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The Reluctant Coaster Burner


Dale Swafford is a curious old codger who enjoys finding new ways to burn coasters.

I have a Heartland CD titled Unforgettable Fifties. It has some great old time music. So, I decided to make a copy for my truck. It looked simple enough so I opened Easy CD Creator 4. Loaded all 25 of the tunes in the Layout window and preceded to create wav files using digital audio extraction in my Temp work area on the hard disk. Wasnít long before the machine locked up. I rebooted and went to the temporary folder. Two wav files had been created so I played them. They sounded awful. Clicks, pops, distortion and fade out on the left and then the right. The tell-tale signs of copy protection or bad digital audio extraction. I opted for the former.

I opened Exact Audio Copy by Andre Wiethoff. I figured that would be strong enough to get the job done. While copying track 6 the computer locked up.

So I loaded CDDAE99 by Erik Deppe to extract the music tracts to wav files with read twice error correction. Unbelievable! Over 8 million errors in 6 files. I listened to the bad files on the hard disk - they sounded pretty bad so I deleted the six offending wav files. The original CD music had been extracted in mono, 8 bit, 11K and converted to red book standard (44.1 KHz,16 bit, stereo) so the quality wasnít that great anyway.

To burn the CD, I clicked on NTI CD Recording Studio by Ashampoo. Loaded the wav files, inserted one of my real cheap CompUSA CDís from the spindle (they donít even have a printed side), and burned a great CD.

Now being an old codger who doesnít take kindly to being kicked around very well, I started poking around. First thing that caught my eye was when I explored the original music CD, it had a Mono and a Stereo folder, and the 25 tracks listed with a cda extension. I expanded both folders and found 16 bit and 8 bit subfolders. Expanding those showed three sampling rates, 11, 22, and 44 kHz in each subfolder. I clicked on mono, 8 bit, ll kHz, the specs of the original recording. All 25 music tracks were listed as one to two MB wav files. My curiosity was really starting to gnaw at me now. So, I double clicked on track 6, the baddest track filled with the most venom. Windows Media Player 7 appeared and the pleasing sounds of Pat Boone singing April Love were all around me. What had I stumbled into? Why were the tracks listed as wav files? Why did the file size change in the track listing as you went from stereo to mono or 11 to 44 kHz? Why would the tracks sound better as you moved toward Red Book standard (44.1kHz, 16 bit, stereo) and the file size was about the same as the finished recorded track size? My little pea brain was approaching severe overload, so it must be time to burn a coaster. 

 I opened a Temp file on my hard disk and copied three of the worst tracks that had locked up my machine. You remember I had to delete them (and 3 more) to complete a successful burn. I used the 11 kHz, 8 bit, mono tracks and renamed them to their song title names. Then copied the same three tracks from the 44k, 16 bit, stereo tracks to the temp folder. So I had six wav files in the Temp folder on the hard disk without the 3 million or so errors from the previous attempt to convert them to wav files. Why were wav files in the folder without some kind of software conversion to wrap the header and footer around the cda file so the Windows file system could recognize them? It boggles the mind! This was way cool! I was on to something, if I could only figure out what.

Since things were rolling along so swell, why not go for a burn and find out where it would go south. Opened Disk Doctor and loaded the three named files in the left window. Setup and ran the noise and leveling filters to message them. They definitely sounded better. The three numbered higher resolution tracks were also loaded in the setup window. The burner was setup in the right window, one of my cheapest discs was loaded and the six track burn was off to an inevitable coaster. I thought the named tracks would probably make a clean burn. No way the identical three high resolution numbered files wouldnít lock-up the machine again. I was betting on track 6 since it was the baddest. You wonít believe this, but there was a successful burn with all six tracks sounding good. The track six named file started the burn as a 1.73 MB file. The burned music track ended up 27.7 MB. The number six file started as a 27.8 MB wav file and was 27.7 MB when burned. The sound quality of the two tracks is almost identical. Sure, the named file had fewer artifacts so it sounded a little cleaner. When you figure all the tunes on this CD probably came off a mono hi fi record, they sound a lot better on CD.

What I had forgotten was, over a year ago, I had replaced the Windows CD File System file in Windows - System - Iosubsys - Cdfs.vxd with a rewritten file I had downloaded. The new file was created to allow MP3 converters to go from the music CD direct to MP3 without having to create a wav file on their hard disk and then convert that to MP3. What it does for me is show the music tracks on the music CD as wav files so I can use Windows Explorer to drag and drop the music track in the desired flavor to my hard disk (without having to use digital audio extraction). The basic windows CD file system only shows the music tracks as cda files, not compatible with Windows Explorer. Burner software could access the cda file using Digital Audio Extraction. For some unknown reason, when drag and drop is used, the buggers in copy protection and serial copy protection do not come into play. What that means to me is, I should burn fewer coasters.

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