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CDR and DVD Recording Basics:

A Guide For Beginners 






One of the greatest advances in computer technology in the last few years was the invention of the recordable CD. They are inexpensive, long lasting, and have a lot more storage space than floppy disks, super disks, and other storage media. They are easily transportable from one PC to another and are a great media for backing up data. Besides using them for data storage, they can make music CDís as well that can be played in your home player or in

the car.


Recordable DVD's are now increasing in popularity. The price of DVD drives and media has dropped in price making DVD a great solution for mass storage (4.7 GB per disk).


Types of CD/DVD Recorders:

CD-R/CD-RW: These are drives the play and record CD's only. You can record using CD-R or CD-RW media. These drives will not play or record DVD's.


CD-RW/DVD-ROM: These drives will play and record CD's, plus you can play DVD's. You can record using either CD-R or CD-RW media. You cannot record DVD's.


DVD-R/DVD-RW: These drives will play and record CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, and DVD-RW media.


Recording Speed: Both CD Recorders and CD-R media have a maximum recording speed. In the case of the CD Recorder, this is the maximum speed the recorder can burn a CD. Recorders can be rated to support recording speeds anywhere between 2x and 48x or more. The higher the number (48x), the faster a drive can burn a cd. 


When purchasing a CD-R drive, the box will usually say something like 8x/48x. In this example the 8x is the maximum recording speed of the drive and the 48x is the reading speed of the drive (the time the drive takes to read the CD). Once again, the higher the number (48x) the faster your CD will read the data. CD-RW and DVD-RW Drives have an additional number in their drive speed rating. A drive might be rated 8x/4x/32x. The 8x refers to the maximum recording speed of the recorder. The 4x would be the rewrite speed of the recorder (the max. recording speed when rewriting a CD-RW that was previously recorded. The 32x is the reading speed of the drive (the time the drive takes to read the CD). Once again, the higher the number (32x) the faster your CD will read the data.


 Types of Media


CD-R Media: This type of media was designed for one time use. When you record data on a CD-R disk, it is permanently on the disk and cannot be rewritten or erased. You can create a multi session disk where, for instance, you record data to the disk yesterday, then today you record more data to the same disk. The data from yesterday

is not erased; todayís data is appended to yesterday data. You can use a disk in this manner over and over until the disk is full.


CD-RW Media: These disks are more expensive than standard CD-R media, however, they will allow you to erase previously recorded data and replace it with new data.


DVD-R Media: Recordable DVD media can be a little confusing at first. There is DVD+R media, DVD-R media, and now double layer DVD media. DVD+R and DVD-R are the 2 most commonly used types of DVD media. Most DVD burners use DVD+R media. the main difference between DVD+R and DVD-R is that DVD-R supports only a single recordable layer and DVD+R supports multiple recording layers. Whether your DVD burner uses DVD+R or DVD-R depends on the manufacturer. DVD-R was developed
Not sure what type of media to use in your recorder? Download the Nero Info Tool. It will give you information about what type of CD and DVD media your drive supports.



by Mitsubishi, Sony, Hitachi, and Time Warner. DVD+R was developed by Sony, Yamaha, Philips, Dell, and JP






Media Recording Speed: I get more questions about this than any other topic. Media (CD-R and DVD-R) will have a max recording speed on the package (i.e. 48X). This means that the maximum recording speed for this media would be 48X. This does not mean that the only speed you can record at is 48X. This means that you can record at speeds up to 48X. If you have a older CD burner that only has a 16X recording speed, the 48X cdr media will work just fine because the media supports recording speeds from 1X to 48X.


CD-RW and DVD-RW have a are rated with 2 speeds. The first number this the record speed when you write on the disk when it is blank, the second number is when you re-write to the disk. Re-writing is slower so the re-write speed is usually slower. Re-writable CD-R's may be rated as 8x/4X. Once again, if you have a drive that is rated at 48x and you use 8X media. The media will work. You just cannot burn at any speed grater than 8X.


Media Consistency: Depending on what the media is made of, the recording surface of a CDR may be blue, green, gold or silver. Most media today is designed to work with most CDR recorders and will give you great recordings. I have used mainly gold and silver CD-Rís and have had very few problems.  I have read on the Internet

that the silver medial will last longer (100 years) than other types of media, however, CDRís have only been around for a short time and there is no guarantee that it is true.


Branded versus Non-Branded Media: Over the last several years, I have used many different kinds of media. Branded versus Non-Branded - Cheap versus expensive - media with green, blue, silver, gold, and black recording surfaces. To rate which one is best is difficult, however, with rare exception, I have found that branded media (media from companies with a brand name such as Maxell, TDK, Sony, and Memorex) seem to work better than non-branded media (media with no brand name-just plain blank disks). With CD-R and DVD-R media you seem to get what you pay for. You may get bargain disks at 5 cents per disk, however, in most cases the coatings on the disks are thin and wear off after a while or the disks may be thin and fragile. You may not realize this to look at the disk initially, however time will tell. 


 ** Did You Know??? **  CDR Media manufacturers claim that CDR media may last as long as 100 years. Unrecorded CDR media will only last as little as 5 years.



Burning CDRís: The CDR drives of today burn CDís as fast as 48 or more, however, speed does not guarantee quality.  When you burn a CDR at a fast speed (16x, 48x or more) the laser that burns the CDR is only in contact with the media for a split second where if you burn at a slower speed, the laser can is in contact for a longer period of time. Many audio CD players have trouble reading disks that were burned at hi speed because the data what not burned very deeply into the recording dye. For this reason, I burn all my CDRís at 4x. Itís slower, but it results in a better quality CDR.


CDR Burning Software: If you PC came with a CDR Burner or you purchased one separately, it probably came with some CDR burning software. Most of the software that comes with CDR drives works great for doing system backups or backing up important data files, however, when it comes to making audio CDís there are major differences.


Volume Normalization: When CDRís were young, audio files had to be converted to wave files first prior to burning them onto CD. Nowadays, most programs do not require this step anymore. The biggest obstacle I found was what to do when I had several recordings from different sources that were recorded at different recording levels. My early CDRís would require you to constantly turn the volume on the CD player up and down. Things have improved since then.

I have used Nero for several years and the volume normalization works well. I have tried several other programs that claim to have volume normalization, however, they have not performed as well as Nero.


Recording Time: You can purchase either 74 or 80 minute CDRís. If you are making a data CDR (backup), either type of media will do. If you plan on creating the CDR on your computer and plan on transferring the data to another computer and you use 80 min CDRís it is possible that you may need to install drivers on the computer you are installing to to support the 80 minute CDR. If you are burning audio CDís you should use the 74 minute CDR. This is because audio CD players have difficulty reading the outside edges of a CDR. When I burn a CDR, I rarely go over 65 minutes of recording time. When I go over the 65 minute cutoff, some CDís do not play properly. They skip when I get to the last track or two on the CD. For this reason, itís a waste to use 80 minute CDRís for audio recordings.


If you are a beginner, I hope this tutorial helped, if you have anything you would like to add or have questions, please e-mail me at webmaster@cdrmania.net.



What can I do with my CD Burner

With the right software you can do all sorts of things with your CD burner. You can burn music CD's, make a data disk to back up files, back up your computer, make vcd's, even make karaoke disks. If you have a DVD burner you can make movie disks from your camcorder, back your movie disks, make backups of your computer, burn data data disks to back up important files. You na make slideshows to send to friends and family, put presentations on disk for use in the office, and countless other uses. You need to have the right software and the right CD or DVD burner that supports what is is you are trying to do.


Music CD's: This is one of the most common uses for having a CDR Drive. Recordable CD's are inexpensive and there is a lot of music available on the internet for download. You can also make backup copies of your own CD's. If you don't won't your kids to touch your CD's, you can make them a copy and they won't distroy yours.

Lots of Software: There is lot of software for burning music CD's and lots and lots of utilities to help you including cd rippers, normalizers, converters, players, cd label makers, playlist makers, music restoration software, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the software is inexpensive or free while other packages are expensive.

What do I really need to make a good quality music CD? Most of the recordable CD drives on the market today come with software to get you started and for some people, that is all they ever need. However, depending on your recording needs, if you just don't like the software that can with your CD burner, or if you got your cd burner from a friend for free, you may need additional software.

CD Burning Software: Personally, I have been using Nero Burning Rom (www.nero.com) for many years. My first CD burner (an ancient 2x burner) came with a copy of EZ CD Creator (www.roxio.com). While there was nothing wrong with EZ CD Creator, I got adventurous and decided to try different cd burning software and ended up trying and liking Nero Burning Rom. It was one of the first CD burning software packages that had volume normalization built in. It did not work great but was better than anything else at the time. The point that I am trying to make is that make cd burning software will do the job just fine, it pretty much a matter of taste as to which software you prefer and there are lots of options out there.

MP3 Converters: Back in the early days of CD burning from MP3 files, you had to first convert your MP3 file to a Wave file then burn your CD. There is still some programs out there that convert MP3 to Wave and Wave to MP3. For the most part, almost all of the cd recording software out the now does this as part of the program and you do not need to do it manually, so there is no need to have one of these converters.

Normalizers: A normalizer is is supposed to make the average volume of tracks on a CD about the same so that you don't have to keep turning the volume up and down whan listening to a CD you recorded. I know it used to happen frequently to me and there always seemed to be one song on the CD that seemed twice as loud as the rest. Volume normalization is supposed to remedy this problem. I know that Nero Burning Rom and MY DVD (www.sonic.com) have this built right into there software. The volume normalization works alright. I put a program in out members area which is a stand alone program that just does volume normalization that seems to work better than most of the normalizers built into the CD burning software. Do you need a normalizer? Yes, unless you want to wear out the volume button on your stereo.

Restoration Software: Over the years I have had many people write me and ask how to put there old Phonograph records onto CD. This can be done pretty easily. You need to have a good sound card with a stereo audio input. You will need to run a stereo cable (RCA Jacks) from your stereo to your computer. You will need to get an adapter plug (from Radio Shack) that you can plug the 2 RCA plugs into from your stereo and it will convert it to a miniature stereo phono plug which plus into your sound card. From there you will need to have software that will record from your sound card. The software will probably record in as wave files so you will need a large amount of space on your hard drive if you plan on recording several albums. You will probably need to purchase some restoration software to remove the hiss, pops and crackles that you can get from albums. I know that some of the CD recording software out there has noise reduction, his and click filters built in. I have not tried these. if you have, send ma an email and let me know if they work.

CD Label Makers: There is lots of software out there that make labels for CD's and DVD's. FIRST THING: Do NOT use these programs to make labels for DVD's. Unless the label is place in the exact center of the DVD, you can cause the DVD to be off balance when it is played. This can be very hard on your DVD Player. Some people have had success in labeling their DVD's, however, I would not recommend it. As for CD's, That is another story. CD Labels word fine on CD's. In my experience with labeling CD's The CD's seem to last longer then unlabeled CD's that I just wrote that title on with a marker.

CD Rippers: If you are planning on converting songs on a CD you bought to MP3, you will need a CD ripper. A CD Ripper is a program that will take a song or sons from a CD and convert them to MP3 format. Many of you CD recording packages have a CD ripper built in. You may want to read the manual to see if it and "rip" a CD.

Flac Files: Besides MP3 and Wave files, there are also Flac Files. The file extension if .FLAC. This is a relatively new type of file. These files are smaller than wave files but are a lot larger then MP3 files. The one thing that stands out about flac files is that there is no loss of fidelity when the file is ripped from the cd. At this time not very many CD recording programs support flac files. I was about to record a cd from flac files using Winamp and a plug-in I found on the web. Email me if you are interested in this.

VCD's: Video CD's are disks that are playable on your home DVD player. The video is recorded on a CD versus a DVD so there is only 700mb to work with so the video quality suffers. I have not tried to do this with video, however, I have built slideshows from photos I took with great success. I was even able to give as Christmas presents.




What can I do with my DVD burner

Coming Soon!!!