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Musical Meddling: CD Treatments

Innovative Audio Products CD Clarity

Greg Weaver

4 November 2002


Along with the receipt of the Dave Herren’s Cobra Cable reviewed in my last Musical Meddling column, I received a bottle of fluid invented by Dave for any optical disc treatment (CD, DVD, SACD, CD-R, LD, etc.) called “CD Clarity.” Dave’s products are available via the web at The Audio Difference, based in Portland, Oregon.

“CD Clarity” is a slightly translucent blue, nontoxic, non-alcohol based fluid that is said to perform a number of important enhancements when applied to the playing surface of any optical disc. Dave states that it cleans discs and coats them with a "dry film protectant" to help shield them from scratches, fingerprints and dirt and helps seal and close fine scratches, holes, and imperfections in the disc's polycarbonate coating and it also contains an antistatic agent. “CD Clarity” is therefore said to improve the intensity of the laser beam reaching the disc, to permit a more accurate reading of the information on the disc.

While it is no secret to me that optical surface treatments can have a wonderfully positive effect (I’ve been using them since the late 1980’s), what is a pleasant surprise here is that “CD Clarity” is so affordable at just $12 a bottle — plus $3 for shipping. It comes in a self-applicating spray bottle, some 6” tall and 1 5/8” in diameter, and Dave claims there is enough fluid to treat approximately 400 discs. While I’ve no idea what is in the concoction, it is effective.

Spraying a fine mist onto an audio CD, then polishing it dry with a clean cotton cloth, proves an easy enough method of application. In a matter of seconds the treatment is complete and ready for audition. I used several duplicate discs, which I have verified sound indistinguishable from each other, that keep on hand for just such evaluations.

After the quick and easy application of “CD Clarity,” audio discs played with slightly improved musical focus and resolve, meaning instruments were better delineated and located. There was a bit more continuity to the overall harmonic texture of the disc, making the digital disc sound that much more like an LP. There is a slight warming of mids and reduction of high frequency glare that is always welcomed, especially on contemporary pop recordings. Also noted was a slight reduction in that digital “haze” or “fog” that almost always veils some of the presentation. Finally, there was a slight refinement to bass and midbass articulation that easily aided the rhythmic presentation of the music.

With DVD’s, the changes are very similar in the sonic realm, but the video improves slightly as well. Color saturation becomes a bit more vivid, and three-dimensionality, the perceived depth noted in the picture, becomes slightly more pronounced.

Mind you, these are subtle flavor changes, not like changing speakers or source components, but more like the subtle changes noticed in changing a power cable or an interconnect. I am happy to say that, for $15 delivered, it is easily worth its asking price.

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