Friday, April 27, 2007

Audio CD Creation on Ubuntu

My wife asked me to make a compilation of R.E.M. songs for her father and burn them to a CD that he could play at home or in his car. Believe it or not, I have never tried to make an audio CD before. I hardly knew where to start.

The first thing I checked was what programs came with Ubuntu that might help me. In the Applications --> Sound & Video menu, I found Sound Juicer CD Extractor and Serpentine Audio CD Creator.

Sound Juicer pops up when I put an audio CD in my computer. It was very easy to see how to rip the music off the CD, but I didn't know what format I should rip it in so that it could be burned onto a CD-R and played in a normal CD player. I figured that if I created MP3 or OGG files, only special, modern CD players could read the data. After some Googling, I found that I was right - I would need to rip the music as .wav (WAVE) files if I wanted to support normal CD players.

Unfortunately, Sound Juicer did not contain a gstreamer audio profile for the lossless .wav format. I had to add one using these instructions. After that, I was able to easily rip music into the .wav format and then setup a playlist of music to burn onto a CD using Serpentine. With Serpentine, it was as easy as opening the audio files, ordering them, and clicking one button to burn them to a CD. Serpentine also kept track of the time taken up by the playlist, letting me know how much more room was left on the CD. Easy as pie.

The resulting CD, however, was not perfect. It plays fine on Ubuntu Linux, Windows XP, and in my new car CD player, but it fails to play in my portable Sony CD player and an old Toshiba DVD player.

I assume there is something special about newer CD players and computers that give them the capability to play an audio CD created on a computer, but I have no idea what it is. I am wondering if there was some different CD-R type or some way I could have burned the music so that it would play on the oldest of CD players. If you know anything about this, please share.


byaspan said...

I'm surprised you haven't made a mix CD yet! A way I do it is to rip the music to high bitrate mp3's (320 kpbs) and then use those to make the audio CD. I'm not sure about the programs you are using, but all the ones I've seen allow you to add a list of mp3 files and it automatically converts them back to files that all CD players can read (choose the "make audio CD" option for this.. most programs call it the same thing). I'm not too sure about programs for Linux, but I think Real Audio has a Linux version (although I really don't like it for windows, I just don't know what's out there).. You can create a library of your mp3's and then drag and drop them to compile a CD.

I ripped all my CDs to my computer 2 summers ago and I can't believe how much more enjoyable it is for me to listen to music using he computer. All my stuff is right there and I don't have to deal with putting the CDs back when I'm done. I have it on a server at my house and then stream it to where ever I want it.

Actually, don't you have an iPod? You can use iTunes to do this. How do you get music onto your iPod with Ubuntu?

Ken Weiner said...

Yes, I do have an iPod. Since Apple doesn't make iTunes for Linux, I normally use a Windows laptop to run iTunes and to sync my iPod. I'm exploring some options for ditching iTunes and using one of the many programs for Linux. I may even reformat my iPod with iPod Linux. The one bummer is that I ripped all my music, 100s of CDs, to Apple's proprietary format, AAC. I am thinking about re-ripping everything in ogg format.

gbdarren said...

Are you sure the discs were not CD-RW re-writable CDs. That format is not as supported as CD-R.

Ken Weiner said...

I'm 100% sure my CD's are CD-R and not CD-RW. I think my CD players are just really old.

byaspan said...

If you already ripped all of your music, it should be pretty easy to make the CD. Just drag/drop your files and then burn an audio disc.

I ripped all my stuff as 128 bit-rate mp3 files, and then decided to re-rip as 192 variable bit rate mp3 files. They sound much better. Ogg is supposed to be one of the best formats, but not a lot of players support them (i.e. my car stereo supports mp3 and wma only). I like the ubiquitousness of the mp3 files, and using the LAME encoder they sounds really good.

Anonymous said...

Most likely suspect for why it won't play on "older" decks is they don't support the recordable format. We had the same issue with some burnable DVDs at work.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to know.