Burning better CD-Rs from Mac/rec eternal burner

Before you jump on me about searching the archives, let me say that I have done so exhaustively and have not found what I need.

I want to burn a compilation CD for taking to audio shows and meetings, but I am always disappointed with the sound quality of CDs I burn from iTunes on my MacBook Pro. I rip with Apple Lossless, burn at slowest possible speeds, and have all the settings where they should be as far as I know, but the quality is still inferior. Good enough for the car, good enough to give to non-audiophiles, but sufficiently inferior to the original CD that I would not want to use them on a really good system. (Short story: a guy came to my house a few months ago to listen to some speakers I was selling. He brought a compilation CD he had made. The sound was really mediocre. Over his mild objection, I put on an original CD and he was stunned at the improvement.)

I know many of you do make compilation CDs and then there is the whole copies-sound-better-than-originals camp, so there must be a better way. Is the secret to get an external CD burner? If so, which? Plextor was a favorite, but they are out of that business.

I use a free-standing Tascam CD-RW700 I bought at least four years ago and get outstanding copies. In comparison, my computer copies are laughable. Part of the reason, IMO, is that the Tascam copies are 1x. Slow but sure :-) Good luck, Dave
Thanks Dave. Do you connect it to your computer and, if so, how?
No computer involved. I connect whatever source I'm using (phonostage, CD player, R-R deck, tuner) direct to the Tascam and use the Tascam's analog outputs to monitor the source while recording. Dave
I see. While that could be useful, what I really want to do is burn CDs straight out of iTunes.
Don't use iTunes just use regular CD burning software and drag and drop the titles and then burn making sure to keep the files in the same quality.

Your said "Don't use iTunes just use regular CD burning software...."

I use both Itunes and the Vista CD burner and get the same results either way. But you have me wondering. Is there something wrong with the Itunes CD burner?

Excellent question I've been wondering about too. Quality does not seem to suffer when making exact copies of a cd; only when burning a cd from iTunes; compilation or otherwise. I do not think it is the cd burner, but instead may be the actual iTunes software that is culprit. Might need more input from Mac user groups.
What would be "regular CD burning software" on a Mac, and would it allow you to make compilations?

This notion that iTunes is at fault is interesting and has serious implications for all who want to base a music server around the popular interface.
Your experiences do not coincide with mine at all. I use both a 12" Powerbook and an iMac and I have both Toast and iTunes. I've also got a LaCie external burner to use. Using either Mac and either software, I get excellent burned cd-r's with both the internal (Superdrives) drives and the LaCie. The LaCie might be slightly better, but I wouldn't want to take the "Pepsi Challenge" on that one. One difference, I never use Lossless. Many insist that it is supposed to sound identical to WAV files. I don't store music on my hard drives and don't care about file sizes, so I always burn WAV files. In import preferences, I use error correction and import in WAV. Burn speed is 2x. I also use either Taiyo Yuden or Mitsui cd-r's. If anything, I'd say burned cd's often sound better than the original discs.
In my last post I said "I use both Itunes and the Vista CD burner and get the same results either way." I should have said something like "I use Itunes and various other audio software for CD burning and get the same results."

As far as I know, Vista, XP and Leopard cannot burn audio CDs. I believe audio programs such as Itunes, Media Player, Toast etc must be used to burn audio CDs.

Rwwear, was it these types of audio applications that you were referring to as " regular CD burning software"? The reason I am asking is that if one of these OS's have the capability to burn audio CDs I'd like to give it a try.

Any clarification you can provide would be greatly appreciated.


There could be a case for you hunting down a cheap older PC/laptop with a CD-RW burner (not DVD/multi burner) and downloading the free EAC software ("Exact Audio Copy"), which as far as I know wont work on a Mac.

I use EAC on my Dell laptop (Win XP) and get indistinguishable CD copies. Find out more by typing EAC into a search engine.
When I said regular burning software I meant the software that came with your burner. I use Nero, Sonic Stage, Exact Copy or Veritas Record Now depending on the computer I am using.
Does anyone know if its possible to run EAC under XP on an Intel Mac, with good
My new laptop which uses Vista came with a version of Easy CD Creater and it works well. It also has Lightscribe which is kinda fun. I don't see anything difficult here.
Yes, well, the only thing that's difficult is getting good results for the discerning listener. At least that's been my experience, hence this topic.
Dan, could you tell us if you have experimented with any file type other than Apple Lossless? I know that mathematically, Lossless is supposed to be identical to WAV. However, listening to Lossless files makes me grind my teeth they sound so inferior to WAV. I can only surmise my Marantz Sa11S1 reconstructs the audio files differently if Apple is correct about Lossless being truly lossless. However, I heard things the same way on less resolving players than the Marantz as well. "Apple Lossless vs. WAV" is a topic that's been covered over at AudioAsylum as well.
I have not tried WAV but will plan to do so. Good suggestion.
Well the results I get are no different in sound quality than the original Drubin.
"Lossless" is just a word used by Apple to name their highest quality codec. It's still compression and there will always be a degree of "loss" audible, especially when converting back to an audio stream for a CD played on a high fidelity sysem.

I use Apple Lossless to rip and then burn audio CD copies for my kids (they tend to destroy originals) but for my own music I stick to EAC (which uses WAV files) with great success. I don't see why EAC shouldn't work on a Mac running XP.
Two questions:

Is EAC as good for burning as it is for ripping? Is there a better burning software?

Is an external DVD burner not as good as a external CD burner for burning CDs?
"Lossless" is just a word used by Apple to name their highest quality codec

Sorry, but this is rubbish. Lossless is exactly that - zero quality/data/bits etc. is lost in the process. The likes of ALAC and FLAC are lossless and are identical to their uncompressed counterparts (WAV and AIFF). It is like a zip file: compressed the data to a smaller size which then needs to be decompressed to use; but no data is lost anywhere along the way.
That's correct. The only possible caveat is that some people claim the un-compress processing can inflict a sonic toll if, for example, the processor speed on your computer is less than blazing fast. I can't confirm or deny this, but I chose to rip my collection in AIFF just to be safe. As computers get faster, this should become a non-issue -- if it isn't already.
Drubin - I use xAct for decoding compressed formats (FLAC etc) and SimplyBurns for ripping/writing. Quality is excellent and you can make compilations (just select "Audio" icon). I was switching ripping format to wav (habit from the past) but gave up and allow Mac's default AFAIK. Both programs are free.
Drubin - it is also possible that you use poor CD-Rs. Try Taiyo Yuden (suprmediastore.com) considered the best and longest lasting (lowest number of errors). They inveneted CD-R and started production in 1988.
Thanks for the tips, Kijanki.