For a number of years
audiophiles have reported improvements in performance after
demagnetizing CDs and DVDs. Improved clarity and resolution
of fine detail, cleaner top-end and a more developed
soundstage are common enhancements. Videophiles offer
similar reports of improvement related to picture fidelity,
color saturation and detail. There is now research to
suggest that demagnetization of computer discs (including
CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-R and other similar disc
media) result in reduced block error rates.
When exposed to magnetic fields inside
the CD or DVD player, the disc becomes magnetized. While the
levels of magnetism may not be great, they are indeed enough
to measurably affect performance, as we shall see a bit later.
But wait a second. How, you may ask, can a CD
or DVD become magnetized? Good question. On the surface it
doesnít seem possible, since a CD or DVD is essentially
aluminum and polycarbonate, neither of which are ferrous
materials. However, the inks used to print the labels have
been found to contain elements such as Iron, Nickel and
Cobalt, which are indeed easily magnetized. Further, while the
substrate is 99% aluminum, it may also contain small amounts
of the ferrous material listed above.
Without a doubt, I have
heard/seen the benefits of disc demagnetization (and likely
you will as well). While the performance enhancements are not
jaw-dropping, I feel disc demagnetization is clearly a
worthwhile practice. Most who have tried it heartily agree,
which has spawned several products specifically designed to
deal with the problem, and prompted some to experiment with
bulk demagnetizers. Let me tell you what Iíve found.
I have spoken with a
number of folks who have experimented with bulk demagnetizers,
and found their success varies widely. Not surprising, since
using a hand-held bulk demagnetizer can be a bit tricky to
use. To be effective, the unit must be switched on at a
distance from the disc, slowly moved toward the disc, and then
similarly moved away in a smooth, gradual progression.
Consistent results are virtually impossible as the effect
varies with the accuracy of timing and movement. Professional
bulk erasers designed for studio use (demagnetization of video
and audio tapes) are effective due to electronic control of
the process, but they are both large and very expensive. As an
alternative, some have tried to use tape head demagnetizers.
Due to their small and more directional magnetic field will
never produce positive results and their use may in fact only
succeed in further magnetizing the disc. Don't waste
The first audiophile
oriented company to address the issue was Bedini. We have them
to thank for calling our attention to a problem that most
audiophiles never knew existed. Their products were effective
at reducing the residual magnetism, and over the years we have
sold a number of them to satisfied listeners. However, other
companies felt better results could be achieved, which led to
To accurately quantify the
problems surrounding disc magnetization, the Japanese company,
Furutech, invested in research to investigate and document the
phenomenon. Using a range of sophisticated measurement
equipment, Furutech was able to quantify the amount of
magnetism retained on the disc, proving that the problem did
indeed exist. Far more interesting, they were able to measure
the negative effects magnetism had on playback accuracy;
documented proof of what audiophiles and Videophiles had been
experiencing for some time.
Testing discs before and after demagnetization
revealed measured changes; demagnetizing the discs resulted in
decreased distortion, increased signal to noise ratio and
increased overall level. Decreased error rates were measured
on CD-ROM discs after demagnetization.
Note: Furutech has published a white paper with
graphs and charts detailing the above
information for those interested in the technical
With knowledge that
demagnetization was indeed beneficial, Furutech worked to
develop an effective demagnetizer, one specifically designed
for use with discs in the CD family (DVD, DVD-R, CD-ROM, CD-R,
CD-RW, etc). The result of that labor is the Furutech RD-2. Key to the success of any demagnetizer is the
ability to smoothly ramp up, then down, the intensity of the
magnetic degaussing field. Like the expensive professional
models, he Furutech RD-2 uses electronic control for
precision and repeatability.
Demagnetization of all
disc media can result in improved performance. CD, DVD-V,
SACD, DVD-A, DVD-R, CD-ROM, CDR, CD-RW and Photo CD will all
benefit from a session with the Furutech RD-2.
suggests that not just CDs, but the various connectors and
cables in a system will benefit from demagnetization as well.
According to Furutech supplied information, magnetism is
generated in these parts by the current flowing through them.
Even though many of the metals used in these parts are
non-ferrous in theory, impurities in the materials are enough
to retain some residual magnetism.
I must say, the Furutech
is easily the best product of its kind I have ever used. I
recommend it highly to anyone with a high resolution audio or
video system looking to maximize performance. It may not be
the equivalent to changing an amplifier, but I would say it is
well beyond a subtle tweak. For the reasonable price, the
Furutech RD-2 is good enough to be a standard accessory in
most every system.
Furutech has discontinued production
of the RD-2. Fortunately, Acoustic Revive has taken up
the torch and has introduced the RD-3. It's an improved
version with even better performance than the RD-2.