HOW TO BURN A BIT ACCURATE CD OR HOW TO WRITE 16 BIT, 44.1K AUDIO FILES TO A CD:
Our "out of town" and "unattended" mastering business is increasing every year. We are now mastering for clients all over the world.
It's really a simple process. You send us the files, usually by uploading them on our FTP site, and we download and master the material. If one has specific concerns, you can call or email us so that we are aware of problems, or anything you are concerned about, before starting. Similarly, all the track info can be provided. You can also let us know the if you have specific ideas about how you hope the CD will sound when finished. You can even load a couple of tracks from your favourite CD to our site for reference purposes. If doing so, please make an effort to send us the 16 bit, 44.1k audio (Wave or AIFF). If not possible, we will accept mp3 but since we are interested in what type of sonic signature your like, mp3s are often a poor indicator.
We then upload the "test" masters to our FTP site so that they can be proofed before we write the actual "CD-R Replication Master" and send it to you.
However, there appears to be one major glitch in the system!!! We have discovered that our clients sometimes not writing a bit accurate CD from the files they download.
This seems like such a simple thing to do but I have been testing CDs (for copy integrity) for years and heard some of the most amazing aberrations of audio ever written to a disc! For instance, loud mixes loaded into Nero with the "normalize" preference enabled (this creates a distorted mess can sometimes end up below full scale digital!). A more subtle problem would be putting our already dithered 16 bit, 44.1k files into Toast but not checking to make sure that the "Dithering" pref. is turned off. If it is on this results in a second dose of dither which makes the file sound slightly different, usually a little brighter!
Our test masters are in 16 bit, 44.1k .wav file format and therefore NEED NOTHING ADDED in the CD writing program when preparing the sequence to burn.
The following is a program by program guide on how to burn a bit accurate copy.
Since your burned disc is just to check the test masters, we are not concerned about any advanced functions, such as CD-TEXT, IRSC codes, etc.
Secondarily, our mastered audio files have space added to the in the front and back of them so it is advisable to load them in with no space before adjusting for your personal taste.
The majority of writing programs have a 2 second default which when combined with the natural space in our files, will give you close to a 3.5 sec gap between tracks. Most people will find too long, at least on average, which is why we recommend starting with no space. After you have listened to the "natural" space in our audio, you can add in whatever space you want. We can also make the spaces tighter, if required.
During the proofing process, we will ask if you have ideas for spacing, on a track by track basis, and adjust to suit before writing your master.
WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER:
AVOID WMP unless you have above average computer skills! It does import audio and write CDs but the standard default file format is .wma which sounds like a 128 kbps mp3 file. In other words, low-fi! If you write a CD with this format, it will appear to be a normal audio disc but will sound exactly as it is, degraded audio. The versions of WMP are numerous as is the defaults that people use. While IT IS POSSIBLE to write wave files to CD using this program, if you are not sure how to configure it, it is best avoided!
First, go to the Preferences menu, under 'Edit' in Windows, and the 'Apple' on a mac. Choose the 'Advanced' tab, and then select the 'Burning' tab. Select 'Audio CD' (not mp3!) as the disc format. Choose None for Gap between songs, and absolutely make sure 'Use Sound Check' is NOT selected.
Back in the main program, create a new playlist from the file menu and name it after the album. Select that playlist and drag-and-drop the wav files into this paylist. If a track order was provided, our mastered files will have the track number in them, so select 'Name' as the sorting column in the playlist. Once you are ready, click 'Burn Disc' from the buttons at the bottom of the iTunes screen.
Open Nero Express from the 'Nero' section in the 'All Programs' in the 'Start' Menu. Choose 'Music' from the left hand list when it opens, and 'Audio CD' from the subsequent right hand list. Use 'Add' to add all of your songs and arrange them in the proper order. Make sure that 'Normalize all audio files' in NOT selected, but that 'No pause between tracks' IS selected. Click next and burn away. By the way, if you have the "Deluxe" versions, you also have the "Express" version which you should use unless you want to apply these ideas to the full-featured program.
In the Left Hand Menu, click on "Audio".
Under "Preferences", go to "Audio And Video" and make sure the "enable dither" box is NOT checked (second from the bottom). In the same screen, you can also use the "Default Pause For New Tracks" display to change it from "00.00.02.00" to "00.00.00.00".
If you have not set the "Default Pause For New Tracks" display you will notice on the main screen, after loading in the audio, that the pause column will show 2 sec". Double click on the number and change it to 0 so it reads "0 sec". Now there are no spaces between tracks. Remember that you can't change the first Pause of "2 sec". If you forget, Toast will ask if it can correct the error so that the disc will write.
Under "Preferences", go to "Advanced Options" and make sure the "enable dither" box is not checked.
On the main screen, after loading in the audio, you will notice that the pause column will show a 2 second default "00.00.02.00". Double click on the 2 and change it to zero so it reads "00.00.00.00". Now there are no spaces between tracks. Remember that you can't change the first Pause of "00.00.02.00" . If you forget, Jam will ask if it can correct the error so that the disc will write.
Under "Preferences", go to "Bounce" and select "No Dither" from the drop down menu.
Before dropping in any audio, Go to "Disc" and select "Disc Options". Look at "Default Pause Length". It will probably display "00.00.02.00" or 2 seconds. Change to "00.00.00.00".
If you've loaded all your audio and forgotten, you can double click on each wave form in the wave form display and fill in the "Gap To Previous Region" field. If you've already loaded in a lot of tracks, it faster to close down and start a fresh session with the "Default Pause Length" set to "00.00.00.00".
If you are using a program not mentioned here and want to check the correct procedure, please contact Andy Krehm and we will do our best to send you the info and update our list. If anyone has any suggestions for other popular writing problems to add to our list, please let us know.