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February 2000
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
CD Tweaks That Work
Review by Steven R. Rochlin
Click here to e-mail reviewer


  Here is another round of killer Review-O-Rama festivities. Attention all readers (and manufacture of cool stuff), if you know of other great goodies please send us an e-mail and tell us about it. And now our Review-O-Rama theme song:

This month we are covering CD tweaks. It seems that anything you do to a CD changes the way the musical bits on it sound when decoded. Enter Compact Dynamics Company. For many years they have been making truly well developed "fixes" and enhancements for CD-Roms. Here i will be covering three of their products. CD Plus!, CD Upgrade and Optrix.

Each CD Plus! package is good for 24 CDs and mainly consists of 25 small blue rings, an orange centering guide and of course instructions on how to install the rings on to your CD. The blue rings mount around the center hold within your CD to add a bit more mass, but more to the point, to help add stability and better mechanical gripping of the CD's center to the spindle/motor. This, Compact Dynamics claims, reduces CD vibration during playback. It is actually quite easy to mount a blue ring to a CD, though keep in ring this is a permanent arrangement. Though you can remove the ring if you do not like the results, the ring really con not be reused again.

To mount the blue ring to the CD, you simply place the compact disc, label side down, centrally on top of the supplied microfoam disc. Insert the small end of the orange centering guide into the hole of the compact disc and leave the guide in place for centering the blue ring. Then you remove from CD Plus!'s blue ring one half of the full circle's backing paper. Then place the blue ring (paper side down) over the CD's shiny side centered around the orange centering guide. Preventing the centering guide and blue ring from moving, remove the rest of the protective backing paper and insure the entire ring is secured to the CD by pressing down on it. It is that easy. Hey, we are not talking about rocket science folks. If you get one of those pesky bubbles (i never did) you just prick the bubbles with a needle to let the air out, then press that area down to insure complete adhesion of the ring at that area. CD Plus! is $15 for a kit containing 25 blue rings while you big spenders can get a kit containing 100 blue rings for $50.

So what did i hear? i consistently heard a bit more smoothing of the music within the CD yet also a tad more resolution. It was as though a level of haziness was removed from the CD. In fact i had a few really old CDs that simply skipped quite a bit. i keep these around to trst how a disc transport can read les than perfect software. The rings seemed to help, but not fully solve the skipping problems. Obviously something good was happening here and not some voodoo magic. If you want even more goodness then you will need to go to Compact Dynamics CD Upgrade kit.

CD UpgradeThe CD Upgrade kit is good for 50 CDs and comes with 50 blue rings, but is also includes 50 large CD-sized transparent discs. Each of these large transparent discs fully covers the label side of the CD while the blue ring, as before, is mounted on the shiny data side of the CD. You apply a blue ring as before and now add a single large transparent discs. Simply follow the same basic instructions yet the large transparent disc is applied to the label side of the CD. So now comes the question of how much improvement over a non-"upgraded" fully naked disc to a fully CD Upgraded version is there? Well i was dumbfounded. These kits by Compact Dynamics are unlike another tweak sent to me from the UK which was some overpriced $25 for few inches of shiny silver tape (like that i can get for $3.00 a yard at my local automotive shop). They over priced silver tape folks claimed to magically align light or some such. Truly ridiculous claims based on zero fast or scientific data. The CD Upgrade kits, on the other hand, are $50 and good for 50 CDs. These kits come with items that are specifically made for improving CDs. No hocus pocus here folks. No false scientific claims. Refreshing! They do also offer a $15.70 kit that includes enough blue rings are transparent discs for 10 CDs by the way.

As for what i heard in my system, there was an even greater enhancement to clarity, soundstage depth and image stability. This was not subtle my friend. This was on par of removing about two to three levels of haze! It seems that by giving greater coupling to the disc transport's spindle/motor (blue ring) and also adding some mass to the disc itself (transparent disc) you obviously change the resonant frequency of the disc which, in turn, seems to improve the way the digital bits sound when decoded. i am the last person to believe in hokey voodoo tweaks like green pens and the likes, yet this was enough of a difference in my system for me to spill much cyber ink on them... but there's more!

Compact Dynamics makes my longtime fave CD cleaning solution. For many years i have been spraying Optrix onto my CDs, Laserdiscs, and DVDs to clean their optical surface. For about $17 you get a bottle of 2 fluid ounces of cleaning solution in a spray bottle. Two ounces will clean about 100 CD discs by the way. While i do hear some improvements by using Optrix, i find it on a small scale as compared to the CD Upgrade or CD Plus! kits. Still, do not simply pass up on the Optrix as over the many years of trying everything from Discwasher to Finyl CD enhancer/cleaner, Optrix seems to do the most thorough and best job at cleaning my optical disc software. Optrix is the most thorough and best cleaning solution. In fact is has seemed to correct some skipping problems on a few CDs also also some reading problems on a computer CD-Rom i have here. In fact Compact Dynamics says they have discovered that further audible improvements can be obtained by spraying Optrix on the Label side of CDs too! i will not comment to this as i have heard some difference, at times, on some discs, i would not put it on par with the CD Upgrade and CD Plus! kits. Though this fluid is very good indeed, i would not apply this to my Hasselblad's Zeiss optical glass lens' for cleaning, though Compact Dynamics does claims that Optrix also makes for a good eyeglass cleaner. i will admit i tried it on my Ray Ban sunglasses and it did seem to do a very good job on their Bauch & Lomb optical glass lens'.

In the end Compact Dynamics seem to offer sanely priced products that make sense. They take the high road to improving our CD software... and at sane prices unlike $10 green ink pens (available for $2 in office supply stores) or hokey silver foil (available for $3 a yard at my local automotive store). These are devices which are specifically designed by Compact Dynamics for improving our CD software. Well worth a try and highly recommended! In the end what really matters to me is that you...

Enjoy the music,

Steven R. Rochlin



Compact Dynamics
P.O. Box 32014
Euclid, OH 44123

voice (440) 946-0438













































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