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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 22
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From Clark Johnsen's Diaries: Reality Redux, Part the Ducks
by Clark Johnsen

 

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Redux, the ducks? What's that mean? OK—deux to you!

Yes, Part Two II. As in Bishop Tutu, Duteilleux and U2 too.

Are we clear here? We have more to say!

Ever since I first wrote about RealityCheckCD™ CDs (read that here) and especially since next writing (read that here), the hyenas of orthodoxy have howled (pace Eliot) "the loud lament of the disconsolate chimera": Bits are bits.

That utterance sounds nothing like a hyena, you say? Hyenas have no consonants? Then you've not heard these critters. Hard edges line their voices—just like the notes on their cherished Compact Discs.

From the get-go us jungle Neanderthals have trashed the sound on those things, while civilized folk swore we were crazee. CDs were, if not perfect, pretty damn close. Some even ventured to say, just like master tapes.

Fine. Every ear turns on, tunes in, and drops out somewhere down the line. But are the only true trippers those who play LP? Inconvenient and expensive as that may be, therein does lie, like it or not, actual access to the master tape, many say.

Anyway compared to CD.

Anyway until just this year.

Only recently came the revelation that the problem with CD arises not in the questionable bit structure or bit rate (as many including myself had thought), rather in the retrieval of that information from mass-produced "Redbook" CDs. For nearly two decades those in professional recording circles have known that digital mastertapes somehow sound better than CDs—but let it pass, let it pass. News of that dichotomy arrived slowly to the outside world, alongside the discovery that CD sonics could be improved by polishing, "degaussing", trimming, matting and Intelligent Chipping. Your average consumer was unwilling—through media inculcation—to believe any of this, and equipment reviewers were not inclined to disabuse him. One high-end magazine even assigned a doctorate holder to dilate upon the impossibility of what I speak of in these pages.

Which, not to put too fine a point on it, is God's own truth.

God's Own Truth

A confession: O Lord I beseech thee, forgive me for I have sinned. Full of university education and self-confidence, I did declare that 16/44.1 PCM digital audio would never sound right. I adduced subtle arguments to support my erroneous belief. I located several holes in the theory. I cited my experience with digital optical space cameras. Most of all I listened to my ears, and to those of others, which heard the horror.

And now I have had to eat crow. Thank you, Lord, it was—mighty tasty.

Effortlessly I confess this, because the powers who forced CD sound on our congregation and claimed it was the greatest thing since ...spiral-sliced ham, have been exposed. With the advent of true CD playback, their game is up. UP! I can hardly wait until they hear the real thing. What will they say?

And playback is the name of the game. Whereas any old CD can be proved to contain all the information on the original mastertape, and therefore be deemed a true copy, the playback mechanism can not be so easily certified. Else why do players reproduce so differently? Can it be ...just ...the tubes? ...the circuit topology? ...the wire? ...the power supply? ...Burr Brown vs. ...No!

How did this nasty quirk happen?

Indeed. Yet CD equipment reviews are forever written, even in this otherwise excellent publication, under the assumption that sonic character results only from the usual audio design parameters, rather than from an insufficiency in optical execution and a subsequent need for more skillful data management.

CD playback is every bit (as it were) susceptible to circumstance as analog LP, with attendant sonic variation. And while the encoding may be set in amber, the decoding very much is not. Reading a CD is a chore best not left to those who fail to understand this—which has mostly been the case so far, and which also explains why no designer to date has solved the playback problem.

Were engineers more thoroughly versed here, the sound would not differ so ...be not dependent on AC supply ...on vibration isolation ...on disc treatments ...on RFI shielding. But it is. Like it or not, it is. Nor has anyone solved the problem yet, not even Ed Meitner, the greatest, I think.

Huh?

Heck, I was there when he discovered jitter. Almost, anyway.

Once upon a time back in 1988 Edmund knocked unannounced on my door and was most welcome to camp overnight. An excellent conversation, had we. He talked about a discovery that would soon rock the audio world; for my part, I was just completing the manuscript of a book (The Wood Effect) that might do likewise. We lifted our steins to mutual success.

Technically Ed's way ahead of me, so I was pleased when we joined forces later on the landmark 1991 AES convention in New York where he unveiled jitter and its corrective ("ClockLock") and I the provocative triple-blind test regimen that proved the audibility of Absolute Polarity to the 100% confidence level. Take that, DBT! It was at those same sessions that the infamous (and nearly bloody) confrontation over cable audibility occurred.

Yes we were ahead of our time and I hope Edmund is listening: For whatever reason, I hold within my press-stained hands, as the only person besides Bill Gaw on EnjoyTheMusic who dares to discuss this subject publically, the future of digital audio. Let's hope it doesn't slip through our fingers, because I'm here to tell you that the problem with CD has been located and almost solved. That phrase one often sees—"CD-quality sound"—may become less of a stupid oxymoron. Best of all, LP lovers have been trying to make CD as inconvenient as LP, and finally we have succeeded!

The unintended consequence? CDs may now sound just as good as LPs and even SACDs, or better. But only when played right. But still, damn!

How do I play them right?

Good question. Which brings us full circle back to RealityCheckCD™, the only way I know to make playback right, although others are in the offing. To repeat: No one in the newsstand press dares to go here. Instead they discuss some player, some DAC, some transport that gives an incremental improvement, often for big money.

What bull! I challenge the press, whether high-end or low, or strictly technical, to audition RealityCheckCD™ and report to the people—then renounce their previous pronouncements. Whoever refuses to rise to the occasion must be banished. Cancel your subscriptions, men! Cease visiting audio e-mag sites! Refuse to read the the New York Times! Because if they remain so blatantly wrongheaded about this, what else might the newspaper "of record" be falsifying?

Nor are my esteemed colleagues here at Positive Feedback immune to the allure of a handsome faceplate. (Sorry, guys!) The fact remains, however, that much remains to be known, much, about digital audio and especially CD with its weird (although bit-correct) rendering of the mastertape. CD turns out not to be so corrupt as I and many others had thought, thanks to our re-education by RealityCheckCD™. But what does history teach? Besides what Whitehead said?

The present is no exception.

It develops that RealityCheckCD™ has several precedents, as surely as it will have competitors. Previously I mentioned a device long in gestation scheduled to be introduced at the 2006 CES, which by its designer's account will do the same trick with an interior hard drive although with a lengthy (15 sec - 2 min) upload before play. No one has heard it yet, so, well ...maybe. Then there's the VRS system—very reputable, although at ten times the price, nor has anyone to my knowledge compared it yet, admittedly a shortcoming.

But something's happening here and you don't know what it is, do you, with the jones? (No offense! Just recollecting Bobby ...)

Not only that, but now it has emerged, after my reporting here, and with subsequent remarks on the audio boards, that others have discovered similar processes earlier, to no acclaim or media coverage whatsoever. A poster on Audio Circle stirred a memory:

In the late '80s or early '90s Peter McGrath brought two software sources into the CES booth at which I was working. He recorded the original excellent source software, a huge orchestra with matching dynamics & musical content.

Playback included a Sony CDP707ES CD player (or its immediate successor) with its coaxial digital output going into a top echelon DAC of that era (probably Theta). McGrath brought a portable DAT with the original master tape & the CD he mastered in the most direct method possible at the time.

We had the interesting opportunity to compare the DAT to the CD in a treated room on a system with low distortion & huge bass & dynamic capacity. The DAT sounded so much better that it could pass as not only a different recording, but an entirely different performance. Really. Everyone present agreed on this.

Is modern CD jitter & error correction technology improved now to the point that there would be no audible differences if the above test was repeated on modern playback gear?

No, is the short answer. But I was there too, actually, if it was the VMPS room. Imagine! That was some fifteen years ago. In 1996 a poster had this to say on rec.audio.highend, of all places, so no surprise that it was ignored:

At the Stereophile Show in NYC this weekend, Audio Alchemy was demonstrating their EDR*S remastering process. If you gave them a CD, they would process a track or two for you and give you the CD-R (for free) to try on your own system ...The results? Pretty amazing. I was expecting an improvement, but not an enhancement that was so consonant with the music. The soundstage wasn't just larger, but each instrument came to occupy more of its own space in the acoustic, so that there was a harmony of individual musicians playing together rather than just sounds coming from different places. Detail was improved, with instrumental decays sounding more natural (not just more evident), timbres more realistic with greater body (if appropriate), and greater dynamics. Clarity of line was greatly enhanced—it was much easier to follow each instrument. Overall, quite a welcome surprise.—Daniel Baker

Then there was a revealing 2004 white paper on CD-Rs from Genesis Loudspeakers entitled The Saga of the Black CD, by Gary Leonard Koh.

It's been over two years since I first published the "Black CD Paper", and we have had feedback ranging from "just upgrade to SACD you cheapskate" to "the color of a bit doesn't make a difference you moron" to "Thief! What you are doing is promoting illegal piracy of music".

I am not advocating music piracy. What I am doing is trying to make CDs sound better so that you will all rush out and buy more CDs. After all, with 289 million CDs shipped in the first half of 2004 against 300,000 SACDs and DVD-A's, the CD format is here to stay. If they sounded better, audiophiles will go out and buy more CDs.

Gratifyingly though, the majority of the feedback came from readers who have had great success and were surprised by how good these black CDs sounded.

See? People have been trying to tell us for years—for well over a decade!—that something was wrong with playback, and we totally missed it. You, me, Bose, Sony, Mikey, Mark Levinson, HP, and Gordon. Watch out! Now at midnight all the agents And the superhuman crew Come out and round up everyone Who knows more than they do. If you don't buy Dylan, then you've missed those assassins on the audio boards. But let it pass, let it pass.

CD at last has come of age, just past the traditional twenty-one, no thanks to its doting parents and austere admirers. Takes a kid a while, but he'll make it, if he's any good. His major competitor now? Computers. But that's another story.

Fact is, the CD, contrary to industry pronunciamentos and advocates' bland assurances, can sound far better than its glitzy, hard-edged presentation typical today. This development confounds almost every expectation of those who were entirely satisfied with the earlier delivery. But now even they will be forced to admit, should they but listen, that a groundswell in quality has arrived.

Just wait: As these facts seep into the (quote) scientific consciousness, and the popular, the protectors and defenders who have told us that all is well with digital audio will be shuffling their feet, assuming hangdog expressions and beating a retreat.

Is this not a wonderful sight?

Then we have myself, at the vanguard of opposition to digital correctness (The Boston D Party: Dump the D into the Sea!) now declaring the viability of CD audio.

Is this not another enjoyable spectacle?

Once a person hears the RealityCheckCD™ enhancement, or the same under whatever name, he (or she) must become disillusioned by what he reads in the press (Far too long it takes us to learn this!) about how some new brand is superior to another, because now each of us knows that the real difference is here in our very own hands. Here, in the disc itself.

For whatever reason, for good or for ill, the disc defines the playback.The disc is the thing, by which we capture the consciousness of the King: The Mastertape.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a path towards an explanation of the problem of CD has been cleared; and if you had thought there was no problem, then you were part of the problem. Leave it to Cleaver.

All that remains is to enclose this knowledge in a real-time device. In one sense RealityCheckCD™ is a mere ameliorative, but even more it serves as a demonstration of what-might-have-been all along, had designers had their wits more about them and had the press listened better to the dissenters. RealityCheckCD™ has many years to live, too, because you can take its results to play on less advanced systems, and those will be around for some time.

In a previous column I suggested that wise exhibitors at the upcoming Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, to achieve better sound, should avail themselves of this discovery. I was roundly criticized: That would be so unfair! Exhibitors must use the same [lousy] CDs everyone has! My response today: All exhibitors at CES and all dealers who know their business and admire the saleability of great sound should hasten to obtain RCCDs.

RealityCheckCD™ is exactly that: A check on reality. We who early were party to it number ourselves among the grateful living.

Few greater rewards are offered in audio than to participate in a stupendous and affordable leap ahead in sound, and in this case way in advance of the curve. We leave big-name editors, reviewers, designers, Pacific Rim manufacturers—everyone—in the dust. Whoever has already enrolled in the RealityCheckCD™ experience knows whereof I speak, and it's a thrill.


How it operates was explained in my previous columns, referenced at the start. The RealityCheckCD™ duplicator sells for $575. (For roughly the cost of 30 SACDs, you can make every one of your present CDs sound just as good.) One-hundred GSL-approved black discs costs $100. The two highly-recommended cleaning solutions are $56 the pair. Trial CD-Rs are also available, for a price.

For information call George Louis at 619-401-9876 between 8 AM and 11:30 PM Pacific time. Or write him at georgelouis@georgelouis.com.

Digital Systems & Solutions
1573 Kimberly Woods Drive
El Cajon, CA 92020-7261

George himself has some highly informative remarks to add (I just wish I had thought of these myself), which can be found HERE.


Expressions of unbridled enthusiasm

And from the files of George Louis, myself, and the Internet, read the eager testimony that I have delicately and professionally refrained from expressing myself.

Hi George,

Well I gave the RealityCheckCD™ duplicator a pretty good try this weekend. I copied 11 CDs, but only compared one with the original so far. The RealityCheckCD™ CD was much better. It revealed much more information on the recording than the original. So much better in fact, I didn't even want to listen to the original.

Gary


Hello George,

Unit arrived yesterday safely made 5 copies today and was comparing originals to the copies for about the 1st 3 copies and finally quit comparing them, the difference is so night and day that comparing them is a complete waste of time. The copy is just awesome sounding, the original sounds lifeless and dull. Thanks for your invention. You have any tips about tweaking the burner for even better recordings?


Hi George and Clark,

I've spent yesterday evening and night making and comparing discs. At first I believed that the differences were very small and quite possibly imaginary. Focusing more intently on discerning the differences made the exercise even more frustrating. Either this was a ruse or I was deaf. I soon began to latch on to concepts, though, that began to make sense as I listened back and forth ...at first it seemed that the RCCD was louder, a bit more dynamic, blacker background. I surmised that the RCCD effect was simply a matter of reducing noise.

The killer was Norah Jones' Come Away With Me CD. I very dutifully cleaned and ClearBit'd the original, and then also the blank CDR. I made the RCCD and then sat to compare. The original sounded fine to me, as I have always enjoyed this CD and her smoky-yet-innocent voice. The RCCD was a whole new animal. More color saturation, harmonic richness, rounder notes, timbral nuance PLUS all of the dynamic improvements I heard before. My wife arrived home about 11:45 last night from a late rehearsal with her string quartet. She heard it immediately—the difference in the brushed snare on the cut "One Flight Down" caught her attention and the rest of the improvements fell into place as we listened until we were asleep at the wheel.

It is awfully difficult to relate to someone how to parse differences in "tweaks" and treatments and the like, and it is also quite difficult to ensure that the mind is not working against itself to perceive that which is not really there. Indeed, who can objectively verify their mind's interpretation of reality?

I can say this, though, to my own satisfaction: we tend to defend ourselves against hucksterism in audio by listening intently and with great focus of intellect as if that commanded intensity somehow allows us to better "seek and find" some manner of difference. It seems, though, that in audio patience is a virtue and "breaking in the listener" is more important—that is to say breaking down the defense of an intellectually focused listening session and, instead, listening with a more refined organ of perception: the heart. Once the experience of the music is being piped through the heart, I believe that more can be perceived and the value of such things as RCCD can more easily be discerned.

I'm very happy with my new acquisition—thank you.

And Clark:

Thank you for your alert, you were spot-on.

Best regards, Chris


Dear George,

After a few months with the duplicator and after 12 and more copies I want to tell you that my expectations are all met. I am very glad you sold this device to me. Everything promised is to hear on the copies.

Klaus


Hi Clark,

Sorry about the delay in responding. Yes, I have the machine. It arrived a week ago, but I've been playing with it only for a couple of evenings. I am very happy that you turned me on to this and, more importantly, to George Louis. Not only is his knowledge amazing, but the good thing is that he is willing to share it. Most of it, anyway.

Creating the copies has been an introspective trip. Here I am, a grown man, putting fluids on shiny discs and then polishing them, carefully observing time intervals for each application. How absurd! But the fact remains that I am doing it—I have 10 discs done so far—because something drives me. I do not want to admit it's the audiophile in me. No, never!

The really pathetic part really is that I gave up LPs many years ago because the playback process was too tedious. You know what I mean: take the LP out of the sleeve, then the inner sleeve, then put it on the turntable, clamp it down, then clean the record surface, then apply some fluid to the stylus, maybe reset VTA, and then proceed to miss the start of the passage, etc., etc.

So now, with George's CD-R machine I really simplified the search for the ultimate CD playback process, huh!

However, since I am doing it, there's no one to blame but me. Well, I could blame you, since you wrote me that fateful e-mail! But I am the one who shelled out the money, and I am the one doing the polishing ritual. And the results? Great! But with an explanation, your honor.

I find the CD-Rs to be much more vivid and at the same time calmer. The music appears to be more energetic with the dynamic contrasts being developed more expansively. It all seems to fit better. However, the upper frequencies, distinct as they are, tend to be dominant and disproportionately prominent.

Having said that, I still found myself listening to cuts that I previously skipped. These previously avoided portions now appear to be rather enjoyable and I am listening to them as if for the first time. The revealed information has an involving aspect that draws me into the performance even though I have misgivings about the high frequencies.

It also appears that the copies play louder than what I remember the originals to have been. I find that I turn the volume down instead of my usual tendency to crank things up.

So, this is my long version because I did not have enough time to write the short version.

Let me know what other experiences you have had along these line.

And thanks for sending me the initial e-mail. And, yes, you have avoided public ridicule. At least for now.

Arnis Balgavis


George,

OK, you have got to be kidding me! Within the first 5 seconds of the first song on the remake disc, I heard huge improvement. At the risk of coining a phrase, it sounds, well, clearer, and, well, more real. This is incredible! I listened to the remake disc back to back three times in a row—I loved what I was hearing and I just couldn't stop, I had to hear it more. I started to take some notes, titled it "My Impressions of the RealityCheckCD™ process".

All I have written down so far is, "What the RealityCheckCD™ process did for this particular recording in my system was a further separating of the instruments." That is what immediately jumped out at me. The rest of my listening was just to listen to enjoy and not to listen critically or analytically. That will come in due time, and my notes are then sure to expand. Until then, I have already heard enough to convince me that this is an absolute breakthrough.

Brad


In my opinion this is one the greatest improvements in audio in 40 years. AA is full of discussions about it, but there has been nothing here. Maybe that a $575 tweak is beyond Audiogoners? ...

Herman, like you I thought this must be a great exaggeration. I would not go so far as to say master-tape, but it is a drastic improvement. I can no longer listen to any originals and have not been able to listen to my three new SACDs. Only vinyl has any attraction to me other than these copies. I must say that I know no one having heard these that either has bought the unit or soon will.

Tbg


I own the I RealityCheckCD™, and IMHO it's every bit as good as the press says it is. [That would be only Johnsen and Gaw./ed.] I've NEVER heard a tweak that makes this kind of positive difference to a CD—and, believe you me, I've tried more CD tweaks than any sane person would ever try. Of course, if the CD is poorly mastered to begin with, you'll probably hear more of that on the burned disc, though I haven't come across that situation yet. George's ClearDisc and ClearBit solutions, which you apply prior to burning, make a big difference, too.

Hooper


The RealityCheckCD™ duplicator is the real deal (IMO). I've compared 3 discs so far, and the RC discs have consistently sounded better than the originals. It's hard to imagine, but they sound like they reveal more information than the originals. I'm in the process of duplicating my most frequently played CDs in my collection and doing more detailed comparisons.

Ggil


I have been dealing with George for about three months and did buy a unit from him. I have made copies for a few friends and everyone thinks the copies are much better than the original. This is the best $575 that I have spent in audio. This is the real deal and his service is world class.

Cyrus


Hi George:

I just tried the RealityCheckCD™ on my second system. (My primary rig is out of commission for the moment, so I didn't have much choice in the matter.) Anyway, I didn't apply either the ClearBit or ClearDisc to the discs, because I wanted to get a baseline impression (and also because I want to conserve them for when I start burning "seriously" with my main system). To put it bluntly, the difference between the stock disc and burned disc was immediate and shocking. Everything was better—resolution, macro- and microdynamics, bass punch, overall clarity, etc. I noticed the difference within five seconds of listening to the title track of Johnny Cash's American IV: The Man Comes Around. On this track, especially, the difference in vocal clarity was simply amazing. And this is without any power-cord or isolation upgrade. I can't wait to hear the difference when I make those swaps. You're definitely on to something with the RealityCheckCD™—not that I need to tell you that, of course. At any rate, I'm extremely pleased with my initial results, and I'm sure things will only get better once I try the ClearBit and ClearDisc ...Congratulations on a very special achievement. This thing is awesome!

Andy


[And the same writer, on Audio Asylum]

I received mine the other day, and so far I've burned only four discs. Let's just say this: It's the real deal! The first disc I burned was Johnny Cash's The Man Comes Around, which, stock, is a fantastic recording. Once it went through the RC, though, it was like owning a Steve Hoffman-mastered DCC disc. The improvement was that profound. EVERYTHING improved: clarity, resolution, vocal presence, dynamics, soundstage width and depth, etc. And it was not subtle. My friend and I sat there in stunned silence for about a minute after hearing the first track. The next day I put the RC on top of a Black Diamond Shelf platform and burned the same Cash disc again. I heard SOME improvement, mainly a slight increase in clarity and bass dynamics. I then burned it yet again, but this time, I applied two coats each of the ClearDisc and ClearBit. The improvement provided everything that the initial burning had, but to a somewhat lesser degree. The biggest leaps were in overall ease of presentation and resolution of inner detail. I literally heard things that not even the burn had brought out of the mix. Very impressive stuff! I haven't experimented with an upgraded PC or weights atop the chassis yet, but I plan to. I got a great deal on a barely used Revelation Audio Labs Precept II cord (the one Mercman uses), and I expect that to make a fairly significant difference as well. I also plan to plug the RC into my Jena Labs line conditioner. Overall, while the RC needs a few tweaks to maximize its performance, even on its own, its performance is pretty eye-opening....

By the way, I just duped my Mo-Fi copy of Keith Richards' Talk Is Cheap. It took a while to do all the cleaning and buffing (two applications of ClearBit and ClearDisc to EACH side of each disc is ROUGH) but, man, was the effort worth it. Holy Mustapha! Everything—and I mean EVERYTHING—got dramatically better. The stock disc was already very good, but I wasn't expecting this type of improvement. Dynamics, low-level rez, bass weight and speed, naturalness and palpability of vocals, transient speed, etc., improved. Soundmind doesn't live up to his moniker if he doubts this thing!

Quint


Quint,

I'm glad that you are enjoying the RCCD unit. It is the real deal. I did discover that if the original is good sonically, making a copy of the copy provides even additional improvement. Folks who don't have the unit must think I'm nuts! I'm sure we will all find little tweaks to improve the results of the RCCD unit.

Steve


Just received my duplicator two days ago and have burned copies of two very familiar discs. The first night of listening to the first cut on the first copy was a little disconcerting. There was very little that sounded familiar ...I was gripped with a strong feeling of dissonance. The singer had come forward, the piano was about three feet higher and the acoustic bass had taken on a more accurate sense of scale.

These things sound like part of a positive experience on paper, but something about what I was hearing was difficult for me to wrap my brain around. It also sounded soft. By the time I got to the third cut, it was beginning to gel. By the fourth cut I GOT IT! It was more the lack of hardness, glassiness and glare. What I was hearing was so immediate and so damn clean ...it was intoxicating. After dancing around the disc playing random cuts, I started back at cut one and played the entire disc beginning-to-end.

Putting the original back on revealed this long time favorite to be forever unlistenable AND less interesting. There's a wonderful quality these duplicated discs possess ...they're way more engaging musically. More intersting, immediate, compelling and more often ...highly delightful.

And yes, the cleaner sound equals more resolution. No edge but plenty of bite. Vivid but never bright.

RH


Sir: Having just read Clark Johnsen's write-up on your technology, I have a few questions.

1. Does the CD duplicator that you sell for $575 provide exactly the same processing that you use to create a RealityCheckCD™ CD when a customer sends you a disc for copying? In other words, can I expect a RealityCheckCD™ CD that I create using your cd duplicator to sound the same as a RealityCheckCD™ CD that you produce?

2. Does ClearBit and ClearDisc improve a RealityCheckCD™CD?

3. I understand that you were considering filing several patent applications on your technology. As a patent attorney, I'm curious if you did file, or, if not, whether you are still considering it.

Thank you very much,

Wayne Breyer


REPLY:

Dear Mr. Wayne S. Breyer, Esq.

Thank you for your interest.

You're quite right to ask if the duplicator is the same unit that I use and it has the same firmware. However, I use my own custom made power chord, an isolation device, and I remove the unit's cover, disconnect its fan, and use an external fan. I also may use a ClearPower pure sine wave inverter and deep cycle battery. All of which is available to those who are willing to pay the price for the very best possible results.

It's also very important that one uses my GSL/Black CD-Rs and the ClearDisc CD cleaner, and ClearBit optical impedance matching (OIMŞ) treatment.

I'm not planning to file patent applications because as a patent attorney you know that I'd have to reveal enough for a person skilled in the art to reproduce my results and I'm not inclined to reveal my algorithms because someone might try to modify them and claim that they've even improved upon them and perhaps they might succeed. I'm not about to risk my considerable investment of capital and time by giving any help to possible competitors.

I think that you'd find that your results would be very gratifying even without every last tweak and since the duplicator and compilation maker is user upgrade able in less than 5 minutes with new firmware supplied on a CD (the first upgrade is free and thereafter $10 plus shipping) you'd be able to have the latest improvements for a nominal fee. The upgrades usually make more difference that the tweaks mentioned above with the penultimate firmware although they'd also improve the results from using the latest firmware as well. Finally, I'm not in a position at this time to make satisfaction guarantees but I do offer shipping paid by me both ways 300 day transferable mechanical warranty. The unit MTBF is 150,000 hours which is about 17 years of continuous use. But for what it's worth, no one has ever asked for their money back on a duplicator or a RealityCheckCD™ CD even though I offer to let them keep their original disc and the RealityCheckCD™ CD and refund their purchase price plus $5.

Best regards,

George S. Louis, Esq.


REPLY II:

Dear Wayne,

I don't sell my custom made power chords because they wouldn't be UL approved and my void your home owner's or renter's insurance policy. Its chord is IEC so feel free to try any upscale power chords. I've haven't tried any other chords except my own so I don't have any recommendations. I don't think that the miniscule improvement you get, if any, from disconnecting the fan and leaving the cover off is worth worrying about. I'm definitely obsessive compulsive and anal retentive about my work but you'd needn't go quite that far to get superior results because Clark didn't do that either.

For isolation I use pillows filled with buckwheat hulls under all my components. If the component has vents for heat dissipation then I use multiple pillows at the sides to avoid blocking the vents. You may try any isolation devices that suit your fancy.

As far as reverse engineering my firmware algorithms, not a chance anyone could do that. But I prefer to keep my work as a trade secret. In case you didn't notice, I'm an attorney and I've filed patent applications on my inventions previously. As an aside, no one will try to reverse engineer my algorithms because everyone thinks they know better and my algorithms are specific to the hardware and occasionally I change which hardware I use as better drives become available.

Best regards,

George S. Louis


NY Times: Arny Krueger admits, "Even I can hear the difference"

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Louis disproves Garbage In/Garbage Out  Bill Gates vows: "After I use my 44 billion to pay for all of the Katrina damage, I'll use my remaining 7 Billion to get to the bottom of this."

Ft Lauderdale Sun: Florida man accuses Louis of dealing with Devil.

Made two dubs last night. One of Janis Ian's—Breaking Silence, a pretty good sounding CD and the other Dave Matthews band Crash—a pretty bad, no make that very bad, sounding CD. OK, not being one to experiment too much, I initially used things I had previously found helpful, a Nordost Valhalla power cord plugged into a Nordost Thor, figuring they would not hurt. Oh my—this is ridiculous! How can a copy so utterly exceed the original? It lowers the noise floor, but it also decongests the music. It lifts, it separates—cradling the music in the way that the ubiquitous female undergarment provides the support that demands our attention to that which it envelopes.

The Janis Ian copy was a breeze to discern. But the Dave Matthews—I had to listen multiple times so accustomed and conditioned was I to having to prepare to shut down my ears at the frequent harsh and annoying passages.

It took several listens to undo the conditioned response that was now either totally unnecessary or free of notable distress.

Can't wait to use the Vibraplane in some dubbing.

Thanks George.

Alan


George,

I read with great interest Clark Johnsen's review of your CD-Rs. Very intriguing. I'd like to learn more.

I frequently make mixed compilations (hobby of mine). I do not use computers. I cherry-pick cuts from my CD collection and burn them to a CD-RW on my Tascam CD-RW402 recorder, then dub the CD-RW to a CD-R using a stand-alone Condre tower. I use Fuji CD-RWs and generic Taiyo Yuden CD-Rs.

Usually, my finished product sounds better than the original CD. I can't explain it. People I share music with are equally amazed. Now, along comes George with an even better idea?

Please tell me more about your CD-Rs and your duplicator. In his article, Clark's pricing is a bit confusing ...$65 for a CD-R that YOU do, but $125/100 blanks? Please explain.

Also: I use AudioTop as my cleaner and I trim my CDs with the Audio Desk Systeme trimming device. It's excellent.

Tom


REPLY:

Dear Tom,

Thank you for your interest. The $65 is the price for a RealityCheckCD™ duplication of an original disc to companies. It's $45 to individuals who aren't in the audio or video business. The blank CD-Rs are $100 per 100 to owners of RealityCheckCD™ Audiophile Grade duplicator and compilation maker.

I'll call you tomorrow to answer some of your questions but I have a general information e-mail that may answer most of your questions but be careful what you wish for.

Best regards, George


Mr. Louis

I've just re-read Clark Johnsen's review of your CD-burning technology and it sounds pretty impressive.

A young engineering student whom I have been mentoring in high-end audio created a compilation CD for me to use in my show reports of the Montreal and New York shows, as well as for use in reviewing products. He has a bit-perfect program that maximizes the file in the computer, and then burns it to a black CD-R. Not surprisingly, it sounds considerably better than the original CDs. Equally unsurprising, I discovered lots of great sounding rooms at these shows when I used this disc.

I'm currently reviewing some cables from various manufacturers with the aid of the Manley Labs Skipjack. The minute differences between most reasonably well-made cables is an incredible reality check—certainly a small fraction of the improvement brought to my rig by a variety of different vibration absorbing products. (I am also using long-term listening in the cable evaluation).

As Clark suggests, the economic advantage of your CD copy system may well surpass the advantages of even these high-value products. It would make an interesting commentary, I believe.

I know that Bill Gaw, who also writes for enjoythemusic.com, will be writing about you, if he hasn't done so already, but I thought you might be interested in additional exposure. I thought it would be interesting to have you copy a couple of cuts from the original CDs, as well as my compilation CD itself. This would show me how good yours sound in comparison with the original CDs. I could then also compare your technology with the computer copying technique used for the compilation CD. And finally, the copy of the compilation CD would show me how much better your process can make music sound from previously copied CDs.

If this interests you, George, please contact me. My bio and my rig are listed on the website at: http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/reviewers/rickbecker.htm

Thanks George.

Thanks Clark

Rick Becker


Hi, George:

My friend and I, and a few other audiophile buddies as well, are going to use the RealityCheckCD™ a lot in the upcoming months, since we all like it so much. So, as insane as it sounds, I'd like to order 500 more CD-Rs and 4 bottles each of the ClearBit and ClearDisc. (I find that we're going through the solutions at an alarming rate. The estimate of 200-400 discs might be a little optimistic, I think.) Anyway, let me know the cost, and I'll get a check out to you tomorrow. I should receive the other shipment sometime this week, I hope.

By the way, have you been keeping track of the threads about the RC on Audio Asylum? It turned really nasty very quickly. I can understand why certain technically oriented people want to know how it works—there's obviously a lot of snake oil out there—but I assume that your technology is proprietary, and I wouldn't want to reveal it to the world either. This Soundmind character has been particularly persistent that the device is a hoax.

I suggested that, if he were so sure of that, why didn't he audition one and see for himself? The human ear is the best measurement device of all. Anyway, this happens all the time when something good comes along that people can't necessarily dissect or explain. It'll pass after a month or so. Most things on these audio forms, however controversial, usually do. People move on to the next victim to bash.

Anyway, let me know the cost, and I'll get the check out to you.

Andy


And finally, this very instructive letter.

Hi Clark, How are you doing?

Glad to hear that you are still following your ears.

One question that wasn't clear from your articles, is the process bit transparent, or do the copies contain an all new data stream? If the process isn't bit transparent it is an effect that I am glad you like. I even trust your hearing enough to know that I would like the sound as well, but If the copies don't have the exact same data stream I am not interested except possibly to copy the copy of the copy building up ten passes or so to really hear too much of what the process is doing so as to better identify the effect. If every pass through the duplicator cumulatively changes the sound it is likely, though not necessarily, changing the bits.

If it is a bit transparent process it would be interesting to compare their sound to what I am doing with a simple computer and an externally word-clockable digital interface. Remember that the only time clocking matters (i.e. has an audible consequence) is at the moment of change of state from a code to an analog signal at the DAC and of course at the ADC but that is out of our hands. One very interesting thing that I have noted is that absolute timing accuracy is an often overlooked yet vital aspect of how digital sounds. No two clocks ever run at the same speed. All are slightly fast or slightly slow and most vary greatly with temperature, vibration and to a lesser degree with humidity and altitude. Some duplicating decks intentionally spin the source CD slightly faster than the copied CD so that full length recordings won't get cut off at the end. On playback the speed of rotation is adjusted to the local master clock even though the data stream is often the actual word-clock depending on the implementation.

On the gross level applying a 0.1% faster clock 44.144 as the effective sample rate some of the older recordings that were mastered on 35 mm film and even many newer soundtracks will regain their proper speed and pitch. The digital filters will be slightly off in their reconstruction, but I don't know of any that have a different filter for a 0.1% reference shift.

As to the effects of making a compilation CD-R it would be an interesting experiment to clone the same song from the same source over and over filling the entire CD-R. Then compare the sound of track 1 with the sound from the last track or a middle track. Unlike DAT tape which maintains a constant linear speed a CD is constantly changing its speed of rotation to maintain the same bit rate. There are undoubtedly sonic effects analogous to but different to the track order on an LP.

An educated guess not knowing what is happening might be that the discrete data block steps tracks and sectors are being adjusted in a more linear fashion than the still slightly discrete fashion found on asynchronous data disk recorders. Again if the system is bit transparent leave all dependence upon a transport for clock reference, and the lining pen and the degaussing and this copying process et al. are bypassed in one elegant step. Without the external clock and outboard DAC I agree that computer sound isn't worth more bits than an MP3.

All the best

Stephen Balliet

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