digital systems & solutions
UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ Disc Treatment
as reviewed by Greg Weaver
Many of you may be unfamiliar with the name George Louis, the self-proclaimed "Perfect Polarity Pundit." I know I was until early this decade. It came as a bit of a surprise to me to learn that Finyl™ the CD Solution, which I first stumbled upon in the early 1990's, was in fact, invented and marketed by George. It may come as a further surprise to learn that Finyl™ was released way back in 1988, well in advance of the Armor All® disc treatment tempest first stirred up by Sam Tellig's February 1990 Stereophile article. If you haven't gathered as much yet, George has had his ear on getting the most rewarding sonic experience from optical playback media for a very long time.
UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ is the third iteration of the UltraBit formulation that I have had the opportunity to experience. George has been gracious enough to share his advancing formula since the original UltraBit Gold™ some years ago. I've also used UltraBit Platinum™, which is still available. But the latest, most significant offering from Digital Systems & Solutions is UltraBit Platinum-Plus™. Each version has been an advance over the previous, by some degree or another.
UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ comes in a two-ounce spray applicator bottle, and retails for $87.00. It is a water-based fluid, using no alcohol or ammonia as some others, and is said to be safe on CDs, DVDs, Blu Ray, and vinyl records. While George asserts that UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ works extremely well with LPs, the scope of this audition was limited to optical media.
George claims that a single two-ounce bottle affords 850 to 1,000 applications, and in my experience, I see that to be a very realistic claim. The fluid comes packaged with two microfiber cleaning cloths (for optical discs) as well as two microfiber buffing pads, with a specially made Velcro® treated handle (for LP treatment).
For my review, George sent along a two-ounce spray applicator bottle of his CleanDisc fluid, which sells for $16.00. This is a very effective cleaner, and is well worth the miniscule additional investment. It is VERY effective at removing all kinds of contaminants and older, less effective, treatments.
Application is so simple, that, in fact, it couldn't be easier! You merely hold the UltraBit Platinum Plus™ spray bottle's tip 2 to 3 inches from the disc label and playing/burning side (yes, he prefers you treat both sides) and give the sprayer a half pump (≈ 2 drops). Then you buff it out using the included microfiber cloths using parallel or radial strokes (avoid circular or concentric strokes), until the entire disc is both dry and shiny. Flip it over and repeat. That's it! The whole process typically takes less than a minute, and, a single treatment should be good for four to five years…with only an occasional rebuffing.
George has created the descriptive phrase "Optical Impedance Matching" treatment or OIM for short, to describe how UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ works. I'll not waste your time covering the "Technical" information available at George's website; you are free to examine that at your leisure. I will simply say that I have found this to be an indispensable product for listening to, or viewing, any optical media. And I do mean ANY—Redbook CD, CD-RW, SACD, DVD-A, DVD, DVD-RW, Blu-ray, ad nauseum.
Over the years, I have developed or run across any number worthwhile optical disc treatments. Starting in the early 1990's I developed my own treatment system using a Staedtler Lumocolor 357 marking pen (which employs an undisclosed green dye suspended in isopropyl alcohol) for the treatment of both the inner and outer "edge" of the disc, combined with a misting of Rain-X® on the playing surface. With an investment of under $10 to treat literally hundreds of discs, my method remains both sonically and cost effective to this day. In May of 2000,I found the remarkable Auric Illuminator treatment from the fine folks at Audience, which to this day, at $50 to treat ≈ 300 discs, remains one of the biggest bang-per-buck investments available for your system.
Please do not mistake my choosing to mention only two treatments above to mean that I have not experimented with the myriad of offerings to make their way to market; I've tried every one I could lay hands on over the last two decades! I have a shelf weighty with mostly-unused bottles of those that proved to be less than consistently effective, or worse, outright worthless, to prove it. However, at this point in my personal experimentations, George's UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ is the most musically effective overall treatment I've found.
Revisiting the notes from my listening and viewing sessions with UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ finds me using the same adjectives and superlatives repeatedly. Let's visit the sonic results first. Keep in mind, while I'm mostly describing the results using music discs on my universal player, I experienced the same results with the soundtracks of my video discs, both DVD and Blu-ray!
Most immediately apparent was a slightly darkened (more quiet) background fabric from which every sound seems to blossom more fully.
It was just as immediately apparent that there was a reduction of stridency to upper midrange and lower treble bands, a minimization of the "glare" that can be so typical to many Redbook CDs. This is clearly discernable with bronze instruments like cymbals, which, post treatment, were at once rendered with a more "creamy" voice, and had more focus.
Something I've long held is utterly crucial to the creation of the illusion of live music when recreated by an electro-mechanical system, given its ability to affect our mental capability to be more or less easily "fooled," microdynamic resolve, is enhanced and better served with the introduction of UltraBit Platinum-Plus™. Noises previously buried down in, or slightly masked by, the noise floor are released much more coherently and identifiably. This is an attribute no doubt further aided by the darker, blacker background presented by this treatment as well.
One of the more delicious aspects of its effectiveness is the resultant elevated bass performance. While the lowest registers are not any deeper, they are clearly more defined. Picking or fingering of strings in bass runs becomes much more apparent and discernable, allowing a greater ease in following complex bass lines. It also contributes seemingly faster rise times, with clearer decay and fall off than without its application.
And talk about enhanced spatial performance! Post treatment reveals more "space" between instruments, and greater "air" around them. We are treated to a more focused soundstage, with greater specificity to images. Staging is typically slightly wider, deeper, and taller, with heightened "illumination" of the rear left and right corners of the soundstage. The result is an overall perspective that is more honest, more faithful to reality, with better focus and more realistically sized.
Touching briefly on to video performance, these remarkable results don't stop with audio improvements. In my theater, along with all the sonic benefits described in the last several paragraphs, I was seeing more detail, deeper, richer, more saturated color, more dimensionality, more everything. The application of UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ seems to allow for better saturation of colors, greater depth of field to images (especially deep telephoto shots!), greater detail, and starker contrasts. It does something else that I can only describe as an overall sharpening of focus. In short, the results are just as exciting in my theater as in my reference two-channel rig!
There is one more interesting benefit you should explore when using UltraBit Platinum-Plus™. Do you ever find yourself copying discs—making a copy of a CD for use in the car, office or other location, or duplicating a DVD for travel or achieving? Here is a great little secret! Treat the disc you are going to copy before you start the copy process. Then, treat the blank disc before you burn it! The copy invariably sounds/looks better than the original, all things being equal. WOW! Thanks George!
An Optical Playback "Neccessary"
The musical (and visual) significance afforded by introducing UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ to your discs is a move toward a more "natural" or "organic" result overall, and is most welcomed. Everything is rendered more analog-like, much more reminiscent of LP playback for music and of projected film for video. Music is revealed with enhanced depth and space, greater focus and clarity, a non-fatiguing and relaxed sense of ease, and greater vividness to the entire sonic panorama being decoded in front of you. What's NOT to like?
George believes in his product, and it will come as no surprise that he backs it accordingly. If you give UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ a try, then don't think that it is effective in your system with your music, George will not only refund your purchase price, including shipping BOTH ways, he'll add another $10 just for your trouble. That, dear readers, is a guarantee!
Add this all up, and you can see why I don't play a single disc without it! Honestly, I know of no way you could spend $100 and get anywhere near as significant musical results! Go on, give the stuff a try. Tell George I sent you! Most enthusiastically recommended. Enjoy! Greg Weaver
UltraBit Platinum-Plus™ Optical Impedance