Most people have two questions about MP3 CDs. First, why would anyone create one? Second, how would you go about creating one? To address the first question, we must consider that with MP3 players flooding the market, the compact disc is dying as an audio medium. However, unlike MP3 players, the CD is extremely cheap and offers an ultraportable high-storage capacity, ranging from 650MB to 800MB. Many newer home CD players, aftermarket car CD players, and computer CD-ROM drives can now play a CD of MP3s. It is simple, affordable, and advantageous to burn a collection of approximately 200 MP3 songs to a CD. To create your own MP3 CDs, use the following tutorial. Required attention span: Varies; expect to spend 5 to 10 minutes adjusting the settings and up to several hours creating the ultimate playlist. Ingredients
Before you start, you'll need to gather these elements:
Blank CD-Rs or CD-RWs
MP3 files (songs) Follow these simple steps
Download and install freeware
We'll use Apple's iTunes
(4.8 or higher) for this tutorial.
Insert blank CD
You can use one of two types of blank CDs for burning:
- CD-Rs (CD-recordable) are WORM (write once, read many) media. This means that once you burn a file onto a CD, you cannot erase it. CD-Rs come in 650MB, 700MB, and 800MB capacities.
- CD-RWs (CD-rewritable) are like huge-capacity floppy disks. They allow users to add and delete files over and over. Be aware that CD-RWs are less reliable than CD-Rs and may not be compatible with the CD drive you are using.
In the Preferences menu, navigate to the Burning tab under the Advanced tab. Configure the Burning options.
- Preferred Speed: Assuming you have a fairly new PC or Mac that isn't suffering performance issues, set your burner to write to the CD at 16X-to-20X speed (or lower, depending on your CD burner's rating). Even if your burner is rated at more than 20X write speed, you gain little or no benefit by going beyond that mark, and the risk of buffer underruns becomes significantly higher. If this happens, your CD will usually be corrupted and partially or wholly unplayable.
Create a playlist
Click the plus (+) sign in the lower-left corner of your screen. Name the playlist whatever you want. If you already have created your desired playlist(s), skip to step 6.
Add songs to your playlist
Fill up your playlist with as many songs as you want. At the bottom of the screen, you can see the number, the length, and the size of the songs you have added to your list.
- Beware of overburning: Overburning is writing beyond the manufacturer's declared capacity on a CD-R or CD-RW disc. This is achieved by trying to fit more than the advised capacity onto a disc. It is better practice to underburn by 20MB or so. For example, if your CD has a capacity of 750MB, then you would burn 730MB of 750MB of your CD.
- Another warning: Some cheaper MP3 CD players may recognize only flat CDs. A flat CD just contains straight MP3s and does not have folders dividing the MP3s by artist or album. If you create a playlist by dragging and dropping outside of iTunes, you may want to drag individual files rather than folders.
Edit song information (optional)
If necessary, edit song titles, artists, and albums. You can do this by clicking the song in the appropriate column and typing directly into iTunes. This information will be embedded in the MP3 file, and if your CD player has a screen, it will display this text.
Sort the playlist
You can sort by desired criteria (song name, artist, album, and the like) by clicking the column heading, or you can manually order your playlist to your liking. Next, right-click your playlist's name. Select "Copy to play order" to correctly order your playlist when burning the CD. The program will burn songs in the order they appear in the list.
Burn MP3 CD
Right-click your playlist and select "Burn playlist to disc."
iTunes scans the playlist to determine whether it can fit on the CD. If not, iTunes will pop up the error window shown below. In that case, you must either burn your playlist on more than one CD (the MP3 CD button) or go back (the Cancel button), remove songs, and try burning again.
If the playlist is valid, iTunes will automatically (without prompting) begin burning the CD. For optimal results, do not use the computer for other tasks while burning. When burning finishes, you will be able to insert your MP3 CD into a computer or a CD player and listen to hours of tunes. You will also be able to transfer these files to another computer or device as MP3s.