Don't let the facts get in the way of a good Slipped Disc story

One of the more obvious examples of the classical music industry being seduced by the lure of click bait traffic was the recent Slipped Disc exclusive on "the disintegrating compact disc". This "researched" story claimed that "everybody has this problem" of disintegrating CDs. As my earlier post pointed out, this damning conclusion was reached on a ludicrously small sample of three copies of the same CD out of the more than 200 billion CDs sold since the format was introduced in 1982. My post went on to propose that the likely explanation for the three problem CDs was  a batch manufacturing defect on that particular disc rather than endemic deterioration. Now Overgrown Path reader Mark Meldon has added this informative comment to my previous post, which supports my hypothesis of a batch manufacturing problem: 

'Back in 1986/87, I briefly worked in a CD factory in West Sussex, the long-gone Disctronics. My job was setting index points on the digital master from the digital tape - many hours in a dark room with a fantastically expensive Sony machine with a very expensive pair of headphones listening for the 'ambient decay' on notes to end. Along with, I believe, PDO in Blackburn, there was a relatively short-term problem with the lacquer layer (for want of a better term) caused by poor materials. This allowed, over time, air to get to the foil layer, which then 'bronzed' (i.e. went rusty), eventually becoming unplayable. IRRC, labels such as ASV, Pearl, Olympia, Hyperion, RCA, Unicorn-Kanchana, were particularly affected. Whilst some of these labels are long-gone, it is commendable that Hyperion will replace bronzed discs free of charge if you send them in. I found five such discs in my collection a short time ago and received replacement CD/CDR discs within a week.' 

Out of the thousands of CDs I have bought over four decades just one has exhibited decay. This is the superb Unicorn-Kanchana release of Jascha Horenstein conducting Mahler's Third Symphony, and Unicorn is one of the labels Mark identifies as suffering from a manufacturing batch defect. Mark's example is one of a number of similar problems which occurred across diverse labels during the peak years of compact disc sales when there were many pressing plants churning out CDs around the world. Which explains why a very small number of CDs are deteriorating over time. Instead of funding hysterical click bait, the classical music industry should be focussing on real problems; such as the little-understood and conveniently-ignored environmental impact of music and video streaming.


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