How to create an audio CD from an MP3

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Recently someone asked me, “I have a lot of MP3 music files on my computer, and I would like to play them in my car’s CD player.  What software do I need to buy in order to create an audio CD?”  Great question – and this process is probably a lot easier than you think.  The best news is – you don’t need to buy any additional software, because everything you need is already installed on your Windows computer.

create audio CD

Here is what you will need to tackle this project:

1. First, you will have to get some blank CDs.  Please note – it is critical that you buy the right kind of blank CDs.  I’m not talking about a brand name.  I mean the type of CD.  You will have 2 choices: CD-R or CD-RW.  CD-R means “CD Recordable”.  CD-RW means “CD Re-writable”.  The only kind that will work for creating an audio CD is CD-R.  You can get these at most places that sell electronic items, or you can get a 100-pack from Amazon here:

Verbatim 97458 700 MB 52x 80 Minute Branded Recordable Disc CD-R, 100-Disc Spindle

2. Second, you need to have some MP3 files on your computer.  MP3 is a file format that means audio.  Music downloaded from the internet is often in MP3 format.  For me, I love to listen to audio books in my car going to and from work each day, so I download audio books in MP3 format and then burn them to CDs.

The software we will use for this process is something you are probably familiar with – Windows Media Player.

Windows Media PlayerI’m not going to go into all the details of what you can do with Windows Media Player, because that would be a lot of detail.  With WMP you can stream audio and video over the internet, play recorded TV shows, and of course play a variety of video and audio file formats.  Maybe that should be a post for a future date.

The good thing is that you already have Windows Media Player on your computer, because it comes with every version of Windows.  The version I am using for this example is version 12.

How to create an audio CD:

1. Open the window that contains your MP3 files, so that you can see the individual files on the screen.  For this example, I am using the “Sample music files” that you probably have in your Music folder:

sample music files

2. Now, open Windows Media Player.  On the right side, near the top, click the “Burn” tab:

burn audio cd with Windows Media Players

3. Insert a blank CD into your CD drive (if a window pops up offering you various options for the blank CD, just close it).

4. Now, drag your MP3 files from their window into the “Burn list” on Windows Media Player.  You will know where this is because WMP says “Drag items here”.  You can drag them one at a time, or you can select the whole list (Ctrl + A) and drag them all at once.  You should now see your files listed in the Burn List:

Windows Media Player burn list

You can see some valuable information here.  You will see individual times for each audio file, and the total time for this disc (in this case, 12 minutes and 1 second).  Each audio CD will hold up to about 80 minutes, so in this case I could fit quite a bit more on this one CD.

(What if the total of my MP3 files came to 120 minutes?  Easy!  Windows Media Player will conveniently divide up the files so that you can burn 2 audio discs.)

5. Last step is to click the button that says “Start burn”.  Your audio files will be put on the CD, and when it is finished, your CD drive should open and all you have to do is take out your new audio CD and label it (use a soft-tip Sharpie marker).  If your list is spread over 2 or more CDs, you can pop in the second one, wait a few seconds, then click “Start burn” again.

The CD that you just created should be playable in your car or any other CD (or DVD) player.  Of course, CDs are becoming an outdated technology so who knows how long this will be relevant. Eventually every car will probably just stream audio directly from the internet.

Note: if you use iTunes, you can use it to burn audio CDs also (different procedure though).

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