I bought my first 3 compact discs in England before discs and players were available in the U.S.; I guess I had bought the sales pitch. Since then, I have heard great improvement in CD players and later, transports and digital-to-analog converters. I have experimented with much success with power cords, digital wires, fuses, and isolation devices. Where I have lacked any success has been with CD mats, CD stickers and rings. Not that I have not tried. Presently, I have three CD accessories in my cabinet, where they have remained unused for many years. With most, I could hear a slight difference with and without, but often it was too subtle to even tell whether the mat improved the sound or harmed it.
This brings me to a new experience–a CD mat that clearly improves the sounds of CDs, SACDs, and other digital formats. When I first tried the Millennium CD-Mat, my earlier experiences caused me to expect little improvement. This mat is made of carbon fiber and is a mere .3 mm thick. It is very slippery. Although it will slide easily off the disc, it is hard to pick it off a disc. It seems attracted to the disc.
The Millennium CD-Mat is supposed to stabilize the rotating disc reducing read errors and dependence on error correction software. Carbon is supposed to reduce static on the disc also. I have now tried the Millennium on six drawer CD or SACD players with only one mishap. At the recent 2008 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (see Dagogo’s Coverage), one transport with its clamping mechanism did accept and play a disc with the Millennium CD Mat; but when we ejected the disc, the Millennium CD Mat was not there. We found the CD Mat lying on the circuit board within the player, although there was no damage. The manufacturer does indeed discourage the use of CD mats, and I have tried it on two top-loaders with no problem. And I have used it on two music servers. Again there were no problems using it.
What you hear is lower apparent noise with a well-extended top-end where there is edge to brass and shimmer on high hat. The soundstage has greater precision in the location of performers. The bass is more profound and controlled. Piano reproduction is much improved with great bass authority and sharp impact of the keys. The overall impression is a more open sound that encompasses you as though you were in the recording studio. Once you have heard it, you will not want to ever be without it. Several heard my Millennium in use at the RMAF and immediately went to buy their own.
One experience with the Millennium perplexes me. I compared the same disc ripped to my Exemplar Music Server once without the Millennium and once with it. These were both WAV files which both reported no errors in copying and both had the same level of confidence reported by WAV comparisons. Seeing that, I thought that I had wasted my time, but I was wrong! The copy using the Millennium was far superior. It took me several dual rips before I could convince myself of the clear benefits of ripping with the Millennium CD mat. My experience was further confirmed at the RMAF.
I had told John Tucker of Exemplar and LSA fame about this and took it to him to so he might do a second rip of his favorite disc using the Millennium and comparing the two. There was much disgruntlement in the room, as we did this with most suggesting that identical copies had to sound the same. On hearing the comparison all of this stopped, with some saying they could not believe it. John Tucker murmured that he needed to get one of those puppies and did.
In the 2007 RMAF, I had first heard a CD spray painted with a special treatment solution. It was also shockingly better. These also sounded better than the already-cleaned discs, but when I put the Millennium CD mat on them, they were much further improved. These same, treated discs, when ripped to the music server, sounded no better than when they were untreated. With the Millennium on them, however, they were much better.
I would not think of failing to use the Millennium while ripping or playing a CD or SACD.
As I completed this review, I received a sample of what will be the new FIM Ultimate Discs, which are cleaned and treated with a special solution, and trimmed with the AudioDesk trimmer. The label is then applied. I was not surprised to hear much better sound on the K2 Sampler disc compared to my own regular copy, even though I had already applied two concentric circles of ¼ inch width of special solution per instruction at the first and last cut of the recording. I then merely put the Millennium CD mat on. Never have I heard such realism! Were I able to have this on all of my recordings, I would surely abandon my use of vinyl.
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