No Disc Error and Dirty Lens

Question About No Disc Error

No disc error and dirty lens problem are the two related when this occurs with a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray disc? What would be the most probable cause? 

Is the laser turned off? Are the CD player components dusty or dirty? Is the CD player damaged? My tiny CD player gives a “NO DISC” message and the player creates circular scratches on the discs. Cleaning with a CD head cleaner is ineffective. What are the causes for circular scratches and what remedial measures need to be taken to prevent circular scratches in future and also what is the cause and remedy for the “NO DISC” message. 

Error Caused by Laser Not Working

Optical discs such as CDs are read with laser light. The light is produced from a laser diode and for each different format of optical disc a different diode is required (CD, DVD, Blu-ray). One of the most fundamental problems is trying to read a disc in a drive that does not have the right laser diode. This does not seem to be the case here since you are trying to read an audio CD in a CD player. 

Next it is possible that the laser diode is not functioning properly (loss of strength) or is simply not working at all. If this is the case, then the player cannot recognize that there is a disc in the drive and the “NO DISC” message would appear. If this is the case, it is best to simply replace the player. If the equipment is rather expensive, then repair might be a more feasible option.

No Disc Error and Dirty Lens

A disc will not be recognized if it is dirty or has degraded. However, if all discs are producing the same symptoms then this is not the problem.

The most likely cause according to the symptoms of your problem is a dirty lens in the player. The laser light prior to reading the disc, passes through  a lens that focuses the light onto the disc. For a non disc error and dirty lens problem, if the lens has any kind of deposit on it such as dust, dirt, or a film of some sort, then this can lead to light not reaching the disc and the “NO DISC” message appearing. In this case it appears to be debris on the lens that is the problem. Circular scratches on the disc are usually due to debris on the lens coming in contact with the disc surface. The lens is very close to the disc surface and any debris on the lens will lead to contact and significant scratching since the CD is spinning at a very high speed. You mentioned that a CD head cleaner was used. Generally, this type of cleaner is a CD with tiny brushes placed on a small section of the disc. These brushes wipe the surface of the lens as the disc spins in the player. These cleaners may be effective for minor and very loose debris but for more tightly adhered debris, the results for a no disc error and dirty lens problem may not be positive.

To summarize, considering the “NO DISC” message and that circular scratches are present, my conclusion is a dirty lens. The amount of dirt or type of dirt cannot be dealt with using basic cleaners. A more thorough manual cleaning of the lens is required. This can be done by opening up the player (all power turned off and never power up with the cover off as the laser light can damage vision) and wiping the lens with a lint less cloth and isopropyl alcohol. Alternatively, to be more secure, have the equipment serviced by a professional because the lens is sensitive to damage in not cleaned properly.

It is not unusual for portable CD and other disc players to get very dirty, simply because of the way they are used. Therefore, a no disc error and dirty lens problem is common for this type of equipment.