Remembering the weird trick of using green felt pens on CDs to make them sound better

About 20 years ago, a rumour started making the rounds of music fans. The claim was that you could make any CD sound better by taking a green felt marker and coating the edges of the disc. This “greening” of CDs took off.

Proponents believed this really worked. As best they could work out, the green ink absorbed stray light from the red laser that red the digital bits on the disc, somehow making it more accurate–better data retrieval, allegedly–and improving the sound.

And while Snopes debunked the theory, (and others agreed that the whole idea was crap) there were those who really believed that this worked.

There were even companies like AudioPrism who were the first to market with a green pen designed for the very purpose of painting the edges of CDs. That was followed by Krell, a manufacturer of high-end CD players, which sold at least one unit that bathed the CD tray in green light. Others swore that green-tinted CD-Rs sounded superior. Other similar experiments followed. Even some audiophile skeptics were won over by this simple fix. They believed that green ink made their systems sound better.

In fact, it got to the point where Sony, one of the inventors of the compact disc, studied this apparent phenomenon.

This particular craze died away, although I’m sure there are corners of the audiophile world that still experiment with green felt pens. Feel free to try it for yourself.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Remembering the weird trick of using green felt pens on CDs to make them sound better

  • September 10, 2021 at 10:28 pm
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    There was a another CD felt pen phenomenon. Some audio CDs were made apparently unplayable in computers, making the task of ripping the music and converting to MP3s impossible or at least more difficult. The innermost track was a program telling the PC not to play the CD. The copy protection was defeated by black or opaque marker on the innermost track of the CD, which then left only the music.

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