CD-R Quality Survey

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There are tons and tons of bargain CD-Rs being sold nowadays. A relative few are good, many are bad. The idea here is to figure out which are the well-made ones, and which are the cheaply-made ones, and buy the well-made ones when they’re selling for next to nothing.

Bad ones:

  1. Often can handle data OK, but don’t handle music well.

  2. Apparently age pretty quickly and go “bad” on you. I understand this might not be too big an issue for many of you; you don’t expect to be using much of what you burn 75 years from now.

There’s a freeware program called CDR Identifier, which you can get here.. This is purported to identify the company that actually made the product. Before you talk about a CD-R product you use, you should use the program, and identify the maker of the CD-R. That will help us all.

Now it’s been pointed out to me that this data isn’t necessarily too accurate. You can read about that here (section 2.33) (btw, Andy McFadden’s CD-Recordable FAQ is an extremely valuable source for CD-recording information and a must for those getting into it).
Essentially, it says that most of the codes you read on the CD are the codes initially put into the glass CD master built into the CD stamper. If the original owner sells the stamper and/or the original or later owner uses the stamper for a different CD-making process; the codes won’t reveal that.

I don’t know if that’s really a problem at this point, since I doubt there’s much of a used CD-stamper market with rapidly growing demand.

OK, I got the program, and I see a weird chemical name. What does it mean?

You can get a quick primer on these at here.. There’s a few others, such as this and this at the same website, but the industry moves quickly, and the primers are getting dated as to specifics.

The idea behind this is not to have a chemistry test, but to identify the bad ones and the really good ones that you have.

You don’t need much instruction on the bad ones; if you get a lot of coasters, the disks fail, the MP3s sound like they were recorded in 1901, or even if the CD’s start peeling layers, we want to know about those.

The good ones are a little harder to identify. Recording data is easier than recording music, so it’s really those recording music, especially direct copying of CDs, who are pushing the media. If you do a lot of this, and consistently get excellent results from something, we’d like to know about it.

If we find the really good ones, we can keep track of when they go on sale, so people can stock up on those rather than the poorer ones.

This is all too complicated. Isn’t there something simple?

I have seen in more than one place this sentiment: “USA and Japan, good. Taiwan, bad.”

The reason for this apparently is that the Taiwanese are aiming at the low-end of the market and want to make as many as possible as cheaply as possible, and aren’t as concerned about quality control.

All I can say from my observations is that the generic CDs almost always come from Taiwan, and that I see a lot more complaints about those than the others.

What We Know Is Good, and Available Cheap Now

High quality, relatively high cost: 35-packs of Kodak Gold 74-minute Ultimas for $14.95. Kodak itself is also offering 3-packs of these for $46.10 (buy two at $23.10, get one free) plus shipping.

Good quality, low cost after rebate: 50-packs of 80-minute FujiFilm CD-Rs. The ones made in Japan are OEM Taiyo Yuden disks. Office Max has them (today is the last day) for $19.99 – $10.00 Fuji rebate (rebate is limited).

Circuit City is supposed to have them next Sunday and Monday, but it’s unclear if the net cost is $17.99 or $7.99. I saw something unconfirmed that indicated that CompUSA will have something similiar a week from now.

Some TDK CD-Rs (supposed to be on sale for near free after rebate at Circuit City tomorrow and Monday): What you have to look for are TDK Certified Plus, NOT TDK Certified 100%. But even TDK Certified Plus isn’t enough. You need to find the TDK Certified Plus with a blue ring near the center spindle. Those are the high-quality ones and they should say made in the U.S.. Anything else are lower-quality items; you don’t want those.

Please add in your observations and tests. The idea is not to get cheap stuff, that’s easy. It’s to get GOOD cheap stuff, that’s better.

If at all possible, please post your observation in the “CD-R Quality” thread in the Cyber Deals section of our Forum. Otherwise, email me.

Email Ed


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