How to Burn Music to an Audio CD

Burning music to an audio CD is useful if you want to keep all of your favourite songs in one place rather than switching between different albums. A homemade audio CD is fully functional and works exactly like a store-bought one, so it can be played on a sound system, CD player, or computer. It is important to note that an audio CD is not the same as a data (or MP3) CD, which cannot be played in standard stereos. You can burn a CD if you have a CD-RW or DVD-RW drive, audio files of your music, a blank CD, and a media player.

Method 1 Burning an Audio CD with Windows Media Player

1. Insert a blank CD into your computer’s disc drive. Ascertain that the drive is either CD-RW or DVD-RW. The ‘W’ stands for writeable, and it is required to burn data to the disc.

The type of drive is typically printed on the front, but it is also available in Control Panel > Device Manager > Disk Drives.

2. Launch Windows Media Player (WMP). This can be found by going to Start > All Apps (or All Programs in Windows 7 and earlier) > Windows Media Player. This is the default media player that comes with Windows.

The steps in this guide are for WMP 12. Other versions of the software will work as well, but the button locations may differ.

3. Press the Burn button on the right. This opens a panel on the right to create a burn list.

4. Add audio files to the burn list by dragging and dropping them. The files must be of a file type that WMP recognises (.mp3, .mp4, .wav, .aac, are among the most common). When the files are burned to a CD, the software converts them to a lossless format.

Audio CDs have an 80-minute playtime limit. Manufacturers have established this as an industry standard. This means that the number of songs you can fit on a CD depends on the length of the track.

Although CD packaging may mention a capacity of 700MB, this measurement is only used for making data CDs. A data CD functions as a storage device that can only be read by computers.

5. Click the menu in the Burn panel. This opens a menu with different burn options. Select “Audio CD” from the menu.

6. Select the “Start Burn” option. The CD burning process will start. When finished, the disc will automatically eject and be ready for playback.

If you cancel the burn process or it fails, you must start over with a new CD.

Method 2 Burning an Audio CD with iTunes

1. Launch iTunes. This can be accessed through Applications > iTunes or the application dock. On Windows, go to Start > All Apps (or All Programs on Windows 7 and earlier) > iTunes. This is the standard media player that comes with OSX, but it is widely used across platforms due to the popularity of Apple mobile devices.

The steps in this guide are for iTunes 12. Other versions of the software will work as well, but the button locations may differ.

2. Make a playlist. Go to File > New > Playlist, give the playlist a name, and then drag and drop the songs you want to include in it.

Check that the checkboxes to the left of each song are still checked. Only songs from the playlist that have been checked will be written to the disc.

3. Ascertain that all of the songs in the playlist are authorised for use on this computer. Purchased songs from the iTunes store are linked to your iTunes account. To ensure that each song plays, double-click it. If it is not authorised, a popup will appear requesting the username and password for the iTunes account used to purchase the song. After you enter that information, the song will play normally and be ready for CD burning.

iTunes only allows a song to be authorised on five different computers.

4. Place a blank CD in the disc drive. The computer will recognise it as a blank disc automatically.

In the “Burn Settings” menu, you can check the compatibility of your disc drive. If the drive is listed at the top under “Disc Burner,” it is compatible.

5. Open the “File” menu and select “Burn Playlist to Disc”. This will open the “Burn Settings” menu.

6. Choose “Audio CD” from the format drop-down menu. This ensures that the CD will play in any standard CD player.

If you choose “Data” as the format, the CD will be used as a file storage device and will only be playable on computers.

If you choose “MP3 CD” as the format, you will need to use a CD player that can read that format. This can be perplexing because MP3 files are so widely used, but Audio CD is the preferred format for universal CD player support.

7. Click the “Burn” button. The CD burning process will start. When finished, the disc will automatically eject and be ready for playback.

If you cancel the burn process or it fails, you must start over with a new CD.

Method 3 Using Other Free Software to Burn an Audio CD

1. Choose the best software for your needs. If you don’t want to use iTunes or Windows Media Player, there is a plethora of third-party software available. Perhaps you prefer the feature set of another media player or are dedicated to open-source software, or perhaps you don’t use your computer for music listening and have no need for a media player at all.

When downloading software, it is always best to get it from the developer’s official website. This ensures that the installer has not been tampered with or tainted with additional software or malware. If a developer does not host the file for download on their own site, a list of trusted mirrors is usually provided.

2. Attempt using a different media player. VLC Media Player and Foobar2000 are two popular free media players due to their speed, customizability, and broad codec (filetype) support. Because these programmes are still media players, burning an audio CD will be very similar to using WMP or iTunes.

Foobar2000 is only available for Windows.

3. Consider using a dedicated burning programme. For those who do not require playback support, InfraRecorder and IMGBurn are two free, no-frills burning programmes. These programmes offer a broader range of burning options, such as mixed mode, which allows users to create hybrid audio/data CDs.

Because these programmes support more complex burning features, this option is best suited for more advanced users or those who do not require the extra weight of a media player.

Both InfraRecorder and IMGBurn are only available for Windows. “Burn” is a strong, straightforward option for Mac users.

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