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What is the difference between the types of blank CD's?

Posted By : of Data Doctors on November 28, 2003

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I noticed that there are two different types of blank CDs on the market, data & music. Is there any real difference? If so, would the quality of the sound suffer by burning a music CD on a blank data CD?


This question was answered on November 28, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The debate about blank CD quality and how to determine the best disks has been raging since the concept of ‘burning’ your own CDs was introduced.

Blank CDs that are labeled as "music" disks are specifically intended for use with "consumer" stand-alone audio CD recorders If you make your disks on a standard computer CD ‘burner’ than there is no need to be concerned with what the disk has been labeled

My understanding is that the RIAA worked with manufacturers of stand alone “audio only” CD recorders to create this special type of disk so that it could get a small piece of every ‘music’ CD sold

Anyone that has burned any quantity of CDs has likely noticed that certain disks seem to last longer or take more abuse than others

There is no way to tell which disks are going to work better for you because there are so many variables, including your CD burner, the disks manufacturing process, the dye formulation and, of course, how you care for your disks.

Every CD/R and CD/RW has specific information encoded in the ‘pre-groove’ section of the disk that includes the manufacturer, the dye formulation, Absolute Time In Pre-Groove (ATIP), certified writing speed and actual time available on the disk Much of this information can be helpful, not from a specific technical standpoint, but from the standpoint of what seems to be working well for you Just because a big name brand is stamped on the label of a blank disk, it does not mean that it was actually manufactured by that company A free download called ‘CDR Media Code Identifier’ ( allows you to place any blank media in your burner and quickly view some of the pre-groove information.

When you find disks that you ‘feel’ are working better for your use, then you can look at specific things like the actual manufacturer or type of dye used to help make future selections.

The folks at CD Media World have lots of technical data about CD media and have posted some extensive test results on various manufacturers of blank media at

According to their various tests, Imation, TDK, Sony, Kodak, Ricoh Premium and Phillips Gold and Silver disks all scored well.

They also list actual factories that scored poorly in their tests that include Ritek and Fornet (this is what will appear in the ‘Disk Manufacturer’ section of the CDR Media Code Identifier program).

CD Media World echoes the same sentiment that I have preached for years when it comes to technology; never buy the lowest priced items!

In the case of blank CDs, steer clear of those cheap no-name bulk CD offers, unless you don’t care about how long the disk will last and don’t pay extra for ‘audio’ CDs for your computer’s CD burner.

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Posted by of Data Doctors on November 28, 2003

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