Or. “How many more decades will it be before the effect of colours on sound is taken seriously ?”
An article by Teresa Goodwin in the May/June 2009 issue of Internet audio magazine “Positive Feedback Online” has co-incided with a search I was carrying out on some archive papers. Teresa’s article was based around applying the colour Green to discs.
The whole debate on ‘colouring’ discs has been going on, off and on, in my memory, for the past 22 years – and still has not reached any solution as to the “Why and How” it affects the sound.
From my archive papers I have copied below some of the interesting parts on this subject.
A general extract from an article by Laszlo Darvas, the Editor of the Hungarian “Hi Fi Magazine”.
Laszlo Darvas, the Editor of the Hungarian Hi Fi Magazine, knowing of Peter’s discoveries that the printing on the label side of CDs affected the sound decided, during the early 1990s, to do some of his own investigations. He commissioned, from a Hungarian manufacturer of Compact Discs, ten identical (music-wise) Compact Discs, but with nine of them each printed in a different colour on the label side. Eight of the colours were Black, White, Red, Green, Blue, Lilac, Yellow and Brown. The ninth disc had the normal production printing on it’s label and the tenth disc was left completely clear (no paint at all).
After listening to all ten discs the Editor’s conclusion were as follows :-
That every colour has it’s own sound.
- The disc printed Yellow was described as ‘hurting the mind’.
- The disc printed Brown was described as ‘gritty’, ’empty’, only one degree better than Yellow.
- The disc printed Lilac was described as sounding ‘funny’, ‘murky’, ‘gritty’ like the White One.
- The Best sounding disc was the clear one, the one with no printing on at all.
The heading of Laszlo’s article – published in the Hungarian magazine “Hi Fi Magazin” – some 20 years ago !!! (roughly translated) was :-
“It should be on the Painter’s Brush”
Even knowing of Peter’s findings, the Editor was still surprised at HIS results so he gave all the different coloured Compact Discs to a second person to also try. Because of the deadline for the printing of the article, the second person was only able to try four of the discs, but his results were exactly the same as the Editor, i.e that the clear (no printing at all) disc sounded the best.
Their conclusion, from these experiments, was that the results could not be anything to do with laser reflections etc – that the results cannot be explained by classical electro acoustic theories !!
After Laszlo’s experiments, he sent a letter to Steve Harris (the then editor of the British audio magazine “Hi Fi News”) offering Hi Fi News a similar set of the 10 CDs so that Hi Fi News could carry out their own – listening – experiments. All Hi Fi News did however, after receiving Laszlo’s letter, was to forward Laszlo’s letter to Peter with a note from Christopher Breunig (Hi Fi News Musical Editor) attached saying “We think you will find this interesting, Peter.” !!!! I have copied Laszlo’s letter below.
>>> “To Steve Harris, Editor. HiFi News and Record Review.
Dear Mr. Harris,
You may be aware of the trick that sound quality can be manipulated by applying colours on CD. The recent method, suggested by several Hi-Fi magazines, refers to the label of the CD inasmuch you have to “Paint It Black”. (The Rolling Stones in the sixties were Hi-Fi nuts, I bet). Everybody knows that this manipulation must have absolutely no effect at all, yet it DOES have – and some of our colleagues are, in a permanent search for the Reasons, ready with the explanation: “the black surface blocks the way of the laser beam, therefore, it blocks data corruption”.
One could argue that before making statements like the one above our theories should have made experiments with different colours, among others NO COLOUR etc, not to mention some basic measurements. But we all are ready to accept that “Black IS Black” (once more a hit from the sixties) as well as the fact that neither the journalist nor the consumer has the opportunity to experiment with several examplares of the same disk.
As a man of method I acquired several sets consisting of no less than 10 CDs directly from the factory (Gloria, Hungary). The discs are absolutely identical but they are painted with 8 different colours. No 9 is clear (has no paint at all) and No 10 is the ready made CD with the usual labeling. All the paints are the types intended for professional use in the CD factory. As a preliminary, I have to inform you that any auditive difference should be attributed really to the colours, not technical imperfections because other sets produce always the same result, with all of the colours maintaining their characteristic sound qualities.
May I offer a set of such CDs to you. Now you have the opportunity to judge for yourself what colour a good sounding CD should have on its label. Or, if you allow me to make some suggestions, please check up the validity of my statements as follows:
- Every colour has its own sound.
- Black, dark blue, dark violet and dark brown all have nearly the same opacity on their surfaces so they would “block the laser beam” practically with the same effectiveness. Yet they produce very different sound quality.
- Black really has a special sound on its own: that’s the sound of LP. The BAD LP, played on BAD equipment. Closed miked, no treble, no air, no life.
- Best of all is the record with absolutely no paint on its label. Though it has the more transparent surface, with no extra block “in the way of the laser beam”…
- Conclusion: sound differences caused by paints on the disks have absolutely no connection with the notions of the classical electro-acoustics.
Very truly yours,
Laszlo Darvas, Editor HiFi Magazin.” <<<
Christopher Breunig – the Musical Editor of Hi Fi News – was no stranger to Peter Belt’s work and concepts. Way back in 1988 (21 years ago !!!), Christopher wrote an article for Hi Fi News called “Foiled Again” and in this article Christopher described removing all the coloured ink from the label side of a CD and found that the sound from that ‘washed’ CD was “opened up, losing it’s stridency and sharply defining the acoustic halo behind the singers”.
In the Stereophile open discussion at the 2009 Montreal Hi Fi Show, John Atkinson admitted that “after being told that the improvement in the sound he had heard occurred after an LP had been ‘demagnetised’ (John went on to say):-
>>> “Oh No. I know if I tell anyone outside of our (audio) community they will laugh. They will think we are crazy and that we all have fairies at the bottom of our garden, sitting on toadstools.” <<<
This attitude, within the audio industry, – of not wanting to be thought of as ‘crazy’ had also been shown previously when, in 1992, after Christopher Breunig had been having success with our Coloured Ring Ties, Christopher wrote a letter to us and, whilst describing all the improvement in his sound he had gained, said :-
“This letter may be copied to anyone. However, I cannot guarantee persuading Steve Harris to allow anything in the magazine (i e Hi Fi News). Subjectively, the effect (of these Coloured Ring Ties) seemed to ‘stabilize’ the sound, and the overall quality became very impressive indeed, with loud strenuous climaxes clearer, less a strain”.
Also, at the end of an article in Hi Fi News by Martin Colloms, where Martin had been describing gaining improvements in the sound by ‘greening’ the edge of CDs, Christopher Breunig added a postscript. In his article, Martin had also repeated the explanation that ‘the effect of greening the edge of CDs was something to do with “laser beam reflections and refractions” !! Christopher’s postscript referred to Peter Belt also recommending that the edge of CDs should be ‘coloured’ but that Peter recommended the colour Violet should be used and not Green.
Even though Christopher Breunig was fully aware of all Peter’s work, and was fully aware of Peter’s recommendation of ‘making an identical marking on the edge of Vinyl discs with the same colour Violet’, Christopher did not have the courage to point out, in his postscript to Martins article, that IF the effect on the sound from colouring the edge of a Vinyl disc was similar to that from colouring the edge of a CD, then any explanation to do with “laser beam reflections and refractions” COULD NO LONGER BE VALID !!!!
In Teresa Goodwin’s article in the May/June 1009 issue of Positive Feedback Online she writes :-
>>> “Sony’s audio division in Japan is now backing an intriguing project which tests the theory. A batch of new SACDs from Sony Music has green labels.” <<<
Teresa goes on to say :-
>>> “It’s over a decade since I had tried ‘greening the edge of a CD’ and with Sony releasing Green label SACDs based on their research with green pen treatments I thought it was a good time to try it again.” <<<
A DECADE ago when Teresa tried the ‘colouring CDs technique’, 21 YEARS since Christopher Breunig, following on from the investigations done by Peter Belt, experimented by removing the printing on the label side of CDs, some 20 YEARS since Laszlo Darvas, also following on from Peter’s experiments, listened to ten different (label colour) CDs. Just when is the world of audio going to stop being paralysed with fear at being thought of as ‘crazy’ when they HEAR things changing the sound ???
Even Teresa has given her article the title “The Greening of SACDs, (gulp) CDs and other digital madness.” – Still carrying on with the inference of ‘madness’ !!!!!!!
There WERE a few courageous audio journalists in the UK during the early 1990s.
Quotes from some British Hi Fi Magazines (early 1990s) – Colour Green versus Violet.
Audiophile April 1991.
From a Jimmy Hughes article entitled :-
“Coloured Pens and Compact Discs – the story continues. Plausible explanations are in doubt now effects are heard on Vinyl too.”
>>> “Peter Belt discovered the beneficial effects of different pen colours some time before the whole business was publicly aired. For those wanting a single colour, he suggests violet………..
Results are audibly lower levels of congestion and less sense of strain. Clarity and fine detail are improved, and in general terms musical instruments and voices sound clearer and firmer in outline, as well as being more solidly focused…….
One final piece of information. Not only does this peripheral colour technique work on digital compact discs, it also has an equally beneficial effect on vinyl LPs. It surely proves beyond doubt that this whole colour business has nothing whatsoever to do with lasers, digital replay or CD.” <<<
Hi Fi World March 1992
From Jimmy Hughes article:-
>>> “Hard scientific proof may yet be missing, but that is no reason to just dismiss the whole thing out of hand. After all, isn’t it often the case with science that observable, repeatable phenomena are witnessed long before a convincing explanation de-mystifies things ?
And how to explain the fact that it works very effectively on vinyl LP records ? No scattered light there ! ” <<<
Hi Fi World June 1992
Letter from Peter Turner :-
>>> “Never having tried the Green Pen, I offer no opinion about it; though I have tried the (PWB) Violet pen and can answer for it’s effectiveness.” <<<
People never cease to be surprised at the beneficial effect on their sound from colouring the edge of LPs, CDs, audio tapes, video tapes etc with our Chunky Violet pen and also never cease to be surprised at the beneficial effect of writing morphic messages with our Red ‘x’ Pen. Surprised because any such effect is not covered by conventional electronic or acoustic theories. So, SOMETHING extraordinary is going on. What? Why ? And How ?