RISC World

Creating CDs using RISC OS

Part 2 - Audio CDs - Dave Holden

In the first part I dealt with the creation and burning of data CDs, that is, CDs containing programs and other computer data such as JPEG images etc. In this part I shall describe how you can create audio or music CDs.

Note that using these techniques it is possible to make copies of commercial music CDs or to download copyright music files from the internet and put them onto a CD. This may be permitted for your own personal use but it will certainly be an infringement of copyright if you were to make a copy of, for example, a commercial music CD and pass it on to a friend. The publishers of RISC World do not condone the use of a CD writer for this purpose, and nothing in this article should be taken as suggesting that you should copy commercial CDs.

First there is an operation which is common to both audio and data CDs, that is extracting a track from a CD. Whether this is a data or music CD the operation is similar.

Extracting a single track

Click on CD Tools on the CDburn Control Window and the Toolbox window will open.

With the CD you wish to copy tracks from in the drive click on Grab on the left hand side of the window. A small SaveAs window will open. If the CD is a data CD then there will probably only be one track and the name offered in this window will be 'Untitled'. You can alter the name to something appropriate and drag it to a directory viewer on your hard drive and the track will be extracted. Remember to check that you have plenty of free space first as a full CD can take up to 700 Mb. It can also take quite a while, especially if your CD drive is connected to a slow interface like the motherboard IDE.

If you have extracted a data track from a single track CD then what you have will be an ISO image. This can then be written directly to a CDR or CDR/W disc as previously described to make an exact copy of the CD. In fact, this is by far the best way to copy a CD, as even if you have two CD ROM drives and could copy directly from one to the other, this method is much less prone to error and a lot quicker if you are making more than one copy.

An audio CD is slightly different. Firstly there will almost certainly be several tracks. These can be extracted individually, which explains the 'bump' icons beside the 'Track number' icon in the window. Normally you would create a directory with a name that describes the CD and increment the track number as you extract each one, placing them in the directory. Beware if you just add a number to the name AudioTrack if you're not running RISC OS 4. As the word already has 10 letters the numbers will be 'cut off' and every track will be saved with the same name, that is, each track will overwrite the previous one. So make sure you change the name, for example, Track01, Track02, etc.

Extracting multiple audio tracks

Luckily you don't need to go to all this trouble, there's a much easier way to extract a number of tracks from an audio CD.

If you click on Create Audio CD on CDburn's Control Window the audio read/write window will open.

Now place an audio CD in the drive and click on the left hand button, the one marked '+ CD'. The track data for all the tracks will be read and the window shown below will open with information about them.

You now need to choose which tracks you want to extract. Click on the number of each track you want to extract with ADJUST. If you use SELECT the window will close and you'll have to click on '+ CD' again to open it, that is, it acts like a RISC OS menu. If, as would normally be the case, you want to extract all the tracks then click on 'All'.

When you select the tracks their details are transferred to the Audio Layout window. Clicking on 'All' will transfer all the tracks. Assuming you'd clicked on 'All' in the above example the Audio Layout window should now look something like this;

Although you have a list of tracks they are still on the original CD, so you now need to 'grab' the tracks from the CD onto your hard drive.

As you click SELECT over each track it will become 'selected' and inverted. To select all the tracks click on the second button (the black/white bisected square) and to de-select them click on the third button (the red cross).

If you click MENU with the mouse pointer anywhere over the Audio Layout window this menu will appear.

Note that until you have selected some tracks 'Delete track' and 'Sample track' will be 'greyed out'.

'Select all' and 'Clear selection' have the same effect as the buttons previously described. 'New audio layout' will delete all the information from the Layout window so you can start again with another CD.

'Add track' will re-sample the CD and open the 'Add track' window ready for you to transfer another track to the Layout window. You could use this if you wanted to create a compilation CD.

'Delete track' will remove any selected track(s) from the Layout window.

'Export audio layout' and 'Save audio layout' will save the contents of the Layout window as a CSV or Text file respectively. This can then be dragged back to the Layout window at a later date if you want to make another copy of the CD without needing to start again from scratch. You would normally use this with tracks which have been previously extracted and placed on your hard drive.

Once you have chosen some or all of the tracks select 'Sample track' and a SaveAs window will open. If you have selected just a single track then this will contain the name of the track, if you have selected several tracks then it will be a directory into which they will be placed. In either case you can change the name before Saving.

In this Save window there are two 'radio' buttons marked 'CD' and 'WAV'. If you select WAV then as the files are extracted they are converted to WAV format. If you are going to burn the tracks back onto an audio CD you would not want to do this, especially as they can become much bigger when you do. However WAV files can be listened to and edited on a computer, so you may want to convert them. If you intend to put the track back onto an audio CD then make sure 'CD' is selected, as it is by default.

Once everything is set the way you want it drag the icon to a suitable place on your hard drive and CDburn will extract the track(s).

Making an audio CD

Once all the tracks have been extracted you will want to write the CD.

Normally to write an audio CD you would open the Audio Layout window and drag the tracks you want to place on the CD to the window. They will then appear there in the order in which they arrived. If you want to change the order that they will appear on the CD, and this applies when you've just sampled the CD as well, you can just drag them up and down the window to alter the order.

To write this CD all you have to do is click on the CD icon on the right and the 'ready to write' window will open.

This is similar to the window used to write data CDs, but there are a couple of points that need to be explained.

Track-at-once and Disc-at-once set the way that the CD is written. Track-at-once will write one track at a time leaving a two second gap between each track, exactly as is done with conventional music CDs. Disc-at-once will write the entire CD in one go with no gap between tracks. This should not be done with 'normal' music CDs where each track is a separate entity, but is used for 'live' recordings where the applause at the end of one track is blended into the applause before the next to give the impression of a continuous performance. At present Disc-at-once normally only works with SCSI CD writers, so you don't have a choice if you're using CDburn with IDE, but this is being worked on so it may be available soon.

For the moment make sure that 'Prepare for CD extra' and 'don't fixate' are not ticked (we'll come to these later). 'Simulate writing' can be used to make sure that everything is working OK without actually writing a CD, just as it can with data CDs.

When everything is ready click on 'Write' to produce your audio CD.

Using WAV files

If you have downloaded some WAV files and want to create a music CD then CDburn can do this for you. Just drag them to the Audio Layout window in the usual way. However, before CDburn can deal with them they must be in the required format. This is 44.1 Khz little endian stereo 16 bit signed linear. Don't worry if you don't know what this means, there's an application called !WAVcheck on the CDburn distribution disc in the ExtraUtils archive which will check it for you, although if the file is in the wrong format it can't correct it.

MPEG files

CDburn can't deal directly with MP3 files, but luckily help is at hand in the form of the freeware program AMPlayer. This will convert MP3 files to WAV, which CDburn can deal with. For your convenience we have included a copy of AMPlayer in the SOFTWARE directory on the CD.

Normally AMPlayer is a command line program, but luckily there's a desktop front end available and we've included this as well.

You'll find full instructions in the form of text files inside the application archives.

In the next session we'll wind up with a look at mixed audio and data CDs.

Dave Holden