question about the cd burning side of things.

hello audacity forum. i hadn’t heard of audacity until yesterday but wow, what a wonderful thing. i do hope my questions are appropriate for the audacity forum because i suppose technically they relate to the cd side of things after you have made your music and ready to burn onto a cd.

because that’s what im going to do: make a gapless mix of audio on audacity and then burn it onto 20 different cds to then give away as part of a promotion!

i have some questions about this and so i thought i’d post on here. ive looked around for answers but wow! some answers that allude to the things i want to know are so deeply technical that my head spins (literally too, you should see it!). however all my reading has bought up some questions and i thoguht id come here and get right to the point.

i really appreciate any help that anyone can give me. you can probably tell im a novice so lol to that! please excuse my question dump.

  1. i will burn onto a cd-r and absolutely not a cd-rw?
  2. i will use software that supports gapless burning ie that supports disc at once?
    2a. can you recommend a software for this?
    2b. it this software flawless ie will the burn happen gaplessly all the time or might there be demons?
    2c. if there might be demons, why is this and what are they likely to be?
  3. as mentioned, i am going to give away 20 or 30 cds to different people. each cd will therefore be played on a different cd player. how likely is it that somebody’s cd player wont be able to play my burned cd? is it unlikely, or 2/30, or maybe 15/30? basically, i guess my question is: can most cd players (in cars, in computers) play burned cd-rs?
  4. also is it the case that the cd players that do succesfully play my burned cdr might actually play it with gaps, despite me recording it gapless? how likely is this please, that some people might hear my burned cd with gaps due to their cd player/optical player? basically: do most cd players play ‘disc at once’?

thanks again for any help!

CD-R. The CD-RW was a good idea that never caught on. I keep on one a shelf to show people as a technological curiosity.

CD-R will support multiple different flavors. You want Audio CD. That’s not just a CD-R that happens to have music on it. Audio CD is a very specific, special format. You get an Audio CD by supplying music to an Audio CD Authoring and Burning Program. You can tell the program how long a gap to leave between the songs. Zero is a valid number. If your program doesn’t ask you about the gap size, it’s probably not going to make an Audio CD.

This is the authoring panel for iTunes.

You can use Windows Media to burn an Audio CD.

You can include up to 99 songs and you can have up to 74 minutes. There’s no such thing as a compressed, extended-play Audio CD. It’s always top quality, uncompressed, no option. The music quality is the same as the Audacity default WAV export. 44100, 16-bit, Stereo.

This is where it gets into the weeds a bit.

Do not intentionally make MP3 music files for this job. Make WAV. MP3 is a compressed format and always causes some sound damage and you can’t stop it. It’s even worse if you started making your show with MP3 music files. The finished show MP3 export will make the damage even worse.

AUP is not a music file.


For best compatibility, use CD-R not CD-RW.
Ensure that you burn the disk as an “audio CD” NOT a “data CD”.
For a “gapless” CD, the software AND THE HARDWARE (the optical drive) must support “Disk At Once” (“DAO”) mode.

On Linux, most CD authoring applications can do gapless CDs. I currently use Brasero
I’ve previously used K3B ( which is probably the most feature rich CD burning application for Linux.
Many years ago I used Nero on Windows, which was very good at the time but in my opinion became extremely boated so I don’t currently have any recommendations for Windows (or Mac) software.

Beware of adware / malware disguised as freeware.

Reliability can be a problem, particularly with older drives (the drive in my laptop lasted less than a year before becoming hopelessly unreliable for burning CDs. Cheap unbranded CD-Rs are a very mixed bag - some are terrific while others are rubbish. Burning at less than maximum speed is often more reliable than burning at max speed, but this is also variable depending on the drive and the CD-R. Writing to CD is on the whole less reliable than writing to almost any other media. Definitely worth buying just a few CDs to test, and if they work OK, buy some more of the same type from the same retailer and hope that they work just as well.

As long as you make “audio CDs” (not “data CDs”), and the disk has been successfully written to, they should work in most CD players. I have encountered a few players that refuse to play anything except commercial “pressed” CDs, but in my experience this is rare.

I’ve not come across that. All CD players that I’ve encountered will, if they play the CD at all, play gapless CDs without gaps.

“Disk at once” refers to the writing process, not the reading process. As far as a player is concerned there should be no difference between playing a “gapless” CD with many “tracks” and a CD with just one long track, except that the former allows skipping from one track to the next.

A proper Audio CD with zero gap selected is intended to play straight through to the end. You can skip forward to where the gaps should have been had you made them. The gaps are still there, they’re just zero. Skip forward to the beginning of song number four. OK!!

As above, you probably should not Burn Maximum Speed. I have a very particular CD player and I use that as my quality control. If it will play on this thing, it will probably play anywhere.

How are you going to label it? The white side is more delicate than you think. If you scratch it, you can destroy the disk. Do not touch the shiny side.

I have an older Epson R300 which has the option of printing directly to a printable CD. Stick-on labels are not recommended. The first time you shove a CD into your laptop and the label starts to peel off…


I know this is bordering on Too Much Information, but Audio CDs play from the middle out. So the outer edge is the least valuable real estate. That’s where I label it.

They’re absolutely fine for a couple of weeks.
The CD player in my car has a CD stuck in it thanks to a stick-on label that is more than a couple of weeks old. :frowning:

Remove the CD player and entertainment system for servicing.

  1. Starting at the front bumper…


And to back up Koz’s excellent info on CD labeling see the link below of a photography forum thread I started on CD-R reliability…

Just FYI on which CD-R lasts the longest with the least amount of playback issues I’ve been using one of the two company brands that invented CD technology, Philips & Sony, except I’ve chosen Sony CD-R’s which is pictured in the above link. It’s the 50 pack version of this…

I’ve been burning this brand of audio CD-R’s (not gapless) since 2003 and they still play in my 1998 Walmart bought Pioneer car CD player, my 2010 MacMini and my 1992 Technics home audio player. I currently use iTunes to burn audio CD-R’s.

Another FYI is if any CD-R or factory pressed CD you insert into a player doesn’t immediately turn on the player and also starts make a shuffling sh-shuck, sh-shuck noise and ejects, it means you need to clean the lazer head. The dusty environment of my car CD player started doing this and I solved it cleaning the head with GE disc cleaner I bought at Walmart. It required several applications and it still continues to delay playing with the described noise but now instead of self ejecting it now plays.

guys cheers so much … very much appreciate the quick and careful replies. You ve really gone to town so cheers, drinks all round. Hope you dont mind another question dump follow up, but i reckon this one is gonna be ‘peak question dump’.

@Koz - thanks for the step-by-step. Too much information? No chance mate, i totally appreciate all of it. I hadn’t thought about labelling, so cheers for the heads-up. I now know exactly what to do so cheers!
I’ll read up on the finer points of things you say (ie 44100, 16-bit, Stereo; AUP) but before i do, i just want to ask a few more qs … and tell you that my plan is to not use mp3s, but instead: import music onto audacity via both you-tube and cds. When i import from the cds i will do it via WAV as you have recommended. I’ve read a lot of stuff in the last 24 hours and iirc i will not need to translate You-Tube music into WAV before uploading onto audacity. Am i correct? Maybe you recommend it anyway for some reason?
About gaps/gapless: am i right in thinking that when you select gapless i.e. select 0 seconds, you do though still mark where these ‘non-gaps’ appear? And that this enables the listener to jump through the cd to these markers? If i am correct then is marking the non-gaps obligatory or just an option? Ie i can make a cd which is impossible to jump through if i want (not that id want to tbh - just wanting to check all bases so to speak).

@steve - thanks for the considered replies. Excellent!
About the demons being in malware and adware: would this be the case also in purchased burning software instead of free burning software?
About the reliability of the hardware and when you say your laptop optical drive became unreliable in about a year … what happened? Did the software say ‘unable to burn onto the cd’ (or similar) or did you think you were burning only to find out afterwards that it hadnt recorded?
Obviously i can buy an optical drive to hook up to your computer, even i know that! I would be willing to do this. Dont know why i said that out loud.
Very good news about most players being able to play burned cds. This was i think my biggest worry: i had read many threads about non-compatability but the ray of hope so to speak was that these threads were mostly from 10 years ago and i thought maybe things have got better. Isnt it amazing how suddenly internet forums are 10 years old (and more!).
When you say dont burn at maximum speed … are all other speeds ok. Or do you in fact suggest only to burn at 1:1 speed?

@Tim Lookingbill : thanks for the heads-up about cleaning and about the cd-r to buy. I will definitley buy these ones.
I couldnt get into that photography forum thread though. It said access denied but i am currently in a pretty crappy hotel and the wi-fi has been bothering me all afternoon lol. The silver lining is that i’d nearly booked myself into the cheapest hotel option, and not the second cheapest, so god knows what that would have been like lol!

by the way, since im here, i thought it’s a good time to acknowledge audacity. great name too! but everything, from it being free to that amazing online manual. im not drunk but i still think that the people who made it and gave it away, and people like them, should have statues built of them. im not kidding either. why not?

import music onto audacity via … you-tube

How are you going to get the YouTube music? There are some software packages that claim to be able to “download” YouTube shows, but if that fails, you will be capturing the music with special settings.

Chances are good even though you use WAV all the way through, the on-line music is already compressed and has some damage burned in. The best you can do is prevent it from getting any worse.

I don’t know why you would need magic software or odd downloads. Windows Media will burn an Audio CD just fine, last I checked. Consult your Windows instructions.

Note that a very common problem with burning CDs is the song order. While you’re in Windows, the songs will list in alphabetic or numerical order. “Computer” order. It’s only when you get them into a CD Authoring and Burning program do you get the chance to reorder them. That’s why it’s not just a burner. It’s an authoring program as well.

gapless i.e. select 0 seconds,

You should forget the word “gapless.” that means magic things to the burning process. Your goal is to produce zero time song gaps. You don’t have to do anything to get them. Just pile up the songs in the right order and tell the program you want silent or no-second gaps. The program takes it from there. That’s one of its jobs.

I predict (holding fingers to forehead), you’re going to find a production problem. Unless you get insanely lucky, you will be back here complaining that the songs are not the same volume.


Cheers Koz, thats very interesting. I really appreciate your help and of making me aware of possible problems. I hope you dont mind that i press you for more info in light of some of the things youve mentioned. I appreciate any time you take in answering my flurry of further questions.

I will in a minute ask about a. volume-difference problems and then after that b. getting music from you tube, but first of all i will detail my plan to see if you foresee problems in song ordering/authoring.

My plan is to make an audacity audio production of say 30 minutes. It will be continual without pause. There will be 8 songs. However, between songs there will be more audio. It wont necessarily be music, although it might be (snippets of songs for example). This ‘audio interlude’ could be hypothetically anything. For example sports commentary from the web. Or maybe a mutual friend of all of ours saying something. Then the next song would start (without pause - it all runs into each other). And when this next song ends there will be more audio that again isnt necessarily music and then like before, when this audio interlude finishes, song 3 will begin. and so on until the end.

Does this sound an unlikely project? Also, does this present problems for lining up the songs in the burning stage or would i just simply have to also name the audio interludes in order for the computer to slot them in where i want?

or can i just present the finished 30 minutes to the burner software as one big continual ‘song’/audio and the software just burns it onto the cd as it plays? i was hoping it would be like that tbh. oh man sorry for the newbie-ness.

Secondly, You say that you predict that i’ll have songs of different volumes, and therefore a production problem. I would like to deal with this now if you dont mnd.

Are you saying this because i want to import audio from you tube or are you in fact saying that volume differences are likely to happen regardless of where i get the songs from? that even if i import songs from a standardized cache of songs like a cd or in i-tunes, that there will likely be volume differences? If this is the case, do you imagine the difference in volume will make it unlistenable? Also: is there not a way to equalize the volume somehow; in fact i have been wondering if thats what the ‘amplify’ facility is for?

Or are you saying that in fact, the volume differences problems will happen in the burning stage of the process?

Lastly, about getting music off you tube. I am about to read your link so thanks for that. I got the idea of importing from you tube after watching this tutorial:
To sum up it says to open audacity, make sure it’s in stereo, and then press record. Then press play on the you tube song. (When it’s done recording, then you can tidy up the front end by deleting the one-second gap between pressing record on audacity and pressing play on you tube.)

Thanks again Koz, really appreciating this info. cant believe how long my posts are!

making me aware of possible problems.

There’s no condition that I can’t make a lot worse.

There will be 8 songs.

My personal preference would be to produce 8 segments (one song and following narration). Set the CD software for zero song gaps and each time you press "Next,"on your player you should get the beginning of a song. If you don’t press anything, you’ll get all the songs and narration in order.

Change that around as needed. Again my personal preference, 30 minutes is a little rough to scroll through even at fast forward if you need a particular segment or narration.

can i just present the finished 30 minutes to the burner software

If you do one big 30 min song, both versions of the production will play beginning to end exactly the same. But only the version with the individual segments will be easily searchable with the buttons on the player.

Does this sound an unlikely project?

It sounds like the average music podcast.

volume differences are likely to happen regardless of where i get the songs from?

Wherever they come from, particularly if there is some age between them. You are spoiled rotten by listening to the radio in the car and not have to change the volume once between Hattiesburg and Jacksonville. There are regulations and broadcast volume processors which make that all happen.

The first time I tried to do production with a popular radio show by downloading the podcast instead of recording the off-air broadcast, I was sore-amazed how different the voices of the two performers was. Ray talks into his socks and Tom has a laugh recognized as a non-lethal weapon by the State of Massachusetts. Broadcast processors smoothed that all out before my radio got to it.

Even worse, older music is recorded with much less processing and to a lower volume standard. Modern music is subject to Loudness Wars and the louder the better. It’s not just turning the volume up, either. There is processing which holds loud parts steady but boosts quiet parts so that everything is loud. The sound becomes “dense.”

If you’re not in love with keeping the quality of sound absolutely perfect, you can use an effect called Chris’s Compressor to even everything out to broadcast standard. That’s how I do it now, so Tom’s voice doesn’t blow me off the freeway.

So. I would compose the work as one long 30 minute production so I can jockey all the pieces as necessary and make the flow and meter comfortable and smooth.

Then apply Chris’s Compressor to force all the volumes to be similar.

Then put Audacity Labels in at the breaks you choose (beginning of each song??). There is an Audacity technique of exporting a show that automatically breaks up one long show into individual files at the labels. Scoop the files up and dump them into your authoring and burning program, make sure the order is right, set it for no second song gaps and burn.

This is very similar to some of the steps in burning your vinyl collection to CD.

“It transferred as one long song per side. How do I break it up for the CD?”

You won’t need all of this because your song volumes will already be set with Chris.

Windows Media is between you and Windows.


nice one!

Very interesting that about radio production regulations and tech. Stuff you take for granted.

I’m very equalized now about beginning my project.

I don’t want to sound glib about someone who i’ve just read about five minutes ago but r.i.p. Chris Capel of Chris Compressor fame.

It’s not production regulations. The studio just has to make sure they don’t distort anybody’s voice. Volume processing happens at the transmitter. Squirting radio energy into the air has federal regulations.

I worked at a station so paranoid about overvolume, they actually got a citation for being too quiet. I can imagine the inspector chuckling as they wrote the citation.

Yes, Chris was a depressive, fatal, as it turned out.


alright Koz and audacaity forum again, i dont know how i missed this gaping hole in my need-to-knows! it’s basically about recording off You Tube. thus i’m referring to this:

im assuming its impossible, at least to the layman and his tools, to figure out if you tube music is compressed or not.

and assuming that it is, i think therefore the thing i need to know about most of all is the ‘some damage burned in’ bit from the quote above.

what does damage mean here, and particularly what are the likely ramifications of this damage to my finished audacity-audio production? is dmage basically a sound quality thing including volume, or is it perhaps also damage that could mean the song will not appear at all or will appear sporadically?

about recording from you tube, i’d planned to buy the ‘total recorder’ software package recommended in the audacity tutorial ‘recording computer playback on windows’. it seems to me that this software will at least get me recorded You Tube audio in such as way that i can import it to audacity without much bother. so … that basically leaves me with the question of likely-compressed you tube audios and the ramifications for my project.

im gonna start tomorrow by the way, im just getting all my ducks lined up, probably a little obsessively lol. and i was thinking about it and i thought ‘there is something i forgot to get clear on’

cheers again for any help

You can keep it from getting worse.

Once you get the music, do the production in Audacity and Export the work as WAV (Microsoft), 44100, 16-bit, Stereo. Then dump your WAV files into Windows Media and burn. The music quality inside an Audio CD is the same quality as the export.

Stereo is optional in production. You can submit a Mono WAV file and Windows Media should figure it out.