How to Burn Audio and Data on the Same CD

Making an audio CD today is as easy as ordering drive through burgers thanks to burning/ripping software that walks you through every step of the process. But, have you ever wondered how to add extra data, other than music to your CDs? Using optical disc media you can add things like album art or digitally compressed data files to your audio CDs. You can also make custom bootable CD-ROMs, DVDs, hybrid audio tracks, and boost your CD compatibility to fit a wide range of systems and machines.

Learn how to format and burn a CD complete with data or graphics using the following:
� CD or CD/DVD Burner
� Windows XP (Professional/Home)
� Windows XP Service Pack 2
� And a master media creator like Nero Ultra Edition or Roxio

The first thing you need to do is make sure that the Windows Service Pack 2 is installed and updated. Also make sure that your burner is installed and working properly, as well as your media creator. I prefer Nero so I will walk you though the process using Nero Ultra Edition.

Your software will offer you several different formatting modes for your new disk. For the purpose of combining audio and data you want to choose the mixed mode or pre-gap method. Either way you still have control over the length of pauses in between tracks. Choosing the mixed mode will put the data tracks before the audio which may be a problem when playing the disc in a CD player. Older CD players will always try to play the data because the technology that makes it possible to hide the tracks wasn’t available 5 or 6 years ago. Usually it makes a loud screeching noise that can damage your speakers or it just makes a loud incessant clicking noise.

If you are going to be playing the disc in a regular CD player or personal headset you can avoid the issue by choosing the CD extra option (in the left window) which will write the audio tracks first. When the audio tracks are first, the CD player will usually just skip over the unreadable data, and onto the next track. In newer models you don’t have to worry about this factor because it won’t even recognize the data; it’s invisible.

Nero gives you lots of choices when it comes to formatting and will support both CD extra and Session at Once (SAO) which both work just fine for making an audio/data CD. If you’re software doesn’t have the option of choosing CD extra try making a multi-session disk. With a multi-session disk you write the audio first and then close the first session so it can’t be changed. Then you start a 2nd session to lay in the data. After that, finalize the disc and click burn.

Adding Audio Tracks and Data
Once you select your format the media creator will automatically choose a destination folder and set up the required system structure. There is no need to manually choose your destination route and you will still be able to access the files through your PC folders. In the bottom left window you will have the available audio tracks and data that can be transferred to the CD. The choices should automatically appear when you start up Nero. If they don’t you will manually have to locate the folders where you stored the information, just click browse and enter your file extension(s).

Once you see your choices all you have to do is drag and drop the items you want into the folder where the write information is stored. When you first load the audio it will take up a lot of space because it is in RAW format. Generally about 6-7 tracks take up approximately 300-350MB. If you want the audio tracks to be smaller you can make digitally compressed versions by changing the file format of the track when you save it. This is also the time to make sound and volume adjustments, as well as compressing data, or adding filters and other effects.

This is the last and easiest step in creating an audio/data CD. If you will be using the disc in a car stereo or boom box lower the write speed down to 16X or 18X. Lowering the write speed will help avoid compatibility issues. Before you start the burn process make sure you click finalize or close disc so that the data cannot be altered by accident. Click burn compilation (the matchstick icon), or go to the recorder to begin burning and click start or copy.

When you are done you will have a freshly made, custom DVD, CD, and bootable back up disc or great photo/audio montage. The sky is the limit! Thanks to the latest technological advances concerning optical disc media, making a CD is no longer a common task but much, much more!

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