I think I now have enough observational data on this that I think I can post. Take it for what it's worth, and please be gentle and civil and appreciate the spirit in which it's intended. Several months back, I obtained a top-of-the-line external (very important, shielded from the noise of my computer) Plextor (considered best brand of CD/DVD burners) CD/DVD drive (PX-716UF, $250). Why so much for a drive? I'm one of the loonies who believes the copies he makes of his CDs (even on my older stock Dell drives) sound better than original CDs (so let that color everything I say hereafter for you). I use Exact Audio Copy to copy to my hard drive, and in the past, I've used high-quality CD-Rs (usually Verbatim DataLifePlus with Super AZO dye), burned at low speeds (8X, as lower speeds on 52X media often have higher error rates). This has resulted in marginally superior copies. Since getting my Plextor, I've switched to Mitsui MAM-A gold discs 1-12X discs burned at 4X. The new Plextor drive allows me to manually adjust the laser power to be stronger, and allows me to burn *larger* pits in the CD-R. The idea is that the larger pits are more permanent over time, but more importantly, *easier to read* by your CD player right now. This results in less jitter and fewer errors and less use error correction on CD-Rs you burn with the longer pits. Plextor suggests this results in better sound quality. Based on what I've heard, I strongly agree. My newer copies are definitely superior to the originals. Is this difference perceptible on low-end gear? No. But if you can hear cable differences, you certainly should be able to hear the difference between the original and a properly-burned CD-R. The diference is roughly in the same ball-park as a fairly major cable swap. Therefore, my belief-- based on what I've heard so far-- is that the easier it is for your CD player to read a CD, the better will be the perceived sound you get out of it. I think that if you use good practices copying and burning your CD-Rs, and create a superior piece of media containing your favorite album, you can actually obtain better sound quality than you can get from a mass-produced aluminum CD. So sue me. OK, so what does this have to do with older CDs pressed in Japan and West Germany? Well, as you know, I have hundreds and hundreds of these old CDs now, and I've literally burned hundreds (well over 1000) of them onto new media for the superior sound quality. With my new Plextor drive (which I trust more than my older stock drive), there is a STRONG correlation between the quality of the pressing and how easily the drive is able to copy that disc with the extremely picky and difficult EAC. The fact is, the older CDs from Japan and West Germany burn much faster and more easily, with far fewer errors than newer discs. I've had many new discs that are MINT in quality, but can't burn with EAC without errors. Where is the flaw that EAC is experiencing that I can't even see? FWIW, I suspect shoddy pressing plant practices, corner-cutting and cheaper-is-better philosophy adopted by plants trying to compete for big contracts with major labels. Do it fast and do it cheap-- chop 'em out regardless of quality. We've all held these early CDs and we can tell they are thicker, more substantial than modern discs. The mirror finish is also more polished and distinct. I feel they were produced under superior conditions and with superior equipment and standards way back when than they are today. OK, long story short, I think one of the chief reasons we (with high-end systems) can truly appreciate these older CDs and discern differences is down to the fact that they are simply of higher quality than what we can buy today. Our CD players read them with less jitter, fewer errors and as a result, we get purer, cleaner, more focused sound. Eroc said something interesting recently in one of his considerate replies to one of the many inconsiderate threads attacking his work that really made me think. To paraphrase, he said all this fetishization of "flat transfers" may be mis-placed, as in many cases, this is simply a sign of zero time, thought, consideration, and effort being given to the mastering of some early CDs, rather than being some audiophile badge of honor. Back then, they must have been scrambling to get CDs in print, so why bother trying to make them sound their best, why not just turn on the equipment, let the tape run as is and be done with it? And on to the next job... So, anyway, all I'm suggesting is that maybe we are responding in many cases to the quality of the *PRESSING* of the CD as much as we are it's *MASTERING*. Food for thought.... Yes, I know there are many members who insist a CD is a CD is a CD, and that's totally fair and legitimate, and I'm sorry for stirring this debate up again. But I would ask them, why is it that these earlier CDs copy faster and more easily than newer CDs if all CDs are the same? And why shouldn't it be that CDs that are better pressed and easier to read shouldn't sound better?