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Writing MP3 to CD?
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Can I write an MP3 file to a CD?

The simple answer is YES, but there is a bit more to it.  There are two sorts of CD;

  • Audio CDs first developed in 1982 for audio recordings using the CD-DA standard and superceding the LP.
  • Data CDs, used later for auxiliary storage on PCs and for installation material to supercede dozens of floppy disks, often called CD-ROMs.

Optical disk technolgy has continued to develop with further standards; video disks, DVDs, Blueray.  Modern PCs and laptops generally now have a DVD optical drive rather than a CD one.  These can be Read only or Read/Write.  Computer DVD drives can usually read and write CDs but you should check your specification to be sure.  You need to use the correct type of blank.

If a computer has a CD drive it can read both CD-DA (audio CDs) and CD-ROMs (data CDs). Early CD players could only read CD-DA disks but later ones could read CD-ROMs and play MP3 files.

With that little preamble we are now ready to look at writing an MP3 to a CD.  Yes it can be done, but how you do it depends on what you want to do with the CD.  If you want to play the CD in a CD player that can only handle CD-DA formats then you have to use method 1.  If you want to play it in a CD player that can also handle MP3s then you can use either method 1 or method 2.  The advantage of method 1 is that the CD can be played in any device, but you are limited to about an hour of playtime.  If you use method 2 you can only play it in certain CD players or in a computer, but you get much longer play times, maybe upto 6 hours depending on the amount of compression used.

Method 1. To create an audio CD

You need to use some software that can read and play MP3 files and also create Audio CDs.  Fortunately you should already have the software to do this on your computer.  Windows Media Player comes bundled with Windows.  A step by step guide to the procedure can be found here.

Method 2. To create a data CD

This is even easier, you only need to use Window's file explorer. The easiest way is probably to drag your file(s) on to the CD drive first, then Windows will pop up a request for you to insert a blank disk.

The Audacity web site has a page on this subject.  It covers the same ground, but being written by a different author may help in understanding.  Burning music files to a CD.  It goes on to cover other topics so may be worth reading.  If it gets too technical for your needs just note that it is there and come back to it should the need arise.

Needless to say the Audacity software, like Windows Media Player, can write an MP3 file to CD as either an MP3 file or an audio music file.  It can do so much more though, it is a full editing package which will enable you to create tracks for audio-visual or video work.  Ken, Carol and I have all used it and can recommend it.

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