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Linux MP3 CD Burning mini-HOWTO

Greg Wierzchowski


Revision History                                                             
Revision 1.11            2004-08-21            Revised by: GW                
Fixed a typo.                                                                
Revision 1.10            2004-07-14            Revised by: GW                
Fixed revision numbering to be in sync with CVS.                             
Revision 1.9             2004-07-14            Revised by: GW                
Small updates, added new sub-section.                                        
Revision 1.8             2003-09-12            Revised by: GW                
Cleanup, update, fixes and minor layout change.                              
Revision 1.7             2002-04-26            Revised by: GW                
Divided into two sections: existing material to section "audio", new section 
"data" on data CDs. Misc. additions.                                         
Revision 1.5             2001-11-19            Revised by: GW                
Fixed omission in Disc-At-Once burning section.                              
Revision 1.4             2001-11-17            Revised by: GW                
Added Disc-At-Once burning section.                                          
Revision 1.3             2001-09-02            Revised by: GW                
Added another example of decoding MP3 files with lame.                       
Revision 1.2             2001-07-12            Revised by: GW                
Minor layout changes; Added Translations subsection into Credits.            
Revision 1.1             2001-06-12            Revised by: GW                
Minor cleanup; Regexp fix for MP3 to WAV name conversion example.            
Revision 1.0             2001-05-29            Revised by: GW                
Initial Release.                                                             

A complete recipe for creating audio and data CDs from MP3 files.

Table of Contents
1. Introduction
    1.1. Copyright and License
2. Audio CDs
    2.1. Preparing the Tracks
    2.2. Normalisation
3. Burning Your CD
4. Burning a DAO CD
5. Software
6. Data CDs
7. CD Burning Resources
8. Credits
    8.1. Translations
    8.2. Other Credits

1. Introduction

This mini-HOWTO was created because of my experience with burning music CDs
and lack of some specific information about sound normalization on the
Internet. I usually burn music CDs as a mix - different songs from different
sources.Very often volume level between songs varies greatly. This is the
first obstacle. Second, many of the files on the Internet are not
CD-compatible (16 bit, stereo, 44.1 kHz) and have to be converted. There are
many programs to burn music CDs from MP3 files, and many of them do the
conversion transparently. But I haven't seen a single tool that also
normalizes the volume, so that's why I worked out my own CD-burning recipe.

If you you just want to make a CD filled with music, and not be bothered with
all of the details, I have good news for you: Kees Cook (<>)
put together a tool based on this HOWTO, which automates all of the tasks
outlined here. His program can be obtained from [
software/mp3cd/] Thanks, Kees!

This HOWTO is just about one thing - putting MP3 music on a CD, so that you
can listen to it. For in-depth information about MP3 files, please look at 
The Linux MP3 HOWTO by Phil Kerr, located at [
MP3-HOWTO.html] For information
about CD creation in general as well as CD burners, refer to CD-Writing-HOWTO
by Winfried Trümper, available at [
CD-Writing-HOWTO.html] Also,
look at the CD Burning Resources section for more information.

I'm assuming you wish to burn a CD with the collection of songs you obtained
from different sources, all varying quality, but you want to get the
best-sounding CD possible. This mini-HOWTO outlines the steps that may help

1.1. Copyright and License

This document is copyright 2001 by Greg Wierzchowski and is released under
the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, which is hereby incorporated
by reference. Send feedback to

2. Audio CDs

2.1. Preparing the Tracks

Note Note                                                                    
�    All commands assume bash shell                                          

2.1.1. Filename Cleanup

 1. Collect all MP3 files in one directory.
 2. If any filenames contain spaces, first convert them to underscores:
         for i in *.mp3; do mv "$i" `echo $i | tr ' ' '_'`; done     
    This first step is important because, even if unix itself allows spaces
    in filenames, most programs get confused by them.
 3. If your MP3 files came from DOS/Windows, they may have uppercase
    extensions. You can convert whole names to lowercase or just extensions.
    For everything lowercase do:
            for i in *.[Mm][Pp]3; do mv "$i" `echo $i | tr '[A-Z]' '[a-z]'`; done 
    to convert just extensions:
         for i in *.MP3; do mv "$i" "`basename "$i" .MP3`.mp3"; done 

2.1.2. Conversion

The CD Audio specification requires wave files that are 16 bit, stereo, 44.1
kHz. MP3 files often have different parameters, but we need to convert them
to WAV first, anyway.

We have several choices for the conversion process.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- mpg123 and mpg321

Originally, there was only mpg123. However, it uses a proprietary licensing,
and now there's an open source replacement - mpg321. Both commands use the
same syntax:
     for i in *.mp3; do mpg321 -w `basename $i .mp3`.wav $i; done            

When decoding 22khz MP3 files the output of mpg123 may be distorted. I don't
know how well mpg321 deals with this problem. If you're converting with 
mpg123, use:
     for i in *.mp3; do mpg123 --rate 44100 --stereo --buffer 3072 --resync -w `basename $i .mp3`.wav $i; done 

Mpg123 can be obtained from []

Mpg321 is available from [] http://

NOTE I noticed that with some MP3 files mpg123 output was distorted. At first
I thought that MP3's were bad, but then I checked with another player and
they sounded OK. So mpg123 is not my converter of choice.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- MAD

Another MP3 player/decoder, and the one I prefer, is madplay. It's available
from []
proj/mpeg/. With madplayer, the command line is:
     for i in *.mp3; do madplay -o `basename $i .mp3`.wav $i; done           

Unfortunately, madplay also had problems with some of MP3 files I had. I
don't think there's a problem with the decoder, but rather with it handling
broken MP3 files.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lame

The lame encoder, which has a decoding mode, seems to handle difficult cases
very well (lame can be found at [] http:// :
     for i in *.mp3; do lame --decode $i `basename $i .mp3`.wav; done        
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- OGG files

Well, this HOWTO is about MP3 files, but OGG standard is an alternative which
many people prefer over MP3 because of the licensing. To deal wit OGG files,
you need to use:
        for i in *.ogg ; do ogg123 -d wav -f `basename $i .ogg`.wav $i; done 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Converting other formats

Nico Genimakis sent me an email about using mplayer to covert audio in many
different formats to WAV with automatic resampling to 44100Hz. Mplayer is
known to be able to read almost anything, and it can convert your .ogg, .mp3,
.flac, .wma etc.

usage (in this example converting WMA files):
        for i in *.wma ; do mplayer -vo null -vc dummy -af resample=44100 -ao pcm -waveheader $i; done 

2.1.3. Conversion Notes

NOTE: The `basename $i .mp3`.wav command replaces MP3 extensions with WAV.
There are 101 ways to do that, here's the alternative: `echo "$1" | sed 's/

After the conversion, run "file *.wav" and check the output for any files
that differ from 16 bit, stereo 44100 Hz.

If there are files with different characteristics, convert them to the above
specs. For example, to convert file track01.wav to obtain sample rate 44.1
kHz, you could use:
     sox track01.wav -r 44100 track01-new.wav resample                       

or, if the above introduces static when converting mono files:
     sox track01.wav -r 44100 -c 2 track01-new.wav                           

Sox is so popular, that it's probably installed by default with any Linux
distribution, and can be obtained from [] http:// However, the command-line options are somewhat cryptic
for the casual user (me). Look at [] for some tips on usage.

2.2. Normalisation

Normalisation is a process during which all the sound files are brought to
the same relative loudness level. I use a program by Chris Vaill (<>), called normalize - it can be obtained from [http://]

I use the following syntax (-m is for mix mode, where all files should be as
loud as possible):
     normalize -m *.wav                                                      

3. Burning Your CD

There are many programs to create CDs from WAV files. I use cdrecord for
command-line burning and XCDROAST for gui. For cdrecord, you have to know
what SCSI device your CD-writer is. If you're using ATAPI writer, with older
kernel, use SCSI emulation (kernel module ide-scsi). As of kernel 2.6, you
can use ATAPI directly, without SCSI emulation, by prepending ATAPI: to the
device specification. Let's assume, that your ATAPI cdwriter is on the second
IDE bus as a master. Thus, it will have /dev/hdc device file. To instruct the
kernel that you want to treat it as a SCSI device, add the following line to
     append=" hdc=ide-scsi"                                                  

Also, if your kernel doesn't automatically load ide-scsi module, add insmod
ide-scsi into your rc.local (or equivalent) file. Once you have our CD-writer
recognized as a SCSI device, run cdrecord --scanbus to find out what's the
"dev" parameter to cdrecord. On my system, the output looks like the
     1,0,0 100) 'IOMEGA ' 'ZIP 250 ' '51.G' Removable Disk                   
     1,1,0 101) 'HP ' 'CD-Writer+ 7100 ' '3.01' Removable CD-ROM             

So, the cdrecord command line will contain dev=1,1,0 to specify the device.
Here is the complete command on my system:
     cdrecord dev=1,1,0 -eject speed=2 -pad -audio *.wav                     

And, with kernel 2.6:
     cdrecord dev=ATAPI:1,1,0 -eject speed=2 -pad -audio *.wav               

Note NOTE                                                                    
�    The -pad argument is neccessary, because all audio tracks on the CD must
     be adjusted for the proper data length, which is not always the case    
     with mp3 files.                                                         
     Another way, would be to convert WAV files with sox into CDR format     
     before burning:                                                         
     sox file.wav file.cdr                                                   

4. Burning a DAO CD

DAO, Disc-At-Once, is as of now the only method for burning a CD without a
2-second pause between the tracks. It's useful for burning party mixes. The
program for burning CDs in DAO mode is cdrdao, available from SourceForge,

The cdrdao program uses description files called TOC (Table Of Contents, of
course). There are two ways to create such file. First is to use a shell
script, distributed with cdrdao source (in contrib directory, called It takes a list of .wav files as an argument and produces a
cd.toc file. Second way is to simply create such file yourself in a text
editor of your choice. Here is a self-explanatory example:
TRACK AUDIO                                                                  
AUDIOFILE "mix-01.wav" 0                                                     
TRACK AUDIO                                                                  
AUDIOFILE "mix-02.wav" 0                                                     
TRACK AUDIO                                                                  
AUDIOFILE "mix-03.wav" 0                                                     
TRACK AUDIO                                                                  
AUDIOFILE "mix-04.wav" 0                                                     
TRACK AUDIO                                                                  
AUDIOFILE "mix-05.wav" 0                                                     

The 0 (zero) after the wave filename means start from the beginning of the
file. There can be a second number providing the length (time) of file to
record. The xcdroast creates similar TOC files, there are also examples in
testtocs directory of cdrdao source.

The cdrdao by default uses the device /dev/cdrecorder, which should be a link
to the cdwriter device. Assuming your cd recorder device file is /dev/scd0,
create the link (as root) as follows:
ln -s /dev/scd0 /dev/cdrecorder                                              

Then, assuming that the TOC file is named cd.toc the command to burn the cd
is simply:
cdrdao write cd.toc                                                          

5. Software

There are some programs available, that can automate the process of creating
CDs from MP3 files. Here is arbitrarily selected list:

��*�burnmp3 - Program to automate burning with DAO method. [http://]
��*�mp32dao - a script from cdrdao distribution, in the contrib directory.

6. Data CDs

Note Note                                                                    
�    This section is a work in progress, you're looking at initial, very     
     sparse version.                                                         

With increasing popularity of CD/MP3 players burning data CDs for listening
purposes become practical. The advantage is definitely being able to squeeze
ten times more music onto one CD (a very approximate figure).

First I would recommend the filename cleanup steps outlined at the beginning
of this document. Conversion to WAV is, obviously, not needed here. To
normalize MP3 files without losing quality by conversions, use mp3gain. This
program is available from [] or [http://] (but this second
site seems to contain Windows-oriented version). You'd need to issue the
mp3gain -r -c *.mp3                                                          

As far as burning is concerned, MP3 data CD-s are just a standard data CD's
(ISO9660) with MP3 files on it. All MP3-CD players I know accept CD-s with
directories in them, and I usually burn CD with Joliet extension and they
work just fine. So to burn such a CD under linux, you first need to create an
ISO image an then burn it on the CD as in the example below:
mkisofs -J -o /tmp/mymp3s.iso /home/greg/mp3s/                               
cdrecord dev=1,0,0 speed=16 -eject /tmp/mymp3s.iso                           

That's it!

7. CD Burning Resources

��*�Burning CDs on Linux: [
��*�CD Burning from the command line: [
��*�Comprehensive Burning Tutorial: [
��*�CD Mastering Guide: [

8. Credits

Special thanks to all the people who contribute to the Linux community and
who made this HOWTO possible.

8.1. Translations

��*�Im Eunjea - Translated this document to Korean, URL is [http://]
��*�Mendel L Chan - Translated this document to Chinese, URL is [http://]
��*�Chie Nakatani - Translated this document to Japanese, URL is [http://] http://
��*�Laszlo Daczi - Translated this document to Hungarian, URL is [http://]
��*�Alix - Translated this document to French, available at French TLDP site

8.2. Other Credits

I have had a great response to the previous releases of this HOWTO. So many
people contributed, that I decided to change this section slightly in order
to list all of the names. So, I'd like to thank:

Greg Ferguson, Rob Russell, Terry Davis, Chris Vaill, Jamie Kellogg, Tom
Panning, Adam Buckley, Ilia Lobsanov, Giuseppe "Cowo" Corbelli, Florent
Fievez, Piero Ottuzzi, Kees Cook, Andrew Newman, David DeVault, Nico
Genimakis, Jan-Erik Stromquist.

And, most of all, I'd like to thank my lovely wife, Marta, for her love,
support and understanding

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