View Full Version : MP3s Written to Disk have drop-outs

03-04-2006, 10:44 AM
I have some MP3 files that I downloaded via http onto my hard disk. They work fine when I play them directly from the hard disk. But then I copied them to a CD-R disk to play them in my car stereo, and the copies seem to be corrupted. The music plays normally sometimes, but very often (sometimes a few seconds apart, sometimes minutes apart) the music drops out for a few seconds, and then begins again exactly where it left off. Or it may manifest the "skipping" effect I used to hear on phonographs back in the day before CDs.

I replaced the car stereo (because of a different problem) with another unit of the same model, and the behavior is the same. I also get the same problem when I try to play the recorded disk on the computer, using the same drive I recorded it on. I also tried burning the CD using a different computer, and I get the same problem.

I have the feeling that I'm missing something fundamental. Perhaps I'm not using the right sort of blank disk. I'm using some recordable CDs that I bought a year or so ago. They're made by TDK, and they're described as "80 Min 700 MB CD-R". They also have the logo for "Compact Disk Recordable" on them. I remember they were fairly inexpensive. I bought them at CompUSA and have been using them to store data and application files with no problems.

Am I on the right track suspecting that I need better quality disks? If so, what criteria can I use to get blank disks of sufficient quality? Are there other things I can look into to find the cause of the problem I'm experiencing?


03-04-2006, 11:41 AM
There are a variety of factors you can look at.

You could try a different brand of disk. See what your friends use and borrow a few different types. I am assuming that you are burning mp3 discs rather than convertring your mp3 files and burning to them in stadnard CD format (where you could play them on any CD player). If you are trying to convert and burn these to standard audio CD format, then I would encourage you to use disks that are labelled as Music CD-R or Audio CD-R rather than disks labelled as standard CD-R, Data CD-R, or just CD-R.

You could also try lower burning speeds and try to avoid doing anything else on the computer while you are burning.

You might also consider examining your mp3 settings. When I create mp3 cd's for my car, I prefer to use cbr settings to assure that my audio player doesn't mess up on changes in settings.

Finally, I would try taking some measures to see the extent to which your car and/or player might be contributing, as you have already started to do. First, try playing your disk on your computer after burning but before you play them in your car. If you hear the dropouts at this stage it suggests a problem with the burning or maybe with the conversion. If it occurs here, I might use the Preview function in dB CD Writer to preview your tracks before you burn. If those tracks preview OK, then you know the issue is somewherre in your burning process. Burning speed, mp3 settings, choice of disks, or multi-tasking during burning could all be factors.

If the problems only occur after burning and after using the cd's in your car, this would suggest that you might need a better set of shock absorbers, better roads to drive, a new car and/or a better audio player. Obviously these factors are going to be harder to address.

Hope these ideas are helpful. If not, or if you come up with unexpected results, please let us know. I'd be interested in knowing what you find.

Best wishes,

03-04-2006, 12:12 PM

Thanks for your ideas. I can narrow down the next steps a bit with some answers to questions you posed, and then I wonder if you can clarify a couple of your suggestions.

First of all, I am indeed trying to copy the music as MP3 files, so there's no conversion. Secondly, when I tried burning the CD with my Mac (previously I had used a PC), I tried the newly-created disk right away in my computer, and it failed. So that confirms that the car CD-player is not contributing. (I would say that the problem is more pronounced in the car than in the computer at home, which perhaps suggests tracking problems induced by corrupted data, either while reading or writing).

So I think this leaves the following possibilities from your sugestions.

1. Try other brands of CDs: I don't really run with an MP3 sort of crowd, so I don't know who to ask for CD brands to try. I may just try one that's more expensive as an experiment, on the theory that higher price means higher quality. Or I can call Crutchfield, where I purchased the car stereo, and ask them what they recommend. However, you suggested that I get CDs labeled explicitly as Music or Audio CD-R, if I was trying to convert to standard CD format. Since I'm not, is it still advisable to look for disks identified as being for Music or Audio?

2. You suggested I look at the MP3 settings. Are you referring to how I set up the converter program when I create the MP3s? The files I'm trying to copy were downloaded frm the Internet (free downloads at pastemusic.com) as MP3s, so I don't have control over the settings. Or were you referring to something else? Also, what did you mean when you said you prefer to use cbr settings so your car stero won't have problems playing MPs3? I don't know what you're referring to.

3. Try slower burn speed: Good idea. I'll try the slowest speed. And I did leave the keyboard alone while the computer was burning the CDs. It's interesting that the playback messes up at different points each time. A given song may play without problems one time, and then play with lots of problems the next time I play it. This seems to suggest that the problem is occurring while reading rather than writing. Poor quality disk is my best guess at this point.

Thanks again for your help. I'll let you know what I find.

03-04-2006, 01:17 PM
See here regarding CBR or VBR: http://www.dbpoweramp.com/spoons-audio-guide-formats.htm

03-04-2006, 01:48 PM
Oh I see. Thanks. The metadata for the files I downloaded says bit rate = 128 kbps, so I presume that means it's a constant bit rate, and not an average? I didn't see any metadata tag that said CBR, VBR, or ABR, so I'm assuming the files are CBR. I guess I could rip some music and convert it to MP3 with CBR, just to make sure.

So it looks like disc quality is still number one suspect. I'll pick up some new ones in a day or two.

03-04-2006, 06:09 PM
Normally if the bitrate is an even number that is one of the CBR choices (128, 160, 192, etc.) then it is CBR. If its another number like 162 or 148 its either VBR or ABR

03-04-2006, 08:39 PM
I would not recommend looking for "higher quality" disks so much as ones that will work. For example, High Speed or Ultra Speed CD-R's won't work properly with burners that cannot burn such disks. You may find a different brand of disks useful, however. I have had a lot of success with Memorex disks (also with Sony), but my drives are Memorex drives and I have heard from some users who have had bad experience with Memorex disks or Sony disks, so its possible that your drives might be happier with some brand other than TDK.

A few other questions do occur however, and I am not yet convinced your problem is with your CD-Rs themselves.

When you mention having burned an mp3 disk on your Mac and that it wouldn't play right on your computer, are you referring to the Mac again or to your PC? I am unsure as to whether an mp3 disk created on a Mac will play correctly on a PC owing to the different ways in which PCs and Macs format and store information. I also seem to recall reading in my manual for my car's CD/mp3 player (a Rockford-Fosgate RX1000 that was being discontinued when I bought it new 3-4 years ago) that it could not read disks created on a Mac (although I don't clearly recall whether this applied to home-burned CDs, mp3 CDs or both). So I would encourage you to stick to trying to burn and play your disks on a PC unless you are absolutely confident that your Mac with its burner and programs is able to burn a disk that will be read and properly played on a PC and that your car's player will be able to read such disks.

I might also try to take some mp3 files from another source (perhaps you could rip some yourself) and try burning these to an mp3 disk to see if you encounter the same difficulties.

BTW-What program(s) are you using for trying to create these disks?

Best wishes,

03-05-2006, 03:07 PM
I spent several hours working on this until the wee hours of the morning. I thought I was getting somewhere, but it turns out I'm right back where I started.

First, to answer Bill's question, when I recorded the files using the Mac, I was able to get it to play on the PC. As soon as a drop-out occured, I didn't pursue it any further, but I presume it would have played on the car unit. But the Mac program I'm using (iTunes) doesn't seem to have any options for file formats, so I agree it makes sense to use the PC at least until I find out what works.

Bill asked how I'm burning the CDs. I think therein lies the problem and the answer, but I'm not there yet. I started out formatting the CD using DirectCD, copying the files to it via drag and drop, and then ejecting the CD. When I eject it, DirectCD prompts me whether to finalize it or keep it open. I selected the option to finalize it, and that was it.

Clearly that was not the right way to do it, so I tried three different CD-Writer programs I have, and none of htem seems to be able to do what I need. I should point out at this point that the manual for the car unit (Alpine CDA-9851) says that the device supports discs formatted with ISO 9660 Level 1 or Level 2, and can also play back discs in Joliet, Romeo, etc., and other standards that confoirm to ISO 9660.

Then it says "This device supports CD ROM XA, Mixed Mode CD, Enhanced CD (CD EXtra), and Multi Session. This device cannot correctly play back discs recorded with Track At Once or packet writing."

So here's how three different CD writer programs failed to help me:

1. Windows Media Player: I can set up the files to burn, but the player says that it can't find a supported CD Recorder drive. My drive shows up in WMP under Tools-->Options-->Devices, and when I click "Properties" there are settings for "Rip" and "Playback". But I simply can't find any way to get WMP to recognize that I have a recordable CD drive, even though all my other programs recognize it as such. And when I check for WMP udates, M$ tells me I have all available updates.

2. dBpowerAmp CD Writer (Eval version): I don't know if the paid version of this program has more options, but the eval version doesn't give me any options that are even remotely useful. The only choices I have are "MP3 Audio CD" (650 MB and 700 MB) and "Standard Audio CD" (74 min and 80 min). There's no way to choose file formats or other parameters. There doesn't even seem to be any way to copy folders to the disc, just a flat set of MP-3 files. And it's also rather annoying that I can't select all files and let the copy run. I have to do each one individually, wait for it to complete, and then copy the next one. Given that I'm trying to copy 160+ files, this is simply an unworkable process.

3. Roxio Easy CD Creator v. 5: This one seemed to give me what I needed, but ultimately failed as well. I can select different types of projects to create, including Data CD, Mixed Mode CD, and Enhanced CD. Since the latter two are called out in the Alpine user manual as being supported, I tried them. But for some reason, when I create either of these two kinds of projects, the "record" button is never highlighted, and the menu item whereby I set up the record parameters is de-selcted. I couldn't figure out why it does this. There's no errror message, there was plenty of space on the disk, the project was "validated" successfully when I selected that command. It remains a mystery.

So I tried the only option left, which was to create a project as a Data CD. When I did this, I was able to record, after setting up the parameters for file system, burning mode, etc.. I selected

file system = ISO 9660 (also tried Joliet), per Alpine manual
Physical Format of CD = CDROM XA, per Alpine manual
Use long file names (30 chars max).
Record speed = 4k (slowest setting)
Use Disk At Once (vice Track at Once), per ALpine manual

I burned the CD successfully, but it has the same problem as before. Random drop outs.

At this point I must admit I'm very frustrated and wondering if this can be done. If anyone has any advice on how I can get either WMP or dBpowerAmp CD Writer to get beyond the point I reached with them, perhaps they will do better. Or perhaps I need to use Roxio in one of the other two modes, so if anyone knows how to get that to work... I tried Roxio's site, but I get no support at all without a serial number, and the software came pre-installed on a corporate laptop, and I don't know if I can get a serial number.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

03-05-2006, 05:40 PM
The paid veriosn of dCW isn't any different from the trial verison - except it won't expire.

The term mp3 cd is misleading. It will be a data cd .

The encoding format is selected separately, as it's actually done by dMC.

I'd say you could try to first encode your file to whatever specs you want for them. The simply burn them to cd using the Smart button. That will ensure that files get transferred as is, with no further conversion.

You have to build the list of available formats in there, and that's a bit tricky, but I'm sure you'll wade through it.

You can select a large number of files to drag over to the cd side for burning. Once you release the mouse it will proceed to copy them, and that takes some time.

03-05-2006, 07:44 PM
You can select a large number of files to drag over to the cd side for burning. Once you release the mouse it will proceed to copy them, and that takes some time.

Thanks. I was looking at a folder of folders, and in that view I could only select one folder at a time. I dumped all the files into a single folder, and the multi-select worked as you said. I'll have to say the lack of folder support will probably keep me from using dCW; but I'll give it a shot at least to see if it can solve the drop-out problem. I burned a CD, and I'll report back here after my commute tomorrow. And thanks for the tip about the smart button. I didn't realize it was re-encoding otherwise.

The term mp3 cd is misleading. It will be a data cd - but no folders, just the files themselves.

For my edification, can you please explain the difference between an MP-3 cd and a data cd? Thanks.

03-05-2006, 08:58 PM
Data cd is to be contrasted with an audio cd. A data cd contains files, just like a folder on your hard drive. An audio cd contains audio tracks, the kind that can be played in a regular cd player, not an mp3 player.

On a general data cd you can put all sorts of files, including folders of files, not just audio types. Of course dCW only handles audio types of files, but in general you can have anything. WHen they say mp3 it can just as well be wma or ogg or flac. Any audio type except audio cd tracks (cda).

03-06-2006, 05:35 AM
I'll have to say the lack of folder support will probably keep me from using dCW
dCW actually does support folder structures but it does so automatically based upon file tag information and the file naming/organizing convention you establish. This naming convention has to be set before you start adding files to the CD. For a more detailed description of how to do this, see: http://forum.dbpoweramp.com/showthread.php?t=8368
You may also want to check your Help files for dCW for other information about this program's many features.

dCW is not as flexible as some other programs in creating folder structures for data disks on an intuitive level or on a drag and drop level but it does provide a variety of possible folder structures and creates these automatically.

More pertinant to your issues with drop-outs however:
With dCW after you create your CD and push the Burn icon a window comes up where you select the drive for burning and set some other options. Have you been checking the option to Enable BurnProof? If not, try this.

Best wishes,

03-06-2006, 05:40 AM
When you initially install dCW it only has 2 settings for what can be created i.e. "MP3 Audio CD" (650 MB and 700 MB) and "Standard Audio CD" (74 min and 80 min). By clicking on the "New" button (within dCW) it is possible for you create your own CD format/types with details of the required format, size and folder layouts.

According to the manual (http://cartoys.com/cartoy/pdfs/cda9851_manual.pdf) your player looks to be very similar to mine (which is also an Alpine) and I have never had any problems with MP3 CDs created by dCW.

Do you only experience problems with the MP3s you downloaded? What about MP3 created directly from audio CDs?


03-06-2006, 07:58 AM
dCW actually does support folder structures but it does so automatically based upon file tag information and the file naming/organizing convention you establish. This naming convention has to be set before you start adding files to the CD. For a more detailed description of how to do this, see: http://forum.dbpoweramp.com/showthread.php?t=8368

Ah, sorry, I wasn't aware of that. Probably because I don't actively use file naming conventions from the start of a conversion process - I usually just move my files around later, as needed. I don't do a big volume of conversions. I was only aware of folder structures for ripping and for arranging music - though come to think of it this process need not be any different in burning :o

03-06-2006, 11:04 PM
Okay, it looks like the problem is resolved now, thanks to the help I received here. I got to thinking that maybe I had neglected to select CDROM-XA when I created the disc using Roxio, so I tried it again. That must have been the case, because it seems to be working fine. I listened to the disc during most of my 80 minutes of commuting today, and there wasn't a single glitch. I even used Random play on the way home, which was a more intense failure mode when I had the problem.

So I believe the problem was that the default settings of DirectCD wqere not appropriate for the Alpine. By setting the properties as called out in the user manual, I was able to burn a disc using Roxio that worked properly.

Thanks to those who pointed out what I was missing with dCW. I see now how to create a folder structure via the naming convention, and that's actually a powerful feature. I didn't see, however, any way to set things like the file format (ISO 9660, Joliet, etc.) or to not use Track At Once. I believe my Alpine unit requires specific settings for these. Is there a way to set these things that I missed?

Thanks again to everyone for asking me the right questions and giving me the info I was missing. Very much appreciated.

03-07-2006, 05:55 AM
I'm glad you got that problem solved.

With dCW you can set the file format (ISO, Joliet). After you press the Burn icon and you come to the CD Ready To Burn window (where you can enable BurnProof) click on the button that says Advanced. Here you can also give your CD a title.

As for Track at Once, I feel fairly sure that this only applies to CDs burned to standard audio format and not to data disks (like your mp3 disk). I am unable to determine whether dCW uses Track at Once or not. It is possible that it might but I am not sure about this. I see no option for turning this feature off or on.

Again, congratulations and best wishes,