do burnt CD copys sound as good as originals?

I have several 2nd generation copies of music friends have burned for me & I'm just wondering....(these were burned off a laptop). I just got a burner for my personal computer installed & might make some compilations for roadtrips, etc. thanks for any input or tips...happy holidays & listening.
To me they do not. The ones I have burned on my computer are not as good as the originals as play on my system not the computer.
i have done many comparisons between copies and original cds. taking into account one's concept of what "better" is, my experience is that i prefer the original to the copy.

there have been some exceptions where a copy sounds less detailed and the original is a poor recording. usually the copy sounds edgier than the original.
As long as the copy is a "bit-for-bit" copy, then, yes, it would sound identical. You run into trouble when you rip a CD onto a hard drive as a compressed file (mp3) and then burn an audio CD later...once data is compressed fidelity is lost forever.
If done right, the copies sound far superior. But the there are certain things that need to be addressed properly: (1)The software used to rip the CD (load it onto the hard drive), where Audio Exact Copy (freeware) is far superiour to others,
(2) the quality of the CD extractor/burner drive, (3) the software used to burn, and (4) the blank CD, where some are better than others (Black Memorex are popular). There are a number of threads on this issue, both here on Audiogon and Audio Asylum, check it out.
I would love to make a compliation CD for evaluating components and for taking to shows, but my experience has been the same: the copies do not sound good enough. I sure it's possible to make great ones, however.
No difference...a digital to digital dub will cause no loss - you can make 1000 copies if you wish. Bob Katz and many many others have tested this.

If you are convinced that you really hear a difference then you might question the impartiality of your own skills at detecting differences between other components (amps, cables, IC's etc.) seems you have been "got" by the placebo effect (your expectations have framed your opinions rather than your observations).
i use copies in the car where it makes no difference to preserve my originals.
Like Arni, I think burns can sound better. I've ripped originals to Itunes while my Mac is powered by my PS Audio 300. Then I've burned to either Memorex black or gold Mitsui's that have been pretreated with Auric Illuminator using an external LaCie burner powered by the P300 once again. Burn speeds are no faster than 4x. When I take this amount of care, they often sound superior to the original cd. The comparisons are made to an Auric treated original FWIW.
A number of years ago I remember reading an article as to why copies can sound better than the original. I think that it might have been in Stereophile. I don't fully remember what the theory was, but it sounded reasonable. I think that it had something to do with the transition from pit to plateau on the data layer of the original being better defined on the copy. Certainly there are many people who report that copies sound better, although just as many report no difference.

To say that there is no difference merely because a bit for bit copy is being made is difficult to sustain. This argument should apply to all things digital. With this logic, all CD players should sound the same, and all digital cables since it's just bits that are being moved around. Well, we know that's not true, because the timing of the bits as measured by jitter can cause CD players to sound different. So more than bits comes into the equation.

I suppose the best thing to do is to give it a try and see if it works for you.
To say that there is no difference merely because a bit for bit copy is being made is difficult to sustain. This argument should apply to all things digital. With this logic, all CD players should sound the same, and all digital cables since it's just bits that are being moved around. Well, we know that's not true, because the timing of the bits as measured by jitter can cause CD players to sound different.

There actually is no difference in a digital recording and a digital copy of the same digital recording....jitter and different sounding CD players come from other factors like the differing clock accuracy, power supply and D to A circuitry between players. This has been proven many times over. Digital data storage is the basis for banking, communications and a whole host of modern data correctly copied (without errors) will perfectly preserve the original digital data - no loss and no difference.
That all makes sense, Shadorne, but I think that some of us have had contradicting experiences. I have a CD burner device, a Panasonic thing with two drawers. It's about 6 years old. When I use it to make compilations, they sound decidedly inferior to the originals. How come?
Shadorne, if you'd care to do some reading, has a twenty four page technical article on this issue. Or you can just Google "White paper on black cds," it will be the first hit to come up. The author goes into rather exhaustive detail, so I'm not going to try and paraphrase his theorems. Whether you buy it or not, it's interesting reading.
Take a look at this. If done right, I find that copies can sound better:
Could sound better or worse depending on the relative quality of the two physical discs - but chances are you will not hear much difference - unless one disc is poorly made, scratched, off-center, warped, etc. Such discs would create higher error rate and jitter maybe?? I get a lot of transport noise from some discs - burned copies do not exhibit such noise.
I must say I can't hear a difference either, i just thought it was my poor hearing. A different issue is CD life. I have heard origonals have a longer life expectancy than copies. This is due to the less permanent method of burning CDs in a computer, any thoughts?
Photon6 and Kmcarty,

Thanks for the link. I enjoyed reading the Genesis article. Clearly the author has encountered some kind of transport/burning problem. As the author states....according to the "data" it is identical, however, it sounds different => this can only be due to a problem reading certain types of "burned" disks on the transport being used.

Some early CD players had trouble with some types of "burned" discs and some lasers had trouble with some types of dyed discs- so this is entirely possible. Also, as the author states no compression or software errors/bugs can occur in the copy which case the copy is no longer a true copy. Given the unreliability of windows software and hardware compatibility, the complexity in some "burn" programs and the general infinity of permuations of hardware/ seems possible that Genesis ran foul of some technical compatibility problems somewhere.

However, these findings do not negate that a correctly executed digital copy of data should be identical to the orginal just means that some sets of hardware/software do not work properly together as they should.

Rather than blame all CD copying as a process fraut with some errors (patently untrue) it would be only fair to conclude that the author (and others) have encountered hardware/software bugs or compatibility problems somewhere in the reproduction chain. (not unlikely given the myriad of possible hardware/software combinations)
So how do you burn CD's "bit-for-bit" on a Windows system without compressing?
So how do you burn CD's "bit-for-bit" on a Windows system without compressing?

It will depend on the software and ensuring that the original file is not compressed. For example, iTunes has a setting in the preferences folder that is normally set to automatically compress any CD you stick in the PC and copy into iTunes (AAC format is the default, just like the iTunes music store)...obviously the setting needs to be changed so that there is no compression when copying an original CD. for iTunes downloaded music=> there is NO solution it is already compressed - so what you burn it to a CD audio format from what was downloaded from iTunes on your hard drive then it will definitely be inferior to the original CD that you might purchase, for example, at Amazon.
If you normally rip your CDs with Apple Lossless, should you change that to a non-compressed format for the CDs (or tracks) you wish to burn to new CDs?
If you normally rip your CDs with Apple Lossless, should you change that to a non-compressed format for the CDs (or tracks) you wish to burn to new CDs?

Apple lossless should not lose any information - this is one of the few commonly used audio compression algorithms that is NOT lossy. When you burn an audio CD it should give you a perfect redbook CD by converting teh compressed file to redbook (provided the apple software and burner are working fine)

Does anyone know how to edit songs for burning, such as to clip just a portion
of a song? I want to make some CDs for component evaluations and don't need
entire selections in many cases. Not something you can do in iTunes, is it?
Drubin, is there any chance that your panasonic dual tray CDR actually copies via the DAC and ADC rather than making a bit perfect copy ? This would certainly explain degradation. It would be a ridiculous design, but we are talking consumer electronics, and sound quality likely plays much less of a part than the simplest, cheapest design.

If I copy a CD by using my PC and treating it as a data disc and having the computer do a simple "dupicate disc" I can hear absolutely no difference from the original.

I'm with shadorne ... it should make no difference, unless the CD is badly scratched, and the computer CD-rom drive has better error correction capabilities than the transport in your CD player.
Interesting thought, Sean.
I have made a bunch of copies and playlists and I used to think the copies sound the same if not better, Then I upgraded my transport and today I think Original CDs sounds better.

There are some details; Black CDs sound a litle muffled in the highs, cheaper CD-r do sound worst. If you are really carefull and use EAC to rip and burn at 4X or even 2X then it will be very hard to tell the difference.

I did hear a test in the Genesis room at RMAF with a black CD against the original (Jazz at the Pawnshop) and the copy did sound better by at least a 10% margin!!!
That was the best setup I have ever heard BTW!!!

I guess If you are carefull enough and have the time for it you may be rewarded!
Me, I`m going back to the originals.
Absolutely identical!!!! Most comlpaints about dupes are due to using crap equipment, crap media and burning at too fast a speed. My dupes are as good or better than the originals. I walked into a high end shop one day and the manager tried to lay that line on me. I said not my dupes!! I challenged him to a blind test, he declined because there is no way he could pick the original except by sheer luck! I use an Apple G4 computer with an on board drive, and a LaCie external drive for DVD;s. I burn only at 1x sometimes 2x for dvd's The dupes turn out Identical and flawless!! I use any decent media like TDK or Verbatim for everyday use, and MItsui Gold cd-r's for the finest high quality music. Mutsui now has a Gold DVD, the first on the market, as far as I know. These disc used by MOBILE FIDELITY are superb! 300 year archival lifespan is incredible! Try or
Slow down, don't be in such a hurry!! I also use a Furutech disc demagnetizer(which I sell), which makes discs sound fantastic, If you're heavy into digital and burning, the Furutech is a must!!! Also the Cardas test disc is superb, I use it routinely to clean the up the signal path with its demagnetizer tracks 1&7. This might seem like fanatical overkill, but you will produce consistenly high quality dupes by using this routine!!

Good luck to all!!
If a copy is made correctly it could sound better than original. However, this is not an easy process.
I was wondering the same thing myself. What if my CD Drive in the PC is reading the disc and coverting to analog, transmitting that over the little chincy 3 wire (but totally appropriate for this application of course ;) ) left and right audio cable down to the sound card...and what if that is doing an ADC conversion on that before it gets to the HDD?
...the other day i was having some issues setting up an older PC for my son's iPod, and when I stuck a cd in to burn it, it went very fast (the little pending and complete icons ripped thru in sequence) fact it did nothing at did go to gracenote and read tht correct cd info, but i suspect that is all it did: read the header. The digital audio data was not imported.

I did some digging and got to a selection in windows NT 2000 that asked if i wanted to convert the cd to analog...i tried that no good either....but this is what led me to question the possibility of the machine going thru that laborious and noisy path to get the music onto the HDD...
Is there a way to force all digital (ie so the data coming off the CD passes thre the CD-DRIVE over the IDE cable, and into the soundcard...

no for my sons iPod, which will be 128kbps comressed audio files i could care less which way the data gets to the HDD, but for the Squeezebox player, i use EAC and rip to .wav files. IS THERE A WAY TO ENSURE THE DATA REMAINS IN THE DIGITAL DOMAIN(I guess I could unplug the 3 wire cable but that comes in handy for other purposes)?

sorry for the long rant
Does anyone know how to edit songs for burning, such as to clip just a portion
of a song? I want to make some CDs for component evaluations and don't need
entire selections in many cases. Not something you can do in iTunes, is it?

Here are some low cost tools bit there are many...
ACID Music Studio for PC
Garageband for MAC
Audacity for MAC
Cacophony (shareware for MAC also works but has limited functionality)
+...many others... try a google

Generally you need to convert things to a .wav file (PC) or an AIFF file (Mac) and then you can do what you like to make your own mix or "edit" version.

If you are serious then you might want Pro Tools (both MAC and NT Workstation options...this is serious stuff with many plugins that you can purchase)

Once you have a final set of .wav or AIFF files then you can import them into iTunes an burn them with this to an Audio CD....(of course there are also tons of other programs that will burn an audio CD use what is easiest for you)

Just make sure you work in 16 bit 44.1 Khz Stereo files and try to do as little manipulation as possible (even simple volume level adjustments can easily clip some digital data)

One thing you can do is check the data quality to start with....many modern pop CD's are ALREADY HEAVILY CLIPPED (i.e they actually hit the CD upper 16 bit limit or they have been deliberately soft limited to sound as loud as possible). This is easy to see on a PC or MAC screen. Of course, they sound BAD too! Why consumer associations like BBB do not go after an industry which sells CRAP like this is beyond me....perhaps a "Class Action Law Suit" is in order - make them reissue all the clipped CD's in properly mastered versions or refund a portion of the CD cost! (There are thousands out there. My personal survey is that more than one out of every two CD's of pop that I buy today have been deliberately clipped this way - this is criminal!)

And industry professionals wonder why CD sales are plummeting!!!

CD Loudness War
On Linn's website they mention that when burning a cd using a computer, some burning software, according to Linn, 'discards' or 'ignores' the Least Significant Bit, which may degrade the sound. I might have this somewhat incorrect - Check the CD FAQ at

Having said that, I can hear no difference between the copy and original. BUT my problem is that sometimes my Shanling won't play a perfectly good CD-R (whereas it plays fine on my Linn Classik).
To all those who say that a PC may not perfectly copy a CD I say this:


On Nero there is an option to make a duplicate of the original CD. This works no matter what is on the original CD, music or data. It is simply a bit for bit copy.

If you rip to the hard drive then burn to a CD it's hard to say for sure what happened to the data, but if you simply duplicate the original CD then you'll get a ...... duplicate.
Agree. Can you do this such that the duplicate ends up on the HDD (i am thinking in the network file player world)?
I think that is the intent of EAC (exact audio copy). IT reads the PCM (raw) from the disc and if you configure it, will emply error correction as well. I'm very green with EAC and as for help from you masters out there.

I have Roxio CD creator (an older version), and it too has a duplicate CD function...but it doesn't say what happens in the duplication process. Can I assume it's a bit-for-bit transfer?
Kudos to Shadorne for a superb post. I couldn't agree more. This new wave of so called "remastered" discs are pure garbage!!! They take a decent or even great original, compress the @#$* out of it, pump up the level, and try and pass it off as something new or better. This kind of sonic trickery only appeals to the ignorant masses, and has no place in the audiophile world! It's hard to believe that any artist or engineer could listen to this trash and think it's an improvement. The goal over the last 20+ years is to make CD's that sound better, not worse!! We've come too far to go backwards. Compression strips music of its emotional power and impact, that's why live music always blows us away, it's not just volume, but sheer dynamic power that keep us captivated!!

I am taking a stand though, I recently returned 3 CD's I bought from for this very reason. Thank god I still have the original versions!!
It's sad that I have to cringe everytime I load a new cd, wondering if they pulled this trick and ruined another piece of quality music!!
Same question, perhaps in another way... Do the BMG club CD's sound identical to their original counterparts?
If the "duplicate" feature works on data disks AND music CDs then it must be a bit-for-bit copy.

If it only works on music CDs it might not be a bit for bit copy.
I don't play any redbook that has not been carefully duplicated and not on a computer. I have found you have to consider the quality of your cdrs and your burner. And you have to clean both the original and the cdr. This is all a pain in the ass, but once experienced you cannot listen to redbooks straight out of the box.

I wish I could burn sacds but cannot.
Tbg, can you tell us your process and the equipment you use?
Drubin, I do so with some trepidation. But hey, this never stopped me before.

George Lewis is largely responsible for what I presently do although I use only the burner that he apparently drop-shipped and until recently his black cdrs. The lengthy procedure is as follows. Clean original and cdr with RealityCheck ClearDisk or AudioTop digital and treat the original with Jena Labs 3D-X and Nespa it at 120 seconds, burn the cdr on the RealityCheck burner, which has a highly filter power supply, treat the burned cdr with Jena Labs 3D-X and Nespa it, and finally use the Walker Talisman magnet for each playing.

I have done about 200 cds using this procedure, even though I suspect the future will see internet downloading and storage on computer hard drives.
Thanks. I had forgotten that you use a RealityCheck.
Does anyone know how to edit songs for burning, such as to clip just a portion of a song? I want to make some CDs for component evaluations and don't need entire selections in many cases. Not something you can do in iTunes, is it?

This simple editing can be done in iTunes, if you want to go on the cheap. In Get Info : Options, set the Start Time and Stop Time for the excerpt you want. Then run the Convert... command on that track (even if you're not changing the file format) and you'll end up with a copy only containing the excerpt, which you can burn to your demo CD.
The practical answer is that I doubt you'll be able to hear any difference that might pertain while listening in the car (unless you or your friends use lossy compression of the data to produce MP3 disks, or if the original source wasn't a CD but a compressed facsimile).

As far as the answer in theory goes, I've owned and tried a few different component CD-R recorders and blank media, and have found that audible differences certainly do occur. I don't burn copies on a laptop myself, but all the computer-burned copies I have been given by friends which I've later acquired an original CD of have sounded markedly inferior, but I can't say why since I don't know the details of how they were made. I do know that I've never made a copy myself which I felt sounded "better" than an original CD, but a good copy falls below the threshold of reliable distinguishability IMO.

[BTW, about another question raised above, I am sure that no dual-disk CD-R recorders convert to analog and back when dubbing, but the one dual-disk machine I tried -- a "pro" unit like the others I've had -- showed inferior copy fidelity at 1X speed than my single-well machines fed from my outboard transport, and worsened at faster copy speeds.]
What if......assuming you have the (theoretical) capability of bit perfect ripping and burning, then WHY NOT:

1) Make a duplicate copy of your favorite CD original.

2) Take that duplicate COPY and then rip and burn that.

3) Repeat step (2) for each SUCCESSIVE COPY until you've done it four times.

4) Invite two friends over.

5) Pour yourself and your friends a cordial helping of your preferred listening lubricant.

6) Take disc copies 1-3 from steps (2) and (3) and place them under the containers utilized in step (5).

7) Perform listening test to compare the 4th generation copy to that of the original.

8) Discuss results of step (7) relative to the topic of this thread.

9) Repeat steps (5), (7) and (8) as necessary until conclusive results are obtained.

10) Report results to this forum NO LESS than 12 hours after the performance of step (9).
Slothman, I have several times gone to a second generation copy and heard no benefits. Frankly, I have lost interest in going further. I don't understand why burners sound different, but I think cdrs vary as does cleaning them and the originals.
I have done much research and experimenting into this question.

My experience thus far; All the research and info on the web and at the libraries aproximates the comments on this post -- theroretically is should be possible to make an EXACT copy, in reality, most can hear a difference.

In my experimentations; I have used gold medical/archival grade CDRs, many different CD & DVD burners, burned at true 1X to many X speeds, have used Mac, have used PC, have used EAC, Nero, Max, etc software, and have even isolated computer parts (CD burner, PSU, motherboard, HD) and have used several types of shielded & unshielded cables within the computer.

I have A/B the products with the originals to family and friends. Audiophile, non-auudiophiles, young and old.

The results thus far: #1. I have had a few improvements -- in 100% of such cases the original CDs were from small-time producers from local/regional bands. #2. I have come across 100% failure in besting a original CD produced by a national/international producer (Sony, MFSL, Rhino, etc). #3. I have experienced very poor results in matching national/internation producer quality.

My two cents from my idea that I could burn all my CDs onto hard drive and Squeeze Box + DAC to the main system. After this year long craze of experimenting, I'm continuing on with ole factory CD - I'm not convinced...
use EAC(exact audio copy). google this program, download and set it up properly with the drive you have on your pc. This will make bit for bit copies that sound exactly like the original.
01-08-07: Jsouth72
use EAC(exact audio copy)

See posts by:

01-02-07: Jsadurni
01-04-07: Dpac996
01-07-07: Grateful

This topic was discussed with my friend recently.

My view is if you have a good equipment, media & software, its should be possible.

And do you know that the stuffs used by some illegal companies manufacturing pirated cds are much much more advance than some audio companies. This is what my friend told me.
Grateful, while I greatly disagree with your results in burning copies, even of bigger labels, I agree that once there are good dacs to convert music put on hard drives, it will negate what benefits there are in burning copies. I sent Vince Sanders of VRS a copy of a disk where he had the original. He heard a distinct improvement when played through his transport but none when both were put on the hard-drive. Until that time I will not play uncopied originals.

Jsouth72, long ago I use EAC to recopy some of my scratched cds. I did the job quite well largely hiding the scratches. I then reburned two on my separate burner and got a substantial improvement. There were several otherrs in the room that day. Also I must disagree with the implications of your post that cdrs do not matter. This is not the case with anyone that I know.

While at CES I heard the HP music server with music downloaded off the internet in lossless format. I had to leave the room because of the music. In particular the young demonstrators said that the Beachboys recordings were old and that what I heard was an exact copy of a bad recording. I heard a bad copy of a decent recording and could not take it. I think many are buying into the notion that an exact copy is an exact copy. In a bit by bit sense it may be true. In a played version, it is not.
While my results have been overall disappointing thus far. I must firmly agree that equipment and brand makes a big difference. I notice a 100% improvement in sound quality when I use a gold archive CDR or a black CDR as compared to standard CDRs. In fact, some standard CDRs were not even readable in my BAT supertube CD player - though the same CDR was readable in the car and other players. The CD burner makes a big difference also -- I have used several different models from Sanyo, Sony, HiVal, & Pioneer which produced poor results -- my best results have been with a old (1999 I think) TDK Velodyn burner -- but I hear great things about Yamaha burners (no longer produced) and I hear Plextor burners do a great job -- (though I have not personally heard any CDRs produced from a Plextor or a Yamaha). Additionally, I believe the PSU of many computers are pretty poor & noisy. A good PSU, such as PC Power & Cooling are less corruptive. Anyway - you can drive yourself crazy upgrading & experimenting with computer parts (cables, CD burners, hard drives, cases, shielding, etc.). I do believe there is a good combination out there somewhere
I have to say, in response to Grateful, that the differences I've heard among different blank media (including Mitsui gold) have been a whole heck of a lot smaller than the "100% improvement" variety...