Here are links to various resources relating to CD media.
All of the sources cited in these pages are listed here.
Most of these are on-line resources that may be fully
accessed via the internet.
Lists of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) have been
compiled by various people. Though not tutorials, these
are good places to start browsing for the answers to
Andy McFadden's CD-Recordable FAQ
A widely-mirrored resource (though the mirrors are
often out of date). This link takes you the very latest
version. An excellent FAQ, that continues to be updated
regularly. Contains a vast amount of information (some
of it incomplete or possibly wrong) and many, many
AKL Technlogy CD-Recordable FAQ
An outstanding but little-known resource, written
authoritatively by AKL Technology, a manufacturer of
CD duplicators. I highly recommend this page for its
expert insights into the media differences and
practical tips for successful duplication. It contains
many hard-core details that are ignored, neglected,
described incorrectly or glossed over in other sources.
The CDDA FAQ by S.Addison
Not as complete or up-to-date as the CD-R FAQ, it
nevertheless is a good overview. This is where I
learned about some uses for the R-W subcode channels.
The references in this section are good sources for the
science, technology and engineering behind CD media.
University of Washington EE 498 Class Notes by
Professor Kelin Kuhn
Professor Kuhn has prepared a variety of useful notes,
some of which are the most detailed I have found on the
net. It was here, for example, that I learned that
"pits" are really "bumps" because they are read from
underneath. They are mostly from 1996 and 97. Check
A clickable image of a CD player
with fairly detailed explanations.
Audio Compact Disc -- An
Audio Compact Disk - Writing and
Reading the data
CD/ROM -- An extension of the CD audio
Michael C. Goodwin's notes on "Digital Audio CD and other Selected
Mr. Goodwin has provided a useful summary and
commentary on Pohlmann's Principles of Digital
Audio (PDA - see below). The notes on error
correcting codes (PDA chapter 5) and Optical Disk
Storage (PDA chapter 8) are particularly relevant. I'll
have to get my own copy of PDA some time...
"How Stuff Works" article on How
Do Compact Discs Work?
If you haven't ever visited the How Stuff Works
website, you need to go there right away. The CD
article is exceptionally readable, but the best parts
are the very cool animations on page 2.
"Mastering CD-Rs" by Richard
Whitworth, Tape Disc Business November 1996.
This has been my only source for some details of the
so-called ATIP information (i.e. the information
recorded in the pregroove). The same article appears
word for word (but harder to read and with at least one
new typo) in Optical Disc Systems, July-August
2000. But at least there's a picture of the author.
Recording to CD by Lionel Dumond.
A very nice article in the September 2000 issue of
webzine Digital ProSound. Mr. Dumond goes to great
lengths to clearly and simply describe how data is
encoded on an audio CD.
Disctronics' CD Technology Web Pages
CD manufacturer Disctronics has put up one of the best
on-line references for CD technology. Very concise, yet
surprisingly complete, I found it a valuable general
One can go crazy reading secondary sources, articles
derived from secondary sources, and restatements of
articles, etc. that either fail to explain certain
points, disagree with each other, or simply don't make
sense (e.g. the famous "0.03mm" pregroove wobble).
Whenever possible I try to consult the applicable
standards documents. Standards don't tell the whole
story, but they at least the part of the story which they
do tell is reliable.
Unfortunately, the basic CD standards documents are
proprietary (the color books) and are not readily
available. But some of these now have corresponding
public standards (e.g. ECMA-130), some of which can be
freely accessed via the internet. The biggest problem is
the lack of a public standard for the Orange Book, which
defines CD-R and CD-RW.
Philips CD Standards Page
This is the main source at Philips for choosing and ordering
the "color book" standards documents. Since these are
proprietary documents, getting them will require your signature
on a confidentiality agreement, plus some money.
Some of them (e.g. Orange Book)
may not be made available to you at all.
Nevertheless, the web site is a good reference for
learning what is covered in the various standards and
what is the latest edition.
- The European Computer Manufacturers Association
- ECMA has contributed significantly to the CD standardization process.
ECMA standards 119 and 130
document the CD-ROM physical and logical structure, as well as the basic
volume and file structures. ECMA-167 and 168 document the extended volume
and file structures that can be used with CD-R and CD-RW. All ECMA standards
are available in PDF form for download at no charge.
Standards Organization (ISO)
"The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from
some 130 countries, one from each country."
They are the primary organization for, uh, international standards
(gee, I guess they were well-named). The have an on-line catalog,
and everything costs real money.
Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
"The International Electrotechnical Commission is the international
standards and conformity assessment body for all fields of
electrotechnology." Most of the ISO standards that are relevant to
CD technology are done jointly with IEC.
The Orange Forum
"The Orange Forum was established with the objective of promoting the
dissemination of CD-R/RW drives, CD-R/RW discs and related hardware and
software products based on standards laid down in the Orange Book. The
organization is composed of 57 manufacturing companies."
The Orange Forum web site provides some basic tutorial material,
but its most memorable features are the many cute cartoons.
Principles of Digital Audio by Ken
Also known as "PDA". I do not actually own a copy (yet), but PDA
appears to be the standard reference for CD lore
(as well as much else), and was cited as the primary
source by several of the most detailed descriptions of
CD-DA encoding which I found on line. In fact, it is the only
book (other than standards documents) cited with any regularity
among on-line CD references. PDA is now in its
3rd edition, released 1995. Ken Pohlmann is the
director of the Music Engineering Technology programs
at the University of Miami, Coral Gables FL.
CD Handbook by Ken C. Pohlmann
"The other" Pohlmann book, The CD Handbook is
also cited from time to time. As compared to PDA, it
apparently includes much less about digital audio and
much more about data CDs (CD-ROM, CD-R, etc.). The 2nd
edition was released in 1992, so it would be getting a
bit long in the tooth. I have not actually seen a copy,
but it would appear to be a valuable reference.
The CD-Info Company's CD Bibliography
folks have provided the nicest print bibliography I've seen on line.
Besides ISBNs for all the books, it also includes useful comments
for most of them. This page also includes other useful links.
EMTEC CD-R and CD-RW Background and
EMTEC DataStoreMedia has put together a very concise
blurb full of useful information.
Bernie Adams' CD-Rs and how they pertain to Evidentiary
Use (Adams Magnetic Products)
Mr. Adams has written an excellent report on CD-R
longevity that not only draws on the Kodak experiments
but also includes experiments of his own. His review of
CD and CD-R technology is also quite good. Regrettably
some of his graphs are hard to read.
Philips CD-ROM General Information
This page includes a nice overview of digital audio in
general and the Compact Disc in particular. Parts of it
seem to be written for non-technical folks, but other
parts get very detailed. This is where I finally
learned the reasoning behind a "1-bit DAC". There are
some nifty animations. Be sure to follow the link to
the second page, it's easy to miss.
CD Media World
CD Media World is one of the best of the web sites that
offer generous dolops of CD information. Especially
noteworthy is the list of CD Utilities. This page
tells about a variety of useful utilities for reading
"secret" info about a given CD or CD-R. In particular,
check out CDR Identifier. Another valuable
contribution of CD Media World is their concise but
relatively complete discussion of CD-R Dyes.
The CD-Info Company
Another web site offering a variety of general CD
information. The most useful part to me was their
article on Media Longevity, mostly because of
the references that it included.
Art Munson article on CD-R Dyes at Tape.com
A brief but useful blurb. Includes pronunciations.
A discussion of CD Media in
Hardware-One's "Geek Forum".
This is a rambling, informal chat among, apparently,
non-native English speakers describing the pros and
cons of various CD-Rs, and referring to a variety of
sources. I got several of my best reference links from
this discussion. Note general acceptance of what appear
to be two common fallacies: (1) pthalocyanine is always
better than cyanine and (2) the CD-R pregroove
information is authoritative.
Roxio article, " Do Discs Degrade?" by Bob Starrett
"Roxio" is part of Adaptec, or affiliated with them in
some way. This article, dated November 16, 2000, is a
very short "whiff" of the issue. Bob includes some very
useful links, but the article itself is not very
scientific. A much better (and much lengthier)
reference is the one by Bernie Adams cited near the top
of this list.
There are three newsgroups that relate directly to
CD-ROMs and their ilk: