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On this page I give you a brief intro into the art of "bruning" your own CD's using Neor by the German company AHead.

Burning Rom is a - kinda - funny word issue in German. First of all, the english word "Rom" is the German word for the city "Rome" in Italy. This makes "Burning Rom" something like "Burning Rome". In the times of the roman empire, there once was ruler called "Nero" who had a hobby: "Burning Rome". Hence the (somewhat) funny word thing: "Nero Burning Rom".

Nero: Burning CD's, CDRW's, etc.

Page overview

How does it work: Burning CD's?

If you haven't read it yet, please read the "How does a Compact Disc work" page first.

Burning CD's basically is just the same as reading CD's, but instead of a normal CD we use either a CD-recordable or CD-rewriteable disc. These disc have a slightly different layer structure compared to a normal CD.

De lagen bij een CDR
A Label layer
B Protection layer
C Reflection layer
D Die layer (transparent)*
E Protection layer (transparent)

The trick here is that the CD-writer actually burns a part of the die-layer so it won't be transparent anymore (see the lower picture for an example). This prevents the laser ray from being reflected, so the sensor will not read the reflection either.

If this is a bit unclear to you, check the "How does a Compact Disc work" page. There you can read how a normal CD works, and things might become understandable..

How can I create a CD by myself?

Let's start with the question "Where can I get Nero?".
That's pretty simple: a free trial version (that is not crippled) can be downloaded at the AHead website .

Besides the Nero software, you will also need a CD-recorder or CD-rewriter. This can be iether SCSI or an IDE/ATAPI device - both work just fine for Nero.

Before we start creating a CD, first some points that need out attention;

What kind of CD should I create?

Before we take of "burning", we should figure out what type of CD-ROM to create. Nero is capable of handling DVD (re)writers as well, unfortunally I don't have that kind of equipment, so I sklip that for this page.

I made a list, shown below, of the available types I came up with:

1. Music/Audio CD
De Joe-Average music CD's, just like the ones you find in a music store. Every CD player can handle those, most DVD players too.

2. MP3 CD
On this type of CD we find music as well, although in MP3 format. Not all players can handle these. Most likely you get a specific MP3-CD-Player or PC. For example, the Yamakawa players can handle these too. Thanks to MP3 compression, we can put an awful lot of music. Often between 100 and 200 songs per CD.
More details can be found on the Yamakawa page and the MP3 page's (introduction and create your own MP3's).

3. Video CD
This somewhat older format is used for video. Usually close to VHS quality and mostly on 1 or 2 CD's. Video CD players, also know as VCD players, can handle these CD's. Although never popular (except for Japan), some DVD players, like the Yamakawa can handle them very well.

4. Super Video CD
The successor of the CD, with a better quality, between VHS quality and DVD quality. Most DVD players cannot play these discs, however (once more) the Yamakawa can.

5. DVD
A superior format for video. Only DVD can handle these baby's (Yamakawa also). Unfortunately the equipment to make DVD's is rather expensive, so we will not mention this format anymore.

A regular CD-writer or CD-rewriter cannot write DVD's!
For those who have a DVD (re)writer: Nero does support these drives!

6. Computer DATA CD
A CD filled with computer data, like application, images, documents, etc. Only a PC can make sense out of these. Often used for backup purposes or software distribution.

7. Burning CD images
Most CD-recorder software support the option to create an image of a CD - i.e. copy an entire CD into one single file. Nero has it's own format (*.NRG), other formats are ISO and BIN/CUE which can be burned using Nero as well.

How much will fit on a single CD ?

A CD can hold a limited amount of data, standard something like 650 Mbytes. This "standard" reflects a 74 minutes CD. 74 minutes stands for the audio playback time that will fit on such a CD.

The HELIX or TRACK of the CD determines the length or capacity of a CD. The helix of a CD can be seen as a huge spiral, starting at the beginning of the CD and ending at the outer edge of the CD. On this spiral a groove we used to have on old LP's. The longer this spiral or helix, the more "time" will fit on the particular CD.

There are some tricks to put more data on a CD:

  • Overburning or exceed the maximum described by the CD-manufacter. This way we can gain several minutes of extra "time" or space. Often this is limited to 2 or 3 extra minutes. The "overburning" trick is applicable on all CD's (74, 80, 90 and even 99 minutes CD's). Your CD-writer must support this, as must the software you are using.

  • 80 minutes CD's; The manufacturer managed to put an additional 6 minutes to the length of the helix.
    These CD's, rather common now a days, can hold up to 700 Mb of data.

  • 90 minutes CD's; The same thing for these, yet another 10 minutes extra. The problem with these is that not all CD-recorders and CD-players can handle them. A 90 minutes CD can hold up to 810 Mb of data !

  • 99 minutes CD's; A repetition of the previous story, even less recorders and readers can handle these. This type can hold almost 1 Gbyte (988 Mb) on a single CD !

What type of media are we going to use ?

Two basic types are available.
First of all the RECORDABLE (write once) and second of all REWRITABLE (write more than once).

The type of application determines which one to use (or your wallet for that matter).

In general REWRITABLES (CDRW) are slightly more expensive but very useable for backup purposes. RECORDABLES (CDR) are often used for Audio and Video CD's or CD's that never need changing.

In general burning CDR's takes less time than burning a CDRW!

Tip: if you have a DVD player that does not like CDR's, then you might want to try a CDRW. The reflection frequency of a CDRW is very close to that of a DVD, as a CDR's reflection layer does not match that frequency at all!


Choosing a CDR kan be based on the type of die used, which in turn determines the color of the bottom surface. CDR's come in several "colors";

- gold
- almost silver
- blue
- green

The substance used for the die layer determines the color and most of the time also the quality. A little program called CDR Media Identifier (download here - or visit the Homepage) identifies the substance used for your CDR or CDRW. Note that not every CD-recorder/player supports this feature!

My personal experience is that the gold and almost silver CD's are the best. Probably due to a better reflection, thus better protection for sunlight (UV),... I don't know for sure, I'm not an expert.


The selection is rather limited at the time, we slow discs (up to 4 speed) and fast discs (up to 10 speed). For the full use of the fast CDRW's you will need a writer that supports this.



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