Fingerprints. Yes I mean literally fingerprints. The kind that Sherlock Holmes inspects under his magnifying glass to identify the villain of the story.
At Audio Masterclass we receive CD and DVD showreel discs regularly. Since we are here on the Internet you might think that physical discs are old-fashioned, but I can tell you that there is a whole world that exists outside of the Internet, and - believe it or not - it is actually bigger than the Internet! In the audio and musical regions of that world, discs are still a very common currency.
But discs are not without their problems. CDs are robust and DVDs even more so. You can scrape and scratch them and probably get away with it. But CD and DVD players have very little tolerance for fingerprints. A scratch causes some data loss that is in most cases compensated for by digital error correction and concealment. But a fingerprint scatters the light of the laser pickup over such a wide area that the data loss is too much and the discs skips, or playback grinds to a halt.
Amazingly, many of the discs we receive have fingerprints on the playing surface. Admittedly not as many as a typical Blockbuster DVD, but even one tiny print is one too many when you need playback to be perfect, first time without having to clean the disc.
And by the way, if you ever make a master CD for manufacture in bulk, it has to be ABSOLUTELY pristine!
P.S. If there is a fingerprint on your disc, Sherlock Holmes would know who made it!
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