You are correct about sticky shed not being "measured for" because all the credible stories I've
heard from the tape-chemistry guys who were there at the time (ie the 3M vets still with us)
indicate it wasn't a known problem until it showed up. I think what's debateable is how long it was
clearly known about and understood before Ampex Tape in particular did anything to change their
As for digi-media, while I respect all the "accellerated aging" and other torture tests that have
been done on dye-laser media, I take it all with a shaker of salt because I think the only "real
world" conditions are, well, in the real world, and hence in real time. We can make some informed
judgements based on simulations, but only observable facts over long time period are undisputable.
That said, of course I hope all the predictions are right and those CDR's I burn today on good media
will outlast me.
Here's one small but encouraging data point. I recently bought a pile of on-sale CD's (commercial
pressed-metal CD's) at Amazon. Jazz stuff mostly. A goodly number were on sale because they are out
of print early 1990's reissues. Some have just gone out of print but some have been remastered in
deluxe format more recently. All were factory-new, shrinkwrapped, sealed, etc. So I ran some tests
with the Plextor QC software. They had about the same test results as far as errors and mechanical
consistency as pressed-this-year CD's in the same order. So the mass-produced media -- when
manufactured correctly -- appears to be quite stable. I would guess that Amazon's warehouses and the
record company warehouses where these products lived for 10-15 years are non-ideal as far as
climate, perhaps much less ideal than the average well-maintained/clean/tidy home.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2006 12:21 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Clarifying the MAM-A gold comment
> Re your last line, George, what problems should we be worrying about?
> Steve Smolian
> P.S. Sticky shed was not measured for. The variations in error rates are being measured for.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "GeorgeBlood" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2006 12:05 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Clarifying the MAM-A gold comment
>> As I understand, the "issues" (we won't call them "problems") trace the recent history of the
>> company, as the Gold product line has been sold several times in the last five years. I'm not
>> clear enough about that history to recount it, but my impression is that the underlying troubles
>> are not "greed" but distraction. CD manufacturing and CD-R manufacturing in particular, is
>> extremely competitive. Price vs. costs are driven more by survival than by squeezing the last
>> penny out of the customer. Whatever the reason, our collective concerns are with the ends, not
>> the means -- we don't buy media because a company makes less money than another, we buy it
>> because it's "better." "Better" to most consumers is "cheaper". And, sorry for this dose of
>> reality, there aren't enough folks in archives demanding "higher quality" to show up as dither in
>> the sales data for CD-R. Which is where developing relationships to a niche player (like MAM-A)
>> is potentially good. Keeping in mind of course, my tiny media supplier moves 500,000 blank CD-R
>> every month. Or probably more than every CD-R used in preservation world-wide every year.
>> We've had serious concerns about the "Mitsui Golds" for some time. We have test equipment here
>> and have been monitoring their media. It varies very widely from batch to batch, and have
>> returned batches with poor results. We also find best results vs. burn speed vary from batch to
>> batch. So we lose a few dozen discs from each batch to find the best process window. (Although
>> the MAM-A Gold, according to the company, is rated to 52x, lately we're finding the best results
>> at 16x. They generally have scored badly at low speeds, 1x and 2x) A new shipment just came in,
>> so we'll be going through this again this week.)
>> We have found MAM-A very responsive to our worries, have never hesitated to replace media, and
>> seem to appreciate the feedback and test results.
>> I'm not here to be apologist for MAM-A. Back in the day when they gained their reputation they
>> made exceptionally fine CD-Rs, better than anything we tested (and we do testing ALL the time --
>> for some projects, every single disc; and routinely on all our burners to monitor aging and
>> process window).
>> For consistency and exceptionally low error rates (across the board, BLER, E11, E12, E21, E22,
>> E31 and E32), TY takes our prize. They're consistently so good I haven't bothered lately to
>> bring in other cyanine discs for comparison. But they do stand in stark contrast to MAM-A.
>> Typical of CD-Rs, MAM-A Golds have high E12 errors. Atypical of CD-Rs, TY's have very low E12
>> errors (I'm told no one knows why CD-Rs have characteristically high E12 errors).
>> But does any of this matter? Does the error rate increase? Does it increase perpetually or does
>> it plateau? Does it accelerate exponentially? Has entropy been repealed by polycarbonate? By
>> the time the error rates get high enough to be un-correctable (whether the discs last for 50, 100
>> or 300 years), will there be hardware to play them on? What do accelerated aging tests tell us?
>> (Did accelerated aging tests predict Sticky Shed Syndrome?) Any good mathematicians out there
>> who can tell us, in relation to the available error correction power of the format, how much is
>> being spent correcting for these variations in manufacturing? Is all this a tempest in a tea
>> Are we worried about the right problem?
>>>Tom Fine writes:
>>>>Not disputing your facts at all. However, I find it curious that Mitsui
>>>>would see such a need for
>>>Of course, I am not privy to the corporate meetings that led to this
>>>decision, but I'd love to go back in time and preempt it!
>>>It's probably all about market share and dwindling profits. We
>>>professionals aren't driving this market and will be marginalized
>>>When I get the chance to contact Mitsui directly about all of this, I'll
>>>report to the list whatever I discover.
>>>Charles Lawson <[log in to unmask]>
>>>Professional Audio for CD, DVD, Broadcast & Internet
>> Nominated for Grammy Award 2003:Best Classical Album
>> Philadelphia Orchestra, Schumann Orchestra works
>> Producers: George Blood & Simon Woods
>> George Blood
>> Safe Sound Archive
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