CD Bronze Corrosion Attack!

by Mark Lehman
Published in American Record Guide Vol. 61 No. 4 (July/Aug 1998)

The Problem is Real

As I explained in my report last year (Nov/Dec), a fairly large number of CDs made in England from 1988 to 1993 are subject to "bronze corrosion". The discs begin to turn a rusty bronze color, usually at the outer and inner edges first (and usually on the label side), and become overlaid with surface noise and eventually unplayable.

Readers who are finding out about this problem for the first time here and want a more detailed explanation, or who want to get thelist of over 300 Hyperion discs susceptible to this corrosion, should read theoriginal report. (Call 888 658 1907.) Discs subject to bronze corrosion were manufactured by Philips and Du Pont(PDO) at their English factory. Most of these--but, we are told, not all--have "Made in UK by PDO" etched around the center hole on the clear side of thedisc. PDO will replace all corroded discs with new pressings (free of the chemical problem that causes the corrosion) at no charge.

Residents of England may call 0800387063  toll free to request replacements. The rest of us should write to PDO at: Philips & Du Pont Optical UK Ltd., Philips Road, Blackburn, Lancashire BB1 5RZEngland. PDO also has an E mail address dedicated to this problem: Send only a list of the CDs that need replacing. Do NOT send the CDsthemselves, and be sure to keep the original boxes and liner notes, becausePDO will replace only the discs.Many readers of my original report have kindly sent me lists of corroded CDsin their collections. (I would like to add to this list from time to time; ifyou find corroded CDs in your collection not already listed, please send metheir labels and numbers at ARG or E mail direct to me: This report includes an expanded list of CDs (on labels other than Hyperion)known to have corroded. If you have any of them in your collection, you should check them for corrosion now and also in the future--perhaps yearly. Note that several more labels have been added to the first four (Hyperion, ASV, Pearl,and Unicorn), including at least one American based label (Albany)--although all the corroded discs came from the same English PDO plant. (At least this was thought to be true until recently--see the end of this report.)

I would like to add that I am frustrated--and you may be too--by the incompleteness of these listings and the piecemeal way they have been assembled. It has been strangely (and I think unjustifiably) difficult to get information about which discs (at least on certain labels) have corroded. I must commend Hyperion for being forthright and immensely helpful. Richard Howard of Hyperion Records helped to make the public aware of the problem in internet postings and very kindly sent me the complete Hyperion list. Hyperion even has a web site devoted to the problem at PDO has also been responsible about replacing defective discs, and many readers have written to me that they are very pleased with PDO's prompt and courteous service. The nice lady (Pat) in charge of the problem at PDO has called me personally twice (long distance from England) about replacing discs in my collection- though I have to admit it took eight months to get one disc.The others were sent after just a few weeks.

Guilty of Poor Error Correction

Other record companies have been less helpful. John Waite of Pearl claims in aletter to me that "it is not feasible to send a list of PDO discs which havebeen or might be affected--partly because PDO is not entirely sure and partly because some of the original titles pressed by PDO are now manufactured by other companies. We would not wish to offer what is now inaccurate information." Mr Waite is being evasive, since what I asked for--and whatrecord collectors need--is a list of discs that may be susceptible to corrosion, so that we know which to check. Many of us have large collections--thousands of CDs--and want to be able to narrow down our search. We understand that not all discs susceptible to bronze corrosion have corroded or may ever corrode. Mr Waite goes on to assert that "many discs which havegone brown continue to play perfectly well on some CD players". That is atruly egregious remark: corroding CDs invariably keep getting worse andeventually will become unplayable. That some of them are not yet unplayable "on some CD players" is absolutely no excuse for failing to provide collectors--who have spent thousands and thousands of dollars supporting companies like Pearl--with a complete list of potentially defective CDs. The response I got from Patrick Wood of ASV Records is even more evasive and indeed infuriating. He claims that since ASV used several manufacturers "itwould be time consuming to make a list of the titles potentially affected". Unicorn Records failed to answer my letter at all. These arrogant and self serving responses (or lack of response) from Pearl, ASV, and Unicorn only emphasize the responsible and considerate action takenby other companies, especially Hyperion.

List of Possible Bronzed CDs

The following issues are KNOWN to have corroded in at least some instances: ASV 104, 118, 457, 556, 607, 616, 620, 654, 665, 673, 675, 678, 689, 690, 691,699, 709, 715, 716, 768, 778, 791, 793, 808, 825, 888, 2060, 6030; Pearl 9012,9020, 9043, 9267, 9317, 9319, 9324, 9334, 9340, 9362, 9365, 9397, 9403, 9404,9408, 9413, 9423, 9427, 9428, 9429, 9448, 9463, 9474, 9485, 9486, 9487, 9492,9715, 9843, 9847, 9903, 9914, 9923, 9924, 9926, 9929, 9931, 9932, 9958, 9969,9979, 9981; Testament 1094; Unicorn 2014, 2027, 2028, 2029, 2032, 2039, 2050,2075, 2077, 9005, 9029, 9055, 9080, 9081, 9089, 9097, 9114, 9121, 9149; DG419749; Collins 1300; Albany 15.

Here are other Albany CDs pressed using the old technique that may possibly corrode: 19, 22, 29, 32, 37, 51, 55, 57, 60.PDO also pressed CDs for other labels in the affected period, including CRD, Archiv, London Decca, and IMP. I do not yet have any numbers of affected discs on those labels, but once again I ask readers who find corroded discs in their collections not listed in this article to send or E mail me the labels and numbers.According to the April Surface Noise--a quarterly newsletter for classical record collectors published by Parnassus Records (56 Parnassus Lane,Saugerties, New York, 12477, phone 914 246 3332)--the situation is now complicated by the discovery that there may be another source (manufacturer) of corroded discs. A few collectors have noticed that discs made in Italy by OPTI.ME.S, which pressed for the AS Disc and Nuova Era labels, have begun to undergo bronze corrosion. (Specific discs known to have corroded are AS 404,406, 412, 414, 428, and 554 as well as Nuova Era 2338.) I have no information at all what to do about those discs- whether OPTI.ME.S (the name engraved on the discs) will replaced corroded discs and how to go about getting replacements from them, what labels this company made discs for besides ASDisc and Nuova Era, and what period we are talking about. I am trying to findout more.

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