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CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby oldcastle » Wed Jul 15, 2020 4:48 pm

Hello,

I'm new here, so please go easy on me. Kindly let me know if this is not the right place for my questions.

I have collection of FLAC albums that I ripped from my LPs and I would like to burn them on CD. My goal is to get the "best audio quality" possible from the CDs. For that, I have a few questions:

1) I cannot afford a home stand-alone CD recorder, so I will buy an external one to use with my laptop. So far I found this one https://www.asus.com/Optical-Drives-Sto ... 6D1HU_PRO/. Is that ok? Any other suggestions?

2) About CD-Rs I'm a bit confuse. I want my CDs to play "everywhere", but it seems that is not guarantee when you burn a CD. Is that right?

3) For the CD media I was thinking https://www.amazon.com/Taiyo-Yuden-Silv ... 007R6B6FI/. Is that ok? Any other suggestion?

4) For the burning process itself, I know that I have to convert the FLAC to WAV. Any other tips or actions that I need to be aware of?

Sorry if this is a long post, but I really need some help here.

Thanks,
Castle
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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:30 pm

oldcastle wrote:I'm new here...

Welcome to the SOS forums! :wave:

I have collection of FLAC albums that I ripped from my LPs and I would like to burn them on CD. My goal is to get the "best audio quality" possible from the CDs.

Fair enough... but CD players are beginning to become an obsolete format. Streaming and solid-state players are more popular these days, and they can both deal with FLAC files natively. I have a big CD collection, but I tend mostly to play loss-less audio files from network storage servers to streaming players all around the house and studio these days. And I have a couple of iPods in the cars connected over USB playing the same material.

Worth thinking about before investing in CD-burning equipment and software, anyway!

1) I cannot afford a home stand-alone CD recorder, so I will buy an external one to use with my laptop
.

It would be helpful to know whether you are using PC or Mac computers as the available software is different for the two platforms.

I have no experience of that asus drive, but I am a bit wary of 'ultra fast' drives intended for bluray discs. The structure and chemistry of audio CD-Rs is different, and the data protection system much simpler than that of burnable DVD and Bluray discs, and higher speed often results in lower quality, more error-prone discs.

I use an old Plextor drive which was designed specifically for audio CD burning, but they are no longer made, sadly. Hopefully someone else will have some more relevant experience and advice.

2) About CD-Rs I'm a bit confuse. I want my CDs to play "everywhere", but it seems that is not guarantee when you burn a CD. Is that right?

The CD-R file has to be 'closed' to be playable on most CD players, and some older CD players can struggle to read CD-Rs because of the way they reflect the laser light which is slightly different to commercial pressed CDs. But most modern players cope perfectly well with CD-Rs.

3) For the CD media I was thinking https://www.amazon.com/Taiyo-Yuden-Silv ... 007R6B6FI/. Is that ok? Any other suggestion?

Taiyo Yuden have always had a good reputation, although I've seen suggestions that the current disc production is not as reliable... But more importantly than the brand of CD is how well suited it's specific chemistry is to the CD burner. I see those discs are rated up to 52x speed burning, but often you can get more reliable burns at slower speeds, and there may be some trial and error involved in finding the optimum combination of settings and speeds for a particular disc brand....

4) For the burning process itself, I know that I have to convert the FLAC to WAV. Any other tips or actions that I need to be aware of?

You'll need a software package that can convert the audio files to 16 bit, 44.1kHz wavs, and then (usually) another software package that can assemble a number of those wavs in the right order, and with the right duration of gaps between them before burning the whole lot onto the CD-R in one go. You may also need to adjust the relative level of the source audio files to avoid any nasty shocks or inaudible tracks when played back! But as I say, the
software options depend on the computer format...
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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby Folderol » Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:39 pm

Just my 2d
I've not burned CDs for years now, but when I did, I always burned at the lowest spreed practical, to minimise the risk of errors.
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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:53 pm

Hi Castle, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

I'd echo all the advice above, and especially about the need to explore at least a couple of recording speeds to see how widely compatible they are (try them in the car, and on a mate's CD player at least).

As Hugh mentions, many CD-Rs now claim up to 52x speed burning, but that it can be more reliable to burn at lower speeds. However, I wouldn't go as far as Folderol in recommending a burn at the lowest practical speed.

For the last few years I've been burning a stack of 'unmarked' audio discs at 8x speed with Wavelab software and found them highly reliable, although I recently burned a few Verbatim 52x disks for a friend at 8x that worked fine when first burned, but started crackling after a week, and then wouldn't get recognised at all by the CCD player after that.

So, as we say, burn a few as experiments before you really get stuck in, and don't write off Hugh's suggestion of a digital player that will play your FLAC files directly.


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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jul 15, 2020 9:34 pm

oldcastle wrote:Hello,

I'm new here, so please go easy on me. Kindly let me know if this is not the right place for my questions.

I have collection of FLAC albums that I ripped from my LPs and I would like to burn them on CD. My goal is to get the "best audio quality" possible from the CDs. For that, I have a few questions:

1) I cannot afford a home stand-alone CD recorder, so I will buy an external one to use with my laptop. So far I found this one https://www.asus.com/Optical-Drives-Sto ... 6D1HU_PRO/. Is that ok? Any other suggestions?

There's nothing special about having a stand-alone CD recorder unless you are one of those people who aren't into using computers for recording (there are one or two that I know of). Like Hugh, I'd be wary of using something too versatile but I'm out of touch with current models. I use Plextor Premium drives in the studio but I've also found the Samsung drive in my laptop to work fine (but I always test the discs with the Plextor Premium before sending them off after mastering). The important thing to look for in a burner is the ability to burn audio discs in Disc-At-Once (DAO) mode at constant linear velocity (CLV). Both of these settings are needed in order to reduce the possibilities of glitches in the audio - especially where the audio is continuous across track boundaries like on a live album.

oldcastle wrote:2) About CD-Rs I'm a bit confuse. I want my CDs to play "everywhere", but it seems that is not guarantee when you burn a CD. Is that right?

3) For the CD media I was thinking https://www.amazon.com/Taiyo-Yuden-Silv ... 007R6B6FI/. Is that ok? Any other suggestion?

If those are genuine Japanese Taiyo Yudens then you've struck lucky there - they are probably the best discs you are going to find. As you say, not every player will accept CD-R's as they are less reflective than moulded CD's. The biggest problem with compatibility seems to be with older in-car CD players which just wouldn't recognise CD-R's. If your player's laser is on its last legs it will also struggle with CD-R's.

Philips and Taiyo Yuden were the people who developed the CD-R and it was intended to be readable on most machines. T-Y used their own cyanine dye which has the characteristic greenish blue colour. Later on Mitsui developed a pthalocynine dye which appears clear to visible light and which is more popular nowadays as the burned CD's appear more like pressed CD's. In theory pthalocyanine discs should be longer lasting than cyanine discs but there are now no quality manufacturers of these discs so any advantages of the technology have been lost due to poor manufacturing. In fact there are no quality CD-R manufacturers left at all now which is why you've struck lucky finding those Japanese discs (if they're genuine) as they're far better than anything else on the market.

oldcastle wrote:4) For the burning process itself, I know that I have to convert the FLAC to WAV. Any other tips or actions that I need to be aware of?

The software that I use (Plextools) is perfectly happy burning from FLAC files and I'd guess that other software would be the same so there's no need to convert the files. However, I'd avoid using things like Windows Media Player or iTunes for serious burning as they don't give you much control over the process. Burning speed can be important - as I said earlier, for serious work you should use CLV and most drives won't burn faster than 16 or 20X in CLV mode. It would be worth trying discs burned at different speeds in all the players that you want to use to find out which is most compatible with your players.

Hope that helps.
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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby innerchord » Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:11 pm

oldcastle wrote:I want my CDs to play "everywhere", but it seems that is not guarantee when you burn a CD. Is that right?

Precisely because CD players are becoming rarer, I would consider burning the WAV files to DVD. I believe most DVD and Blu-ray players are able to play them, and you will use fewer discs.
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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby tomeh » Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:40 am

Good advice already but I'll add that I'm not getting ridof CD's, SACD's or a few DVD-A's anytime soon. Try reading a book on your e-reader if the power is off, the ISP has issues, the cloud server fails or changes their policy and prices, the cloud server goes under, etc. Reaching for a book off my shelf/pulling out a CD, carrying a book to the cottage/taking a CD, knowing I own and have a copy of the book/CD still brings me comfort. If was worth purchasing, I feel it's worth owning. Old fashion, maybe, but "a bird in the hand"?
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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby oldcastle » Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:47 am

Thank you all.
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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:32 pm

tomeh wrote:Try reading a book on your e-reader if the power is off, the ISP has issues, the cloud server fails or changes their policy and prices, the cloud server goes under, etc. Reaching for a book off my shelf/pulling out a CD, carrying a book to the cottage/taking a CD, knowing I own and have a copy of the book/CD still brings me comfort. If was worth purchasing, I feel it's worth owning. Old fashion, maybe, but "a bird in the hand"?

Hi tomeh!

Your analogy is perfect for eBooks, but you don't have to abandon this feeling of 'owning' music - I've now bought over 400 albums/EPs as digital downloads in FLAC format from Bandcamp (lossless - no quality drops as there are with MP3s).

I can play them on my computer, or stick them on a USB stick and plug that into my BluRay/DVD/CD player - after all, it's just digital information, same as you're buying on a BluRay/DVD/CD ;)

I also have all these downloads backed up elsewhere.= for safety's sake, and I do own them, even if the label/ISP/cloud server disappears.


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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby Rich Hanson » Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:56 pm

Martin Walker wrote:
tomeh wrote:Try reading a book on your e-reader if the power is off, the ISP has issues, the cloud server fails or changes their policy and prices, the cloud server goes under, etc. Reaching for a book off my shelf/pulling out a CD, carrying a book to the cottage/taking a CD, knowing I own and have a copy of the book/CD still brings me comfort. If was worth purchasing, I feel it's worth owning. Old fashion, maybe, but "a bird in the hand"?

Hi tomeh!

Your analogy is perfect for eBooks, ...

Sorry to be a contradictory old git, but it's not a good analogy - if you've got an eBook reader that requires you to be permanently connected to the internet in order to read your books, you've got the wrong eReader. All the eReaders I've ever encountered download the books onto the device, but I guess some apps might require a live connection, but the Kindle and KoBo apps both download books to the device.

Having said that, it's great to own a physical CD, DVD or book :D
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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:10 pm

Ah, I was remembering when Microsoft discontinued their e-book service, and its users discovered that they had only been paying a license to read their purchases for as long as the service continued:

https://www.engadget.com/2019-04-02-mic ... ccounter=1

I'm pleased to hear this is not the universal approach :thumbup:


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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:08 am

There was also that infamous 1984 irony back in 2009.

Even as an environmentally-aware chap, e-books* are a product I will never buy. Paper and shelves all the way. Some books in my library date back over a century and I'd like to think that many, if not all of them, will last another.

Many of them have inserts and inscriptions written by various folks over the decades in their front covers and this too is something that could never be the same in electrornc form.

* I make an exception for things like tutorials and reference books that are of their time but if an electronic version is tainted by DRM I'll spend my money elsewhere.
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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby Trevor Johnson » Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:43 am

Try reading a book on your e-reader if the power is off,

If the power is off, and it is dark, probably all you will be able to read is your ereader!

Incidentally, talking about burning CDs, does anyone remember Feurio!? I used it for years until it stopped being updated and was incompatible with whichever version of Windows was around. In fact I never found anything better.
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Re: CD Burning Best Practices (how to burn the best audio in CD?)

Postby James Perrett » Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:25 pm

Trevor Johnson wrote:Incidentally, talking about burning CDs, does anyone remember Feurio!? I used it for years until it stopped being updated and was incompatible with whichever version of Windows was around. In fact I never found anything better.

Yes, I used it in the days of Windows 98 but it only worked with certain CD drives and I never got it to run on anything later. It would also burn to more than one burner at the same time which I found useful for CD duplication. I think Jens went on to work for Nero (as did various other independent CD software writers).
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