Tweaks from the other side - A tag-team approach to the Nanotec Nespa #1

by Dave and Carol Clark


The Nespa #1 ($595 US) by Nanotec Systems out of Japan, is labeled an Optical Disc Finalizer—meaning that it finalizes whatever was not finalized when a CD was produced. What was not finalized you ask....

Well, let’s consider how a CD is manufactured (courtesy of and

  • A precise copy of the source material, called a glass master is made. A glass disc is coated with a thin layer of light-reactive material. A laser etches pits representing 1s and 0s into this layer (the digital representation of an analog signal), to create a master version of the CD
  • The glass master is too fragile to be used directly in the replication process. Instead, it acts as a mold to create several more durable metal stampers, which are then attached to injection molding machines.
  • Transparent plastic, called polycarbonate, is injected into a mold that has the stamper on one side and a smooth surface on the other. The stamper side of the mold imprints data pits into the plastic. The surface of the stamper is lubricated with a very thin layer of an oil-like separator, thereby keeping the it free of polycarbonate particles that would damage the next stamped disc.
  • The polycarbonate material is transparent, so even though the data pits have been imprinted, a layer of reflective material must be applied behind them so that a laser can read them. A thin layer of metal, usually aluminum, is applied to the back side of the disc to create the necessary reflective surface.
  • The reflective layer is then protected with a coat of acrylic lacquer, which is cured by ultraviolet light.
  • A face label is silk-screened onto the cured lacquer in inks cured by ultraviolet light to create the finished product.
  • Nanotec Systems theorizes that the aluminum film has random irregularities in its adhesion to the surface of a disc. These irregularities are microscopic gaps existing between the film and polycarbonate substrate. The gaps are filled with the residue of the lubricant used in the stamping process. The intent of the NESPA is to eliminate or mitigate these gaps by applying a high intensity light to a spinning CD for a defined period of time, causing the residue to heat up to a point where it vaporizes and vacates the gap leaving it flatter and more even-an easier read for the laser. That is, these random oil-filled gaps are seen to be an obstacle to the laser in reading the 1s and 0s correctly, thereby causing some confusion as to whether it is a 1 or a 0-resulting in greater error correction and potentially greater error in the errors as they are corrected. Nespa’s idea is that the more correction needed will lead to poorer sound-meaning less music, less whatever. We could also say it could lead to maybe hearing more whatever. Like hearing more digital crap and edgy nastiness. Nespa refers to this as spurious noise with the result being more accuracy and clarity...

    Uh ...gee, I will leave the validity of this up to those that know way more about error correction and 1s and 0s then me ...but I can say that CDs spun on the Nespa do sound different.

    How different? More musically different. I hear more stuff-greater resolution, more information. Perhaps due to the Nespa theory, I am hearing more of the right right and less wrong right information. Even so, discs have less of that "digital presence", sounding more at ease and "natural". Natural in the sense of what things should sound like-voices sounding more like real voices, guitars more like real guitars, stuff sounding more like real stuff, etc. You will hear more air, more space, more there thereness. Dramatic? Not in the sense that you will crap in your pants, but everyone who has been here has heard the same sort of things that I mentioned above, though to varying degrees. And, everyone liked what it did.

    On some discs some across as sounding not so much thinner (though it could be construed that way), but less rich and full (which should not be construed as poor and empty-poor of soul and empty of life). Sort of like having been on a good diet, these recordings have lost a bit of the ponderousness or bloat that made them, a times, a bit too much. After Nespa-neering, they sound (especially through the voices and the bass range) lighter and quicker-more air and speed, less denseness and creep. The music has way better flow and articulation-it is simply more musical and involving.

    Use of the Nespa is pretty straight-forward. Lift the lid, remove the magnetic puck, drop in a disc label side up, place the puck to hold the disc in-place, lower the lid, switch the unit on, and wait till it shuts off-about 2 minutes or 110-150 flashes.

    It has been mentioned elsewhere, that if one uses the Nespa too much one can over cook their discs rendering them un-playable. Well, the US Distributor suggests that once a disc has been spun, taking another spin at a later time may actually take the disc a bit further. Nanotec suggests that even as many as 10 times is safe, regardless if they occur over a period of time or all at once. But, the instruction says that too much treatment could lead to the hardening or cracking of the disc, with a maximum treatment time of 4 minutes. Which is which, I have no clue, nor I have not tried this, but it is nice to know if one forgets to mark a spun discs and ends up taking one for another spin all should be fine. Highly Recommended.


    Sounds of Silence