Does the CD burn speed effect audio quality?

burn 'em at 1x, 24x or what???

Title pretty self-explanatory, but I’m curious…

When burning a master audio cd, is there any advantage to burning at a slower rate (i.e. 1x) or is it all the same to burn it at the fastest rate your system will allow? Mine goes up to 48x, but intuition tells me that the faster you go the harder accuracy becomes. Ideas? Bring on the technical mumbo-jumbo! :)

Yes, assuming we’re talking about audio cds and not a data cd with a wav on it.

I found a great article on this on the Internet a while back but I can’t remember where.

Put very simply, audio tracks are written on a cd as a set of peaks and troughs burned by a laser. On playback the player reads the peaks and troughs as 1s and 0s and converts them back to audio.

Sometimes errors occur - scratched disk, poor peaks and troughs, a glitch, badly aligned laser etc. Most players will then do Error Correction to sort out what has gone wrong. Again very simplisticly, the cd player “makes up” the bits it can’t accurately read!

A slower burn speed results in better (more defined) peaks/troughs in the recorded medium. Better peaks and troughs means less errors which means less error correction.

Will you hear the difference? Probably not.

Are some cd players better than others at error correction? I expect so.

Do I burn my audio cds slowly? Yep


To add to Mark’s comments, I have found (in my experience) that audio cd’s burned at lower speed tends to be more compatible with different (and older) cd players.

My observation isn’t scientific at all, and might be coincidental …
But I burn at a slower rate for excactly the same reasons as Mark.


I would like to confirm Wihan’s comment. This is my experience also.

On the flip side to this, I burned a CD this weekend at 32X for a client; said it sounded great; very professional.

I think at the most, slower burning is going to improve (but can’t necessarily guarantee) the lack of bomb out factor. Face it, 'puters puke, and we can’t stop them.:stuck_out_tongue:

Hi sweet_beats,

at the link bellow you can find one topic about your question:


Thanks everybody! :D

I am seriously skeptical about much of the stuff in that link. The suggestion of “use your ears” has a lot of merit for some things but accurate subjective testing is a very difficult thing. I don’t know how many times I have been asked to modify a monitor mix and before I can get around to moving the fader the musician calls out “perfect!”. We occassionally do subjective listening at work but there is a whole branch of science devoted to achieving reliable subjective results and the tests described in the article are nowhere near what we would call a minimum reliable test.

There are valid points in the article but they are so intermixed with hogwash that it is difficult for me to recommend it. For digital media there are very objective measures of whether the bits are accurately transferred both to and from the media. Any error-free transfer will sound the same once buffered and played back over the same converters. Since most consumer gear has no way of displaying the error-rate and has very different schemes for buffering, error-correction and different converters, it is difficult to know which factors influence the sound of the playback. This leaves some uncertainty about what is happening and room for “audio mystics” to cloud the waters.

One example is portable players some of which use some form of compression (probably similar to mp3) to reduce storage requirements in the playback buffers and allow 20 second anti-vibration buffers. This will almost certainly cause more difference than a few media-induced errors and the compensation required.

The question of which burn-speed is optimum will not be resolved by listening tests but by error-analysis on large numbers of players. Certainly for computer playback you can assume that any burn-speed will work unless you observe that data disks are corrupted by your burner. Data is far more critical than audio since there is frequently very little redundancy and errors can completely mess up the results. A data error in a critical point will crash a program which is not a particularly subtle or subjective judgement. A stored value will be correct or not. Since data errors can happen at any bit position, a single bit-error can totally change the meaning of the data represented.

There are many ways that errors can be introduced during writing and reading and it is certainly possible that some players or readers are more sensitive than others. Everyone has probably experienced floppy disks that can only be read on the player that wrote them. A player prone to errors may require “higher-quality” pits in the media. The write speed that produces the best pits may not be the minimum speed however, so the drive manufacturer may be the best source of information on this.

In any case, look for a study that uses objective criteria rather than subjective tests. This is a technology where there are no “mysterious” factors. The audio data is transferred accurately or it is not. If it is transferred accurately there will be no difference. If not, the way in which error-correction is employed and the locations and types of errors could make a difference between players that would require subjective testing to evaluate. This would then be a critique of that players rather than the disks. With disks all you care about is a rephrasing of the original question "Which burn-speed on my brand of burner produces the fewest errors in audio CD playback devices."


Long story short… send data files (AIFs and WAV files) to the mastering and reproducion houses… A data file either works or it doesn’t. No Red Book smearing the edges going on there. As for one hard drive sounding different than another… BULL! A bit per bit copy of a file is exactly the same file no matter what hard drive it is on. Does your bank account mysteriously change balances depending on what hard drive it is on at the bank? Not hardly.

Bits are bits. The sound is different because of A-D and D-A conversion, interpolation, and error correction or lack of. What the heck does jitter have to do with a digital steam? It sounds different because the bytes are coming in faster or slower or are misread? A jittery clock can take a perfectly good digitial stream and make it sound like crap. That has nothing to do with the CD. A misread or a misburned bit is an error.

Listen good to JimBob.