How to make a CD master that complies with Red Book standard

This is a tutorial on how to make your own CD master that is a red book CD compliant. This standard ensure that your CD can be played with any CD player on the market. It can be a frustrating experience that you have burned a CD master and provide it to replicating plants only to find out it won’t play in your customers CD player or much worse in an FM station CD player. So make sure that if you are releasing an album in CD format, it should comply with the red book standard.

Minimum Requirements in CD master to comply Red Book standard

Below are the minimum requirements before you can proceed to creating a red book CD:

1.) Finished master of your album – this is the output of the audio mastering process. You should ask two copies from your mastering engineer:

a.) High resolution format of your album masters with you. It should be at least 24-bit/48KHz stereo.

b.) CD audio format (16-bit/44.1KHz stereo) – Most mastering engineers or facilities should provide this with you so that you do not need to do sample rate conversion and dithering by yourself. Or much better ask them if they can create a CD master of your album that is red book compliant, so that you won’t be doing this yourself.

In addition, your finished master should strictly adhere to the following technical specifications:

a.)Make sure that your album should not exceed 74 minutes playing time (including all pauses and silence since from the first track). Most albums released are around 45 minutes to 50 minutes in total length.

b.) The maximum number of tracks in the album should be less than 99.

c.) The minimum track duration is 4 seconds including a 2 second pause.

d.) Total usage space of tracks in the CD (including 2 second pause, etc) should not exceed 650 MB.

2.) You need a high quality blank CD media and CD writer.

3.) ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) – you should assign each of your track with ISRC. If you do not have an ISRC code, you need to apply. Read the following tutorials for details:

ISRC registration application

Frequently asked questions regarding ISRC

4.) A CD burning or CD authoring software capable of burning Red Book CD standard. There are lots of options, unfortunately no free software can do this. You cannot just use any CD burning software because not all of them have features that can be used to produce red book standard compliant CD.

One of the most affordable option is to use Sony CD Architect which is around $89 at Amazon:

CD architect Sony