General Question

2davidc8's avatar

Is there a way to "burn" mp3 music files to a CD-R disc so that they are playable on any (especially older) CD player?

Asked by 2davidc8 (10189points) September 20th, 2012

(1) I have mp3 music files on my computer that I’d like to put onto CD-R discs so that I can play them on CD players like boomboxes.

(2) Also, what is the best way to make a copy of an existing music CD (a legal one, of course), so that I can play the copy in the boombox and not worry about it getting damaged?

In the first case above, I presume some sort of format conversion will be necessary, but what and how?

In the second case, how can I do it in less than real time? By that I mean, can I copy a 60 minute CD in less than 60 minutes?

Finally, should I use the Live File System, or Mastered on the target CD-R? I am using a PC running Windows 7.

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8 Answers

gasman's avatar

It used to be that audio CDs and CD-ROMs had quite different formats & discs were not interchangeable. I once unwittingly put a CD-ROM into my stereo & nearly blew out the speakers. I think now there are apps / systems out there that directly burn audio CDs, so you can put your music on disks that play in boomboxes.

2davidc8's avatar

@gasman Blowing out the speakers. Yes, that’s one of things I was concerned about. What happens if you put an mp3 disc in a CD player that can’t read it?

blueiiznh's avatar

There is plenty of software out there that can burn to the type output format you reference.
I can’t begin to list all the free software that can do this. I use Nero (paid), but it is the same principal of select the mp3 files you want to burn, select the audio format you desire (Audio CD player, or CD/DVD player).

The creation time is based on the speed of your burner and speed rating of the blank CD. 4x, 8x, 16x, etc means exactly what it says. Burn rate is x times faster than the original play time.

If you are concerned about your boombox, start with the volume down.

Here is a good article on Live File System or Mastered (ISO) format.

jaytkay's avatar

iTunes will do it, and it will do it quicker than real time.

Some very old CD players will not play CD-Rs regardless of what you do, but if yours WILL play CD-Rs then rip your CD to the computer and then:

1) Create a playlist with your chosen songs
2) Right click (Windows) or control-click (Mac) on the play list and choose Burn Playlist to Disc
3) Choose Disc Format – Audio CD

Tip: If the resulting CD-R does not work, try again, recording at a slower speed, before you give up

Many years ago I had an HP CD drive which included software that had “make an exact copy” as an option. It was awesome for directly copying audio CDs to CD-R.

The software did not work on other drives and I never found an equivalent after the HP drive died.

I always assumed it was TOO awesome and was killed because of copyright concerns.

jerv's avatar

I have done it with many different programs over the years, including Windows Media Player which comes pre-installed on every Windows system since CD burners became mainstream. However, there are kajillions of far better programs out there for it, including iTunes, the aforementioned Nero, FinalBurner Free, and too many others to list.

I have yet to burn a CD in real-time; I usually burn them as fast as my drive will go (48x), which burns an entire 60–72 minutes worth of music in only a couple of minutes. Of course, you have to make sure that the CD-Rs you get are actually capable of being written that fast. If you had an older/cheaper CD-R that was only rated up to 16x then you would have to tweak some settings in whatever CD burning program you were using to slow your drive down to the disc’s maximum rated speed, but it would still burn 16 times faster than real-time.

Personally, I use Mastered for audio CDs and Live File System for data CDs, but you should read @blueiiznh‘s link before you decide whether or not to do what I do.

2davidc8's avatar

@blueiiznh I understand that newer CD players can play mp3 files, so I can copy these files directly from my computer to a CD-R, right? And if I want to play it in a non-Windows system, then it must be in Mastered format, right? Or can I use the Live File System (more convenient)?

But in a CD player that cannot handle mp3 files, the files would need to be converted. What’s the best way to do this? Does this happen automatically when I select the Audio CD format?

@jaytkay To use iTunes, do I download iTunes software, and is it free? When you say “create a playlist”, are you using iTunes terminology? If I don’t use iTunes, is there a way to create a playlist in Windows?

@jerv The CD-Rs that I have say “52X”, so I guess they can be written that fast. But how do I know how fast my drive can go? I went into Properties for the drive but could not find such information.

All of you: thank you for your help. I really appreciate it!!

jaytkay's avatar


Yes, iTunes is free (Mac OS or Windows).

Playlists – iTunes and I think every program people mentioned above will work in a similar way – you create a list of songs within the program, and the program can burn them to CD

CD speed – I would not worry about it unless your CD-Rs don’t work and you want to slow down the write speed. But probably any program you use will write at maximum speed and you never have to think about it.

gasman's avatar

Indeed iTunes will burn audio CDs. (I checked before my first post but didn’t see it then.) In the File menu choose Burn Playlist to Disc to get a rather nice dialog box, titled Burn Settings. It looks like this:

Disc Burner: < name of device >

Preferred Speed: < default “Maximum Possible”>

Disc Format: < @ = radio button; // = check box >

@ Audio CD
Gap Between Songs: < default 2 seconds >
// Use Sound Check
// Include CD Text

@ MP3 CD

@ Data CD or DVD

Cancel, Burn buttons close box

Sound Check is a feature that normalizes volume level.

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