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The CD Writer -
CD Recording Resources Revisited

Bob Starrett

May 2001 | I've been tangling with my Web page hosting firm for several months now. It's not that everything doesn't work well over at www.cdpage.com, it's just that they are telling me I am taking over 5GB of bandwidth per month, which is apparently over the limit of my hosting plan.

Looking at the logs, theirs and mine, I see no appreciable difference between the traffic from last fall and the traffic now. They won't address the question, only saying, "Well, you know CD recording is so popular these days, you no doubt have a huge increase in traffic."

I hope that I do have an increase in traffic, but I doubt it is as substantial as they claim. After months of unresponsiveness, I found that they had the names and email addresses of all their top executives on their home page, so I fired off an identical, scathing email to each and every one, and, for good measure, to every other address listed on the site, including their PR firm, tech support, partners, affiliates, and general counsel.

Wow, what a strategy. I received the next day no less than six return emails and a phone call from the President's office promising to look into the matter. Whether it will be resolved remains to be seen, but at least there is the appearance of caring. So I'm inclined to stick with them for now, though that 5MB limit and my own time limitations keep the page from being as up-to-date as I'd like it to be. At one point, other than Andy McFadden's CD-R FAQ at www.cdrfaq.org, CDPage was perhaps one of the best resources on the Web for CD-ROM, CD-R, and CD-RW information.

Today, there are several other sites that have lots of good information on CD-R and CD-RW. I'll start with a site dedicated to audio because audio is such a hot part of recording right now. Check out www.sonicspot.com, where you'll find the best audio tools collection on the net. It doesn't get much better than this–clear and organized with lots of goodies for your audio recording and manipulation tasks.

A couple sites that are a little less well-built and organized, but nonetheless have some good information on them, are www.cdrwcentral.com and www.cdrinfo.com. The first has news, commentary, and CD/RW hardware and software reviews. It also has a FAQ and beginner-friendly "walkthroughs" for Easy CD Creator, Nero, DiscJuggler, Prassi's Primo CD Pro, Hotburn, Discribe, Retrospect, Goldenhawk's CDRWin and DiscWizard.

CDRInfo.com is "the recording authority," according to the site. It, too, has news and reviews of various CD-related hardware and software and also features a decent, yet hardly complete, firmware update page.

For an extensive list of downloadable firmware upgrades, hit Ahead's site at www.ahead.de/en/firmware.htm. Ahead Software produces Nero Burning ROM, now in the just-released version 5.5, and they have the most extensive list of links to firmware upgrades for recorders anywhere, including oddballs like the short-lived Pioneer DW-S114X and the Tevion MD9898, the latter of which I suppose is only sold in Europe.

Another good reference site for CD-R and CD-RW is www.cdrlabs.com, "the only stop required for all of your recordable needs." Well, I don't know about that, but they do have news, reviews, and a few articles available. They also have a forum without much traffic yet, but the moderator, Ian, seems to be willing to help with any problems.

If you need information about recorder capabilities, Adaptec (whose CD-RW business is now called Roxio) has a truly extensive database of recorder features at: www.roxio.com/en/jhtml/cdrdatabase/database.jhtml. Does your recorder support Disc-at-Once? Variable-gap Track-at-Once? Session-at-Once? Audio indexes? Can the firmware be flashed? How large is the buffer? The answers are all here.

And for more technical information, don't forget the Optical Storage Technology Association at www.osta.org. But be prepared for a somewhat out-of-date page and, while there, suggest to them that they could be a little more current.

A great vendor site is www.octave.com. Check out the glossary, library, and newsletters, both current and past. For information on CD-Digital Audio, look to the CD-DA FAQ at www.tardis.ed.ac.uk/~psyche/cdda/.

Now, those are just a few of the Web resources, but let's not forget that books are still being printed. Two current texts available on the subject of CD recording are Hewlett-Packard's Official Recordable CD Handbook by Mark Chambers and CD-R/ DVD: Digital Recording to Optical Media by Lee Purcell.

For audio recording, I must recommend The Little CD-Audio Book from Peachpit Press, which I co-authored with EMedia contributor Joshua McDaniel. Josh did a superb job on the audio restoration chapters, and if you're into that, it's a must-have. It's available in major bookstores, online or otherwise.

You can also find it at online bookstores by entering "starrett" as a search term. That will likely bring up my brother Gregg's book, Putting Islam to Work, which I gather is about the historical interplay of power and public culture in Egypt, and shows how new forms of communication and a growing state interest in religious instruction have changed the way the Islamic tradition is reproduced. I find it a bit boring compared to the CD recording stuff, but that's the thing about Web resources: all things to some people and nothing to others. Good thing interest in CD-R resources is on the rise–at least if you believe my ISP.

Bob Starrett (bobs@cdpage.com) is a contributing editor for EMedia Magazine, co-columnist for The CD Writer, and an independent consultant based in Denver, Colorado. He is the co-author, along with EMedia Magazine contributor Joshua McDaniel, of The Little CD Audio Recording Book, published by Peachpit Press.

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