The Green Pen Tweak

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Off an on for some months now, I've been researching the history of hte 'green pen'
tweak...which I think will become (if it has not already become) the classic case
of audiophile cultural folly. I'd appreciate any leads anyone can send regarding 'priamry
sources' other than the ones I describe below.

I've seen several refefences to the idea that the tweak began as a practical joke on Usenet
or an audio email list.
The earliest Usenet posts I find on google taht fit the bill are in this thread:

http://www.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&selm=1260005%40hpvcfs1.HP.COM

from Mssrs. Neff and Mayhew.

In a later post, Mr. Mayhew 'fesses up to having penned an April Fools' article circa 1987
on rec.audio, where he belives he may have started the hoax:

http://www.google.com/groups?selm=1991Aug20.120708.15216%40uhura.neoucom.EDU&output=gplain

I haven't been able to locate the original 'Foolie' yet, nor track down the AP wire story
printed in the Portland Oregonian circa Dec 89/Jan 90 that supposedly 'broke' the news to
the public.

I have archived some of the articles listed in the snopes.com entry

http://www.snopes.com/music/media/marker.htm

excerpts reprinted below; they make for interesting yet somehow familiar reading, I think.

from
The Half-Amazing, Half-Crazy Greening of CD Sound:[Home Edition]
PATRICK GOLDSTEIN. Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext). Los Angeles, Calif.: Mar 4, 1990.
pg. 73
Full Text (661 words)

....

Call it the Big Green Clean.

It's the hot new topic of debate among CD fanatics-and a claim being taken seriously by CD
experts, most notably Pete Howard, publisher of the respected International CD Exchange
(ICE) newsletter and resident Rolling Stone CD columnist. Howard says he discovered the
craze when one of his subscribers sent him a story from a Beaverton, Ore., paper detailing
claims made by an audio store owner there.

After interviewing several other people who've tested out the theory-and trying it
himself-Howard is no longer a complete skeptic.

"I was intrigued, as would anyone who discovered that you could make what amounts to a
$1,000 upgrade on your sound system by simply spending $1.25 for a green felt marking pen,"
he said. "I think you'd have to say it's half-amazing and half-ludicrous. But I'm getting
calls from people who are using adjectives like `incredible' and `terrifyingly improved.'
Everybody seems to agree there's something there."

The green felt marker fad isn't the only craze sweeping the CD ranks. According to a
four-page story by Sam Tellig in the current issue of Stereophile magazine, you can also
improve CD sound quality by coating your CDs with (now you really have to sit down)
Armor-All spray cleaner. (You coat the playing surface and wash off the Armor-All before
playing.)

Both schemes sound pretty farfetched to us. But Howard isn't so sure. "What makes this such
a potentially fascinating story is the implication that after millions of CDs have been
tested and manufactured, consumers can suddenly buy a green marking pen or a cleaning spray
cleaner and dramatically increase their CD sound. Enough people have come to me that you'd
have to say something is happening here, even if you don't know what it is."

....

//

From :
Felt-tip markers stir a hue and cry over CD clarity;For a clean sound:[FINAL Edition]
Bruce Schwartz. USA TODAY (pre-1997 Fulltext). McLean, Va.: May 10, 1990. pg. 04.D
Full Text (1175 words)

....

Do these remedies work? The believers reply: Just listen.

``It's amazing that you can improve billion-dollar technology with a two- buck marker,''
says Pete Howard, publisher of International CD Exchange, a monthly newsletter. He's
convinced the markers have an effect, but isn't sure it is dramatic.

Adds Sam Tellig, writer for Stereophile, a high-end audio magazine: ``I get a great deal of
satisfaction in showing that these tweaks take the `perfect-sound-forever medium' and make
it a little more perfect.''

Stereophile runs a number of home remedies through a battery of tests in its April issue.
The results: No consistently measurable differences in data retrieval between treated and
untreated discs. But the tester heard a difference.

If you have an experimental nature, here are the methods to the madness:

The turquoise edge. Run an Eberhard Faber Design Art Marker No. 255, a blue-green, along the
outer edge and inner rim, being careful not to get it on the top or bottom surfaces.

The concept became public when a Portland, Ore., audio salon owner, on the advice of a
customer, tried it on one of his discs. ``Within three beats, I heard a difference,'' says
Dave Herron of Audio Alternative.

He describes the sound as ``more musically accurate; there are more subtleties. Pianos have
the correct harmonics, and violins aren't harsh.''

Herron theorizes that the color absorbs random reflections of the laser inside the CD. That
blue-green shade seems to absorb the light's wavelength most readily, he says.

Says ICE's Pete Howard, ``Something is definitely happening here. But to what degree is a
bone of contention.''

How much you hear depends on how analytical your stereo system is: ``Can you hear it at
home,'' he says, ``or do you need a recording studio situation? ... I'm just not sold on
hearing it at home yet.''

....
//

(NB, David Herron was *still* defending the green pen tweak, as of at least two years ago,
on rec.audio newsgroups.)

--

-S.
Why don't you just admit that you hate music and leave people alone. --
spiffy <thatsright@excite.co>
 
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Steven Sullivan <ssully@panix.com> wrote in message news:<q_mEc.1033$%_6.938@attbi_s01>...
> Off an on for some months now, I've been researching the history of hte 'green pen'
> tweak...which I think will become (if it has not already become) the classic case
> of audiophile cultural folly. I'd appreciate any leads anyone can send regarding 'priamry
> sources' other than the ones I describe below...snip...snip..

I have one link in support of the marker, sounds believable.

http://www.msen.com/~lwp/green.pen.html
 
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On Wed, 30 Jun 2004 17:30:46 GMT, TChelvam wrote:
> I have one link in support of the marker, sounds believable.

> http://www.msen.com/~lwp/green.pen.html

It might be believable if you don't know how CDs really work.
Here's a good reference for learning something about that:

http://www.ee.washington.edu/conselec/CE/kuhn/labs/lab4a.htm

"The pit/bump is carefully fabricated so that it is a quarter of a
wavelength (notice a wavelength INSIDE the polycarbonate) high. The
idea here is that light striking the land travels 1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2 of a
wavelength further than light striking the top of the pit. The light
reflected from the land is then delayed by 1/2 a wavelength -- and so
is exactly out of phase with the light reflected from the pit. These
two waves will interfere destructively -- so effectively no light has
been reflected."

-alan

--
Alan Hoyle - alanh@unc.edu - http://www.alanhoyle.com/
"I don't want the world, I just want your half." -TMBG
Get Horizontal, Play Ultimate.
 
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Quite a few years ago there was a publication called CD Review. The
publisher, one Wayne Green used to run an ad for a product called
"Balonium". It was a green pen and I believe they were asking $3.50 for
it. I'm not certain whether or not the product really existed but
Wayne's opinion was indicated by the name.


---MIKE---
 

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TChelvam wrote:
> Steven Sullivan <ssully@panix.com> wrote in message news:<q_mEc.1033$%_6.938@attbi_s01>...
>> Off an on for some months now, I've been researching the history of hte 'green pen'
>> tweak...which I think will become (if it has not already become) the classic case
>> of audiophile cultural folly. I'd appreciate any leads anyone can send regarding 'priamry
>> sources' other than the ones I describe below...snip...snip..
>
> I have one link in support of the marker, sounds believable.
>
> http://www.msen.com/~lwp/green.pen.html
>

That link sounds totally unbelievable.

Quote: "But the "scattered" laser light does not simply cease to exist!
Rather, it reverberates and echoes around in the medium, much the same
way that ambient sounds persist in any real world space except the
anechoic studio. This cumulatively produces the "airy" "spacious"
"cloying" "harsh" concert-hall feeling that the audio engineers try so
hard to eliminate when they produce a "dry" sounding master."

This is the stuff that makes engineers and physicists roll on the floor
laughing.
 
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On 6/30/04 8:55 PM, in article cbvne40g9p@news4.newsguy.com, "chung"
<chunglau@covad.net> wrote:

> This is the stuff that makes engineers and physicists roll on the floor
> laughing.

Not to mention that the fumes from the markers might just feed their
marketing department! ;-)
 
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"Alan Hoyle" <alanh@unc.edu> wrote in message
news:pgEEc.5673$Oq2.541@attbi_s52...

snip...snip..

So how does green marker help? If there supposed to be any sort of absorbing
of stray light, black should do the job better.
 
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The green pen idea dates back to the days when CD's first came out. A company sold special green felt tip pens for painting the rim and inner edge of CD's. The manufacturer claimed that the green colour soaked up the scattered blue rays of laser light that bounced inside the plastic of a disc when the laser light collided with the pits and refracted. The echoes of light would be prevented from bouncing back to the laser, thus removing any false readings. Whether this was true is hard to say. I bought a few of the pens when they came out and marked some of my CD's but could not notice any difference in sound. Bear in mind that the built in error correction code used by CD's would repair that damage anyway. All it would succeed in doing is give the error correction less work to do. The end result at the output is just the same as long as the VD's are in reasonable condition.
 
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