Smooth-Edged Jewel Cases in Your CD Collection

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I am ashamed but also not... one CD turned into 11 last night! There was a seller on eBay who was selling a bunch of West Germany and Japan CDs from the early- to mid-1980s. All have smooth edges. All sold for a pretty penny, but I love all of the albums I bought from this seller:
  • Carpenters - Horizon (1975) - AM+ series; A&M CD 4530; barcode 0 7502-14530-2; "Made in Japan."
  • The Cars S/T (1978) - Elektra 135-2 (64135-2); barcode 0 7559-60524-2 9; "Manufactured by Victor Company of Japan, Ltd. Made in Japan."
  • ABBA - Arrival (1976) - Not sure about the details, because the seller posted a photo of "Voulez-Vous" on this listing. But I contacted the seller and confirmed that this listing is for "Arrival." (I wouldn't mind "Voulez-Vous," to be perfectly honest!)
  • Eagles - Their Greatest Hits (1976) - Asylum 105-2 (253-017); no barcode; "Made in Japan."
  • Yes - The Yes Album (1971) - Atlantic SD 19131-2; barcode 0 7567-81530-2 0; "Manufactured by Victor Company of Japan, Ltd. Made in Japan."
  • Steely Dan - Aja (1977) - MCA MCAD-37214; DIDX 55; no barcode; "Manufactured in Japan for MCA Records, Inc."
  • Donald Fagen - The Nightfly (1982) - WB 9 23696-2; West Germany Target CD; barcode 0 7599-23696-2; "Made in Japan."
  • Madonna S/T (1983) - Sire 9 23867-2; West Germany Target CD; barcode 0 7599-23867-2; "Made in West Germany by Polygram."
  • Van Halen - 1984 (1983) - WB 9 23985-2; DIDX 474; barcode 0 7599-23985-2; "Made in U.S.A. by DADC."
  • The Sting Soundtrack (1974) - MCA MCAD-1625; JVC-485; barcode 0 76732-1625-2; "Manufactured in Japan for MCA Records, Inc."
  • The Cars - Heartbeat City (1984) - Elektra 60296-2; West Germany Target CD; barcode 0 7559-60296-2; "Made in West Germany by Polygram."
Unfortunately, I can't make out the matrices/runout info from the pictures he posted.
 

Rudy

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The Donald Fagen may or may not be a good one. There was one specific matrix that indicated it was made from an analog backup tape and not digital. And I didn't find that out until I'd already owned it for a few decades! (I think it was the fourth or fifth CD I ever bought.) It never did sound right, and was a little "off" from my original vinyl version, so now I know why. From what I understand, there was a "2" or "02" in the matrix. Not the "-2" in the catalog number which indicated it was a CD. There were a couple of versions, so it'll be interesting to see which one you have.

Thankfully the DVD-Audio had a good digital version of it, and I got a West German pressing on vinyl that also sounds nice. The digital versions of his albums tend to sound good, except that Morph The Cat was very heavy in the bass. The 2-LP set tames the bass and is the better sounding version because of it--the bass is more evened out.

The Van Halen 1984 was always a weird sounding album. It doesn't have much deep bass. More of a thud. You'll hear it once you play it. It's nothing like their self-titled debut which IMHO was one of the best sounding records they recorded. The worst had to be A Different Kind of Truth. Even the vinyl was terrible--if you want to hear the absolute worst that brickwalling can be, this is the album. It's a shame since it's a reunion of Eddie and Dave, and they dig out a few tracks from the old days that they never recorded. By the time the second track is over with, your mind is exhausted from listening to it. If you have access to it somehow (streaming, maybe?), listen to "She's The Woman" (track #2). You'll see what I mean.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I'm so mainstream and so nerdy, but the Fagen investment was *mostly* to hear "New Frontier." I'll definitely be sure to report back which version it is!

And the reason why I wanted 1984 is to hear "Jump." I've heard *ahem* less-than-legal versions of the early CD online, and I hate the loudness war remasters that are available online, so I figured, why not get a copy of the CD for myself? The thing that stands out most for me is the way the synth rips on the early CD versions. The synth tends to get hidden in later remasters. But you're right, the one I heard has minimal bass (if any). I suppose the master-ers thought the setups of the time could compensate with their hardware?

I'm too excited for Horizon. It's my favorite Carpenters album (it's playing for the third or fourth time today). I have an AM+ CD, but the runout has an IFPI number, so I know it's not from the 1980s! Although the bits and bytes are probably identical, I'm really looking forward to hearing the old old CD.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Hoping @Rudy or @Harry some of the other music aficionados here may be able to answer my question about CD matrices. I have a couple different CDs (off the top of my head, "Lovelines" by the Carpenters and "Time" by Richard Carpenter) that have matrices like: "CD3931 11/90 1DC2X" (Lovelines) or "CD-5117 8/87 1DB10" (Time). It's apparent to me that the ##/## is the month of pressing, so my Lovelines CD is from November 1990, and my Time CD is from August 1987; the first part is the catalog number. But what does the third part mean, if you know? Trying to wrap my head around the difference between 1DB10 and 1DC2X. :laugh:

Note: I should note that my "Lovelines" disc seems to be a BMG club disc. It doesn't have a barcode, but it says "Mfd. for BMG Direct Marketing, Inc. under License" on the disc. "Time" seems like a regular disc though. (I don't have "Time" on me at the moment, but it I don't remember it being a BMG disc.)
 
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Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
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I'm not an expert, but it seems to me that if I were manufacturing discs, I'd want to know the exact source of a particular disc, so I have a feeling that the 1DB10 is more than likely a code to dell the manufacturer the exact source of that disc. That way, if a disc error occurs and a consumer points it out, the manufacturer can trace the problem back to where exactly it was made.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
From what I understand, there was a "2" or "02" in the matrix. Not the "-2" in the catalog number which indicated it was a CD. There were a couple of versions, so it'll be interesting to see which one you have.
Just received it! Matrix reads: 9 23696 2 M1E1

It's a target disc. The disc reads "Made in Japan," and the back of the CD reads, "Printed in Japan."
 

Rudy

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Here's the story on the Nightfly CD. Despite the CD allegedly being hard to find, enough must have gotten out into the stores since I grabbed one the moment it became available. I highlighted one part below where the different matrix is mentioned.

The following was written by engineer Roger Nichols:

OK, here is the deal.​
When we mixed Nightfly in the Summer of 1982 there was no such thing as CD. We recorded on the 3M digital 32 track and mixed to the 3M 4 track. We mastered at Bob Ludwig's. The record company asked for a 30ips 1/2 inch analog copy to use for advance cassettes for promotion guys.​
I also printed the mixes to a Sony PCM-F1. I had the first one in the US in 1982. I gave a copy of it to Stevie Wonder.​
When CDs came out in 1984, Warner Bros pressed CDs of Nightfly. So far nothing I had done was out on CD. Stevie called me up and said that he just got a copy of the Nightfly CD and it didn't sound as good as the F1 tape. I thought "%$(&*%$# CDs are not any good, I'm a dead man!"​
I went to Warner Bros and got a copy of the CD. I want home and listened. The CD sounded like it had a blanket over the vocals and horns and... well everything. I called Bob Ludwig and asked what tape he sent to Warner Bros for the CD mastering. He said "What tape? Warner Bros never ordered anything for CD production." Uh- Oh.​
Upon further investigation I found out that Warner Bros had someone make a copy of the 30ips 1/2 inch tape, and sent it to the CD plant instead of ordering a digital tape from the digital original.​
No wonder the vinyl sounded better. The vinyl was made from the digital original, but the CDs were made from a second generation analog copy. It happened to a lot of artists including Blondie, Diana Ross, Billy Joel and many others.​
Bob Ludwig made a digital master and sent it to the CD plant. The CD was pressed and the old CDs were supposed to be destroyed. Instead Warner Bros sent them to Europe to sell thinking we would not find out. Somehow they also leaked into the chain in the US and were consumed by consumers.​
SO...​
The bad CD can be detected by the laser number in the middle and the fact that the silk screen label has silver going all the way up to the hole. The number of the bad one ends in #########-02. The good CD was #######-03 and was clear around the hole.
The bad CD was made from 30ips analog tape and the good one was made from a digital 1610 master. All of the pressings after the first one are good.​
Roger​
So that explains why my CD did not sound as good as the original release LP. And honestly, I think most of those "target" CDs sound similarly bad--I don't get the whole collector stigma behind them, and never have. This account here is proof positive that Warner was grabbing any available tape off the shelf and slapping it onto a CD, and evidently without artist or producer approval. (Newly recorded releases sounded better since CDs were a growing trend and the artists, producers and engineers could have some input on the product.) Other labels were just as guilty. They saw CD reissues as the next cash grab technology, which it turned out to be--it got many buyers to repurchase their entire collections.

Buyer beware, in other words...
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Here's the story on the Nightfly CD. Despite the CD allegedly being hard to find, enough must have gotten out into the stores since I grabbed one the moment it became available. I highlighted one part below where the different matrix is mentioned.

The following was written by engineer Roger Nichols:

OK, here is the deal.​
When we mixed Nightfly in the Summer of 1982 there was no such thing as CD. We recorded on the 3M digital 32 track and mixed to the 3M 4 track. We mastered at Bob Ludwig's. The record company asked for a 30ips 1/2 inch analog copy to use for advance cassettes for promotion guys.​
I also printed the mixes to a Sony PCM-F1. I had the first one in the US in 1982. I gave a copy of it to Stevie Wonder.​
When CDs came out in 1984, Warner Bros pressed CDs of Nightfly. So far nothing I had done was out on CD. Stevie called me up and said that he just got a copy of the Nightfly CD and it didn't sound as good as the F1 tape. I thought "%$(&*%$# CDs are not any good, I'm a dead man!"​
I went to Warner Bros and got a copy of the CD. I want home and listened. The CD sounded like it had a blanket over the vocals and horns and... well everything. I called Bob Ludwig and asked what tape he sent to Warner Bros for the CD mastering. He said "What tape? Warner Bros never ordered anything for CD production." Uh- Oh.​
Upon further investigation I found out that Warner Bros had someone make a copy of the 30ips 1/2 inch tape, and sent it to the CD plant instead of ordering a digital tape from the digital original.​
No wonder the vinyl sounded better. The vinyl was made from the digital original, but the CDs were made from a second generation analog copy. It happened to a lot of artists including Blondie, Diana Ross, Billy Joel and many others.​
Bob Ludwig made a digital master and sent it to the CD plant. The CD was pressed and the old CDs were supposed to be destroyed. Instead Warner Bros sent them to Europe to sell thinking we would not find out. Somehow they also leaked into the chain in the US and were consumed by consumers.​
SO...​
The bad CD can be detected by the laser number in the middle and the fact that the silk screen label has silver going all the way up to the hole. The number of the bad one ends in #########-02. The good CD was #######-03 and was clear around the hole.
The bad CD was made from 30ips analog tape and the good one was made from a digital 1610 master. All of the pressings after the first one are good.​
Roger​
So that explains why my CD did not sound as good as the original release LP. And honestly, I think most of those "target" CDs sound similarly bad--I don't get the whole collector stigma behind them, and never have. This account here is proof positive that Warner was grabbing any available tape off the shelf and slapping it onto a CD, and evidently without artist or producer approval. (Newly recorded releases sounded better since CDs were a growing trend and the artists, producers and engineers could have some input on the product.) Other labels were just as guilty. They saw CD reissues as the next cash grab technology, which it turned out to be--it got many buyers to repurchase their entire collections.

Buyer beware, in other words...
I’ll have to listen to the album again today. I wonder if Roger Nichols’s disclaimer only applies to CDs made in the US, only because my CD matrix has 2 and not 02? I didn’t see if the metal foil went all the way to the center or if the mound was plastic.

But, that being said, that sounds very true. I remember growing up with cassette tapes and CDs that I later found out were repurchases of what my parents already had on vinyl but sold once vinyl was “out” (and by the time I was born, we didn’t have a functional turntable anyway). We did, however, have a turntable that didn’t work with a bum stylus. My mom dumped it in my high school years.

I have to say, when I listened to “New Frontier” last night (on my computer speakers though), the sound was very dynamic. I want to listen through my AirPods just to check though. 😁

And who knows, maybe if I get disappointed with this one, I’ll look for the one with 03 in the matrix, per Mr. Nichols’s guidance!
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
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Here is what to look for.

The silver plating will be all the way to the spindle hole. The matrix will read the following sequence of numbers:

7599 23696-2 2893 021 02

PXL_20210701_162801587-01.jpeg

The "02" is the bad version. Any other number like 03 was properly mastered.

The face of the CD should make no difference.

PXL_20210701_162826481-01.jpeg
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I didn't notice if my CD was made by JVC, but given the matrix, I am thinking this is the one I have:


R-2801509-1301660161.jpeg.jpg


My disc may actually say M2E11. One of the ones looks like it could've been a vertical line instead.

I'm listening to "New Frontier" through my AirPods. Very roomy. The harmonies are more lush than I remember them being on any download.

Well, now I have this one and I have Qobuz, so I can listen to whichever I am wanting at that time. :)
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
ABBA - Arrival (1976) - Not sure about the details, because the seller posted a photo of "Voulez-Vous" on this listing. But I contacted the seller and confirmed that this listing is for "Arrival." (I wouldn't mind "Voulez-Vous," to be perfectly honest!)
This disc corresponds to this Discogs entry: ABBA – Arrival (CD)

The music sounds great! A little heavier in the bass. Not too shiny, which is good because Agnetha's and Frida's voices are naturally a little more treble, and the music, in true Euro-disco fashion, is heavier on shinier instruments like tambourines and hi-hats. If anyone likes ABBA, I would highly recommend looking for either the Japanese Discomate discs or the Swedish Polar discs (the Swedish discs have catalog numbers beginning with POLCD).

I low key want to find the first iterations of The Visitors. I know it's not an album that's for everyone, but it's so weird I love it.
 

Rudy

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My disc may actually say M2E11. One of the ones looks like it could've been a vertical line instead.
I've never seen a US release look like that, so I'm not sure which version it is. All the early target CDs were fully "painted," like mine was, and in the US that style remained until they went with the font-based labels that looked like this one:

1625160564733.png

Most of those early Warner CDs, IIRC, were silver plated right up to the hole. (I don't remember so well anymore, but I think Polygram was pressing these CDs at the time, and that was one of their characteristics. The Sony discs were all clear hubs, and US-pressed CDs originally were stamped DADC in the hub, once Sony's CD plant in Indianapolis was up and running.)
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I've never seen a US release look like that, so I'm not sure which version it is. All the early target CDs were fully "painted," like mine was, and in the US that style remained until they went with the font-based labels that looked like this one:

View attachment 6806

Most of those early Warner CDs, IIRC, were silver plated right up to the hole. (I don't remember so well anymore, but I think Polygram was pressing these CDs at the time, and that was one of their characteristics. The Sony discs were all clear hubs, and US-pressed CDs originally were stamped DADC in the hub, once Sony's CD plant in Indianapolis was up and running.)
The eBay seller I bought it from is U.S. based, but he had CDs that were pressed in the U.S., Japan, and West Germany. A couple of "fully painted" Target CDs I bought from him include Madonna S/T and Heartbeat City by the Cars. The matrices on all of the discs I bought from him look really interesting; they look etched, not laser-printed. I'll try to snap some pictures tonight.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
@Rudy, here's "New Frontier" from the above disc:


I'm curious to know what you think -- do you think it sounds like the bad-sounding one or the okay-sounding one?

^ I know I have a reputation, but no, no tinkering was involved.
 

Rudy

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Unless you have the exact CD I posted above, then it's one of the good ones.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
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Re ABBA: I'm lucky enough to have gotten the three CDs issued by Atlantic in the US. One was a purchase from another fan, and the other two were just lucky finds in the used sections of record stores. All have smooth-edged cases.
- SUPER TROUPER 16023-2
- GREATEST HITS 19114-2 (park bench cover)
- GREATEST HITS VOL. 2 16009-2

Many in the ABBA fandom community seek these three out for their superior early mastering, without all the compression and peak limiting.

Personally, I find ABBA to be one of those groups who probably WANTED a bunch of compression and peak limiting as that's the Phil Spector-type sound they were always looking for.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Many in the ABBA fandom community seek these three out for their superior early mastering, without all the compression and peak limiting.

Personally, I find ABBA to be one of those groups who probably WANTED a bunch of compression and peak limiting as that's the Phil Spector-type sound they were always looking for.
Agreed on both counts. As a fan of ABBA, I do have some later CDs (i.e. that I personally bought new from Walmart or B&N in the past 5 years or so). The sonic tone is more "modern" sounding and moves far away from tape, which some people really like--the music doesn't sound as "dated," I suppose.

But, at the end of the day, the CDs you have are the ones that I think sound the best. Another highly prized CD is "The Singles: The First Ten Years," from ~1982/1983. I've heard it before and think the sound is great because it's not (digitally) compressed but it definitely has "Wall of Sound" vibes! One example I can think of is "Summer Night City" from that CD. Later reissues, like on the "Voulez-Vous" deluxe CD, sound bloated to me.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I just bought a few Cat Stevens, Carpenters, Chuck Mangione, and Police (I heart A&M Records!!!) CDs, made in Japan, smooth-sided jewel cases. :)
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
All I can say is :realmad:

My smooth-edged CDs have been hit and miss today, sadly. The one I was most excited about, Chuck Mangione's Feel So Good (pressed in Japan for U.S.), is SO LOUD.

lTHjZfU.png


Maybe I was naïve, but I wasn't expecting a "Made in Japan" CD from the 1980s to be SO LOUD. (^^^ no tinkering!!!)

My lesson has been learned — I will need to shell out the money for the Alfa disc. Ha!

But, that being said, the Cat Stevens CDs were nice. A special addition I wasn't expecting — Cat Stevens Greatest Hits is a Technics/Matsush!ta pressing that wasn't on Discogs until I added it (and the scans) tonight. (Link here!) Hopefully will be able to connect my earbuds and listen to it soon!
 
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Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I suppose a big plus side of this Chuck Mangione CD though is that I was able to scan the cover. (The booklet was in great shape.)

DSd6wC7.png
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
And here is the Matsush!ta Technics disc for Cat Stevens' Greatest Hits. That was a lovely surprise, to be honest.

bbm3p0x.jpg
 

Electroliner

New Member
Here's the story on the Nightfly CD. Despite the CD allegedly being hard to find, enough must have gotten out into the stores since I grabbed one the moment it became available. I highlighted one part below where the different matrix is mentioned.

The following was written by engineer Roger Nichols:

OK, here is the deal.​
When we mixed Nightfly in the Summer of 1982 there was no such thing as CD. We recorded on the 3M digital 32 track and mixed to the 3M 4 track. We mastered at Bob Ludwig's. The record company asked for a 30ips 1/2 inch analog copy to use for advance cassettes for promotion guys.​
I also printed the mixes to a Sony PCM-F1. I had the first one in the US in 1982. I gave a copy of it to Stevie Wonder.​
When CDs came out in 1984, Warner Bros pressed CDs of Nightfly. So far nothing I had done was out on CD. Stevie called me up and said that he just got a copy of the Nightfly CD and it didn't sound as good as the F1 tape. I thought "%$(&*%$# CDs are not any good, I'm a dead man!"​
I went to Warner Bros and got a copy of the CD. I want home and listened. The CD sounded like it had a blanket over the vocals and horns and... well everything. I called Bob Ludwig and asked what tape he sent to Warner Bros for the CD mastering. He said "What tape? Warner Bros never ordered anything for CD production." Uh- Oh.​
Upon further investigation I found out that Warner Bros had someone make a copy of the 30ips 1/2 inch tape, and sent it to the CD plant instead of ordering a digital tape from the digital original.​
No wonder the vinyl sounded better. The vinyl was made from the digital original, but the CDs were made from a second generation analog copy. It happened to a lot of artists including Blondie, Diana Ross, Billy Joel and many others.​
Bob Ludwig made a digital master and sent it to the CD plant. The CD was pressed and the old CDs were supposed to be destroyed. Instead Warner Bros sent them to Europe to sell thinking we would not find out. Somehow they also leaked into the chain in the US and were consumed by consumers.​
SO...​
The bad CD can be detected by the laser number in the middle and the fact that the silk screen label has silver going all the way up to the hole. The number of the bad one ends in #########-02. The good CD was #######-03 and was clear around the hole.
The bad CD was made from 30ips analog tape and the good one was made from a digital 1610 master. All of the pressings after the first one are good.​
Roger​
So that explains why my CD did not sound as good as the original release LP. And honestly, I think most of those "target" CDs sound similarly bad--I don't get the whole collector stigma behind them, and never have. This account here is proof positive that Warner was grabbing any available tape off the shelf and slapping it onto a CD, and evidently without artist or producer approval. (Newly recorded releases sounded better since CDs were a growing trend and the artists, producers and engineers could have some input on the product.) Other labels were just as guilty. They saw CD reissues as the next cash grab technology, which it turned out to be--it got many buyers to repurchase their entire collections.

Buyer beware, in other words...
Thanks for the info. I'm going to check my Nightfly disc from 1983. I also have a "Nightfly" promo only QUIEX II vinyl release I acquired when I was a College Radio music director. That is still a stellar recording on vinyl.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
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Thanks for the info. I'm going to check my Nightfly disc from 1983. I also have a "Nightfly" promo only QUIEX II vinyl release I acquired when I was a College Radio music director. That is still a stellar recording on vinyl.
That Quiex II pressing is a keeper! I ended up with a pressing from the EU to replace my US pressing and it still sounds really good.

There was the Mobile Fidelity OneStep LP a couple of years ago but I didn't see the point of paying $100 for a 2-record set, for something I already own digitally. (Since Nightfly was recorded digitally and I have two different digital hi-res versions, I didn't see the sense in getting another analog version.)
 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
I threw away The Doobie Brothers 1979 "Minute By Minute" (either West Germany or Japan CD from the long box which I got in late 1986) because the beginning of "Open Your Eyes" had a tape problem BUT the rest of that sounds great including the instrumental "Steamer Lane Breakdown"!! Too bad I threw that CD away. Got the remaster (which also has "Livin' On The Fault Line" (from 1977) on Edsel label (2 albums on 2 CD's).
 
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