Nov 2000                                                                                                     

Web Master Wanderings
By Curt Potsic, Space Coast PC Users Group

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SCPCUG Web Master Curt Potsic

For the last two months we have discussed "Making a Data CD" using Adaptec's Easy CD Creator ( Making an audio CD is a similar process however there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid confusion. An audio CD (either a custom music mix or exact copy) can be created in Easy CD Creator using a commercial audio CD as a source or WAV format files stored on your hard drive. I don't want to get into a discussion here of copyright concerns with copying commercial audio CDs. There are plenty of articles on the Net covering that. SCPCUG members can also read Ed Hughes' article on "how the copyright law applies to the Internet". It appeared in Ed's "The Novice Corner" column published in the August 2000 Space Coast PC Journal.

What I do want to point out here is that one has to be careful as to audio's definition in relation to burning CDs. We hear much discussion about MP3 audio files. Easy CD Creator considers MP3 files as data. If you wish to make an audio CD playable on your home stereo CD player then those MP3 files that you have downloaded from places like ( must first be converted to WAV format files. There are various programs that will do that, some of which are free. One program I use is Sound Forge XP ( which came bundled with my Smart and Friendly CD-RW drive. Another I use is Media Jukebox ( Media Jukebox is free but after 30 days you have to pay a small fee to continue using the MP3 Encoder part. The WAV conversion part remains free. MusicMatch Jukebox ( is another program that will do the conversion but I have not tried it.

Custom Music Mix Audio CD

Something I discovered when I tried to make my first audio CD was that using my original CD-ROM drive as a source drive would not work. My 1995 vintage CD-ROM drive was not capable of digital audio extraction. Using my old CD-ROM drive as a source, I can make a duplicate of a CD containing data just fine but it does not work for audio. The solution is to place the source audio CD in my CD-Recorder (capable of digital audio extraction) and using Easy CD Creator, create a "Disc Image" file on my hard drive. I have plenty of free hard drive space available so that is no problem. What I'm getting at is if you are in the same situation as I am (an old CD-ROM drive not capable of digital audio extraction) then you will need about 740 MB of free space for this Disc Image file. The Disc Image file is saved with the extension ".cif". Easy CD Creator can then create the audio CD from the image file. Actually, using this image file routine is a safer way to go to prevent buffer underruns as reading from the hard drive is much faster than reading from a CD-ROM drive. To go the direct route of CD-ROM drive to burner the source CD-ROM drive must be capable of reading the audio CD twice as fast as your CD-Recorder can write it. Thus, if my 4x speed CD-ROM drive were capable of digital audio extraction I would still be limited to writing at only a 2x speed. By going the image file route I can write audio CDs at 4x speed.

Keep in mind that the CD-ROM drive actual speed can vary. Drives above 12x speed typically use Constant Angular Velocity (CAV) which means the laser reads at a constant speed on both the inner and outer tracks of the disc but because the outer tracks hold more data the actual speed or X rating is higher on the outer tracks. Drives at 12x speed and below usually use Constant Linear Velocity (CLV) which means the amount of data read per second is the same on both the inner and outer tracks. The point I am trying to make is a drive claiming to be 24x may achieve that max speed only on the most outer track. The actual usable reading speed for digital extraction may be far less and needs to be taken into account to avoid buffer underruns.

Another place of confusion arises when people put a commercial audio CD in their CD-ROM drive. If you right click on "My Computer" on your Desktop, select "Open" and then right click on your CD-ROM drive and select "Open" you will see a window full of 1 KB files. The names will be Track01.cda, Track02.cda, etc. The CDA extension is not a true file format. It is just a way of referring to audio tracks. Only software that understands the true nature of the CDA extension, such as CD Recording software, will know how to properly handle it. To illustrate my point try copying or dragging and dropping a CDA type file onto your Desktop. Now right-click it and select "Properties". Notice the file is only 44 bytes in size. Thus it is not the audio content data but it is also not a Windows shortcut. Close the "Properties" window. Now right-click the CDA file again and select either "Open" or "Play". In each case you will get a dialog box that says "Can't play CD track. CD tracks must be played from local CD drive." Now if you go back to your original CD-ROM drive window, right-click any of those CDA files and select "Open" or "Play" the music will start playing.

The differences between data and audio can be further confusing. As mentioned earlier you need approximately 740 MB of free space to create a Disc Image of a commercial audio CD. But you say the blank CD-R media discs I bought say they hold 650 MB. How can I put a 740 MB image file on a 650 MB disc? Turns out audio sectors use 2352 bytes per sector and data uses 2048 bytes per sector. Therefore, you can put approximately 747 MB or 74 minutes of audio onto a CD-R that holds 650 MB of data.

If you intend to make multisession CDs keep in mind that this is not the most efficient way to fill up the CD disc space. You lose around 23 MB when the first session is closed. Each additional session will cause you to lose around 14 MB. In other words don't over estimate how much free space you have left. Take these overhead losses into account.

There are special pens available for marking or writing on the CDs you create. It is a lot cheaper and a lot less work than making a fancy label with a CD Label Kit, especially for data backup CDs. I have seen these pens selling for $5 but to me this seems a bit expensive. I use a black felt-tipped Sanford Sharpie permanent marker with a fine point ( and have had no problems so far. Some people have claimed their CDs were damaged over time by migration into the top layer of the CD-R media by a Sharpie. I suppose the controversy will continue. Read more about labels and labeling CDs in Section 7-7 of Andy McFadden's CD-Recordable FAQ ([7-7]). In anycase the important thing to remember is to use a pen that will not scratch or damage the top layer of the CD-R media. A ballpoint pen is definitely out.

I mentioned earlier. If you are new to the Internet, or are among the few who have not discovered this site, check it out. As a source for free music in the MP3 format, is the place! Here I'm not talking about the copyright infringement controversey between some record labels and I'm talking about over 80,000 artists that offer some of their songs for free as an inducement to get themselves known and hope you buy their albums. There are over 500,000 songs available for free on's music library can be tailored to your musical tastes. Mine happens to be Easy Listening.

For my wife's birthday I downloaded free MP3 files of romantic piano music from and put together a custom music mix that I burned onto a CD along with a 40 second personal message wishing her a "Happy Birthday". Milada likes personalized birthday gifts.

In the process of searching for this romantic piano music, I found a beautiful song that just grabbed me. Talk about things having a resonant frequency? Well this song just resonated with me. It is called "Stolen Kiss" ( and it's by Ernesto Cortazar. I had never heard of this music genius even though he has composed music for over 500 films. I am so impressed with Ernesto's music that I thought I would pass this info on. (All you husbands out there whose wife might complain "you are always on the computer--you are not romantic enough" can now redeem yourselves.)

Ernesto Cortazar has two pages on with over 95 songs for free download ( and Ernesto Cortazar's personal website is at

Along with each listed song is a description or word-picture to help you visualize the music. Thus, Ernesto's songs are more than just a melody. They are musical images of the infinite variations of life itself. Perhaps Ernesto said it best upon the occasion of his first anniversary with when he said "Today is the best day of my life because today I can share my music with you. Feel welcome and let me get into your soul, into your heart. Please consider my music as a nice gift for your loved ones."

I am not alone in thinking Ernesto's music genius is something special. His pages have had over 1 million page views and over 4 million song downloads since Aug 99. In Nov 99 started a program called "Payback for Playback" in which they pay the artist each time one of their songs is downloaded. Ernesto has received over $125,000 in Payback Earnings. He is among's top artists if not the top. If you are a struggling musician, you might consider this Payback program. does not charge the artist any fees for membership. All that is required is the artist must make at least one song in its entirety available on for free streaming or downloading.

Note: Web Master Wanderings articles contain links to external web sites. Web addresses are constantly changing. There is no guarantee that the information links provided in this article will remain unbroken or up-to-date beyond the date that this article is originally published.