I have a bunch of mp3 files I'd like to record to a CD. However, I'm not sure if the CD player can read MP3. What format should the music be in to ensure that it will be read correctly? And does it even matter or do CDs use an "internal" format?

  • CD's do use an internal format, called "Redbook Audio". Many CD burning programs have a destination to burn to named "CD Audio" or similar, as opposed to a "data CD" which is what you'd burn it as if your player could read .mp3 files off the disc. Redbook Audio limits you to 80 minutes of music encoded at 16-bit PCM at 44.1KHz.
    – LawrenceC
    May 26, 2013 at 15:29

3 Answers 3


The music should be in WAV format to be readable from most CD players.
MP3 CD Maker is an easy program with which you can put your MP3's as WAV's on a CD.

As pointed out by @Vdex in the comments, the format is actually RAW audio format which is comparable to WAV without the header information.
Even more specifically it is CDDA, as pointed out by @Joakim.
That's why you need software to create an audio CD from single audio files.
I think if you already have WAV files, you can do this with most CD recording software (choose for create audio or music CD in the first step of the wizard mostly, and then select your WAV files), but MP3's need to be converted to WAV first. That's where MP3 CD Maker comes into play.

  • To be pedantic, WAV files have extra header information and Audio CDs use RAW (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_audio_format). WAV files on a data CD format for instance won't work.
    – Vdex
    Aug 2, 2009 at 16:11
  • @Vdex: I know "WAV files on a data CD format" won't work, that's why I suggest using software for that ;-)
    – fretje
    Aug 2, 2009 at 16:14
  • Just thought I'd point it out in case somebody else reading it decides to burn WAV files directly :)
    – Vdex
    Aug 2, 2009 at 16:23

To be playable in any CD player one need burn in Audio CD Format (CD-DA). This is not the same as a data CD with a filesystem (iso9660) where music (mp3 or anything) can be represented as files. Audio CD Format don't have a filesystem nor a fileformat, music just sits directly on the CD in RAW format track after track.

any isn't fully true as really (really) old Audio CD players might have problem with burned media.


Some CD players can play mp3 files (most new ones do), there is usually a sticker that says "mp3 compatible" or something similar, and if that is the case you shouldn't need to convert them, not all mp3 cd players can handle sub-folders, so you might need to place all the mp3s in the root folder. If it can't handle mp3s you have to write the CD in a special way (audio cd format), for that you will need special software, I have used Nero in the past - you just drag and drop the mp3's and it converts it for you.

For me a CD player that can't handle mp3s would be a deal breaker, considering that raw audio CDs store about 75 minutes of music per disc, compared to the ~700 minutes you can achieve with mp3s.

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