Will my Compact Discs work in Australia?

[Document Version: 1.00] [Last Updated: 3/26/96]

People who read soc.culture.australian often have to answer a number of questions about our country. These vary from the practical (Will an American video recorder work with an Australian TV? What voltage is used in Australia? What side of the road to Australians drive on?) through to the curious (Does water really go down the plughole in the opposite direction? What does Vegemite taste like?), to the, well, fairly clueless.

Recently we had the following thread.

(I haven't asked the posters to this thread whether they mind if I send it to rec.humor.funny, and I realise that these extracts from posting are probably a bit long to come under 'fair use'. I doubt if any of them would mind, but sorry if you can't use this for copyright reasons).

From Grube

I am coming to Australia for a 3 year stay. Should I bring my CD's to play on Aussie equipment?

From Adrian Rose

You will need an American to Australian converter device. This is usually hard wired into the CD player by a reputable Australian tech. They are all familiar with the device. Just pop into any CD store and request the phone # of the nearest CD converter tech. Its usually only around $30 and you will not even know it had been done. You will be able to play not only US cds, and Australian, but as a bonus, European ones too!

CAution-do not try to play bootled CDs after the conversion,you will ruin the cd player.

From Adrian Rose

Sorry about that last post-to play your US cds in Australia,they merely need to be passed thru a strong magnetic or x-ray field,such as you get at Customs.Be sure to pass each one thru separately,as bulk passage may leave the ones in the middle unplayable in Oz.

From Mark A. Gray

Well...this may gave worked for you, but I found that the only way the get 'em playing was to smear the shiny side with a very thin layer of vegemite. 'Course this makes the inside of your CD player rather sticky, so make sure you have lots of tissues.

From Hans Andersen

Don't listen to them. To play American CDs in Australian CD players, you will need to regroove them. This is because Australian CDs have a different track-width (i.e. 10 ums instead of 5 ums). To do this you will need to buy some fine-grade sandpaper. Try to find some with a grain size of between 8 and 12 ums (micrometers for non-technical people). Put a piece of the sandpaper on a table with the rough side up. Now put your CD on the sandpaper and turn it slowly in a clockwise direction, pushing down hard. Oiua la (spit) - now you have Australian standard CDs.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy Australia.

From Michael Jennings

No. That is completely wrong. Australian CDs are exactly the same as American ones except for the fact that the 'groove' goes in the opposite direction. That is whereas an American groove goes inwards as you go clockwise an Australian groove goes inwards as you go anti-clockwise. This is because Australian cars drive on the left and American cars drive on the right. If the groove direction was not reversed there would be parity problems with car CD players. Unfortunately, this means that you cannot play an American CD on Australian equipment.

From Stephen P. Guthrie

You smartarse. Obviously this is nothing to do with the side of the road cars drive on. Do you seriously expect anyone to swallow that? Anyone with a brain knows that it's related to which direction water goes down the plughole in the Southern hemisphere. In other words in the US the cd rotates in a clockwise direction. In Australia it rotates anticlockwise. Of course this is also true if you play your cds in South America for example. This is actually quite neat because if you play your beatles cds in the Southern hemisphere you hear all this neat 'backwards masking' stuff about Paul being dead and taking marijuana. Also I heard that you hear all sorts of satanic stuff in other rock albums, but I'm not a fan myself. My question: has anyone done any experimets about playing cds at the equator or at the notrh pole? At the equator do your cds stop playing altogether. What about in a reduced gravity environment, like in a free faling elevator?

From Tye Leslie Sanders

You're all a bunch of liars!!!! In Australia the initials C.D. stand for Completely Dislexic which means that the bits are scattered at random all over the disc. All Australian C.D. players are programmed to randomly search over the disc to find the right bit to play next. It is very unlikley that it could cope with a disc where all the bits were in order. I would advise you to record your discs onto Hi-Fi video tape and connect an Australian VCR to a stereo system. Australian and American VCRs are definitely compatible.

From Mark A. Gray

I can't speak for a reduced gravity environment, but I can speak for the equator. It is interesting that you should bring it up, since many CD's simply do not spin at the equator (or near it actually). In Singapore (for instance) they had to ban a whole bunch of CDs or have them altered so that they would play correctly ('corse if they had a bit of vegemite their problems would be solved). Video tapes and books(!) seem to suffer the same fate their.

Why don't books work properly at the equator? And I have another question: Short of smearing every page with vegemite, how do you get a northern hemisphere book to work properly in the southern hemisphere? (I'll be bringing some books home with me when I leave here, so I need to know).

Thanks in advance.

From Tye Leslie Sanders

Re-your querey on playing CDs in reduced gravity, it is not widely known that on the last Space Shuttle mission it was decided to test the effects of playing a compact disc in zero gravity with disasterous results.

When the disc was played, instead of the disc spinning, the entire vehicle began to spin while the disc remained motionless, turning the entire spacecraft into a giant centrifuge, nearly crushing the astronauts to death before the commander was able to crawl to the machine and press the stop button.

It has been suggested by some at NASA (who have now been dismissed for discussing government secrets) that a compact disc was the cause of the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1985. As you may recall, this was the first mission to take a civillian into space. To ease her mind during take-off it was decided to simulate an environment of Earth similar to that of take-off pressure so they decided to play a CD of elevator music to give her the feeling that she was riding up in the lift at her local shopping centre. The craft could not cope with the enormous centrifugal force generated by the spinning disc and broke apart approximately 1 minute after take-off. It was decided to cover up their gross negligence by saying that the o-ring seals in the booster rockets were faulty.

All this is absolutely true or my name is not Ronald Reagan.

From Bob Hiltner

This is a complete load of crap, and probably a troll. The 'Borealis Effect' (or 'Australis' in the sourthern hemisphere) could in no way overcome the power of the motor in a cd player. Besides, the 'groove' went out in the 60's (70's?). I'm no electrical engineer, but I'm guessing that any backward playing effect is due to the 220v power conversion (which would show up on euro equipment as well) or the reverse polarity down under.

As for the gravity-free environment, who gives a shi*t? I think the astronauts have their hands full anyway, and probably can get good FM reception from any station on earth if they need music to dance by...

Some people are so clueless!

From Joe Chew

Since the Earth rotates in the opposite direction in the Southern Hemisphere, the AC power there is supplied 180 degrees out of phase with ours. Thus your CD should work just fine, although some audio purists insist on a motor- generator set to supply "American" electricity and then determine the phasing themselves.

From Orion Auld

At the equator, the cd's stop rotating, so the cd players there must rotate the laser about the stationary cd. The units are very expensive.

By contrast, at the north pole, cd players are very cheap. This is because neither the laser or the cd require a motor to provide rotational energy; the cd is placed precisely on the north pole, tied to the firmament so that it doesn't spin , while the laser is fixed to the earth, slightly off-center, and the earth provides the rotation.

>What about in a reduced gravity environment,
>like in a free faling elevator?

The cd's are virtually weightless, so they can be very massive and yet consumers will have little difficulty operating them. I hope that answers your question.

From Jim Gunson

I'm glad you brought this up. The variation of the Coriolis force with latitude (zero at equator, max at north pole, min at south pole), gives rise to the so-called beta effect. Basically what happens is that when a clockwise-spinning object, in the northern hemisphere, moves north it speeds up, when it moves southe it slows down. I've conducted experiments whilst driving my car here in Boston: if I head north on route 93 at 75 mph with Kylie's "Locomotion" on the CD player, the pitch of her voice goes higher, but you have to be going pretty fast to notice this. Heading west or east this doesn't happen. To the original poster, if you do find you're having trouble with the Coriolis force adversely affecting your US cd's in australia, try turning the cd player upside-down.

From Adrian Rose

No, no, no...................please dont confuse the Coriols effect with the Doppler effect-the two are quite unrelated, and the Doppler effect is ALMOST unnoticeable, when playing out-of-area CDs,or even records.

The effect was most noticeable on 78's,but that's now academic.

BTW,I am able to offer the conversion at only 75cents (us),if done in bulk. E-mail for quotes.

From PHolman1

No if regrooved in the N Hemisphere the must be spun counterclockwise, remember Aussie turntables etc spin the opposite way, ps Marmite works as well as Vegimite.

From Armadillo

No, American compact discs will only work if you drive on the right-hand side of the road. But I wouldn't expect an aol.com user to know these things.

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