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CD Text – what is it and why can’t I see it on my computer

CD Text has to be one of the most misunderstood and poorly explained concepts in the world of music. For the life of me I wish someone would eliminate the jargon and stop torturing aspiring musicians and bands that just want to get their music out there in an accepted format.

OK, most people think CD Text is what you see when you put a CD into a computer – WRONG!

A media player such as iTunes or Windows Media Player does not use any information on the disc other than the .wav file. There is a behind the scenes, pay no attention to it, giant database called the Grace Note Program Database. It used to be called CDDB, Compact Disc Database. Essentially, its a huge database that anyone can contribute to if you know where the “Submit Track Names” option is in your place. The point is, when you insert a CD into a computer that is connected to the internet, this database is what supplies the artist, track name, genre and album information you see on your screen, not the CD.

So what’s CD Text then you wonder?

Well, its added or embedded into one of the sub-channels on your CD master by your mastering engineer most likely. You have to ask for it. Its not typically a standard aspect of a mastering process. Some mastering studios do and some don’t, the point is ask for it if you want it.

So, if what I see on my computer isn’t CD Text, why would I have it on my master?

Good question. There are a lot of audio CD players that are equipped to read the CD Text that your engineer embeds into the master. When you insert a disc into an equipped machine, there is an LCD read out that scrolls or does a two line display of artist, track name and album. In that circumstance, that’s CD Text.

In future articles I’ll show you how to submit track names and how to check to see if your replicated or duplicated discs have CD Text in them. But for now, this will at least stop you from calling your duplicator to tell them that they didn’t put CD Text on your CDs. At least, I hope it stops you.

posted by Carolyn Holzman in CD Text and have Comment (1)

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