When setting up your CD duplication or replication project, you obviously know that you must provide the duplication house with a master copy of your CD audio to duplicate from. This should be a carefully burned copy of your final, edited and mastered audio recording. Since this master copy is going to be used as a blueprint for all your CDs, it is the most important piece of the pie. While most people think that you can take your final recording, burn a copy from your computer, and have it done; this is not always the case. There are a few different things to take into account when preparing your master for duplication or replication. These are the things we will be discussing today in this article.
1. CD-R Media
For CD masters, you will need to use high-density, Red Book approved CD-R media. A few of the most widely accepted brands are, HHB, Mitsui, Maxell, Taiyo Yuden, and Apogee. You will want to ask your duplication house which brands they recommend, as the preferred brand of CD-R tend to vary from house to house.
2. Burn mode
Most all duplication facilities will ask that you burn your CD master in Disk-At-Once mode. This is due in the Disc-At-Once mode, there are no gaps placed in the audio data. When you burn your discs in the Track-At-Once mode, a gap of 2 seconds is added in between each song. These gaps will be read by the duplication house's machines as errors or glitches in the audio, and may cause problems during the duplication process.
3. Burn speed
The optimal burn speed for your master depends on your CD burner's drive speed. The optimal burn speed setting for your master discs will be 15 to 30 percent of your drive's maximum capacity. IE, if your drive's max capacity is 52X, you'll want to set the burn speed for your master to be 12-16X.
Most duplication houses recommend that you do not use a Sharpie to label your discs. This is because the xylene or toluene in Sharpies may damage the data you have recorded onto the disks. If you need to label your discs, it is recommended that you use either a water-based permanent melt tip marker, or label it with a sticker type label made for CD-R labeling. This will ensure that your data is not damaged and will be just as it was when you burned it to the disc.
Make sure that after you're done burning your CD-R, that you test it out on your home stereo. I usually test mine on a boom box, my home stereo, and my car stereo; just to be sure.
These 5 things are generally the most important factors when it comes to burning a master in preparation for CD duplication and replication. But please do not treat this article as the final authority on audio CD master preparation. You will want to contact the company who is doing your duplication and ask them about their CD master standards, as they vary from house to house. I hope this article shed a little light on the dark and mysterious subject known as preparing your audio master for disc duplication.