Problems playing back CDs burned in iTunes

Q: I can listen to CDs that I burn in iTunes, but they don’t play in my car. This only happened recently. I was always able to listen to them before. Your articles say something about a “Burn” tab in preferences, but I don’t have a Burn tab.  There is only a preferences under “Edit” and no burn tab.  Am I missing something?

– Sandi

A: As of iTunes 8 the “Burn” options have actually been moved out of the preferences and now appear immediately before starting an actual disc burning session.

The first thing to check is to confirm the type of CD that you’re burning. iTunes allows you to burn Audio CDs, MP3 CDs or Data CDs. Audio CDs should play in any standard CD player, including the one in your car. MP3 CDs, however, require a player that is specifically compatible with that type of CD, since all you’re really doing is burning the raw MP3s to the CD as files.  Data CDs are designed for backup and archival of your content, and cannot normally be played back in any type of CD player.

If you’re burning Audio CDs and still having problems playing them back in your car you should double-check the type and brand of CD media that you are using. Most name-brand CD-R media should not be a problem, however CD-RW (rewritable) media does not play back properly in many standard CD audio players. It’s also not uncommon to have problems with cheaper, lower-quality CD-R media. You may also find that reducing the recording speed can sometimes help to improve the reliability of the burn process, which in turn may result in the CD playing back properly in other players.

Lastly, if you’re using decent quality CD-R media and lower burn speeds and still having problems with playing back your recorded CDs in your car then the problem may be the CD-R drive itself or the CD player in your car. Testing the recorded CDs in other CD players should help to isolate which of the two devices is at fault.

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