CD Player on the Fritz?

by | Sep 3, 2005 | Special Features | 0 comments

CD Player On the Fritz? – You’ve had your CD player for
some years now and suddenly it’s not working. What to do?  First,
make certain it’s the particular CD and not your player – try it on
another player, in your computer or elsewhere. At one time there was
only a single Red Book commercial CD format, but now there are many
varieties and all players won’t recognize all of them.  My present
top-of-line and highly modified player, for example, won’t play CD-Rs
or RWs, and CD labels have been sending me more of those to review in
advance of the commercial release. Make sure you aren’t trying to play
an SACD-Only disc on your standard CD player. All SACDs are now
compatible hybrid, but all the Sony and several other labels for the
first few years only had the SACD layer, with no standard CD option.
Some DualDiscs are DVD-audio on one side instead of standard CD, so
those won’t play. Another woeful possibility are some of the recent
copy-protected CDs; some are specifically designed to be totally
unplayable in any computer CD drive.  The particular label
evidently fears you may find it easier to burn copies of the CD in your
PC — never mind if the one copy was for your car or beach cabin. And
some ramp up the problem by just not playing but jamming inside your PC
and requiring expensive repair service to be removed! Speaking of PCs,
if you have burned any MP3 CDs and try to play them on an older CD
player, it probably won’t cotton to them either.

If the particular CD plays, but skips or sounds distorted, it may only
require a simple cleaning. Check the playing surface for dirt or
scratches.  Also try the disc on different players, because there
are widely varying error-correction abilities among players, and this
quality doesn’t necessarily depend on the dollar value of the
unit!  There are many CD cleaning fluids and mechanical devices,
but the best approach is first to simply polish the CD surface with a
very soft cloth, going only radially — from the center to outer
edges.  If that doesn’t do it, try one of the scratch-reducing
fluids, which look and smell something like auto polish (and that’s
what they basically are).

There’s a misguided rumor that you should clean your CD player after
eight hours of playing time.  My guess about where that crazy idea
came from is the need to frequently clean the heads on those
now-obsolete gadgets known as VCRs — which most people completely
neglected to do. There is one part of your player that can compromise
operation if it accumulates a layer of dust on it.  That’s the
actual reading laser under the disc.  If you can get near it with
a Dust-Off spray, try that. If not, a very soft camel’s hair brush on a
long stick might do the trick. (The same maintenance goes for the
upward-facing lenses and/or mirrors of rear-projection TVs; ignoring
that puts everyone on TV in a thick London fog. You may have seen the
effect at a bar or restaurant.)

– John Sunier

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