (2)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 6 months ago | (#46999533)

I ripped my whole collection to mp3 years ago.

Recently during a move to a new computer I discovered that many of my songs had been corrupted from years of moving without any check-sums to validate the copies (just drag a folder from finder window to finder window or explorer window to explorer window, etc).

I had to go back and re-rip most of my collection (this time to flac).

Re:My mp3s died before my cds did! (1)

entrigant (233266) | about 6 months ago | (#46999979)

And yet people laugh at me for having a hardware RAID card with read patroling and ECC RAM...

This is what I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999535)

"I'm starting to get nervous about not having flac rips of most of my discs."

It's been known for over a decade that common consumer grade cd's deteriorate - although much slower than home burned discs. I originally read that they would last 10-15 years, some of mine have lasted longer but I know it's only a matter of time. I make an immediate backup in flac of all cd purchases. It's the only way to be sure ;)

I go by this general rule:
Home burned = 3-5 years before useless (sometimes closer to 1 year!)
Store bought = 10-20 years

Re:This is what I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999777)

Home burned = 3-5 years before useless (sometimes closer to 1 year!)
Store bought = 10-20 years

Some of my store-bought CDs will be thirty years old soon, and they're still playable. They wouldn't be if they were more than 50 minutes long, though, because they've been rotting from the edge inward; looks like the metal layer is exposed to the air around the edge, so presumably it's oxidizing. Later CDs were sealed around the edge, and I haven't noticed the same problem.

FLAC rips from a CD? (1)

ryanmt (2634725) | about 6 months ago | (#46999537)

Is it really worth sourcing your old CD? Even as a disliker of Apple, I hear that their little utility which matches your library up with theirs, then allows you to download higher bit rate versions is a gem. It is a nominal fee, but you can get much higher quality than that old CD had anyway. CDs aren't exactly a gold standard in audio quality here!

16/44 is enough (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46999853)

Even as a disliker of Apple, I hear that their little utility which matches your library up with theirs

If the record label hasn't chosen to make its works available through that utility, too bad.

you can get much higher quality than that old CD had anyway

It's not like you could hear any of that quality. In practice, properly dithered 16/44 is enough [xiph.org] to cover the entire painless range of human hearing. Or are you referring to serious mastering errors in the original CD, such as those induced by the loudness race?

Re:16/44 is enough (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 months ago | (#47000039)

In practice, properly dithered 16/44 is enough [xiph.org] to cover the entire painless range of human hearing.

The key word there is "in practice", and music lovers can dream of a future practice. While humans can only directly hear tones below 20kHz, they can perceive the beats between two tones above that range, and this has sometimes been used to musical effect. Per Nørgård's Symphony No.5, for example, at one point has a percussionist blow through two dog whistles, and the beats between the two are audible to a concert audience.

However, allowing this to be audible to home listeners would require not only an expanded digital audio standard, but speaker design would have to change as well, because speakers are typically not designed to reproduce frequencies above 20 kHz.

Re:FLAC rips from a CD? (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | about 6 months ago | (#46999921)

I don't think so. Very few recordings are available from Apple or anywhere else at higher quality than 1,411.2 kbit/s.

Re:FLAC rips from a CD? (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 6 months ago | (#46999959)

but you can get much higher quality than that old CD had anyway.

You can, but not at iTunes. I'm guessing you are referring to "Mastered for iTunes" files. These are the same 256kbps AAC files that iTunes has always sold, but submitted to Apple after running some tools that show the sound engineer how much distortion is going to occur in the conversion to AAC, so they can adjust the mix to compensate.

It probably depends on... (1)

airdweller (1816958) | about 6 months ago | (#46999545)

...the quality of the CDs and whether they were factory or home made since I have some factory made ones from the mid- to late 80s and they are fine.

Re:It probably depends on... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 6 months ago | (#46999983)

depends on the manufacturer, my USA made ones from 1980s are fine. some of my wife's asian made ones have died, but she's moved on to file based media anyway

CD? (1)

johnholstein (1735990) | about 6 months ago | (#46999557)

I am no longer familiar with this medium.

Re:CD? (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 6 months ago | (#47000045)

When CD's came out the promise was that they would last for 100 years. Right

My CD collection (1)

harvestsun (2948641) | about 6 months ago | (#46999589)

My CD collection features such gems as "Microsoft Windows 95", "Turbo Tax Deluxe 2003" and "The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis"

Windows 95 CD (1)

AF_Cheddar_Head (1186601) | about 6 months ago | (#46999719)

But do you have the boot floppy that goes with that Windows 95 CD and do you have the floppy drive for that boot floppy? If not do I have a deal for you.

Library mentality (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999631)

They're used to books sitting on shelves for centuries, and they want to be able to do the same thing with CDs. The idea of converting their entire collection to a different physical medium every 5 years is alien to them.

Really??? (2)

sribe (304414) | about 6 months ago | (#46999633)

Because just last month, I re-ripped well over 300 old CDs into a lossless format, and had 0 problems.

Could it be the player tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999641)

I have some music CDs from the 1980s and play them from time to time- on my old 1980s Phillips-Magnavox player. I wonder if the player / laser tech in newer players is the problem? Or is causing the problem? Maybe the laser is focused better now and burning the media a little each play? I'd love to try a degraded CD in my extremely well made vintage player. (I do have many new players and burners too.)

If the media is "rotting" in some observable way then obviously the media is the problem. Maybe the storage temps, humidity, etc?

I have some data CDs I burned in 1994 and they still read. Different tech. than is used now.

Regardless, sadly the CD outlives any hard disk by far (except my really old 1980s and early 1990s disks that _still_ work.) So I guess I'll rip my favored audio CDs to flac and store on the 1990s hard disks.

Small bits die quickly (1)

clawsoon (748629) | about 6 months ago | (#46999657)

I have a half-baked theory that, to a rough approximation, the physical size of a bit and the amount of energy put into creating it is roughly correlated to the length of time it will last. Stone inscriptions, or baked clay cuneiform? Big bits, high energy, long life. CDs, or 148 Gb/in^2 tape media? Small bits, low energy, short life. There are ways to create big bits that are short-lived (e.g. drawing figures in the sand on a beach), but in general, a small bit cannot be made to last longer than a big bit given the same process and energy inputs.

You might say, "but look at highly-conserved DNA sequences!", to which I would answer, think about how much energy has gone into preserving them over hundreds of millions of years.

Re:Small bits die quickly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999773)

Oh so THAT'S why baking CDs in the microwave destroys the bits.

Re:Small bits die quickly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999843)

That's why your files should be all zeros. The ones are too skinny. The zeros are nice and round and therefore last longer.

Label ink (1)

worker17 (2525968) | about 6 months ago | (#46999683)

Another problem was found years ago. The ink used on the label side actively ate away at the disk. I believe there was a lawsuit in England to do away with it there, as they saw it as intentional obsolescent technology, designed to gouge the consumer. It was designed to destroy the disk after 10 - 20 years.

CDs wear too (Sqore:200,000) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999703)

Each play of a CD wears the substrate a little, Sony CD players are the worst
(and I think this is the Music Industry's (tm) doing). Does anyone really believe
shooting a harmful laser at a CD isn't going to affect it? Really?!

Scratch free (1)

xfade551 (2627499) | about 6 months ago | (#46999713)

I'm pretty sure CDs last longer if you don't scratch them. My collection is about 150 factory-pressed discs worth, and maybe another 25 CD-Rs from various local bands. Every last one still plays, including the ones I've found in the $0.99 bin at the local music store (yes, they still exist!). I'm a bit concerned about the CD-Rs, but I have all those ripped to 320kbps mp3 (good enough, considering the recording source on most of those).

LaserDiscs too (2)

toejam13 (958243) | about 6 months ago | (#46999739)

People with LaserDisc movies started learning about disc rot the hard way about a decade earlier than people with audio CDs. LaserDisc movies store video using an analog PWM scheme, so any defect in the pits and lands of a disc show up as snow in the video.

Audio CDs, being a digital format with error correction, have the benefit of the digital cliff effect to mask minor defects. So it takes more significant rotting of the reflective layer before the player exhibits playback errors.

Luckily, audio CDs can be ripped to lossless formats such as FLAC, WavPack, Monkey and the like, so making an exact archival copy is possible. Ripping tools such as Exact Audio Copy assist in that effort by examining the quality of your rip (drives can mask error when ripping audio CDs) against a database.

I'm sure that DVDs will also start to show disc rot in time. Tools such as CloneDVD can make an exact ISO image that you can archive as well.

But LaserDiscs don't have that ability. At best, you can capture an exact copy of the PCM digital audio via the SPDIF output, but the video will always be a best effort when captured from composite or Y/C component. And with so many discs showing rot these days, it is probably too late to save them.

This is why I rip my CDs (1)

AnalogDiehard (199128) | about 6 months ago | (#46999753)

I have CDs going back to the 1980s which still play. This article confirmed my suspicion that they will not last forever and I don't want to spend the $$$ to replace my 400+ CDs with another media that the record cartels control like BluRay with the movie cartels. When the mp3 format came along, I found an encoder (RazorLame) that did an excellent job of maintaining the fidelity of my CDs so I proceeded to rip my entire collection. I heard some horrid fidelity mp3s on filesharing sites due to bad encoders so I don't download music nor do I upload my rips. The original CDs are now backups which are ripped to lossless and lossy formats. I'm covered in case those CDs start dying, and I also have redundant backups on different media other than disc platter technology in case my mp3 collection gets hosed. The record cartels hated mp3s but copyright law permits personal backups and there has been no legal case or precedent against personal backups.

better to burn out than it is to oxidize (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 6 months ago | (#46999769)

Kneel Old.

RIAA already has a solution for this problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999795)

Just buy another copy!

i have a question... (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 6 months ago | (#46999817)

if you know you really (i mean really!) purchased a CD years ago, shouldn't that make it ok to download the same CD in FLAC or 320vbr from your fav pirate site??

i was/am a huge Who fan, and think Quadrophenia is simply epic...it was, in fact, the first CD i ever bought back in 1984...doesn't that mean I purchased the right to the content forever?

rip them (2)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 6 months ago | (#46999833)

Two years ago I ripped (to FLAC) about 1000 CDs my wife and I had collected since the early 90s.
The only ones that wouldn't rip were the ones that had deep scratches on them. We still have the CDs in our posession and still buy new ones and rip them to FLAC when they come into the house.

Seems like a sound plan, they are backed up and uploaded to Google Music, too, so we can listen to them anywhere

Perfect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46999847)

This is perfect for the industry. It means everyone has no choice but to buy everything again in The New Format! That has always been the industry's model, so I have a hard time seeing this as anything but intentional.

My experiences don't line up with this at all.... (2)

King_TJ (85913) | about 6 months ago | (#46999881)

I had a collection of somewhere slightly over 250-260 commercial music CDs (about half of which I sold off last year o various online web-sites who bought used CDs).

The sites doing the buying were extremely picky (to the point where they'd refuse to pay for a disc, even if it was the exact album they said they wanted, if its ISBN number didn't match the exact one they were after), and I was billed for replacement jewel cases in several instances, simply because the ones I provided with the CDs had small cracks in them.

Not a single disc I sold them was refused or returned for failure to play or for skipping though.

Meanwhile, I've had absolutely no issues playing any of the remaining discs in my collection. (I had to re-rip many of them just a few months ago, when I discovered a lot of the MP3 rips I made years earlier had some issues.)

What I can say, though, is, I've been very good about always putting my CDs back in the jewel cases whenever I finished playing one, and they all sit in a big, revolving CD storage tower in the house. I have to wonder if some of these complaints of "edge rot" and "bronzing" of the media and so forth are with discs people left sitting in hot cars in the summer, didn't put back in the cases often, etc. ?

Re:My experiences don't line up with this at all.. (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 6 months ago | (#46999935)

The first CD I ever bought was Bob Dylan's _Real Live_ back in 1984 --- still plays fine.

Re:My experiences don't line up with this at all.. (1)

guytoronto (956941) | about 6 months ago | (#46999995)

Unless your CD jewel cases and tower are hermetically sealed, oxygen can still get in there and potentially cause problems.

Why hoard physical media? (2)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 6 months ago | (#46999923)

>Library of Congress is trying to figure out how CDs age so that we can better understand how to save them.

Here's a idea, if you must be stuck in the 1990s with physical media, just rip the CD to a media server when you get home. It only has to last long enough to get it home and copy it. That or just subscribe to Spotify. Being able to pick just about any song wherever you are is far superior to a music hoard.
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