Say you’re having a party and you want to have enough music ready for the whole night. Sure, you might have an iPod or digital audio player that you could hook to your stereo, but do you really want all of your friends’ grubby hands all over it? If you have a DVD player and a DVD burner in your computer there’s a simple solution – create an Audio DVD.
With DVD burners becoming a common feature in today’s computers, many people have the ability to make their own movies. But one often overlooked feature of DVDs and set-top DVD players is their ability to play audio discs as well. Since DVDs can fit about seven times more data than regular CDs, you can really pack a lot of music onto a disc. With an audio DVD burning program you can easily create a music disc, complete with menus, that can be controlled with your DVD remote.
Why would you want to have a DVD full of music? Think about the party scenario mentioned earlier – unless you have a remote for your iPod, you’ll be spending a lot of time tethered to your stereo, and with the tiny display you certainly won’t be changing tracks from across the room. You could also use an Audio DVD in your vehicle if you have a car or mobile DVD player. Instead of listening to CDs and dealing with swapping discs out, you can pop in an Audio DVD and have over 50 CDs worth of music.
We used two programs easily available in our Downloads section: “ApolloAudio DVD Creator” and the just-as-cleverly named “Audio DVD Creator.” Withboth programs, making an Audio DVD is as simple as starting a project, importing music, adding and/or editing a background, and creating the disc. The ability to add your own images to the title and background pages allows you to completely customize Audio DVDs for any situation. The software helps you organize music into folders (think individual CDs or playlists) and does all the behind thescenes work to allow your DVD remote to navigate through your music. Besides Audio DVD Creator and Apollo Audio DVD Creator, several disc burning utilities such as Nero have the ability to create Audio DVDs.
Audio DVD Creator
Apollo Audio DVD Creator
In our tests, we were able to create Audio DVDs with over 650 songs with each of these two programs. At an average of say, 3.5 minutes per song, that’s over 37 hours of music. If your parties go longer than this, now might be the time to check into rehab. The programs actually state that you can fit over 1000 high quality audio files per DVD, so you might be able to fit your whole music collection on only a few DVDs.
Both of these programs allow you to rip an audio CD to your computer or use existing digital audio files. Both support most audio formats that you can play on your computer including .mp3, Windows Media Format(.wma, .wmv, .asf), Real Media(.rm), OGG, FLAC, AC3 and AVI files.
If you want to add tracks from a CD, simply pop the CD in your drive and let Audio DVD Creator rip those files to your computer. Both programs have built-in links to the CDDB music database so they should be able to recognize most audio CDs and name the tracks accordingly. To add existing digital audio files simply use the integrated file browsers, select the CDs or tracks to add, and add them.
The process of making an Audio DVD is quite simple but it may take a while to author and burn the disc. Since many of the audio formats need to be re-encoded into the PCM or AC3 format that DVD players recognize, this takes a bit of crunching by your computer. With that said, we were able to make a 650-track Audio DVD with existing .mp3 files (192 VBR) in about 30 minutes.
Now there are a few caveats to remember here. First, an audio DVD is not the same as DVD Audio (DVD-A). DVD Audio is a very high-quality audio format that only plays on certain special (and more expensive) DVD players. DVD Audio discs are quite rare, as are the players that support them. Second, if you’re planning on making an Audio DVD for your car, make sure that your player allows you to browse through the DVD menu when your car is moving. Some in-car DVD players prevent screens mounted in the dash from being able to do this. And third, one thing we’ve all gotten used to in this digital audio age is the abilty to select playlists, and even make them on the fly. There’s no changing the order of tracks or selecting only a few songs to play with audio DVDs. You just pop the disc in, hit play, and let the music go. Good planning of your Audio DVD layout will help with this. You can put the music in any order you’d like when you author the disc.
It might take a while your first time, but once you get the process down creating an Audio DVD really is an easy project and one that can give you instant access to many hours of digital music.