Now that everyone is burning CD-Rs as masters, it might be a good time to review a few important steps to ensure they remain pristine all the way through the manufacturing process.
Even brand new CD-Rs fresh out of a jewel box often have a few particles of dust on them. It is a good idea to get rid of this dust before writing, and the best way is with a jumbo camera lens blower (without brush). Expect to pay about $8.00 in a photography store for this handheld round rubber device. You squeeze it quickly to release a stream of air which quickly removes any dust on the CD. You might not think a particle of dust would interfere with the laser writing a CD, but tests have proven that it can.
You also want to make sure that you handle your CD-Rs by the edges only, both prior to and after writing. Make sure that anyone who will listen to the CD-R adheres to this handling policy or else the result will be a smudged master.
Before a master CD-R leaves the premises, place a piece of tape over the jewel box cover so that it doesn’t accidentally open, causing the CD-R to fall out. If you plan to audition the CD before it goes off to the plant, make sure the tape has a piece folded over. This creats a small tab that can be used later for easy removal.
Place the jewel box in a plastic sandwich bag with a locking to protect it even more. At this point are you can be confident that you have done a professional from start to finish and that your CD is now ready for manufacturing.
A CD-R that is to be used for a master must be treated with the utmost respect if it is to provide optimum results at the manufacturing plant.
Barry Lubotta is the owner of Pizazzudio Recording Studio and Mastering Lab.