Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Gadgets and Digital Lifestyle

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Burn 'Em

There's a "How" in addition to the "What" described earlier: audio CD tracks must be written to CD-R in a very specific fashion. Fortunately, your CD recording software knows how; matter of fact, it knows how to write any disc according to any CD standard. If you want a CD-ROM, it knows how to do that; if you want a Video CD, it knows how to do that. It knows, so you don't really have to.

There are a couple options you have when burning audio CDs—one of which we'll discuss here, because it's among the most important options you'll be offered—but these are simple choices, and we'll talk about them in detail when they arise. For now, we'll show you a simple, standard burn by using a couple standard tracks we've got on this hard disk.

More Interesting Stuff You Don't Need to Know

The physical standard laid out in the Red Book is simple: Lead In, Tunes, Lead Out.

The Lead In contains the audio CD's Table of Contents (that's the technical name for it, believe it or not), the information about what tune—or "track," more properly—is where on the disc. It's very much like the Table of Contents of this book: it points you to the collection of words you wish to read. The Lead Out of an audio CD, for all intents and purposes, is a chunk of nothing that indicates to the laser that the disc is over.

Now things are going to veer a bit: this book concerns itself not with listening to CDs, but rather restoring, sweetening, compiling, and above all, recording CDs, so that you can listen to them later. We're entering the realm of the Orange Book, the CD-R standard. This is where the work comes in.

Fear not: the software you use (or will procure after having a look at your choices in Chapter 2) to record CDs knows all about how to write things according to their physical standards. What you'll need to do is tell your software how and what to record. In all but Chapter 9, "Creating Enhanced CDs," this is a simple matter of telling your software you intend to make an audio CD and where your tracks are, and then clicking some button or other. If that doesn't work, we'll point you toward Chapter 10, "Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting."

For this example, we're going to use Roxio's Toast 6 Titanium ( on a Mac, as shown in Figure 1.2. (Again, have a look at Chapter 2 for your Mac and PC CD-R software options.) If you have a Mac, you probably have some version of Toast or other software. (Roxio likes to ship limited versions of its software in the hopes that you'll buy the mega-package.) If you're working with a PC, stay with us here: the procedure we're about to run through is pretty much the same in all CD recording software, whether it's on a PC or Mac. These days, all you have to do to burn an audio CD is inform your software you intend to burn an audio CD, drag some tracks somewhere that says "Drag Tracks Here," click a burn button, and you're mostly done, save for a couple options you'll be given in a burn dialog.

Figure 1.2Figure 1.2 Using Roxio's Toast 6 Titanium. You can see we've selected the audio CD tab up top and selected the audio CD radio button off to the left.

  1. You'll want to start by opening Toast, like we did, or by opening whatever software it is that you prefer using.

  2. To get your tracks queued up for the burn—in this instance, a handful of tracks from Easy Star All-Stars' Dub Side of the Moon—click the Add button and navigate on over to your tunes (see Figure 1.3). From the list of tracks, drag and drop whatever you like into the "Drag sound files or audio tracks into this area."

  3. Figure 1.3Figure 1.3 Here we're dragging "Step It Pon the Rastaman Scene" over into Toast's drop zone.

  4. When you're satisfied with what'll be on your disc come burn time, punch the record button—the big round thing (see Figure 1.4).

  5. Figure 1.4Figure 1.4 Most software has a pronounced button someplace that you'll click when you're ready to burn. Toast is a prime example: see that big ol' thing in the lower-right corner?

  6. This summons a simple burn dialog box (see Figure 1.5), where you'll select your recorder (here a TEAC), a recording speed (we selected Best, but Best isn't always best as you'll see in the ensuing chapters), and how many copies of this particular CD you'll want (just one here).

  7. Figure 1.5Figure 1.5 In all but a few instances, clicking the big burn button brings up a dialog asking you anywhere from 3 to 30 final questions. We'll tell you the answers as they come up.

    One final thing we'll need to address directly here before we click that Record button is the difference between Track-at-Once and Disc-at-Once recording. (We'll talk about this in a little more detail in Chapter 2.) Typically, when you indicate you're ready to write, your software will hurl up a set of options for you. You may be asked for

    • A write speed (12x? 40x? 52x? What? See Chapter 2 for "X" stuff.)

    • Whether or not you wish to test the burn procedure before you commit anything to disc

    • Whether you wish to enable a buffer underrun protection scheme (Again, see Chapter 2 for info on these.)

    • How many copies you want

    • or

    • All of the above.

    Then, in most cases (all cases, if your recording drive was purchased within the last three years or so), there'll be an option to write DAO (Disc-at-Once) or TAO (Track-at-Once). In Toast, you'll find these options under the Advanced tab in the burn dialog. (Toast defaults to DAO.)

    TAO versus DAO

    TAO is good for one thing: you don't have to finalize your disc. This way, you can leave the disc laying around for years, amassing tunes and burning them until the disc is full. By nature of the writing scheme, two seconds of silence will be introduced between whatever tracks you have lined up during the burn. This is great for neatly trimmed tracks with no silence at either end—you can go ahead and finalize a disc with those types of tracks, if you want to. The disadvantage, and this is a big one, is that discs that aren't finalized can't be played in your standard CD player, whether that's a home entertainment system component or a changer in a car. It can, however, be played in the CD recorder you use to burn the disc.

    DAO is the way to go in almost all cases. You can have your software put just about any amount of silence between your tracks, and if it's the case you've created a crossfade or want a butt splice (see Chapter 8, "Polishing Your Compilation CD"), you can have your software leave absolutely no silence between those particular tracks. You could even have four seconds of silence between two tracks, two seconds of silence between another two tracks, and then no silence between another two tracks all on the same disc. It's up to you, and we'll show you how.

  8. Now all you have to do is put a piece of blank media in your recorder and click the Record button in the lower-right corner of the burn dialog (see Figure 1.5).

  9. Shortly, you should have a bona fide audio CD that you can play anywhere—car, picnic boom box, home entertainment center, wherever (see Figure 1.6).


If you met with failure, have a look at Chapter 10 (it's directed primarily at PC people, since they work with an OS that to this day still devotes every single resource possible to writing even a floppy). Few things go wrong on a Mac here, but if they do, Chapter 10 will serve Mac users as well, but in a more general sense.

Figure 1.6Figure 1.6 Success! This doesn't happen all the time, so don't get those hopes too high. We'll do our best to see to it that you are successful more often than not, but even we, the "experts," blow a disc now and again.

That's all there is to it. Pretty Simple, eh?

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account