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ARSCLIST  December 2006

ARSCLIST December 2006

Subject:

Re: Clarifying the MAM-A gold comment

From:

GeorgeBlood <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 10 Dec 2006 12:05:46 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (114 lines)

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 pot?

Are we worried about the right problem?

G

>Tom Fine writes:
>>Not disputing your facts at all. However, I find it curious that Mitsui
>>would see such a need for
>>cost-cutting.
>
>
>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
>accordingly.
>
>When I get the chance to contact Mitsui directly about all of this, I'll
>report to the list whatever I discover.
>
>Chas.
>
>--
>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
George Blood Audio, L.P.
21 West Highland Avenue
Philadelphia, PA  19118
(215) 248-2100 (v)
(215) 242-2177 (f)

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