Music CD-R vs. Data CD-R: Is There A Difference?

by Mike Waters

You wouldn't believe how many times I run across this question. Is there a difference between music CD-Rs and traditional data CD-Rs? I think what people really want to know is if I buy a data CDR can I still put audio on it and vice versa. Well, hopefully this article will shed some light on the confusion and give you some insight into which type of blank media best suits your needs.

The simple answer to this question is yes. There are differences between music and data CD-Rs. However there is a big neon green flashing asterisk next to the yes that indicates to the informed consumer, that no there is not a difference. Let me explain.

Depending on where you gather your information, there are some articles that indicate minor differences between data and music CD-Rs. For starters, there is the name difference, but that's obvious. There have also been rumors that the recording industry receives a very small percentage of each sale of blank music CD-Rs. However, that rumor has yet to be verified to my knowledge.

What is known is that there are technical differences in what is embedded in blank music CDs in comparison to blank data CDs. These embedded differences center upon bytes within the sub channels of the actual blank music disc. But does that really make a difference in quality or what types of information can be stored on the disk?

Not really. Both audio and data can be duplicated onto both music and data CD-Rs. I'll say it again. Audio and data can be burned onto music and data CD-Rs. However, whether or not you can get data onto a music CD-R depends on what type of hardware is used to burn the blank CD.

If you are using a PC to do all of your burning, then it doesn't matter. PCs do not differentiate between music CD-Rs and data CD-Rs. They simply see a blank media and duplicate information on to it pertaining to the settings you have outlined in the software you are using to burn the CD.

However, if you are using a separate home CD burner, it may or may not allow you to burn data/music onto a generic blank data/music CDR. Proprietors are funny like that. They really only want you to use blank media with brand names that they have approved of.

So my advice is if you are doing most of your CD duplication on the computer, it doesn't matter which type of blank CDR you use. They both will work fine in most cases for storing audio and data. However, if you are using a CD writer outside of your computer for you burning needs, check the manual and see what they recommend.

About the Author: Mike Waters is owner of Waters Rock music studio and the senior technology columnist for Media-Tech Entertainment and You. Be sure to check out more about his music cd duplication services and data cd duplication at



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