Skipping CDs and DVDs, bookshelf speaker placement, scanning medium format negatives, Season’s Greetings!

Week of December 28, 2003

Q: I have some CD’s that skip and stick when I play them. How do I know if is the disk or my player?  

A: It is a combination of both player and disc that are causing your playback problems. CD players vary in their ability to handle scratched discs. Performance also varies according to the scratches themselves. It does not take much of a scratch to cause a skip if it is scratched at the right depth, angle and place on the disc. A scratched disc may skip on one CD player and play perfectly on another. For example, one of my favorite CDs is fifteen years old and has accumulated scratches in several places. When I play it on my home player, it will always skip at a certain place on a certain song. When I play it on my car CD player, it will play through this part without problems, but it skips at another point my home player can play through. Try the disc in a few different CD players to see if it always skips or freezes in the same place. If it does, you probably have a very bad scratch in a very sensitive spot on the disc.

Several products are available to remove scratches from CDs. My favorite is the motorized SkipDR series. You can see it at Please note that if a scratch is deep enough and in a particularly bad spot, scratch removal devices will not help and you will have to replace the CD.

Q: Would it be OK to place “upright” bookcase speakers on their sides — or should I look for “horizontally designed” speakers?

-Carol Struth

A: Typically the speaker’s sound dispersion pattern is optimized when the speaker is placed upright. If you place them on their sides, stereo imaging, sound quality, and evenness of sound throughout the room could be compromised. You would be better served with speakers designed for horizontal placement.

Please note that “bookcase” and “bookshelf” speakers rarely sound their best when placed on a bookshelf! Bookshelf speakers sound their best when used on stands. If you can, buy a pair of stands and place them upright as they should be. Your ears will love you for it (even if your interior decorator won’t!)

Q: It seems all flat bed scanners for film negatives only will do 35mm format. I have some old larger format negatives that are at least 2 or 3 times the size of 35 mm. I’d like to convert them into pictures. Is there any scanner that can handle these larger negatives?

-John Matusz

A: You probably have medium format negatives that are 2.25 inches square. These are commonly referred to as “medium format” negatives. Film scanners exist that will scan medium format film, but these tend to be professional models that are very expensive.   Unless you have many negatives, you would probably be best served by finding a professional lab to scan your negatives for you and give you the files on a CD.

If any readers know of an inexpensive scanner that can scan large transparencies, please contact me through my website.

Season’s Greetings: Happy holidays and a safe and happy New Year to all my readers and those who have submitted questions to my column. I have a passion for audio, video and photography and love sharing this passion with others by helping you get great results in your own home, no matter your budget or level of expertise. Your questions are the reason my column exists and it is my pleasure to help you in any way I can.

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