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Making a Good CD-R Master Disc

No matter how you go about creating your master disc, be sure to test your master thoroughly to verify the way YOU want it to perform. We do check the integrity of the master disc and disc format, but we do not check 'content' compatibility. TEST, TEST, TEST your disc thoroughly before submitting for a duplication or replication order. Your content is your own, you know how you want it to operate. We recommend testing your master on the different computers, operating systems and setups it is designed for to verify it performs the way you want it to. Make sure any software links, web pages, embedded pictures, etc are intact. There are too many formats, types of data, operating systems, etc to be able to guarantee your disc performs the way you need it to – all we can do is make good exact copies of what you give us.

How about some advice on the basic steps to make CDs suitable for mass distribution. There are many software packages available for CD burning or mastering. US Digital Media does not recommend any specific package over another. However here are some basic recommendations that can be used with various programs including ROXIO and NERO.

  1. Create your Masters on a CD-R using High Quality CD-R discs. You will want to burn your master disc at a slower recording speed. 32X is a good speed for both Audio and Data.
  2. Do not use a CD-RW disc, ReWritable’s make very poor masters and this type of disc would need to be converted to a regular CD-R disc which adds an additional charge. (RW Discs would effectively be an open master)
  3. For ease of use on most computers – always master Disc At Once (DAO) for both audio and data. For data CDs select the option for single track / DISC-AT-ONCE from your duplication software.
  4. Do NOT use multi-session unless this is required by your application. When given a choice of data mode, select Mode 1 or CD-ROM mode for data unless another mode is needed. Use Mode 2 CD-XA ONLY where it is required by your application.
  5. If multi-session is required, pay careful attention to whether the disc is closed or not. If the disc is closed / fixated/ finalized, no one will be able to add further sessions (i.e. add or delete files to the CD). If the disc is NOT closed, the recipient of the CD may add additional sessions or files, this is why all masters sent out for reproduction must be closed. Be sure to select the software option to ‘finalize’ or ‘CLOSE’ the disc, in your software it may be a spot where you check a button(s) with something like “No Further Writing Possible”.
  6. Do NOT use packet writing methods like Direct CD, Drag N Drop or UDF to produce CD-R masters for manufacturing. With packet writing, data can be written to a CD incrementally, instead of all at once. Because data is written to it a few files at a time, a packet-written CD will have multiple tracks and discontinuities in the data which make the disc un-suitable for manufacturing.
  7. Either label the master with appropriate CD labels or write on them with a felt tip marker only. Handle all masters carefully, both before and after recording. Touch them only by the edges and keep them free of fingerprints and scratches that can cause data errors. Package them for safe shipment.
  8. Send at least 3 CDR masters, this helps to ensure that we receive a good disc that has no errors or has not been damaged during shipping


What is the #1 issue with masters these days? Packet Discs, see numbers 3-6 above to avoid this issue and create a non multisession disc.
Any master sent for a Duplication or Replication order MUST be closed and complete!
There are additional fees for the USDM Creative Team to close any master for you, and this could delay your order.

Still have questions about your master disc? Contact one of our knowledgeable Account Reps at 1.877.992.3766 for information, or a custom quote on creating your master for you.