For the last two months we have discussed "Making a Data
CD" using Adaptec's Easy CD Creator (http://www.adaptec.com/products/overview/ecdc.html).
Making an audio CD is a similar process however there are a few
things to keep in mind to avoid confusion. An audio CD (either
a custom music mix or exact copy) can be created in Easy CD Creator
using a commercial audio CD as a source or WAV format files stored
on your hard drive. I don't want to get into a discussion here
of copyright concerns with copying commercial audio CDs. There
are plenty of articles on the Net covering that. SCPCUG members
can also read Ed Hughes' article on "how the copyright law
applies to the Internet". It appeared in Ed's "The
Novice Corner" column published in the August 2000 Space
Coast PC Journal.
What I do want to point out here is that one has to be careful
as to audio's definition in relation to burning CDs. We hear
much discussion about MP3 audio files. Easy CD Creator considers
MP3 files as data. If you wish to make an audio CD playable on
your home stereo CD player then those MP3 files that you have
downloaded from places like MP3.com (http://www.mp3.com)
must first be converted to WAV format files. There are various
programs that will do that, some of which are free. One program
I use is Sound Forge XP (http://www.sonicfoundry.com/Products/NewShowProduct.asp?PID=13)
which came bundled with my Smart and Friendly CD-RW drive. Another
I use is Media Jukebox (http://www.musicex.com/mediajukebox).
Media Jukebox is free but after 30 days you have to pay a small
fee to continue using the MP3 Encoder part. The WAV conversion
part remains free. MusicMatch Jukebox (http://www.musicmatch.com/)
is another program that will do the conversion but I have not
Something I discovered when I tried to make my first audio
CD was that using my original CD-ROM drive as a source drive
would not work. My 1995 vintage CD-ROM drive was not capable
of digital audio extraction. Using my old CD-ROM drive as a source,
I can make a duplicate of a CD containing data just fine but
it does not work for audio. The solution is to place the source
audio CD in my CD-Recorder (capable of digital audio extraction)
and using Easy CD Creator, create a "Disc Image" file
on my hard drive. I have plenty of free hard drive space available
so that is no problem. What I'm getting at is if you are in the
same situation as I am (an old CD-ROM drive not capable of digital
audio extraction) then you will need about 740 MB of free space
for this Disc Image file. The Disc Image file is saved with the
extension ".cif". Easy CD Creator can then create the
audio CD from the image file. Actually, using this image file
routine is a safer way to go to prevent buffer underruns as reading
from the hard drive is much faster than reading from a CD-ROM
drive. To go the direct route of CD-ROM drive to burner the source
CD-ROM drive must be capable of reading the audio CD twice as
fast as your CD-Recorder can write it. Thus, if my 4x speed CD-ROM
drive were capable of digital audio extraction I would still
be limited to writing at only a 2x speed. By going the image
file route I can write audio CDs at 4x speed.
Keep in mind that the CD-ROM drive actual speed can vary.
Drives above 12x speed typically use Constant Angular Velocity
(CAV) which means the laser reads at a constant speed on both
the inner and outer tracks of the disc but because the outer
tracks hold more data the actual speed or X rating is higher
on the outer tracks. Drives at 12x speed and below usually use
Constant Linear Velocity (CLV) which means the amount of data
read per second is the same on both the inner and outer tracks.
The point I am trying to make is a drive claiming to be 24x may
achieve that max speed only on the most outer track. The actual
usable reading speed for digital extraction may be far less and
needs to be taken into account to avoid buffer underruns.
Another place of confusion arises when people put a commercial
audio CD in their CD-ROM drive. If you right click on "My
Computer" on your Desktop, select "Open" and then
right click on your CD-ROM drive and select "Open"
you will see a window full of 1 KB files. The names will be Track01.cda,
Track02.cda, etc. The CDA extension is not a true file format.
It is just a way of referring to audio tracks. Only software
that understands the true nature of the CDA extension, such as
CD Recording software, will know how to properly handle it. To
illustrate my point try copying or dragging and dropping a CDA
type file onto your Desktop. Now right-click it and select "Properties".
Notice the file is only 44 bytes in size. Thus it is not the
audio content data but it is also not a Windows shortcut. Close
the "Properties" window. Now right-click the CDA file
again and select either "Open" or "Play".
In each case you will get a dialog box that says "Can't
play CD track. CD tracks must be played from local CD drive."
Now if you go back to your original CD-ROM drive window, right-click
any of those CDA files and select "Open" or "Play"
the music will start playing.
The differences between data and audio can be further confusing.
As mentioned earlier you need approximately 740 MB of free space
to create a Disc Image of a commercial audio CD. But you say
the blank CD-R media discs I bought say they hold 650 MB. How
can I put a 740 MB image file on a 650 MB disc? Turns out audio
sectors use 2352 bytes per sector and data uses 2048 bytes per
sector. Therefore, you can put approximately 747 MB or 74 minutes
of audio onto a CD-R that holds 650 MB of data.
If you intend to make multisession CDs keep in mind that this
is not the most efficient way to fill up the CD disc space. You
lose around 23 MB when the first session is closed. Each additional
session will cause you to lose around 14 MB. In other words don't
over estimate how much free space you have left. Take these overhead
losses into account.
There are special pens available for marking or writing on
the CDs you create. It is a lot cheaper and a lot less work than
making a fancy label with a CD Label Kit, especially for data
backup CDs. I have seen these pens selling for $5 but to me this
seems a bit expensive. I use a black felt-tipped Sanford
Sharpie permanent marker with a fine point (http://www.sanfordcorp.com/permarkframe.html)
and have had no problems so far. Some people have claimed their
CDs were damaged over time by migration into the top layer of
the CD-R media by a Sharpie. I suppose the controversy will continue.
Read more about labels and labeling CDs in Section 7-7 of
Andy McFadden's CD-Recordable FAQ (http://www.fadden.com/cdrfaq/faq07.html#[7-7]).
In anycase the important thing to remember is to use a pen that
will not scratch or damage the top layer of the CD-R media. A
ballpoint pen is definitely out.
I mentioned MP3.com earlier. If you are new to the Internet,
or are among the few who have not discovered this site, check
it out. As a source for free music in the MP3 format, MP3.com
is the place! Here I'm not talking about the copyright infringement
controversey between some record labels and MP3.com. I'm talking
about over 80,000 artists that offer some of their songs for
free as an inducement to get themselves known and hope you buy
their albums. There are over 500,000 songs available for free
on MP3.com. MP3.com's music library can be tailored to your musical
tastes. Mine happens to be Easy Listening.
For my wife's birthday I downloaded free MP3 files of romantic
piano music from MP3.com and put together a custom music mix
that I burned onto a CD along with a 40 second personal message
wishing her a "Happy Birthday". Milada likes personalized
In the process of searching for this romantic piano music,
I found a beautiful song that just grabbed me. Talk about things
having a resonant frequency? Well this song just resonated with
me. It is called "Stolen Kiss" (http://artists.mp3s.com/artist_song/240/240152.html)
and it's by Ernesto Cortazar. I had never heard of this music
genius even though he has composed music for over 500 films.
I am so impressed with Ernesto's music that I thought I would
pass this info on. (All you husbands out there whose wife might
complain "you are always on the computer--you are not romantic
enough" can now redeem yourselves.)
Ernesto Cortazar has two pages on MP3.com with
over 95 songs for free download (http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/44/ernesto_cortazar.html
Ernesto Cortazar's personal website is at http://www.ernestocortazar.com/EnglishMain.htm.
Along with each listed song is a description or word-picture
to help you visualize the music. Thus, Ernesto's songs are more
than just a melody. They are musical images of the infinite variations
of life itself. Perhaps Ernesto said it best upon the occasion
of his first anniversary with MP3.com when he said "Today
is the best day of my life because today I can share my music
with you. Feel welcome and let me get into your soul, into your
heart. Please consider my music as a nice gift for your loved
I am not alone in thinking Ernesto's music genius is something
special. His MP3.com pages have had over 1 million page views
and over 4 million song downloads since Aug 99. In Nov 99 MP3.com
started a program called "Payback for Playback" in
which they pay the artist each time one of their songs is downloaded.
Ernesto has received over $125,000 in Payback Earnings. He is
among MP3.com's top artists if not the top. If you are a struggling
musician, you might consider this Payback program. MP3.com does
not charge the artist any fees for membership. All that is required
is the artist must make at least one song in its entirety available
on MP3.com for free streaming or downloading.
Note: Web Master Wanderings
articles contain links to external web sites. Web addresses are
constantly changing. There is no guarantee that the information
links provided in this article will remain unbroken or up-to-date
beyond the date that this article is originally published.