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Follow-up on iTunes CD-burning issues

Follow-up on iTunes CD-burning issues

Yesterday we covered a report by a MacFixIt reader that some CDs burned by iTunes are unreadable in certain CD players. The reader's message speculated that iTunes burns CDs differently than Roxio's Toast.

Although we received a good number of comments -- both via email and through the MacFixIt site -- suggesting that the problem is really with the CD players and not iTunes, we've also received a number of reports that seem to confirm the issue. One user submitted the following message:

"So far, none of the CDs I have burned with iTunes work on my old (15 years) Sony CD player in my living room. [However,] CDs burned on any Wintel machine, using various brands of software, work perfectly. I had various combinations of CD brands and burning software, and this old baby reads everything -- except the CDs I burn on my SuperDrive with iTunes."

Similarly, John Goodchild writes:

"Like many others, I have been having trouble getting iTunes CDs to play in my car stereo. The workaround I have come up with is to burn a copy of the 'defective' CD with Toast Titanium 5.2.3. The copies ALWAYS work. The CD media is the same and the CDs are burned at the maximum allowed by the media."

Finally, another user submitted the following comments:

"I have had numerous problems on the same hardware under numerous versions of Mac OS X to burn CD-Rs or CD-R/Ws and more critically to erase/reuse a CD-R/W (Sony, not cheap junk). Mac OS X simply does a very poor job of handing CD burning tasks, period. Mac OS 9 worked flawlessly for me when this feature first showed up. Identical hardware produced coasters under OS X and worked flawlessly under OS 9." [Emphasis added -Ed.]

Reasons? Although we don't yet know the reason why iTunes and applications such as Toast (and Windows-based burning applications) appear to provide different results, even on the same hardware, we've heard two theories from readers. The first is that Toast and iTunes burn at different speeds by default, and perhaps iTunes is burning audio CDs at a higher speed (which often results in more errors).

Another theory, submitted via Web comment, is that "iTunes burns audio CDs using 'track-at-once' while Toast has the option to burn 'disk-at-once.' I've read somewhere that disk-at-once makes the most compatible discs for older audio CD players."

Without more details -- hardware, media type, settings, burn speeds, etc. -- from both those experiencing this issue and those not experiencing it, it's difficult for us to track down the actual cause. If you've found iTunes CDs to be less compatible than CDs created using Toast (or other burning software), please drop us a note with the details.

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