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Your Old CD Collection Is Dying 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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Your Old CD Collection Is Dying

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  • Re:Grammar (Score:5, Funny)

    by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @11:29AM (#46999437)

    That's the CD skipping

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @11:29AM (#46999439) Journal

    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!

  • Re:Grammar (Score:5, Funny)

    by ameen.ross ( 2498000 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @11:32AM (#46999475)

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @11:32AM (#46999483)

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

  • Re:Grammar (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @12:25PM (#47000067)

    What about metal like Iron Maiden and Quiet Riot?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @12:41PM (#47000225)
    Hearing the difference now isn't the reason to encode to FLAC. FLAC uses lossless compression, while MP3 is 'lossy'. What this means is that for each year the MP3 sits on your hard drive, it will lose roughly 12kbps, assuming you have SATA - it's about 15kbps on IDE, but only 7kbps on SCSI, due to rotational velocidensity. You don't want to know how much worse it is on CD-ROM or other optical media.

    I started collecting MP3s in about 2001, and if I try to play any of the tracks I downloaded back then, even the stuff I grabbed at 320kbps, they just sound like crap. The bass is terrible, the midrange...well don't get me started. Some of those albums have degraded down to 32 or even 16kbps. FLAC rips from the same period still sound great, even if they weren't stored correctly, in a cool, dry place. Seriously, stick to FLAC, you may not be able to hear the difference now, but in a year or two, you'll be glad you did.
  • Re:Grammar (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quirkz ( 1206400 ) <ross.quirkz@com> on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @12:46PM (#47000289) Homepage

    In another decade purists will start insisting the crackle and gravel is the only way to detect the "real heart" of the music.

  • by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @12:52PM (#47000385) Journal

    wait, was your ass stuffed with a cheap dildo, or a genuine audiophile cock? a lot of people these days settle for the former, but the acoustic properties of an uncircumcised penis cannot be understated, especially if you're using cheap unbalanced power cables or find yourself in a room without ceramic ambient field conditioning discs, as often happens on business trips. lesser people may have different opinions, but i find the services of a qualified escort to be indispensable. unlike the rest of the elite field audiophilia, there is no exact science about this, but in my experience you want to spend in the $200/hr. range at least, and always fit for breadth. don't be afraid to turn down someone inadequate, they'll usually understand.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay