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Beginners Guide to Physically Shipping Your Own CD

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

The following is an article written by one of our customers.

It gives an overview of a band looking at the different ways of  selling their cd’s to fans, outside of selling them at gigs.

Read the original article here: http://blog.samrussell.co.uk/physically-ship-cd/

Getting started releasing my own music was a learning curve. Not only did I have to write all the music (which was fun!), but I had to look at everything that a record label traditionally does, and take figure out how to implement it myself. One aspect was figuring out how to ship a CD. I looked over the different options and figured out a solution that works for me.

I’ll give you a quick overview of those options and why I chose the method that I did.

Options for shipping a CD

There are three options available to you:

  • Drop shipping
  • Third party fulfilment
  • Self-fulfilment

I’ll quickly outline what these different options are:

Drop shipping

Drop shipping is when a third party company creates and ships a product on a per order basis. For example, let’s say Fred buys your record. Your drop shipping company will print a record just for Fred, and ship it to him.

Drop Shipping Pros

  • You have to do almost nothing
  • Everything is automated
  • Low upfront costs

Drop Shipping Cons

  • Per unit cost is expensive, so you make less profit per sale

Duplication Centre addition: Our sister company can offer this service, please visit www.thedigitalpublishingcenter.com for more information.

Self fulfilment

This is when you take care of every aspect of order fulfilment yourself. Your turn your office / bedroom / house into a warehouse to store and ship your records / merchandise. If you choose to do self-fulfilment, then you need to consider:

  • Online purchasing system / storefront
  • Product manufacture
  • Packaging
  • Posting
  • Upfront costs

So as you can see, there is already a lot for you to consider.

Online purchasing system

How are your users going to buy your CD online? You could use third party solutions such as Bandcamp or Shopify; or you could use a solution which integrates with your own website, such as Woo Commerce. Both have advantages and disadvantages depending on your situation and what you want to achieve. I’ll write an article in the future about these options. I’ve tried Woo Commerce and Shopify myself, and personally, I prefer Shopify.

Product manufacture

You need to find a company that will physically create a CD for you. When it comes to CDs, you have two options:

  • Duplication
  • Replication

Duplication is for small jobs (usually up to 1000 copies). This is the same process as you would use to ‘burn’ a CD on your home computer, on a more industrial scale. Duplication also has a fast turn around time.

Replication is for bigger jobs (500 units upwards) and while it has a higher setup cost than duplication, at higher volume it is cheaper. Replication involves creating a glass ‘master’ disc and then physically stamping blank CD. It takes longer than duplication.Please see our sister company  www.replicationcentre.co.uk  for more information on this.

The best company I have found in the UK for duplication is The Duplication Centre. They usually ship my order within a couple of days and they give things a once over to make sure the order is ok. They also keep your order on file, making it really fast and easy to get a second printing done. If you sign up to their mailing list, they usually send out some special offers for free extra units every few months.

If you are in the UK, they are highly recommended and you can check them out here. Check them for yourselves – their policy or approach may have changed since writing this article.

Packaging

How are you going to post your CD? You need some sort of packaging. You want to balance having something low cost, with having something that can protect your product – if your CD turns up smashed, scratched or damaged; even if it isn’t your fault, your fans will be pissed off.

The best packaging solution I found are card wallets from lil packaging. They are durable, protect from light impact, scratches and drops. They also ‘expand’, so you can put a thin card wallet promo CD in, and have a slim package; or you can put a full size jewel case in there and the card wallet will ‘expand’ a bit. Check out the photos.

Finally, they are pretty cheap per unit, and the price per unit crashes with scale. Check out low cost durable packaging for your CD here. Price per unit is anywhere from 30p/unit to <1p/unit depending on the quantity purchased.

Here are some photos of what the CD mailers look like (got a big box of 150 I think it was, to hit the price break and get a cheaper per unit price):

 Posting

There are a few options for this. For most people getting started, taking a bag of packaged CDs down to the local post office is probably the best solution. Get yourself a sharpie and write the addresses on the front of your card wallets by hand. You will want to check postage rates so you don’t get any nasty surprises and set up your shipping on your website / online store appropriately.

A great way to check the weight of your item is to grab a cheap set of digital weight scales that are accurate to roughly 2g (and if you use imperial will switch to ounces). Then you can accurately measure the weight of your CD / merch and make sure you don’t get any surprises at the Post Office.

Upfront costs

As you might have noticed, one aspect of self fulfilment is that, when compared to drop shipping, there are upfront costs to handle. Rather than having a CD made per order, you now have to buy 20-100 units at a time and the packaging to go with them… and your sharpie. So you start to need a bit of capital. However, you will find that your profit margin is much, much higher per unit, than drop shopping.

You should be able to get the CDs created and packaging for less than £3 per unit, so if you are selling your CD for £10-£15, that is a profit per unit of £7-£12.

Self fulfilment pros

  • More profit per unit – this is a LOT cheaper than drop shipping, so for a given product price, you will make much more money
  • You can customise the user experience more
  • Better control over data

Self fulfilment cons

  • Your house turns into a warehouse
  • You have to do more planning, to source your products and packaging.
  • You have to pay a lot more upfront

Self fulfilment conclusion

While it is a bit more work, this is probably the best way for most musicians getting started to go. The work involved is not really that much at all, and you make more money per sale.

Third party fulfilment

Third party fulfilment involves setting up your own supply chain. This is similar to taking self fulfilment, and taking it to the next level, turning it into a miniature business. You take your manufacturer and you connect them to a shipping company, or, you take self fulfilment and you pay someone to run it for you. Paying someone to run your self sfulfilment is pretty simple so I’ll give you a quick overview of third party fulfilment using an external company.

Orders come through from your website and are automatically sent to your shipping company. The manufacture(s) ship directly to your shipping company, who put your items into warehousing. Shipping company takes incoming website orders, takes the appropriate items from the warehouse and boxes them up (this is referred to as “pick and pack”) and ships to the consumer. They sometimes have in house packaging solutions, so you don’t have to worry about that either.

A third party fulfilment will typically charge you a warehousing fee and a ‘pick and pack’ fee.

Third party fulfilment pros

  • If you have the order volume, you can scale to huge levels
  • You still keep a high profit margin per item
  • Automated, so you have very little to do. Shipping 10,000 units per month with this method will be less work than shipping 100 units a month with self fulfilment.
  • Postage is cheaper. The shipping company gets preferential shipping rates that are much cheaper than you can get at a Post Office, due to the volume they do.

Third party fulfilment cons

  • You have to be highly organised with stock management
  • You have a lot of costs to organise and figure out
  • You have to organise two companies to work together
  • You have to integrate your order platform with the shipping company
  • You need to be shipping a high volume of products to make this worthwhile

Conclusion

I would have thought for most independent musicians (if you have a record label, all this is taken care of for you), starting with a self fulfilment model and then ‘graduating’ to a third party fulfilment model will work best for you. I’m still in the self fulfilment phase.

Recommended Companies

This is a quick round up of the companies I’ve used that offer a great service with a great price (that are UK based):

lil packaging

These guys offer solutions for all your packaging problems, not just CDs! They do boxes for shipping your merch, boxes for books, boxes for this and that. They got you covered. A vital company for any band (or individual, small business) shipping their own products. Check them out

Duplication Centre

Whether you want card wallet CDs, digipaks, jewel case CDs, these guys have you covered. Their website looks a little bit old school… but it works. You can get a fully customised quote in minutes. Price per unit decreases with order volume which is nice. Check them out

The Blu-Ray

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

The Blu-ray Disc founder group was started in 2002 by MIT and nine leading Electronics Companies: Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, Phillips, Thomson, LG Electronics, Hitachi, Sharp and Samsung Electronics.

 

The name is taken from the blue laser that is used to read from and record to a Blu ray disc, the blue laser allows for a much higher density and hence a larger storage capacity and so the Blu-Ray disc is a digital optical disc data storage format.

It was designed to supersede the DVD format, and is capable of storing several hours of video in high definition (HDTV 720p & 1080p) and Ultra High Definition Resolution (2160p).

Although the Blu-Ray disc looks exactly the same as a DVD in size and shape there are many differences between media including storage capacity,laser technology and disc construction,image resolution and player compatibility.

The Blu-Rays storage capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB), like computers and ipods.

Storage Comparison:

DVD Single Layer: Can store about 4.7GB data which is about two hours worth of movie at Standard Definition…these are commonly referred to as DVD 5’s.

DVD Dual Layer: Can store twice the amount of data at 8.7 GB which equals about four hours of movie at Standard Definition ….these are commonly referred to as DVD 9 ‘s.

Blu-Ray Single layer: Can store approximately 25Gb data, this equals about 2 hours of High Definition Information or 13 hours of Standard Definition Information.

Dual Layer Blu-Ray :can store about 50GB data which is about 4 hours of High Definition Information or 26 hours of Standard Definition.

Laser Technology

Lasers are used in both DVD and Blu-ray technology .As the disc spins the laser reads the information stored on the discs and transfers both the picture and the sound to the television.

DVD: DVD players use a red laser at 650nm wave length to read DVD discs

Blu-Ray : Blu-Ray players use a Blue laser to read the stored information; the wave lenghts are shorter than the red at 405nm and are smaller in diameter, this allows for a closer and more precise reading of the information on the disc.

Disc Construction:

Physically DVD and Blu-Ray discs are the same in appearance:both have circular tracks on their bottom layer that enables the laser to read information stored on the spinning disc.

The tracks on a DVD are much further apart than on the Blu-Ray; you will see that it follows from this that the amount of information that can be stored on each type of disc is different; the Blu-Ray having the far greater storage capacity.In short a Blu-ray can squeeze about 5 times as many tracks onto the same size disc as a DVD.

Both DVD and Blu-Ray have a protective layer designed to resist scratching; the Blu-Ray in addition has a hard coating that makes it more scratch resistant.

Image Resolution

This is measured by the number of vertical lines times the number of horizontal lines of light in a picture.It is represented by the number of horizontal lines going across the screen like 480, 720 or 1080.The higher the number, the higher the resolution the more detailed the picture you see.

DVD: Almost all DVD’s have standard definition of 480 or enhanced definition of 520.This look ok on a standard television,utilising all the available pixels on the screen. If however this is blown up to a large HDTV the picture may look grainy.

Blu-Ray: The Blu-Ray was designed for the high definition 1080 display….since they can store 25 GB data you can fit a whole High Definition movie on a single layer. Blu-Ray currently has the best image resolution on the market and looks amazing on HDTV, they are one of the only sources that display in 1080.

Player Compatibility:

Happily Blu-ray Players support DVD’s and the image will be decent but obviously not the high definition quality of a Blu-ray.

Due to the  larger lasers used in DVD players they it cannot read the tiny grooves on a Blu-ray disc.

In short you can play a DVD in a Blu-ray player but you cannot play a Blu-ray in a DVD player.

 

Lastly and very importantly Blu-Ray can handle 4K (Ultra HD)...we don’t need an new type of disc for our new TV’s; you can have it all with the Blu-Ray !

What Is Digital Rights Management?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is a set of user access control technologies used to protect
the intellectual property contained in copyrighted materials from unauthorized use or theft.
Although DRM is widely used today, its history has been fraught with controversy. Although
record companies, publishers and other content providers claim it is necessary to protect
themselves against bankruptcy due to online piracy, its critics contend that it stifles innovation
and inconveniences users, while failing to actually protect against piracy.

In essence, DRM attempts to limit how a consumer can use a product after purchasing it. This
limitation can take the form of controlling access or preventing the user from copying the
material. This is typically achieved by encryption or tag embedding within the copyrighted
material to prevent it from being freely reproduced. Although this keeps users from copying
material and uploading it to file sharing services, it also prevents them from making personal
backup copies for their own archives, an activity which does not explicitly violate the law.

DRM can encompass many different technologies, from CableCard access limitation on cable
television to copy protection on music CDs. One of the earliest widespread uses of DRM
technology was the content scrambling system used in early DVD movies. It essentially rendered
all DVDs unplayable, except on players made by companies that had licensed the content
scrambling technology on their machines.

Within a few years, hackers had found their way to compromise the process and it was no
longer feasible. Although new DRM technologies have also come along, hackers are continually
working to crack them. Part of the limitation on media encryption is also due to legal limitations:
materials exported from the United States cannot contain advanced cryptography at the
level used by the government, because it would present a national security risk were it to be
compromised and fall into the wrong hands.

The main problem with DRM in its application is that it is not immune to hacking. Although
DRM prevents users from copying files to spread, hackers have sidestepped DRM technologies
time and time again. For example, the copy protection technology that was once commonplace
on music CDs not only prevented users from burning the discs to their own personal hard drives,
but even from playing the discs on their computers or in their cars in many cases.

Many consumers were understandably angry over not being able to legitimately use materials
they had paid for without any prior warning of its limitations, and hackers quickly found their
way around the technologies – which in some cases was as simple as marking the “protected”
discs with a black Sharpie. In the end, only the law-abiding users were inconvenienced, and the
law-breakers still found a way to pirate material. And in the world of peer-to-peer file sharing,
all it takes is one single user cracking a DRM technology to spread the material to millions of
others.

Although DRM shows no sign of disappearing since its introduction in the late 90s, it will never
be perfect or beyond controversy. In essence, it bears the same limitations of measures designed
to control the smuggling of guns, drugs or any other restricted material – only those who abide

by the law will be restricted, and outlaws will continue to defy it. As long as there is money to
be made in pirated intellectual property, tech companies and publishers will always be racing to
keep up with the pirates.

Recovering Data Contained on Damaged Discs

Monday, March 11th, 2013

If you have a collection of discs it is almost invariable that some of them will become damaged over time. If your discs do suffer from defects such as scratches, chips, cracks, spotting, or degradation, it may be possible to rescue the data contained on them.

Your first attempts to recover your data should involve a personal attempt to solve the problem. You may spend a little time, but it’s much more affordable to give recovery a shot yourself before paying someone else to do it.

A number of programs have been created over the years which help users of different operating systems to attempt to restore data lost on optical discs. These each work in different ways, but it is very common for very slow low level passes over difficult to read sections of a disc to be used to piece together the data puzzle. When using discs with physical damage (such as cracks or chips), make sure to pay close attention to the recovery process at all times as damage to your drive may result if a disc shatters under the rotational force of the process.

A couple of commonly used Windows programs are CD Recovery Toolbox and Roadkil’s Unstoppable Copier. For linux operating systems ddrescue is a solid option that uses a command line interface. For a variety of Oses (including MacOS) dvdisaster is available, and the bonus for this program is that it can be used as an advanced recovery method, generating data profiles on your media to allow you to have an easier time recovering if anything does happen to a disc after it has been profiled.

Many other options can be found at Wikipedia (some of the programs on this page only deal with non-optical media, so read carefully) or by searching the internet. When using any program, be sure to read the manual carefully in order to give yourself the best possible chance of recovering lost data, and to ensure that you are not attempting to do something the program is not designed to handle.

Professional services can restore from damage of a much more severe nature. Discs that have literally been snapped in half or otherwise shattered can be read by specialized labs. These companies are also your go-to solution when personal computer based solutions fail. Many major cities have businesses that specialize in data recovery. Your search for further assistance should start close to home to save on shipping fees and to minimize potential further damage which can be incurred when mailing discs. If you do not have a good local business, check online for options.

Actual data recovery fees vary widely by the amount of damage, the volume of discs you need restored, and the business you choose. Reputable businesses will offer you a consultation before you pay them. If the company you get in touch with does not, look further.

Going Digital: Converting from VHS to DVD

Monday, February 18th, 2013

There’s a growing number of people who are unable to access their library of VHS video
footage. Players for the old tapes have become increasingly scarce, and loss of quality based on wear
and tear is a real issue with the old medium.

Converting from VHS to a digital video format and saving all of those precious memories on
DVD disc is something that isn’t that difficult to do. It is often possible to handle the conversion at
home with a fairly minor outlay of capital. There are also numerous professional conversion companies
whose facilities have all the tools in them to handle updating a collection to a digital format.

DIY Conversion

There are four components to converting VHS to DVD in a home environment. The first is the
computer with a DVD burner, which costs from $300 on up without a monitor. The second is a player
for the tapes; something that runs $40 plus excluding a TV. The third is a cable to make a connection
from the VCR to the computer; a piece of hardware which may be bundled with software and costs $25
and up. The final component is a piece of conversion software; something with a starting price of free.
Even including a cheap TV and monitor it would be possible to get a conversion setup for around $600.
For those with most of the equipment already, you might spend just $25 plus the (low) cost of blank
DVDs.

Setting up to do the conversion is fairly simple. You just set the VCR and TV up then use the
cable to connect the VCR to the computer. On the computer you install the software. Put the tape to be
converted in the VCR, the DVD to be burned in the optical drive, and then utilize the program to first
transfer the digital video, then (either using the same program or a DVD authoring program) burn the
DVD. The exact specifics will vary depending on your setup, but that’s the gist of it. Simple, and not
terribly expensive.

Getting Expert Help

In the event that you want to avoid your own time and materials to handle the task, there are
plenty of professional services available. Most major cities have businesses which can handle the
conversion of VHS to DVD for a flat fee per tape. Some of them offer video cleaning services which
will enhance the quality of the videos before they are put on tape. This is something that is available as
a DIYer, but is a bit more complicated and might be better left to professionals if it’s something you’re
interested in.

Fees for these services vary by business, and you have to balance the convenience of a local
business with potential price savings available online. If you’re lucky enough to live near a business
with great per-tape prices and a solid offering of video cleanup services, your choice will be easy.

Bear in mind that professional services can offer conversion to DVD from other sources than
VHS. Many will scan photos or negatives, handle 8mm film, and work with MiniDV or Hi8. A good,
professional conversion service is generally very well-rounded, and can help you update your family’s
entire history to an appropriate digital format and store it on DVDs.

How to Safely Clean Your Disc Drivers

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Most commercially manufactured disc drives are sturdy and able to perform well with little maintenance. However, if you have a drive for a long time or use it in a workspace with excessive dust in the air (such as in a factory, on a job site, or in an arid climate), it’s probably a good idea to clean it out occasionally. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that cleaning should be a routine though. In this case too much of a good thing is a real issue, as cleaning a drive can result in damage over time.

When a disc drive gets too dirty, it can suffer from increased loading time, skip, or –in extreme cases–  even damage discs. Telltale signs that it’s time to clean your disc drive include an increase in noise as the disc spins and a marked decrease in performance regardless of which disc you attempt to play. If only one disc is loading slowly or skipping then it’s probably the disc that is scratched. If they’re all slowing down then it’s most likely an issue with your drive.

Your first course of action for cleaning out a drive should be to blow air into it. Do not blow with your mouth as doing so will send saliva into the drive. Though a hair dryer with a cool setting can be used, it is too inaccurate for this task. Short, controlled bursts are the best way to clean out a drive and not just move dust around. For best results you should use a can of compressed air or an air bulb.

If you’re feeling brave, you can also take the drive apart and clean the lens yourself. This can damage delicate components and will likely void your warranty if the product is still covered. It’s probably best to take your drive to a repair shop if you do feel the need to do something invasive. A better option is to buy some extra-long cotton swabs, apply rubbing alcohol to one, and insert it directly into the drive to clean the lens. This can be difficult to do correctly and you still have to be somewhat careful, it’s still safer and less involved than taking the drive apart. Determining where the lens in your drive is may be made easier by looking online for the specifications of your unit.

Perhaps the easiest manner to clean a drive is to buy a drive cleaning kit. These are made by many manufacturers and most cost under $20. Each cleaning kit works slightly differently so you’ll need to follow the individual instructions that come with your package.

A comprehensive, professional cleaning at a computer repair shop normally provides the best results. This can be monetarily expensive and will also cost you a day or more of down time as you wait for the cleaning to be carried out. With that in mind, the above methods are good first steps if you find yourself in possession of a poorly functioning disc drive. So before spending the money to have it taken apart and professionally cleaned, you should at least consider trying these simple at-home cleaning methods.

Great Gift Ideas Using Discs

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Gifts which have been put together by hand have long been considered by many to be more thoughtful than those just purchased from the store. In the modern world it is possible to create some great digital gifts and put them on a CD or DVD disc in order to give them to your friends, co-workers, or family members. Take a look at these four ideas:

1. A Photo Album

Classic photo albums have been a gift for years. With the advent of computers and in particular digital photography we now have the ability to put a large number of photos onto a disc. While a classic album might have had room for twenty to a hundred photos, you can fit far more images than that onto a disc. So there’s no need to agonize over a choice between the picture of your sister getting soaked by cousin John doing a cannonball at the pool, or the one of her chasing him in the parking lot. You can add them both to the gift, and still have plenty of room for those pictures of her solo at the jazz choir concert.

2. A Music Compilation

Long ago people used to make each other mix-tapes, but now you can make a compilation on disc from all the music you want to share. You can choose from making a disc which will run on a normal CD player (which will get you about 70 minutes of music), but many players now offer the ability to play digital MP3 files as well. This means you can put a huge number of songs on a single disc.

3. A Video From a Special Event

With digital video incredibly commonplace on phones and hand held recorders making a chronicle of an event can be a lot of fun. A great idea for a wedding is to encourage all of your friends and family to film away with their own devices, and to send you the videos they take. A little editing and piecing together of the pieces can make for a fabulous gift to send everyone with  (or even as) the thank-you cards. Video recordings from all kinds of events can be a great way to let people relive memories, or keep them connected when they’re far away.

4. A Collection of Keepsake Messages

Life is full of milestones, and sometimes it’s a great idea to commemorate them with messages from friends, co-workers, and loved ones. Graduations, promotions, retirements, enlistments, and more. The list of special events in our lives go on and on, and making a compilation of video messages from yourself and others related to an important day in someone’s life can really let them know just how you all feel about them.

All of these ideas require a bit of software and some knowledge to implement, but they don’t have to cost much to make, and they have a great deal of sentimental impact when done properly. So if you’re looking for a great idea, consider one of these four ways to make use of discs. You’ll be giving someone a gift they’re not going to forget.

Giving Your Discs That Finishing Touch

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Plenty of ways to tighten up your presentation of the discs you create exist, but there’s none that can look quite as nice as putting a design on the discs themselves. In order to do this, however, you will need to secure the correct materials.

You have a number of options available to you. One is to purchase a specialized piece of hardware called a thermal printer. These print on lacquered discs and produce results that are permanent. Inexpensive thermal printers are often only able to do limited printing, however. It is not until you lay out a large amount of money that you can print complex images, and printers that can handle color images are even more expensive than those restricted to monochrome.

Another option is to use labels which are printed out on an ordinary printer and then peeled off and applied to the disc. This is absolutely an option which will allow you to print in full color and give your discs an interesting look for relatively little money. It has a major downside in that labels will eventually peel, and this is not at all good for disc drives. But if all you are looking for is a very affordable way to make discs look good and you have no real longevity requirements, this is a great way to do it.

It is also possible to print directly onto discs using a number of commercial inkjet printers. These printers frequently offer a kind of tray used in the printing of discs. They require special printable media, but these inkjet printable discs are made by many good manufacturers. The largest problem with these discs tends to be that the inks can smear before they are dry or during use. You can use a printer cartridge with pigment inks to avoid this. It is also possible to use a clear fixative spray to put a thin layer over the ink, though when done poorly this can look very spotty, so use caution. All-in-all this is a very good way to handle your finishing needs for a relatively low cost.

No matter how you choose to finish off your discs you will find that each of these methods lends a more professional look to your projects. It doesn’t matter if you are making your discs for business or pleasure, a snappy end result is always something to take pride in.

Backing up your CDs and DVDs with Disc Imaging Software

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Sometimes you need to ensure that data on a CD or DVD is safe. The best way to protect against any kind of damage that might take your discs out of action is to make an image of them as a backup. An image is simply a complete copy of all the information contained on a disc.

Disc images come in many formats. ISO and DMG (Mac) are the two most common, but there are many others which may be used depending on which program you choose for your imaging needs. In the end it doesn’t really matter that much what format you use, as the program you choose will allow you to manipulate it later.

Picking out a piece of software is usually a matter of deciding what you need it to do, and how much you’re willing to pay. As a basic, free Windows utility you can usually do well with is ImgBurn. Mac users will love Disco which is free using the license code posted on the main page of the site. As with many other types of software, Wikipedia provides a list of other options.

Once you have your chosen piece of software installed, it’s generally extremely simple to proceed. Most image burning programs offer a simple user interface which will guide you through the process of choosing an image format, selecting your disc source, and choosing an output. Generally you have the option to save your image file to your hard drive, or copy it to another disc.

Once you have your image, you just need to determine how you want to store it. There are far more a few ways to go about storing images you create, of course. You can burn a new disc with an image you have created, store it on your computer, move it to another system, throw it onto a USB flash drive, or even take the time to upload it onto a cloud solution.

What are the Best Recordable CDs (CD-R) on the Market?

Monday, August 6th, 2012

First off, it is important to realize that the best is always a subjective concept, and that no matter what advice you receive, you’ll need to remember this rule: trial and error using the equipment you intend to use under the conditions you expect the discs to be able to withstand is the most reliable method of determining what works best for you.

With that out of the way, there are absolutely certain things which can be said for recordable CDs in general. The first is that you should never consider the CD-R a viable long term storage option. By their very nature, CD-R media degrade over time. While manufacturers will claim extreme shelf life, the truth is that most will degrade in 5-10 years. Some poor quality discs will last far less time than this. This is particularly true in extreme environments such as heat, damp, or cold.

While the available data on CD-Rs is too immense (thousands of reviews, tests, and opinions are available, some more objective, others wholly subjective) to attempt to even summarize in table form, it’s very possible to shine a light on some of the most common recommended brands. Each of them has been cited for quality. Though some are more durable and others more reliable (even among different types of CD-Rs within brands) all of these brands maintain a high standard across the board, and have been suggested time and again by multiple sources.

Often-Recommended (alphabetical):

Mitsui, Taiyo Yuden (the author’s favored brand, sometimes also labeled as JVC), and TDK. (Note that Fuji, HP, Philips, Sony, and Yamaha all generally re-brand disks from these three manufacturers, and are also reliable as a result.) Pioneer and Ricoh are second-tier recommendations, and should also be considered worth looking at.

There are also manufacturers who produce discs that are most often cited as being troublesome. Unless otherwise unavoidable it’s wise to steer clear of them.

Best to Avoid (again, alphabetical):

First and foremost: do not use “no-name” discs no matter how little they may cost. (Unless you can confirm that they’re from one of the manufacturers above, but that’s rare.) Otherwise, definitely be wary of discs from CMC Magnetics, Fornet, Gigastorage, Hotan, Lead Data, Hotan, Maxell, Memorex, Princo and Verbatim.

If a brand is not listed above there is a reasonable chance that it is a middle of the road option and should be considered potentially viable if other recommended alternatives do not present themselves.

Finally, it’s wise to remember that not all CD-R’s are created equal within a brand. There are exceptions, particularly within the recommendations to avoid. Usually these are higher-priced CD-R’s from a specific brand. (Though a higher price is not always an indicator of quality, there are many CD-Rs on the recommended list to be had for low prices.) It is important to note that in general these are no better than a typical CD-R from the recommended brands.

But following the rule we started out with, if you can secure a small variety of discs to test on your recorder(s) and player(s) before making a large volume purchase (which is always the best way to go about acquiring CD-Rs as the prices are very compelling) it can help you narrow down this broad field.

Best of luck finding your best CD-R.

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