Since when do CDs skip?

Dear Cecil:

Since when do CDs skip? Since last week, in my case. What gives? I thought CDs were immune to the failings of mere vinyl.

Cecil replies:

Alas, another bit of audio hype. Dirty CDs will skip just like dirty records. A complicated system of beam splitters and servomechanisms keeps the laser centered on the CD “groove,” but an opaque glob stuck to the disc may throw the system off and cause a skip. The cure, usually, is to clean the disc with a clean dry cloth, always by wiping from the center of the disc to the edge. That way an accidental scratch won’t obliterate so much consecutive musical data that the error-correcting circuitry gives up in disgust.

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

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