CD's not playing properly in my car?
November 25, 2013 9:34 PM   Subscribe

When I burn a CD, some songs that sound fine in iTunes on my computer will inexplicably have between 3-20 seconds of 'silence' at the beginning, thus causing my car's CD player to skip them if I don't fast forward to the actual music...WTF? (do my best to give some Tech Specs inside!)

I'm running iTunes ver. 11.1.3, on a MacBook Pro with OSx ver. 10.9; my car is a 2005 Mustang with a 6-disc Shaker500 system.

The problem: when I burn CD's, there are random songs (honestly can't tell any kind of pattern in this crap happening) that will have a 'silence' at the beginning on the CD. Said silence is anywhere from 3 seconds to 20 seconds. My car skips the song after around 5-7 seconds where the music won't play, if I want the song to play I have to manually fast-forward until the actual music starts on that particular song.

NONE of these songs have the unknown silence present when I play them in iTunes, nor on my iPod. When the track comes up on my car's CD player, it won't show a time for the normally shows :00 at the beginning of the song, but on these it typically shows "Fr"...which I've no idea what that means. I hold down fast-forward and it takes FOREVER to go through those few seconds of silence, much longer than any other normal-playing song would take to fast-forward through, and if I let off the FF button for more than a second or two during the 'silent period', the track skips to the next song.

WTF is going on here?! My CD player has never given me many issues other than spitting out CD's it reads as "bad disc", the few times that happens they are always burned CDs. However I can reload the CD and it's typically fine. iTunes has never given me issues when burning CDs until about 6 months ago when this randomly started happening. This seems to be some kind of iTunes issue due to the random silence being on the CD when burned, however I'm not sure if maybe the track has a fault in it that is something my car can't read?

FWIW, I've had problems with CDs that are burned as MP3 and Audio...the # of tracks or type of CD burned doesn't seem to make a difference. Also happens with tracks purchased on iTunes, Amazon, and ones I've added to the library myself.

Anyone got a suggestion or idea that doesn't involve buying a new CD player (or car! =P) or a new computer? This nonsense is killing's becoming a pain in the ass to make a CD anymore. =/
posted by PeppahCat to Technology (11 answers total)
Have you tried changing brands of CD’s? Some players and burners just don’t like certain ones.
posted by bongo_x at 9:55 PM on November 25, 2013

Are you sure the silence is on the CD?

I'd extract one of the problem tracks in an editor (get Audacity if you don't already have it), and check. Sounds to me like your player is spending that time seeking, and then gives up.

Also: I second the notion of trying another brand of CDs. Cheaper than a new car.
posted by pompomtom at 10:09 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

When you go to burn a CD in iTunes, it gives the option of the delay between tracks. Set that to 0 and go try and play one of those CDs.

If that doesn't work, go to your nearest drug store that sells single CD-Rs or 2 packs and buy one from every brand present and do a "taste test".

I've lost count of how many CD players, DVD players, and even computer DVD drives/writers i've owned or used that were picky about what disks they'd play nice with. It's pretty tiresome(especially when it's the superdrive on my iMac).

Those are the two big reasons i've seen a CD player not play nice though, if you eliminate both of those and it's still being weird... well i'd start thinking some dust and crap had made it up into the reader in the drive.
posted by emptythought at 11:44 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm with Pompomtom above. It's not clear from what you wrote that you have tried these discs in another CD player, and I suspect your car CD player may simply be having so much trouble tracking certain spots on the disc that it seems like weird intervals of silence have been recorded.

My other suggestion would be to throttle down the speed at which you record your CD-Rs and see if that helps. If you currently write them at 48x or whatever, scale that way down to 4x or so and see if that makes any difference.
posted by Mothlight at 5:41 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

This seems to be some kind of iTunes issue
I've had problems with CDs that are burned as MP3 and Audio

Possibly a problem with your MacBook's drive. They don't last forever; some go south faster than others. Also suggest burning your CDs at a slower speed.
posted by Rash at 8:21 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all! I have tried different CD brands over the years, but never thought to do a "taste test" of various brands all at once...thanks emptythought!
I'll definitely try all the suggestions above when I have some extra time this weekend. Will post if anything works or seems to help.
Also, I forgot to mention in the main post that I've tried the CD's in two other drives (both parents thankfully have CD players that will play them!) and there seems to be no problem on most tracks, however one or two still show this 'dead air silence' thing at the beginning, however both their cars simply play the track and won't skip it. It's a conundrum. o.0

Also, Rash, I'm really afraid that may end up being a factor in all this. My poor MBP has been with me a long time, I think it's at the age of giving up on the non-essential things such as the drive. =P
posted by PeppahCat at 9:53 AM on November 26, 2013

Yes, CD burners only have so many burners in them, so that may be the problem. It may also work for a while longer at slower speeds. You can also get an external burner, the read part on your internal may work fine. There are a lot of variables with burning CD’s, and it’s a pretty fragile process.
posted by bongo_x at 10:32 AM on November 26, 2013

Hm, as far as the burner goes, I've had really good luck with compressed air. As in, you jam the nozzle of the air canister into the slot of your CD drive and do a couple of quick blasts in hope of relocating any dirt or dust on the lens. Most recently, I was prepping a Mac mini for sale on Craigslist a couple of months ago and could not get the OS X disc to work in the drive for anything. A little bit of air solved the problem. I would probably not do this until I was quite convinced the drive was at fault, though, for fear of inadvertently blowing something onto, rather than off of, the lens.

That said, I don't think your problem is caused by dust on your CD drive lens. But it's worth a shot before you go out and buy a replacement drive.
posted by Mothlight at 12:52 PM on November 26, 2013

Response by poster: Just a curious question for you tech-types, what's the difference in burning a CD at 48x vs 4x (or whatever other speeds)? What does the burn speed mean, anyways? I assume it doesn't affect the "speed" of the tracks. LOL. Have never really known what it meant to change the speed.
posted by PeppahCat at 6:26 AM on November 28, 2013

Burn speed just describes how fast you can write data to the CD. Just as a rule of thumb*, I assume 1x is equal to about an hour (CD Audio discs run 70-80 minutes, so a little more, but still close). So if you burn a CD at 4x, it will take around 15 minutes to write it, depending on how much data you're putting on. 8x is about 8 minutes, etc. Faster speeds should be OK, and make the disc-burning process a lot more convenient, but depending on the media and your playback device they can be harder for the drive to track after you're done. I used to have a car stereo that would skip around on any CD I recorded at faster than 4x, and even then it would sometimes skip through the last two or three tracks on a disc, if the disc was completely full (meaning the data went all the way to the outer edge of the disc). CD readers can be finicky things.

* I'm sure my numbers are off but you can look up actual read/write speeds if you're very curious.
posted by Mothlight at 11:05 AM on November 28, 2013

You can read and write CD’s at different speeds. When you play it to listen to that’s 1x. When you’re pulling data off of a data CD it will be much faster depending on your drive. It spins faster. The burn speed will be different than the read speed. When you burn faster it is a somewhat more fragile process with little room for error. In the early days most drives would work better at 1x and get worse the higher you got, but most drives and media are optimized for faster speeds nowadays (as I understand it).

As your drive ages it may not be able to burn as fast accurately. The drive may know this. When you go to burn you will get a choice of speeds. You may notice that the fastest speed is lower than it used to have and less than the drive is rated for. This means your drive is not working optimally. Trying going slower.

Here’s more.
posted by bongo_x at 11:55 AM on November 28, 2013

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