CD-Recordable FAQ - Section 1

[1] Simple answers to simple questions

 
[1-1] What's CD-R? CD-RW?
[1-2] Are they identical to normal CDs?
[1-3] Can I create new audio and data CDs?
[1-4] Can I use it to copy my CDs?
[1-5] How much can they hold?
[1-6] Can I just copy files onto a CD-R like I would to a floppy?
[1-7] What can you tell me about DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, etc?
[1-8] Can I copy DVDs with a CD recorder?
[1-9] What's the cheapest recorder and best place to buy media?
[1-10] Can I get step-by-step installation and use instructions?
[1-11] Can I download MP3s from the Internet and make an audio CD?
[1-12] What does this term mean? Is there a glossary?
[1-13] Do I need "music" blank discs to record music?
[1-14] How do I learn more? Is there a good book for beginners?


Subject: [1] Simple answers to simple questions


The following are intended to be brief (if somewhat incomplete) answers to basic questions. More detailed information can be found later in the FAQ. For example, section (1-5), "How much can they hold?", is answered in far more detail in section (7-6).

 

Subject: [1-1] What's CD-R? What’s CD-RW?


CD-R is short for "CD-Recordable". Recordable CDs are WORM (Write Once, Read Multiple) media that work just like standard CDs. The advantage of CD-R over other types of optical media is that you can use the discs with a standard CD player. The disadvantage is that you can't reuse a disc.

A related technology called CD-Rewritable (CD-RW), which allows you to erase discs and reuse them. But the CD-RW media doesn't work in all players. CD-Rewritable drives are able to write both CD-R and CD-RW discs.

In addition, All CD recorders can read CDs and CD-ROMs, just like a standard CD-ROM drive.

 

Subject: [1-2] Are they identical to normal CDs?


The normal CDs you bought in stores are pressed from a mold, whereas CD-Rs are burned with a laser. CD-Rs may look differently (often green, gold, or blue instead of silver). However, they're less tolerant of extreme temperature and sunlight than normal CDs, and more susceptible to physical damage. Whether CD-Rs or pressed CDs last longer or not is still under discussion by scholars and professionals across the world.

Although both of them are not physically identical, they almost work the same. Some CD players and CD-ROM drives aren't as good at reading CD-R and CD-RW discs as they are reading pressed CDs. But by and large, they work just fine.

By the way, you can't use pressed discs to record. Therefore, you might throw out all those AOL CD-ROMs you've been accumulating. Buying a bunch of old CDs with the hope of writing new stuff onto them is definitely a bad idea. You have to buy blank CD-R or CD-RW media.

 

Subject: [1-3] Can I create new audio and data CDs?


Yes. You can create CD-ROMs from data on your hard drive. And you can create new audio CDs from anything you record into a sound WAV or AIFF file. With an audio-only CD-Recorder, which hooks up to your stereo system instead of your computer, you can record directly from CD, cassette, DAT, or other forms.

The CD-ROMs you produce will play in ordinary CD-ROM drives, and the audio CDs you create will work at your home or in car CD player.

Writing to CD-Rs and CD-RWs requires a special drive. You can't write CDs with an ordinary CD-ROM drive.

One of the popular things to do with a CD recorder is to make copies of old cassettes and LPs. See section (3-12) for information about this.

 

Subject: [1-4] Can I use it to copy my CDs?


Yes, both audio and data CDs can be duplicated. You can even create audio CDs that are compilations of other audio CDs (perhaps a personal "best of" disc).

Keep in mind that most CDs are protected by copyright laws.

 

Subject: [1-5] How much can they hold?


They can hold about 74 minutes of audio, or about 650MB of data.

Some CD-R blank discs can hold 80 minutes of audio, or about 700MB of data.

See section (7-6) for more information.

 

Subject: [1-6] Can I just copy files onto a CD-R like I would to a floppy?


Yes and no. The process can be a bit more complicated than that, and requires special software that (usually) comes bundled with the drive.

With "packet writing" software, and a recorder that supports it, you can treat a CD-R or CD-RW disc like a floppy. Generally speaking, you can only write to each part of the disc once. So deleting files doesn't gain any space. And there is other limitations as well.

With more traditional software -- necessary if you want the maximum compatibility -- you usually end up writing everything to the disc all at once. When you're doing the writing, you can't interrupt the drive. And you can't reclaim the space you've used. If you want to write your files in smaller bunches, you will lose a fair bit of space every time you stop unless you start again.

 

Subject: [1-7] What can you tell me about DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, etc?


This FAQ is about CD-R and CD-RW.

To learn more about DVD, see section (2-14) and check out the DVD FAQ at http://www.dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html.

 

Subject: [1-8] Can I copy DVDs with a CD recorder?


Not directly. CD and DVD are very different formats. So you can't write DVDs with your CD recorder. You may be able to convert the contents into a lower-quality format. However, you need to be wary of scams. See section (3-49).

There are devices that can record both DVD-R and CD-R now. Those are usually advertised as "DVD recorders", rather than "CD recorders".

 

Subject: [1-9] What's the cheapest recorder? Where is the best place to buy media?


Sorry, I don't know. I don't track prices. There are web sites dedicated to finding the lowest price. Of course, you can do a little research with a web browser, perhaps starting with the vendors listed in section (8-3).

 

Subject: [1-10] Can I get a step-by-step installation instruction and a manual of how to use the instruction?


Yes, you can learn every step from the manual that comes with your recorder and software. There's no information of this type in the FAQ because there are far too many permutations of hardware and software. And the instructions would be updated with every new release of the software.

 

Subject: [1-11] Can I download MP3s from the Internet and make an audio CD?


Yes. You can download MP3s, then write them to a CD, and then play it in anything that handles audio CDs. In fact, many popular CD recording programs can decode the MP3s for you.

It's also possible to select songs from a CD and convert them into MP3s in an MP3 player.

Section (3-27) has more details.

 

Subject: [1-12] What does this term mean? Is there a glossary?


There are some good glossaries on the web. Try these:

 

Leo Pozo's Complete CD and DVD Glossary:
http://www.cdpage.com/Compact_Disc_Glossary/glossarym.html
Octave's CD-Recordable Glossary:
http://www.octave.com/cgi-bin/shop/shop.cgi/choice/html_glos_09
Roxio's CD-Recordable Glossary:
http://www.roxio.com/en/common/gloss1.html

Subject: [1-13] Do I need "music" blank discs to record music?


You only need "music" blank discs if you have a "consumer" stand-alone audio CD recorder. If you have a recorder attached to your computer or a "professional" deck, then you don’t need "music" blank discs. It could work worse than "data" blank discs.

See section (7-17) for details.

 

Subject: [1-14] How can I learn more? Is there a good book for beginners?


This FAQ contains a great deal of information, but it's geared toward answering specific questions rather than providing a general education. Some of the other online resources are more like a tutorial than a Q&A list, and may provide a better starting point as well.

Mike Richter has a primer on CD-R at http://www.mrichter.com/.

Roxio has some good information at http://www.roxio.com/en/support/.

If you're new to CD recording and feel a little lost, you may want to buy a book on the subject. Try one of these:

  • _CD Recordable Solutions_ by Martin C. Brown. Software emphasis is on Roxio Easy CD Creator, Roxio Toast, and "cdrecord" for Linux. Visit http://www.muskalipman.com/cdrsolutions/index.html.
  • _CD and DVD Recording for Dummies_ by Mark L. Chambers. Has a section on hardware installation. Software emphasis is on Roxio Easy CD Creator, Roxio Toast, and Apple iDVD.
  • _The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating Your Own CDs_ by Terry Ogletree et.al. Software emphasis is on Roxio Easy CD Creator and NTI CD-Maker.

Sample pages, including complete tables of contents, can be found for all of the above at http://www.amazon.com/.