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How to Burn Audio CDs

Audio CDs always contain high quality uncompressed PCM stereo data at 44 100 Hz sample rate, 16 bit resolution. So if you want to burn an audio CD, you should always export the file you want to burn as a 44 100 Hz 16 bit stereo WAV or AIFF file. To configure Audacity to do this:

  1. At the bottom left of the Audacity window, set the Project Rate to 44 100 Hz.
  2. If you are using a 1.2.x version of Audacity, go to the File Formats tab of Preferences, and in the "Uncompressed Export Format" dropdown, choose WAV (Microsoft 16-bit PCM) or AIFF (Apple/SGI 16-bit PCM).
  3. If your Project does not already contain a stereo track, click Project > New Stereo Track (or in Audacity 1.3.3 or later, Tracks > Add New > Stereo Track). It does not matter that this track is empty, its purpose is just to make Audacity export your recording as a stereo file. This step is not needed if you are burning to CD with iTunes.
  4. Click File > Export as WAV or File > Export as AIFF. If using 1.3.3 or later, click File > Export and choose "WAV, AIFF and other uncompressed types" in the "Save as type" box, then click the "Options" button and choose "WAV (Microsoft 16 bit PCM)" or "AIFF (Apple/SGI 16 bit PCM)".

 

  • When you come to burn the CD, be sure to tell the burning software to burn an "audio CD" or "music CD" (not a "data CD" or MP3 CD").
  • Always use a high quality CD-R disc. Some standalone CD players may refuse to play CD-RW discs properly.


Because audio CDs must always contain uncompressed 44 100 Hz 16 bit stereo audio, they are necessarily limited on a 650 MB ("Red Book Standard") or 700 MB audio CD to 74 - 80 minutes playing time respectively. If you need more playing time (e.g. to try and accommodate a C90 cassette or two LPs onto one CD), some CD burners will let you "overburn" into the blank CD space so as to extend the playing time by a further few minutes, so giving you the possibility of up to 80 minutes' playing time on a 650 MB disc or up to 86 minutes on a 700 MB disc. Overburning (if your burning software and burner supports it) is always done using Disc at Once (DAO) mode in which the tracks are burnt continuously without turning the laser off. It is also theoretically possible to overburn using "90 minute" (790 MB) or "99 minute" (870 MB) CD-R discs. However there is no guarantee whatsoever that your CD burner will accept such CD-R discs, or that your CD player will play anything other than a Red Book Standard 650 MB disc burned with 74 minutes of audio. Audio CDs

Audio CDs always contain high quality uncompressed PCM stereo data at 44 100 Hz sample rate, 16 bit resolution. So if you want to burn an audio CD, you should always export the file you want to burn as a 44 100 Hz 16 bit stereo WAV or AIFF file. To configure Audacity to do this:

  1. At the bottom left of the Audacity window, set the Project Rate to 44 100 Hz.
  2. If you are using a 1.2.x version of Audacity, go to the File Formats tab of Preferences, and in the "Uncompressed Export Format" dropdown, choose WAV (Microsoft 16-bit PCM) or AIFF (Apple/SGI 16-bit PCM).
  3. If your Project does not already contain a stereo track, click Project > New Stereo Track (or in Audacity 1.3.3 or later, Tracks > Add New > Stereo Track). It does not matter that this track is empty, its purpose is just to make Audacity export your recording as a stereo file. This step is not needed if you are burning to CD with iTunes.
  4. Click File > Export as WAV or File > Export as AIFF. If using 1.3.3 or later, click File > Export and choose "WAV, AIFF and other uncompressed types" in the "Save as type" box, then click the "Options" button and choose "WAV (Microsoft 16 bit PCM)" or "AIFF (Apple/SGI 16 bit PCM)".

 

  • When you come to burn the CD, be sure to tell the burning software to burn an "audio CD" or "music CD" (not a "data CD" or MP3 CD").
  • Always use a high quality CD-R disc. Some standalone CD players may refuse to play CD-RW discs properly.


Because audio CDs must always contain uncompressed 44 100 Hz 16 bit stereo audio, they are necessarily limited on a 650 MB ("Red Book Standard") or 700 MB audio CD to 74 - 80 minutes playing time respectively. If you need more playing time (e.g. to try and accommodate a C90 cassette or two LPs onto one CD), some CD burners will let you "overburn" into the blank CD space so as to extend the playing time by a further few minutes, so giving you the possibility of up to 80 minutes' playing time on a 650 MB disc or up to 86 minutes on a 700 MB disc. Overburning (if your burning software and burner supports it) is always done using Disc at Once (DAO) mode in which the tracks are burnt continuously without turning the laser off. It is also theoretically possible to overburn using "90 minute" (790 MB) or "99 minute" (870 MB) CD-R discs. However there is no guarantee whatsoever that your CD burner will accept such CD-R discs, or that your CD player will play anything other than a Red Book Standard 650 MB disc burned with 74 minutes of audio.

Burning software

Most computers already come with media player software that can burn CDs. For example you can use Windows Media Player built into Windows or iTunes built into Macs. In either of these applications, drag the files you want to burn from the location you exported them to into a "playlist". Real Player is different and requires files to be added to "My Library" with its File > Add Files to My Library command before burning. If you have not yet created a Real Player library, see this link  and for help burning to CD on Real Player go here .

You can also use a standalone burning program like Nero or Toast to burn your exported files. In this case, open the files from within that software, not drag and drop them from your file manager.

Note: Windows Media Player 11 will not accept WAV files for burning if they are dragged straight into a burn list without having previously been played in Media Player. You will see a red symbol and a "length of file cannot be determined" error. To solve this problem, drag the file into the Media Player Library or into a playlist, then from there into a burn list. Also, this version of Media Player cannot burn AIFF files, so you must export from Audacity as WAV. Neither of these problems affect previous versions of Media Player.


Before burning, don't forget to choose the correct type of CD to burn, as explained above. For example, to set iTunes to burn an "audio CD", go to the Advanced tab of its Preferences, click the Burning tab, and at "Disc Format", select the "Audio CD" radio button.

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