Although I have heard that CD players are on average better at reproducing sound…

Although I have heard that CD players are on average better at reproducing sound, I have also heard that the best sound quality can still be had from high end phonographs. To what extent is this true?

The digitization process does introduce some distortions into the sound signal, including aliasing (confusion about high frequencies) and quantization error (round-off errors in recording the softest sounds). However, these distortions should be so small or at such high frequencies that they should be inaudible. Still, there are always some audiophiles who can hear (or claim to hear) these imperfections.

Why do CD’s skip?

Why do CD’s skip?

CD players must position their optical system very precisely, relative to the spinning disk itself. It uses very sophisticated electromechanical devices to keep it in place. But if you jar a player violently enough, it will lose its position and the audio may suffer. Most modern CD players save a short amount of information so that they are reading ahead of where they are playing. Even if they lose the track for a few hundredths of a second, they have enough music saved up that they can keep playing continuously. But if the upset is severe enough, they will run out of saved music and will go silent for a moment or two.

Do you know anything about a special kind of digital tape that could replace the…

Do you know anything about a special kind of digital tape that could replace the CD?

Digital audiotapes have been around for a few years. These tapes store sound as digital information on a tape. Because of the digital recording and playback, the reproduction is almost perfect. The digital process involves an enormous amount of information each second; too much to be recorded in the conventional method used in cassette tapes. Instead, I think that a helical technique is used, in which information is written as diagonal stripes across the length of the passing tape. By writing a closely spaced series of these stripes, the DAT (digital audio tape) player uses much more of the tape’s surface than a standard cassette and stores much more information on that surface. I doubt that DAT tapes will replace CD’s because CD’s are so easy to mass-produce. DAT tapes must be recorded one at a time.

Why do some CD players sound better than others even if the CD is seriously scra…

Why do some CD players sound better than others even if the CD is seriously scratched on the bottom half?

At this point, there should be very little difference between CD players that are playing perfect CD’s. They all create almost distortionless reproductions of the original sound. However, different players use different tracking techniques and optical systems and thus have different abilities to recover from imperfections in the CD.