If you are mastering your own CD for replication or duplication, you might need to assess whether your CD writer (drive) and your media are the best ones for audio CD mastering applications.
Let’s start with some theory and facts:
a.) The higher the burning speed, the more likely jitter will happen. The jitter are undesirable errors that can affect audio quality. Read here more about the relationships between jitters and CD burning speed.
b.) Old CD writers can write very low speed; for example 1x to 4x.
c.) Modern CD writers can write very fast (e.g) 52x however optimum writing speed (lowest jitters as possible and best recording quality) can be estimated around 4x which most mastering engineers in the industry suggest.
d.) Quality of the burn master CD is dependent on CD writing speed, quality of the media and the quality of writing software/red book CD software. Of course, the overall sound quality is dependent on the output of the mastering engineer.
Basic Requisites-your professionally mastered audio
Let’s not discuss about CD writing software (red book CD mastering software) or how does the mastering engineer do the mastering. If you are interested in this topic, you can read this tutorial on how to make a CD master that complies with red book standard.
Commercial audio CD released are different from the mix you have in your own home recording studio. In this article on characterizing a professionally mastered CD; you will know that if you extract the audio from CD, the waveforms are obviously bigger (which means louder) than a raw mix.
Therefore; it is imperative that you need to have your mix professionally mastered before you think burning it to a CD and selling it.
Selecting the best CD writer and media
Let’s see how you will be able to select the best CD writer and media for home audio mastering use.
Most professional mastering engineers agree that the best CD burner/writer for mastering is Plextor. The recommended model is Plextor PX-716A – Disk drive IDE Internal CD Writer if your computer supports IDE based drives. Unfortunately, IDE based drives are not popular today and replaced by SATA technology. So I would recommend you look for a SATA alternative (will be provided later).
If you are looking for a SATA based CD burners/writers, you can have the Plextor PX-716SA DVD+\-RW Dual LayerSerial ATA Drive