How to burn audio CD in Reaper. tutorial #1
Since you’ve learned how to import CD audio files, I assume you might also be looking for a way to digitally engrave your *.wav tracks onto a Compact Disc in *.cda format, so you can listen to your stuff in a car or wherever. Strangely there are very little instructions on how to burn audio CD in Reaper – a very powerful yet cheap and, if you want, even free digital audio workstation produced by Cockos.
The burning procedure is quite easy and fast if you’re familiar with Reaper just a bit. If you’re not, you should be fine either way as the method is really basic.
First of all you need to download the Reaper DAW itself. I’ll pretend you know how to do it as well as how to install it. Also I hope you have a working CD burning device and know how to insert a CD in there.
Ok, you should have Reaper installed and running so far.
Now let us burn audio CD in Reaper!
Head to “File” drop down menu, choose “Project Settings” and under “Project Settings” tab make sure your “Project sample rate” is 44100Hz. It’s the highest sampling rate a CD can accept, also it allows lossless audio files to store full frequency range of human hearing – 20Hz to 20000Hz.
While you’re in “Project settings” dialog jump to “Media” tab and set WAV bit depth to 16 bit PCM, which again is maximum dynamic range an audio CD can handle.
Next create a new audio track by navigating to “Track” and choosing “Insert New Track” from the drop down menu. This will be the track where all your sound files waiting to be written to audio CD land. You can name the track if you want by clicking dark grey area next to red “record arm” circle on that track. However this is not necessary as for the sake of speed and simplicity we’re going to have only one anyway.
Now it’s time to save our project by choosing “Save project” from the “File” drop down menu. Once “Save project” dialog opens, type the name and choose your preferred directory to save the project.
For your own convenience you should check two of the three checkboxes at the bottom of the window.
First one being ”Create subdirectory for project”. This will make Reaper create a folder named the same as your project in the directory you chose just so you can have all associated files in one place.
Second one being the third one – “Move all media into project directory”. This will let Reaper know you want to place every file you want to be written to audio CD into that project folder Reaper will create because of the first checkbox checked. This prevents media files from being lost and helps to keep everything necessary to the project in one place so you don’t have to search all over your machine once you decide to change something years later.
Now we’re ready to gather all the files we want to be burned onto the audio CD. Find them on your computer and just drag and drop right onto the track we created previously in Reaper’s timeline. If you choose to drag multiple files Reaper will ask you if you want all the files to end up in the single audio track. Be sure to choose “Single Track” there.
You can drag and drop all files at once or, if they’re scattered all over your machine, you can place them on the timeline one by one. For the sake speed and simplicity again, just drop them on the same single track we created in Step #3.
Once we have all the tracks we want on the timeline, we need to tell Reaper what is it we consider a new track or new song on our audio CD. Easiest way to do it is by placing markers before each and every sound file we’ve just imported onto the timeline.
To do so first [Shift] + [Double Click] on the first file, or media item as it’s called in Reaper, to make a time selection equal just to that file. Navigate to “Insert” drop down menu and choose “Marker (prompt for name)” thereafter.
After “Add Marker” dialog has popped up, first type in a hash sign [#] and then the name or just the number of the song. Whatever you type after the hash sign won’t be read by your CD player as CD text so it’s just for your own convenience until you’re in the process.
Every marker needs to start with a hash sign [#] because later we’ll tell Reaper to use it as a cue for start of a new audio track on our audio CD.
Now you can repeat the process of Step #6 and Step #7 for every media item in the timeline. Just be sure to place a hash sign [#] before each name.
With all our media items marked properly let’s navigate to “File” and choose “Render…”. “Render to file” dialog will pop up – it’s the most scary one in the whole tutorial. I’ll explain everything right away, but if you’re on a hurry, just be sure to check and uncheck everything like in Picture #8 below and skip the “Explanation of terms in “Render to file” dialog” part by jumping straight to Step #9.
Explanation of terms in “Render to file” dialog.
- Source: Master Mix – here we set a sound source Reaper should listen to while rendering.
- Bounds: Entire Project – because audio CD image is one continuous file it’s best to let Reaper render entire project. Just be sure not to leave unnecessary files floating around after your last track with a marker.
- Directory – where to put the rendered audio CD image obviously.
- File name – tough one to explain.
- Sample rate: 44100Hz – because we want our CD to get files in their best shape, this sample rate is exactly to upper limit of what a casual audio CD can play back. Also sampling rate of 44100Hz is just enough to recreate a frequency range humans can hear: from 20Hz to 20kHz. Simple math for this is 44100 / 2 = 22050 (~20kHz).
- Channels: Stereo – again two channels of audio is max a audio CD can handle and play back. Also this is the most popular channel format for music listening.
- Use project sample rate for mixing and FX/synth processing – for sake of speed and simplicity let’s leave this a secret, shall we?
- Resample mode (if needed): Extreme HQ (768pt HQ Sinc) – in case some of your files are not sampled at 44100Hz originally (say you have some songs just taken from a music-video and usually videos have 48000Hz sampling rule for their sound), Reaper will need to resample those during the process of rendering, to make ’em audio CD friendly. Choosing the extreme setting ensures us the resampling process will be done the best way possible.
- Output format: Audio CD Image (CUA/BIN format) – we want this to be Audio CD image, because only this way a CD player will understand what’s being thrown at it.
- Lead-in silence for tracks: 2000ms – this field defines pauses between songs (or audio tracks). You type whatever you like here, I chose 2000ms just because it’s kind of a standard to have 2 seconds of silence between songs. But if you want your songs to play without any pause just leave 0 in there.
- Unfortunately Reaper doesn’t allow us to make pauses of various lengths, which comes handy in mastering process because sometimes 2 seconds of silence is too little to wipe the tears after a heart breaking blues ballad.
- Track mode: Markers define new tracks – here’s where all the hash signs pay of and this is where we let Reaper know what needs to be considered beginning of a new song – a marker.
- Burn CD image after render – this tells Reaper to create a audio CD image and open CD burning dialog right after it’s done with rendering and resampling actions.
- Only use markers starting with # – actually this is where all the hash signs pay of and come into action. Only markers starting with hash signs will be considered a cue for beginning of a new song. Because you can have lots of markers in your song marking all sorts of stuff. Say you heard an annoying glitch in one of your tracks. You mark it (just without using #) so you can remove the glitch right after you’re done gathering all the tracks you want to be burned onto and audio CD.
After you’ve set everything, click “Render 1 file…”. Reaper will render all the media items to one *.cue CD image and automatically open it right after calculations are done.
“Burn Audio CD Image” dialog will pop up. There you’ll be able to see a table with all the audio tracks waiting to be burned onto an audio CD as well as some additional info such as Track number, Track Name and Track Duration.
Choose the drive you have your CD sitting in from the drop down menu, check “Eject CD when done” if you want (the burning process will take some time so you’ll know when to stop drinking your coffee once you hear CD ejecting) and hit “Burn CD” button, for the burning process to start.
Unfortunately you won’t be able to see progress of burning process. Hopefully we’ll have this feature implemented some day.
That’s it folks. Congratulations. You’ve just figured out how to burn audio CD in Reaper, a DAW so powerful and cheap you should leave it installed on your machine to explore what more can it do for you.
Hope that was helpful, easy and clear enough. Comments, suggestions and questions are highly appreciated! Thanks and good luck!
Oh, and in case you’re a hater of written tutorials, here’s a video version of my tutorial on “how to burn audio CD in Reaper”: