Creating an audio CD from an MP3

What is an MP3 file

An MP3 file is a compressed audio file, i.e., a file that takes up less disk space due to a compression algorithm, and which can be read by programs that execute decompression algorithms.


The MP3 format is not illegal, because it just a way to compress numerical data. On the other hand, its use may be illegal. MP3s must comply with copyrights: you can make a copy (backup) of a song for which you have the original. Thus, if you download an MP3 you may not keep it more than 24 hours if you don't have the original.

However, there are many free-distribution MP3 files. This allows lesser-known groups to distribute their work at a lower cost, and is a great way to discover new talent at a lower price.
It may also be very practical to burn an audio CD from these files. This may be read on any CD player or car radio with a CD player...

Convert the MP3 file to a WAV file

The first step is to decompress the MP3 file, i.e., to decode it into a WAV file, because this is the file type that CD burning software need in order to create audio CDs.

There are various programs capable of decoding MP3 files. We will use Winamp (version 2.5, the other versions are almost identical), which has the advantage of being fast, reliable, and, above all, very widespread.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Configure WinAmp to put it in "Disk writer" mode, i.e., it will send the decoded file in a file instead of sending it to the sound card and then the speakers.
  • To do this, right-click WinAmp, then select Options/Preferences
  • Go to Input/MPEG audio decoder settings/Decoder to make sure your sound card is configured correctly as
    • Stereo
    • 16-bit
    • Quality: full

For the best possible output quality
  • In Output, double-click on Nullsoft Disk Writer plug-in
  • Indicate the folder to which you want to etract the files (Note: the WAV files will take up 11 times more space than the MP3 that you want to burn, so make sure a minimum of 800 MB of disk space is available!)
  • Open the WinAmp playlist with the button
  • Select the MP3 files that you want to extract (no more than 67 MB), then put them on the WinAmp playlist.
  • Don't forget to deselect the option toggle repeat
; otherwise, your MP3 files may decode in a loop.
  • Press the read button: your files will decompress to the disk

Here are the normal symptoms:
    • You don't hear anything: the file extracts to the disk, not to the sound card
    • The PC seems to have stopped responding: It decompresses the MP3 files
    • The hard disk light is almost constantly lit

If all these operations are complete, you will normally have a series of files with the extension .wav in the location you indicated

equalization of sound levels

The sound files that you obtained are from various sources; their volume may not be the same, in which case, you may end up with an audio CD in which the sound levels of the various tracks are not equal.

To remedy this, you can use WAV editing software such as <a href=>Cool Edit</a> to calibrate your levels.

Burning an audio CD

At this stage, the audio CD is ready to be burned. All you have to do is run a burning program capable of creating audio CDs (Easy CD Pro, Easy CD Creator...), and then to select the WAV files you just prepared when asked by the program.
You can organize the files as you like to maintain coherency amongst the tracks...the CD is ready to burn.

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