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Jewish World Review April 11, 2001 / 18 Nissan, 5761

Mike Berman

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Consumer Reports


Making CD burning easier

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- It seems that whenever software is packaged with a piece of hardware a little bell goes off in my head and I immediately search for something better. So, after getting my umpteenth copy of Roxio (formerly Adaptec) CD Creator with new CDRW drives I was testing, I went exploring and found some treasure.

Among the gems I found were Nero 5 Burning ROM ($69) from Ahead Software and Dart CD-Recorder 4.0 ($49.95) from DarTech LLC. Both programs are packed with features and are easy to use, but the gem that sparkled the brightest was Nero 5.

The folks at Ahead have made the task of CD burning extremely easy by automatically detecting all the features of the CD writer you're using and adapting to them without any input from the user.

I tested it with three different writers - a Plextor 12x10x32, an external Yamaha 16x10x40, an external Que 16x10x40 and a Plextor 16x10x40 - and this was the only software of the three that was able to detect the differences between the drives. For example, both of the Plextor drives and the Que drive use "burn-proof" technology and have a cache of about two megabytes. The Yamaha does not use "burn proof," but has an eight-megabyte cache. In both cases, the software's ability to adapt to the differences in the drives greatly reduces the chances of errors that can instantly turn your CD burning experience into a nightmare.

I also discovered that I could write CDs a few seconds faster using Nero 5, which was probably due to the way it used the drives' cache memory.

A few of the additional features are:

You can overburn CDs, which means you can jam 80 minutes of music on a 74-minute disc.

You can make multiple copies of a single CD.

It dynamically disables Windows' CD auto insert notification.

You can drag and drop files to the CD using the software or Windows Explorer or File Manager.

You can create bootable CDs from a floppy disk or your hard drive.

It converts audio files to a useable format "on the fly."

It supports Joiliet, ISO, ASCII and DOS character sets.

It dynamically converts file names to ISO format.

You can record a single track "on the fly."

It allows you to edit file structure and file names.

Obviously, many of these features aren't unique to Nero 5.

For example, the Dart CD-Recorder is unbeatable when it comes to handling audio. In fact, if you are planning to convert your old records or tapes to CD, this is definitely the way to go, because it has more options to clean up hiss and other annoying sounds than I've ever seen in this type of software. And, if you really want to do a professional job, its more expensive sibling, Dart Pro 98 ($399), may be the way to go. But I found nothing unique in the way it handled standard CD copying functions.

Among CD-Recorder features are:

You can clean up recordings in real time using DeClick, DeHiss and a nine-band equalizer.

You can fade in and fade out between tracks.

It can convert a whole playlist of files to MP3 format with one click.

It will download data for your CDs from the Internet using CDDB technology.

It supports 80-minute CD overburning, which means you can stuff 80 minutes of audio on a 74-minute CD.

It can extract music from any source - digital or analog.

You can select times or specific days of the week to record broadcast, satellite or cable audio.

Additional features found in the Pro 98 package are:

You can remove background sounds from old recordings.

It includes additional utilities such as DeNoise, DeHum and Retouch & Duplicate.

You can mix, split, compare, reverse, resample, adjust the RPM and trim audio tracks.

There are a bevy of editing tools including smart mute, smart cut and cross-fade cut.

You can see the audio distortions using 2D and 3D spectral analysis.

So, summing up, if you want a good, all-purpose CD recording tool, try Nero 5. But, if you're passionate about CD audio, you can't beat the Dart programs. More information on these products can be found at http://www.nero.com and http://www.dartpro.com.

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