Philips CDR880 CD-R/RW CD recorder Two Types of Disc

Sidebar 1: Two Types of Disc

When CD was first developed, its protocols were codified in the Philips "Red Book," the book of specifications sent to CD licensees. CD-R and another technique, MO-R, were codified in the "Orange Book," which ensured compatibility with the Red Book standard. Therefore, CD-R and CD-RW discs have similar structures; the difference is in the details.

CD-R discs have a recording layer based on deformable dye with a reflectivity of 40–70%, while CD-RW discs have a phase-change recording layer boasting a reflectivity of 15–25%. Both types have an additional reflecting layer beneath the recording layer.

Both also have a track spiral formed during manufacture, which serves as a template onto which the recording data are laid. This guarantees that the recorder traces the same spiral pattern that prerecorded CDs possess—and also that the information conforms to the Red Book standard width of 0.6µm and pitch of 1.6µm. In addition to the spiral, each disc is also fitted with a superimposed sinusoidal excursion of ±0.3µm at a frequency of 22.05kHz.

The recorder employs the 22.05kHz sinusoidal excursion to control the disc's speed of rotation. The frequency read-out is monitored—and adjusted—as necessary. In addition, a ±1kHz frequency modulation provides the recorder with an absolute time reference.

With CD-Rs, information is burned onto the disc by a laser beam operating at between 4 and 11mW. This heats the substrate and the recording layer to approximately 250°C. The recording layer melts, reducing its volume, while the substrate expands into the space it used to occupy. Constant switching between writing and reading power produces the disc's pit pattern.

In the CD-RW disc, the recording layer is made of an alloy of silver, indium, antimony, and tellurium that has a polycrystalline structure. In the recording mode, the laser heats portions of the recording layer to temperatures of 500–700°C (in CD-RW writing, the laser power is in the range of 8–14mW). This melts the crystals into a noncrystalline amorphous phase, which has lower reflectance than the surrounding crystalline areas. Once burned in, the amorphous-phase "pits" are as permanent as a standard CD's.

Except that CD-RW discs can be rewritten time and time again. You "erase" a CD-RW by changing the amorphous area back to its crystalline state by an annealing process, which heats the layer to about 200°C and maintains that temperature for a specified time. An entire disc takes about 37 minutes to return to its original state.

You can also "overwrite" the CD-RW disc. New pits are written into the recording layer using pulsed laser-beam energy, just as in the standard writing procedure. However, in the areas between the pits, a lower-energy nonpulsed beam is used to forge new crystalline lands.—Wes Phillips

Philips Electronics
64 Perimeter Center East
Atlanta, GA 30346-6401
(770) 821-2400

Lofty's picture

Why, oh why, do we get a vintage review of a cd recorder/player. These machines are obsolete. Don't get me wrong, I have a component cd recorder and use it occassionally. 

To add to further irrelevance, the keepers of this website deem it important that we should read of a late 80's FM tuner. Don't get me wrong but I have three tuners and use them every day. Thank God for public/college radio in the NYC area.

OK, editors of Stereophile, what is the criteria for determining what vintage equipment reviews to publish on-line. For instance, I would rather put up a Music Reference MR9 amplifier (reviewed by DO) or a tuner, more important than the Marantz, like the Onyko T-9090 MkII.

So, to make a short story short, what is Stereophile's criteria  on listing equipment reviews on this website? 

As JA might say, "color me (un)impressed".

John Atkinson's picture

OK, editors of Stereophile, what is the criteria for determining what vintage equipment reviews to publish on-line

One: requests from readers, as in the case of the Marantz tuner to which you object.

Two: filling in gaps in our archived reviews, which are almost complete going back to 1994, with many more going back to the magazine's founding in the early 1960s. (My goal is have every review Stereophile has ever published available on this website.) The 1998 Philips CD-R recorder review falls into this category, as it is one the few remaining reviews by Wes Phillips that had not yet been posted.

Three: personal interest on my part. Again, this was the case in the Philips recorder review, as it shone a light into an era where recordable CDs had not devolved into a commodity with no intrinsic value and where the concerns of the record industry were still affecting the performance of the hardware.

Four: from the page view statistics, these reviews appear to be as popular as anything else we post on-line.

And I fail to understand your objection. We are not forcing you to pay to read these vintage reviews. They also don't replace anything. You object to seeing them on-line, turn the page.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

mrplankton2u's picture

Arghh....another whiny post about vintage reviews:


"why, oh why do we get a vintage review..."


Considering all the other e-zines that offer nothing but advertising and cheesy subjective reviews for non subscribers and subscribers alike, it would probably be smarter to refrain from looking a gift horse in the mouth - unless you represent a competing ezine. That would certainly explain the sour, demanding, and petty attitude.  Not very shocking though as the above commenter calls him/herself "Lofty". Perhaps LoftyWhiner would be more suitable. If you would prefer more "cheese" with your whine, there are several other ezine websites available to choose from. They're very good at serving up hyped, subjective, propaganda...ahem... I mean "reviews" - for the companies that advertise with them and you won't have to endure the posting of vintage reviews. You'll only get advertising hype....ahem... I mean "reviews" - of currently produced and advertised product.

smittyman's picture

There are a couple of valid questions being asked in Lofty's post.  I've wondered about the vintage reviews myself and I think JA has done a good job of explaining the rationale for the decisions.  I've always applauded Stereophile for making so much content available for free; I had no idea that JA's goal was to get every review  ever published on to the site and I think that is great.

I usually skip the reviews of older equipment - especially stuff that is no longer in production and I wondred why these reviews were posted.  I would find them a lot more valuable if they perhaps referenced current used prices and or compared the equipment to its present day equivalant - but I realize that would be a huge amount of work and might not even be possible in some cases.

Stephen Mejias's picture

I usually skip the reviews of older equipment - especially stuff that is no longer in production and I wondred why these reviews were posted.  I would find them a lot more valuable if they perhaps referenced current used prices and or compared the equipment to its present day equivalant - but I realize that would be a huge amount of work and might not even be possible in some cases.

For me (and I bet I'm not the only one who feels this way), the simple historic value is enough. I wasn't aware of this stuff the first time it came around, so it's great for me to have the opportunity to learn about the past and tie it with what we're seeing today.

A time when CD-RWs sold for $30 each?! Unthinkable today. 

Plus, this is just really fine writing from Wes.

volvic's picture

As someone who buys vintage gear these reviews are a "trip down memory lane".  Besides some of this gear still holds its own even today and are great bargains and have such character.  Nope, keep em coming, I love reading them.  


IgAK's picture

This is useful to used equipment buyers, just not titillating to dry-salivating perusers of stratospheric equipment those Walter mitty-esque folks generally can't afford to buy anyway. You know, used equipment...what happens to new equipment that the more well heeled sell after it isn't this year's latest and greatest.

FWIW, nowadays you can also buy used pro machines like the HHB 850, which ignore scams...I mean SCAMS...and also have excellent sound quality both as players and recorders...if you can find ones that aren't misbehaving. These are pro versions of the Pioneer PDR555RW, which SCAMS you into submission. While I don't know if the Pioneer consumer version has the same problem, I see no reason to buy a "scammed" burner on the used market, then have to fuss with all the restirictions. The problem? The HHB's have a 1F memory backup "supercap" that leaks ands destroys the triple-layered main board irreparably, which costs about as much to buy as the whole used unit, and installation under multiple boards in the way above this main board isn't quick or easy. But if you find a unit that isn't acting up yet, you can simply replace that cap for under $10 at worst price possible, and it can even be done (carefully) without removing any boards to do so - if you or someone you know is skillful enough. Just don't figure on repairing one that has already gone bad and acting up already - too late by then, that board is already rotting away from the caustic exudate form the cap! Then you have a fantastic unit for cheap, and no one is going to tell you what you can copy or not...oh, not that anyone would actually ignore the industry-profit serving legalities...of course (eyeroll)...right? We should respect laws rammed through with lobby money, never mind where on us they rammed them, of course...right? 



Audio Asylum Bruce from DC's picture

You never know what you learn on this site!  I happen to own an HHB 850 (working) which I have had for a number of years.  I don't use it to make copies of CDs, but I do use it to make digital versions of analog recordings.  So, for example, I can have my vinyl records "playing" in my car.

Never knew about the 1F cap failure.  So, I'll pull the sucker out and have a look.  TIA, as they say.

While we're at it, using the balanced outputs, the HHB is an inferior-sounding CD player to my Sony XA-777ES, which has only unbalanced outputs.   But CD dupes it makes of my records are surprisingly good.  Also, a couple of years ago we discovered a vinyl record of my late mother-in-law (who had a trained, operatic voice) singing Christmas carols, probably recorded in th e1950s.  The record was a mess, but using the HHB to make a digital copy that I could work with on my PC, we cleaned it up surprisingly well . .  . and gave CD's of the cleaned up version to all of her descendants who greatly apprceiated the gift.