Article about CD-burning on the Atari Falcon. Published in Atari Magasinet #1, 1998 (swedish magazine). Translated into english by the author.
Home burning - something for Atarians?
Of course it is! Unfortunately not for all, but at least those with Falcons and TT's. There's a program called CDRecorder available form SoundPool in Germany and the current version is 6,18.
Once you've bought the program, you can get all the latest updates from SoundPool's homepage - a very nice initiative. What do you do with the program? Well - hard to guess isn't it ;) - you make CD's. Previously it was available in two separate versions - one for audio only and one for both data and audio. This partition is still there, but just in order to make things easier for those who make music CD's - they're always sold as a package nowadays.
WHAT'S NEEDED TO BURN A CD?
As I mentioned at the start; a Falcon or a TT and also a CD-writer (I recommend Philips or Yamaha). In addition to this, you need a hard disk to put the data on. If you want to burn an audio CD, you need to have the audio files in either AIF-, AVR- or WAV-formt and they have to be saved as 44.1kHz stereo files. If these requirements aren't met, the program will warn you about non-compatible files and the files won't get accepted. Many people who are going to burn audio CD's are probabl using the superb program Cubase Audio for their recordings and the AIF-files that are created in Cubase are useable directly without any problems.
DEFRAGMENT THE HARD DISK!
Something that's even more important than ever is to make sure the hard disk isn't fragmented - otherwise it may not be able to send the data in the continuous flow that's needed when you use a CD-writer. Different audio files can be spread out among different partitions - it won't be a problem. When burning audio, no storage in between reading and writing is needed since the files are taken directly from the original storage place. You can also set a number of things, like if the SCMS digital copy protection should be used (this can actually be chosen for each song), ISRC and MCN references can be inserted and the pause between songs can be set individually for each song. You can also set index points, something that's used much too seldom on CD's you buy. The program is designed to use nothing but "Disc-at-once" burning - that is, all the songs must be burned at once. SoundPool have chosen to do so since their aim is to professional musicians who want the CD's to be compatible with all kinds of CD-players (som older players don't work if the CD isn't burned as "Disc-at-once"), as well as ready for mass-duplication, something that's impossible if the protocol "Track-at-once" is used.
When burning data CD's, it's a whole new ballgame. Since TOS is rather slow with the file handling, so CDRecorder can't get the information fast enough - even for a 1X burning session (150kB/s) - when the information is located in folders, so you'll have to go via an "image", which means that a huge file in created, which is composed of everything that should get burned - i.e. a complete copy of the resulting CD. This image file must be placed on a separate hard disk that's big enough to contain the information. I've never gotten partitions over 512MB to work satisfactory, so if more data than 512MB is to be written to the CD, I'd recommend you to make a "multi-session" CD instead of trying to manage all in one go. Multi-session means that you burn data to the CD, leaving the CD open for more data (made by ticking a box in the burning menu). When this is ready, you can insert the CD again and choose "read previous session" from the menu, which means that you can see what's on the CD already and you can add more data. The way it's handled is to make a copy of the old directory and save it together with the new directory - so everything gets available at once.
Larger partitions under MagiC
It, however, you use MagiC and HDDriver, you should be able to have partitions of 1GB and if this is true (I haven't tried it myself), you won't need the multi-session method - but you still can if you want to...
With the help of CDRecorder, musicians can transfer their demotapes to CD (and by that get rid of tape nise and other problems, like self-copying etc); you can make a backup of your programs and documents - much more reliably than if they're put on disks or tapestreamer; you can transfer things that you don't need immediate access to, like clipart pictures and other thing that just take up space on the hard disk otherwise. You can even make the CD's readable on a PC, if you - for any strange reason - would need that! You can also use a new function, called SCSI-copy. This means that you can connect any SCSI-hard disk (stationary or removable) or SCSI CD-ROM player and simply make a raw data copy - even if the data can't be read by the Atari machine! This is a very useful function if you have a sampling synth, since this is the way CD-burning must be done for the CD to be sampler-compatible :) I've tried this with my Kurzweil K2000, a Yamaha A3000 and a E-MU ESI32, without any problems! One this to keep in mind is that anything more than 650MB will be ignored, since it's impossible to get more on a CD.
Since the prices for CDR's has fallen drastically, the CDR is probably the most inexpensive backup media for the moment - even though you can't erase the CD's. In addition to this, it's more reliable than a tape streamer, so actually there are no reasonable arguments against buying a CD-writer any more - except for the initializing cost (the writer and the program - and if you need another hard disk for the image files), but let's not get into details now... ;) For the moment, there are no plans for supporting the erase function in CDRW-writers, but we'll see about that later on...
The current price in Sweden for CDRecorder is SEK2000 including VAT, excluding shipping. Orders can be sent to email@example.com.