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Skipping CDs

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I was thrilled to find a stash of old favorite CDs yesterday.  Cleaned out the car and dour about 30 CDs in a case.  Even though I almost never listen to CDs, they are some of my absolute favorite tunes.  I couldn't wait to play them but it seems like almost all of them "skip"
 
I tried cleaning them but nothing seems to work.  Are there any tips or secrets?
 
I can see what looks to be scratches or scuffs but they are below the surface.  Maybe it was the heat in the summer. 

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I had a bunch of CD's, most of which had spent time in the car, all of them had surface marks and skipped. I also had a few DVD's which had been mistreated over the years, and skipped.
 
 I bought a CD/DVD repair kit from Amazon. I've since seen similar kits in Target and Best Buy, Memorex makes the ones in Target, I think.
They look like a portable CD player. They come with different (abrasive) disks, one pair for cleaning and a more abrasive pair for removing scratches. There's a cleaning fluid and a scratch fluid. The whole kit was around $25 or less.
 
It works, but not 100%. Some discs with deeper scratches require multiple 'cleanings'. The danger is that you can go too far and render the disc unplayable. But in most cases it was unplayable anyway, so there's little to lose....
 
I'd guess at maybe a 70% success rate, based on my having some pretty banged-up CD's / DVD's.
 
Your mileage may vary.
 
Good luck!
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I've used a Sony CDX-A10 CDP in the car for almost 30 years and have never had an issue with skipping.
20140526101020481.jpg 
 
The XA-10B 10-disc magazines protect the CDs and I store the spare mags in the house when not in use. 
20140526093827228.jpg 
 
However, every CD my ex ever borrowed came back scratched, and some of those would skip.
I had about a 90% success rate polishing them out using 3 part Novus plastic polish. 
Most discs I polish by hand but for the really bad ones I break out an orbital waxer/buffer.
This is the same product I've used to restore turntable dust covers and M-500(t) meter lens. 
NovusPolish100511G_10_x.jpg 
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I have a commercial resurfacing machine for CD's & DVD's. If you get stuck you can send them to me and I will fix them for you. Depending on their value vs. the cost of shipping this may or may not make sense...

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I had extensive experience with CDs in car systems during my Stereo Showcase years.  So many times I had someone ask me to sell them a CD player and I pointed out the likely problems they would encounter.  Even so, I sold some.  Invariably, several came back and complained about the poor quality of the equipment I sold them.  Most of the time the CDs were simply trashed from being in the vehicle; dusty, dirty, scratched, worn and abused.  My first test was to take a couple of them into the store and prove that they would not play in any CD player.  Then take one of my CDs out and demonstrate that it worked just fine.  My stock statement about CDs in general was, they are clean. quiet and dynamic.  They are also the most unreliable, service intensive and over hyped product I have ever come across.  I never bought a CD player for my vehicle until they came with one and cassette was no longer available.  I have nothing against CDs except that the records I have that are 50 years old still sound great, none of my CDs ever sounded as good and quite a few of the ones I burned do not work.  I have cleaned some that skipped successfully but some just do not work ever again.  I have found some machines that will play more of my questionable CDs that others but I am reluctant to ever really trust CDs the was I do vinyl or tape.  All I can do now is preemptively copy my favorite CDs to a new burned copy before they get too old.  The question is, how old is that?  5 years, 10 years?  The thing that really made me mad was the big billboard near my store put up by Classic Stereo that said, "Denon's $200 CD player, perfect sound forever".  Words I would NEVER use about anything.  Jim

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do they skip only in the car?

if so take a known good cd and test the car player, if it skips then the laser lens may need to be cleaned, or is just dead, cars get very hot.

 

I polish out the scratches from my cd's with a headlight buffing wheel and polish,

fine scratches buff right out, deeper ones take a few min.

saved cd's and dvd's this way.

 

does the disc look like the alum has micro cracks below the plastic surface?

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To reinforce some of what has been said already: Abused discs will skip or simply not play at all. Easy to see--just inspect the playing surface. Sometimes, these can be buffed/sanded/machined to make them playable again.

 

If a laser assembly is becoming defective, the discs will skip or fail to play even if they appear good (not scratched). OEM laser assemblies can be very expensive, but the Communist Chinese aftermarket lasers are dirt-cheap and work fine for a few years. Depending on the CD player, installation of a replacement laser assembly can be very easy, or a royal PITA. There is a list circulating the internet showing which laser assembly goes in which CD player. The version of that list that I've seen would be severely out-of-date, failing to cover stuff made in the last ten years or more. Since my CD players were made in the early '90's, they're listed. My players all had worn-out lasers that skipped so I had to replace them.

 

There are some early-production CDs (and laser discs) that are subject to "CD Rot"; "Bit Rot" "Disc Rot", "Laser Rot" or some other clever term.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CD_rot

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CD_bronzing

 

The aluminum layer wasn't properly applied--or improperly protected from atmospheric oxygen and other contamination--so the aluminum reflective layer ends up with holes in it, or is no longer reflective. As the holes become progressively larger, enough information is lost that the error correction/error interpolation circuitry of the player can no longer disguise the drop-out, and the disc skips. I had a few discs like this. Again, easy to see--just hold them up to the light, and see if the aluminum layer is no longer shiny silver, or has a bunch of tiny transparent "holes" that the light shines through.

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I have had little or no trouble with any CDs I bought new.  Of course, I treat them the same way I treat all software.  No matter what it is, vinyl, tape or CD, they are always stored in the original box or package in a cool dry place.  My home is humidity and temperature controlled most of the year.  All vinyl is clean, in a VRP, stored on edge, alphabetically in the original sleeve the open end turned 90 degrees to the top.  All tapes are in the original package.  Played back to the start, never fast wound, cassette or reels.  Also stored carefully.  CDs in the jewel box, stored either in a nice rack or a zippered Case Logic unit.  No software of any kind is ever left in the car.  When I do take some on a trip, it goes with me back inside the house or to my hotel room.  Nothing is ever left in any machine.  I have seen plenty of tiny holes in burned CDs that do eventually skip and are then worthless.  I always buy Maxell, TDK or Sony blanks and I record them in real time on one of three machines, always one track at a time, analog.  By far CDs are the worst format I have ever seen.  Period.  A few of my records have some surface noise, a few cassettes have gotten eaten and if not repairable, thrown away.  I have never lost a reel.  When I had DAT and DCC they were OK but definitely second only to CDs in terms of problems.  I have thrown away several CDs.  Sometimes I was able to copy at least some of the tracks to a new CD but a few would not work at all, in any machine I tried.  There is no question that a lot of people are to blame for the poor condition of their CDs but I am not one of them.  It bothers me to know how much time I spent recording just to find out that the CDs after 5 to 10 years become a problem.  Just one reason why I mistrust them so.  I love vinyl for sound and longevity.  Jim

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I polish out the scratches from my cd's with a headlight buffing wheel and polish,
fine scratches buff right out, deeper ones take a few min.
saved cd's and dvd's this way.

 
Yes, have used the headlight polish from Meguiar's on used cd's and just about everything plastic, it works real good. Even have used it on some Carver gear, the CT-17's faceplate in particular. emwink.gif

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I don't know, my experience is completely different, never had a CD go bad on me, now I have seen some bad CD's but that is because people didn't take care of them same with LP's
 
I never use Media in cars anymore, I just copy music to a USB stick and use it in the car, no problems with CD skip or laying all over the floorboards and sounds great
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I use Taiyo Yuden (now JVC as they bought JVC and it was a better known brand in the USA) I use the watershield version of their cd's. they cost more, but seem to hold up a little better. The problem is because of the extra waterproof coating, they do not do well with some slot load cd players in the car. I have not had any problem playing them in any of the Carver cd players I have had. I have not noticed a decay in these, and have been using them for more than 5 years.

 

BarryG

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Remember, I was one of the last people in the A/V business to actually own a CD player.  My experiences with them was very negative from a reliability standpoint.  Now I own at least a dozen.  They are still the most trouble prone, unreliable, expensive to repair source units I have EVER owned.  The latest ones have been much more reliable than the older ones. The only repairs I have done, successfully to CD players are belt replacements, especially loading belts, cleaning the slides and optics and re-aligning mechanisms.  I tell all my friends DO NOT push the door closed.  Use the button.  It is the safest way and will avoid problems in the future.  Still, many "insist" pushing the door shut is just fine.  True only if you use just a light push squarely in the center of the door.  I have had to remove paper labels from mechanisms so I tell people never to use them. Now, after selling off the bulk of my vinyl, CDs are my biggest software investment.  As I said, my biggest disappointment has been the failure of so many of the CDs I and my friends have custom made.  Those that were made on quality blanks have held up better.  Those made on poor ones seem to be reliable for less than ten years at best.  I agree completely with Chuck. Unless you are extremely careful, CDs in cars will suffer an early demise.  Both the machines and the software.  Of course, we live in Michigan.  Perhaps the weather where you are is less of a problem.  When it is very cold, I let CD players acclimate slowly to the temp and humidity problems.  At gigs, cold CD players must be warmed before use, after traveling in the car for long distances.  The CD rack is always in the warmest place I can carry it.  Jim

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You REALLY want to fix scratched CD's? REALLY? Use a torch. Yup! Fire. Actual flame. Here's what you do- go get one of those butane pencil torches, the little guys. Get a stack of scratched CD's and DVD's you don't care about. Put one on a flat, NON-FLAMMABLE surface. Light the fire. Adjust the flame to medium. Quickly pass the torch over the playing surface of the disc with the tip of the blue part of the flame just above the surface. Like you are painting it with a tiny paint gun. DO NOT STOP on the surface or you will never use that disc again. You wil see the surface scratches disappear like magic. I know, I know, I didn't believe it either when I heard about it. I'm sure there is a YouTube video somewhere, but I'm not going to post it. BTW- This does not work well with burned CD's and DVD's, it's more like an eraser on them.
 
My scratch prevention method is pretty simple: Copies in the Car. If you make copies, the original stays pristine, just like making copies of your vinyl on tape. All the CD's I care about are in a Sony DVP-CX777ES or on my Mac now anyway, so originals rarely come out to play.
 
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